30 April 2012

The Squires - Funky Bayswater/ Games People Play

Label: MCA
Year of Release: 1969

History tends to favour the winners.  When people look back over Tom Jones's career in the sixties, what they remember is the great randy Welshman himself, and his seemingly endless appearances on "Top of the Pops".  Precious few people have memories strong enough to consider that at many of his live shows during that period, he was accompanied by his loyal backing group The Squires with whom he shared equal billing.  Capable musicians to the last, The Squires could peform either with or without an orchestral backing at the bigger venues, but were apparently ditched for a better set of session musicians when Uncle Tom's TV career took off.

After being given the heave-ho, The Squires were given the opportunity to set foot in the recording studio and have careers in their own right which - presumably with few other options available - they took full advantage of.  "Games People Play" had recently been a hit in America and was chosen for the band as a crossover single, but it failed to attract much attention in the UK despite several critics predicting a hit.  In fairness, whilst this run-through of the track is faithful, it's a long way short of being the best version and fails to make much of an impression.

What's actually caused most of the fuss over the last few years has been the brilliantly titled flipside "Funky Bayswater".  Included on the "Instro Hipsters A Go Go" compilation series specialising in sixties rock instrumentals, "Funky Bayswater" does perhaps prove that Tom Jones was indeed rather a fool to shove the band out into the street - the lead guitar work here is sizzling, and is accompanied by a tight rhythm section which has excited people on mod dancefloors in London for awhile.  Occupying the same post-mod pre-hard rock hinterland that other instrumental groovers such as "Apricot Brandy" have, the track was apparently written in a few hours and recorded in a mere couple of takes, and as a result retains a lot of urgency and electricity.

After this flopped, there were no further singles by The Squires, and we all know what became of Tom Jones.


Boursin said...

One of my all-time favourites... I also have a French pressing and a Swedish one, both with picture sleeves.

This wasn't the band's only release, by the way - they had an earlier one in 1965, "Pop The Question"/"David's Theme" (Decca F 12226). "David's Theme" is great, with some desolate guitar twang that makes it sound like a John Barry film theme.

23 Daves said...

How weird - I genuinely didn't know about the Decca single! Thanks for pointing that out, I shall have to keep my eyes open for that.