Year of Release: 1969
Would-be Welsh pop stars seemed to get a rough ride of it during the sixties. Uncle Tom Jones may have broken out of the valleys and into the hearts of many a knicker-throwing wench, and Mary Hopkins might have briefly been Apple's biggest success after The Beatles, but beyond that there weren't many contenders. There was a distinct Welsh music industry established during the decade, but its appeal seemed to wane on the south side of the Severn Bridge and East of Chepstow - local (often folk-orientated) stars often flourished within their own borders, particularly in North Wales, but failed to find much appeal in the rest of the UK.
Of all the contenders, Cardiff's Gene Latter was certainly one of the most persistent, having a long and varied career from 1965 until the late seventies. During that time he tried many different styles, and one of his more undeservedly famous releases is "Mother's Little Helper", a dire cover of the Rolling Stones track which for some reason was given a home on the Rubble series of compilation albums. The Stones themselves slated it in the music press and sales were disappointingly low, and after such a thorough drubbing you could have forgiven Gene for calling it a day.
Rather than hang up his hat, he carried on, producing some curious and often strong work. "Sign on the Dotted Line" is possibly the most loved creation of his amongst the Northern Soul crowd, enjoying a great many plays on the circuit, and no wonder - the frantic, pounding insistence of the track is a joy to behold, and slotted in incredibly neatly with the scene, making him an unlikely Northern Soul turntable hogger along with the likes of David Essex and Elkie Brooks. Such was the track's cult popularity that you can still buy it on iTunes as part of a Northern Soul compilation, although if you want to hear the blaring, heartbeat amplifying thing before you buy, it's naturally on Youtube as well.
As a result of the commercial availability of the tune I've shied away from including it as a download on the blog, but instead given you the none-too-shabby self-penned B-side "I Love You" instead, which is what I believe many people would refer to as a "mod floorfiller". It's a very simple groover which sounds exactly like much of the fare which was emerging on Immediate Records before the label went under - all swinging confidence and ragged, masculine vocals.
Gene Latter's whereabouts are unknown. He appears to have released a single in the late seventies entitled "John Travolta, You Are A Superstar" which I've never seen or heard anywhere, and then we're left with nothing to go on. As ever, an update on his present activities would be welcome. Edit: A reader has since got in touch to suggest that the person behind the John Travolta single is a different Gene Latter, namely an ex-member of South African band The Shakespeares.