20 September 2012

New York Public Library - Whei Leng Ty Luu/ Boozy Queen

Label: B&C
Year of Release: 1972

It's very seldom I bother to upload tracks by bands who are still going strong - far apart from the offence that may be caused by adding their names to a "Where Are They Now?" file, there's the small matter of the fact that people don't generally need to be told about them.

New York Public Library are an odd case in point, though. Starting life in Sheffield as The Cherokees in 1961, they were plucked from obscurity by producer Mickie Most who eventually scored them a minor number 33 hit with "Seven Daffodils" in 1964.  After The Cherokees failed to build on this initial promise, the band had some minor line-up changes two years later (involving Brian Morris of The Knack joining) and renamed themselves New York Public Library, going abroad to work in Hamburg's Star Club for a period around the same time.

The discs issued by New York Public Library from 1966-68 are all solid stuff, with a noticeable peak occurring around the fantastic "Gotta Get Away" which is one of the finest pieces of brittle guitar pop about suburban ennui that's ever been issued - a real "Everyday Is Like Sunday" for the mod generation.  Sadly, the single completely undeservedly failed to chart and copies are extremely hard to get hold of now, to the extent that even I only have a needledrop mp3 of it from a kind member of a certain sixties forum.

"Whei Leng Ty Luu" was released four years later and represents a rather more mellow side to the band, who by this point were clearly partly influenced by country rock and Crosby Stills Nash & Young as well as the faded remnants of psychedelia.  Simplistic in structure with a nagging mantra of a hook, it also recalls George Harrison's finest early solo hours, and is a strong release.  The building swelling of vocal harmonies peaks at the tail end to create a tranquil yet powerful melody, but this perhaps wasn't quite commercial sounding enough to succeed.  Meanwhile, the flip-side "Boozy Queen" is a bit more of a rocker and apparently still exists in the band's live sets.

The band are based in Farnham in Surrey these days, and tragically their original lead singer John Kirby Woollard passed away in 2007.  Despite this, gigs in and around the area are still possible to witness with their new singer Topper Clay in post, and it does warm the cockles of my heart to learn of a band that's still out and about gigging around the circuit for the sheer love of it.  To learn more about the band, do visit their website.

Apologies for the fact that the mp3s below are only short clips of either side, but as you might suspect their material remains on iTunes.  Both tracks form part of the "Boston Tapes" album which stems from a period the band spent recording in America, but also worthy of your investigation is the marvellous "Anthologically Speaking" which contains some of their best sixties sides.

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