27 September 2014

The Jaybirds - Tell Me When/ You Can't Do That

Label: Embassy
Year of Release: 1964

Regular readers will know the drill with Embassy Records - this was no ordinary record label, being a budget outlet which specialised in releasing quickie 45rpm cover versions of the hits of the day. I've already written about their history here, and I'll refrain from doing so again.

Side A in this case is actually a reasonably faithful cover of "Tell Me When" by The Applejacks, a group best known mainly for that hit. The Applejacks were the first Birmingham based group to hit the British top ten and there were high hopes they could continue that initial success, but in reality each subsequent release was greeted with less enthusiasm from the public. A deep pity, because one early flip side "Boom Boom Boom Boom (Everybody Fall Down)" could perhaps be seen to pre-empt The Housemartins sound by two whole decades, to the extent that it's nigh-on impossible to listen to it without imagining Hull's top turn doing goofy dancing along to it while Norman Cook dances properly and tries not to look embarrassed behind them. It's safe to say that while The Applejacks were not actually lost musical pioneers, they frequently bashed out a beat tune with more competence and enthusiasm than many of their better-selling peers. 

Side B is the puzzler. "You Can't Do That" was never a Beatles A-side, but it proves how popular the Fabs were in 1964 that even their flip sides were being covered for cheapo single releases. But surely the logical thing to have done would be to pair this with a cover of "Can't Buy Me Love"? What was going on in the minds of everyone at Embassy HQ at this point? It's impossible to say. The track is commercially available on iTunes and also a Beatles covers album these days, so you'll have to satisfy yourself with a YouTube link for it instead. I'll be blunt - it's utterly unremarkable. So many of the cover versions of Beatles songs during this era remind you never to underestimate the power the group - including the much-maligned Ringo - could pack into their songs. Other session musicians clearly struggled to replicate their sound, to the extent that an effective Beatles cover actually feels like a notable achievement. 

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