26 April 2015

Fickle Pickle - Maybe I'm Amazed/ Sitting On A Goldmine

Label: Philips
Year of Release: 1970

Paul McCartney, by his own confession, went a tiny bit odd after The Beatles split, the initial elation of "that magic feeling" of having nowhere to go soon giving way to common-or-garden boredom, inertia and vague depression. His home recorded debut solo album, while fondly regarded in general, is still seen as a missed opportunity by some. Like a series of draft sketches produced by a master painter, it taunts and teases the listener with brilliance before often ebbing away into stoned incoherence.

At the time, "Maybe I'm Amazed" was almost universally regarded as the stand-out track, another epic McCartney rock ballad in search of a more polished arrangement. Macca refused to entertain the idea of it being released as a single, though, and it seemed destined to remain album-bound, until a group of session boys at Morgan Studios in London got other ideas.

Fickle Pickle, a studio group consisting of Wil Malone (of Orange Bicycle and Motherlight) on keyboards, Geoff Gill on drums and vocals, Cliff Wade on a variety of instruments and Steve Howden on bass, picked up the song and decided to turn it into a hit single. The fact that you're reading about it on here means they obviously failed, but that's actually highly surprising. This version allows the song to spread its wings (no pun intended) fully and is a damn good guess at what a polished, non-home studio version of "Amazed" might have sounded like. And it's a corker - the drums sound more fluid than metronomic, and the backing vocals soar like the Fabs at their Abbey Road finest. Its failure is one of pop's biggest mysteries. 

It was a minor hit in the Netherlands, and in an attempt to capitalise on their success in that country an LP entitled "Sinful Skinful" was released by the boys, but failed to sell at all well. It's a reasonably nice concoction of slightly novelty-tinged turn-of-the-seventies pop, but nothing to get your knickers in a twist about. The only other highly noteworthy Fickle Pickle recording for my money is their B-side "Sam and Sadie" whose anthemic Beatles-inspired drama predates Oasis's penchant for such things.

And the "Maybe I'm Amazed" story doesn't necessarily finish there. It's also been covered by The Faces and Billy Joel, but for my money, Sandie Shaw's seldom heard and considered reading is also worth a listen. If other significant covers emerge in the future, I wouldn't be at all surprised.

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