12 December 2011

Driver 67 - Going My Way/ (Theme From) There Is No Conspiracy

Label: Logo
Year of Release: 1979

We've already partially explored the output of Driver 67 on this blog with a sniff at the sinister, horrible and downright wrong record about female-stalking truckers that is "Headlights". Enough has been said about that little disc that I don't really feel I need to add any more at this juncture.

Whilst it may have seemed as if Paul Phillips and Pete Zorn were trying to alienate radio stations and their entire female listening audience with "Headlights", "Going My Way" puts things back on the proper track, being a fizzbomb of a pop record with the same pub sing-along effect and pounding rhythms that Dennis Waterman delivered (to a much more convincing degree, actually) with "I Could Be So Good For You" the following year. The world-weary, Craig Charles-on-Coronation Street weepiness of "Car 67" isn't apparent in this instance, and if you regard the three singles as being a trilogy (and God help you if you do) it could be argued that "Headlights" focusses on Phillips' post-dumping misogyny, whereas this one represents his recovery. "Look," he is essentially saying to us, the good listeners, "we're pulling in different directions, but we could make this work. But if you can't be bothered, I'm off down the pub to sing along with the jukebox with all my mates. Whatever will be, will be."

The B-side in this instance is another perplexing piece of Driver 67 work, this time involving Zorn and Phillips discussing the noisy A-side neighbour who has moved in upstairs, and holding a naturalistic dialogue about the benefits and drawbacks of easy listening which sounds slightly like a Dexy's "Don't Stand Me Down" out-take. What a peculiar pair they were.

Pete Zorn is still an active session musician whose CV is the envy of anyone involved with folk and roots music. He is almost a permanent fixture in Richard Thompson's touring band, and has also played with Gerry Rafferty and Steve Tilston. Paul Phillips eventually became disillusioned with the music business after endless disputes about royalties owed to him from "Car 67". Record company failures to press up enough copies of that single to keep up with demand also won't have helped. The record dropped to number 11 mid-way through its climb up the charts only to continue climbing the following week; apparently this blip was purely due to the lack of copies available in the shops, and may have cut short its potential performance. He now works as a partner in a design business based in London, and imports vintage guitars.


the saucer people said...

Spooky, I come on the net to find the Driver 67 hit and instead I find their two ultra-obscure non-hits!

While the a-side is pleasant enough in a late 70s sing-a-long-a-way the flipside has me baffled, the title alone sounds like something Cabaret Voltaire would have come up with.."a theme from" would suggest there is a film or tv show called "There is No Conspiracy" so was there a pilot that never saw the light of day with this as its theme or were they being post-modern before their time?!

An oblique reference to the JFK triangulated assassination perhaps? who knows?! Chuckled at the Dexys reference, a kind of bargin basement 'Reminisce Part Two'!

Thanks for filling in the back story to Driver 67, stops me thinking "whatever happened to.."

Well thats two out of three Driver 67 single rips..ahem...

23 Daves said...

Well, if nothing else I'm the first stop shop for everyone's Driver 67 needs... all their needs apart from their one hit, that is.

I can't really provide "Car 67" on here for two reasons. Firstly, I don't own it! I used to have a copy, but God knows where it got to. I strongly suspect one will turn up for 50p somewhere soon, though.

Additionally, it is still commercially available on a lot of legal download sites, and I tend to shy away from making material of that ilk available purely so I don't incur the wrath of the BPI Police and find the blog taken down one morning. But I'm sure you can find an mp3 of it incredibly cheaply if you hunt around Amazon or iTunes.

As for "There is No Conspiracy", I suspect they were being postmodern, unless anyone can tell me differently.

Paul Phillis said...

Hi There,
Paul Phillips here.
I never thought I'd hear (Theme From) There Is No Conspiracy again in this form. Thank you.
In fact, There Is No Conspiracy is a little drama at the end of our album, and this 'theme' features as part of that. But the dialogue is completely different.
In the days when vinyl singles were played one side at a time, I thought it was an hilarious idea that the B side was in the downstairs flat from the A side, and the A side coming through the ceiling just cracked me up.
Funny thing about Headlights - from the moment I wrote it to the moment it hit the Radio 1 airwaves, every single person who heard it thought it was destined for number one. When we finished the session, the musicians all burst into applause and said, "Smash".
Unfortunately, after two plays on R1, someone there decided to take exception and it dropped right out of the top 75 and out of sight.
Till you raised the subject. God bless you, sir.
In case you're interested, I released an album of all new material last year called Now That's What I Call Divorce. It's available on iTunes.
And if you want to put Car 67 up here, do so with my blessing. No-one can find the contract, so I have claimed copyright (it reverted to me anyway after 25 years).
All best wishes, The Driver

23 Daves said...

Well, this is a pleasant surprise, and thank you very much! I will almost certainly take you up on your offer, especially since I've located my copy of "Car 67" since uploading "Going My Way". It was actually one of the first singles I bought, and I can distinctly remember having a few problems getting hold of it in my local Woolworths, which tallies with the stories about poor distribution.

As for "There Is No Conspiracy", that's an interesting story, and I'll have to try to track down a copy of the album. I apologise in advance for the poor copy I've ripped from vinyl here (the same probably applies to "Headlights") - I was playing with a new piece of equipment at the time I originally posted this entry to the blog, and I hadn't quite got the hang of its full potential.

"Headlights", sir, is one of the oddest follow-up singles I have ever heard and has recently been discussed on a Chris Morris website following me bringing the subject up! The sixties, seventies and early eighties seemed to be a time when unusual records could break out and become hits, though, and in a way it's a shame it didn't do the business.

Gimpo used to be a roadie for the KLF, and he occasionally runs a 25 hour journey around the M25 with his associates and friends. I seem to remember someone telling me that "Headlights" was brought along to play on the stereo during that trip, so I think it's going to continue to crop up in odd contexts and places.

Arthur Nibble said...

Looked up the chart run of "Driver 67" only to find it spent its first two weeks at number 67!