18 August 2010
One Hit Wonders #12 - St Louis Union - Girl/ Respect
Year of Release: 1966
I was going to upload this one some time ago, but then another blogger spent a bit of time tearing it a new hole, which gave me cause to pause and think whether it was really worth the effort. It's certainly true to say that this single is not representative of most of the output of the Manchester-based St Louis Union, and shouldn't be taken as such - but it does underline how a lot of the harder-edged mod bands of the sixties were smoothed off for wider public consumption.
St Louis Union were the winners of a Melody Maker beat contest in 1965, supposedly beating Pink Floyd on the way (although the date should be a giveaway to the fact that this would have been a very fledgling Floyd indeed). The subsequent record contract they earned must have been brilliant news on top of the victory, but one wonders if this Beatles number was really the first thing they'd have liked to get their teeth around. "Girl" sounds anaemic, weary and rather sedated - and whilst the song always had an element of despondency about it anyway, you can sense a complete lack of passion and commitment from the band here. That wasn't enough to stop it from becoming a hit, however, reaching number 11 in the charts.
Much, much better is their version of "Respect" on the B-side, which gives a fuller flavour of the band's sound, even if their cover must bring the tally of available versions up to some three figure number. Hearing them let rip on that track, you can start to understand why they had a devoted live following in the north of England.
Whilst St Louis Union failed to have any more hits, the keyboard player David Tomlinson had an unlikely second wave of success in the seventies and eighties, working with Howard Devoto in Magazine, and Steve Strange in Visage. For these purposes, his stage-name Dave Formula was craftily created, and oh look - an album he contributed to with Romo band InAura was already available to download on Left and to the Back some time ago. The difference between that upload and this, however, really couldn't be more marked.
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