13 April 2016

Carl Wayne - Hi Summer/ My Girl And Me

Label: Weekend
Year of Release: 1977

Whatever you think of Carl Wayne - and there's no question in my mind that he fronted some of the finest singles of the late sixties as lead singer of The Move - history hasn't shown him to have been a man who was adept at spotting trends. When Roy Wood tried to push The Move into a more progressive direction, Wayne promptly left to focus on a more mainstream career. Wood birthed ELO in the aftermath, and Wayne popped up on mainstream television a lot but didn't score any hit singles or albums.

You can't blame Wayne for perhaps thinking that Wood's underground aspirations were marginally silly, but then later on in his career the songwriters behind "Sugar Baby Love" offered him first dibs on the track. Wayne concluded it wasn't worth his time, and Bickerton and Waddington then approached The Rubettes who soared to number one in the UK with it. Mistake number two.

And so it went. Wayne's solo career was something of a disappointment sales-wise, and while he was guaranteed frequent television exposure as a safe pair of light entertainment hands, the public would never be sufficiently moved (no pun intended) to grant him a hit single.

"Hi Summer" stems from the now largely forgotten 1977 LWT series of the same name, which Wayne appeared in and also sang the Lynsey De Paul penned theme tune. The show was essentially a travelling variety show involving various TV singers and stars roving around in an open-top bus, singing tunes and performing comedy sketches with smiles on their faces. Leslie Crowther, Lena Zavaroni, Derek Griffiths, and Anna Dawson all regularly featured, and the show's only repeat showing in recent years has been this rather dated clip of Griffiths and Dawson singing "Melting Pot" together. Alan Partridge was doubtless leaning forward in his chair and paying close attention at the time that first aired.

There's a clear Beach Boys influence cutting under the theme tune itself, and you'd be forgiven for expecting Carl Wayne fronting a piece of Beach Boys inspired work as sounding something close to Super Furry Animals - but this, sadly, would not be borne out. "Hi Summer" is jolly, bouncy and actually oddly enjoyable, but it doesn't come close to the man's finest work. His voice is in fine form throughout, but the material itself isn't strong enough to have been a hit, and the track is also over-long, repeating the same ideas around the block rather than expanding on them.

All this is somewhat incidental, however. It's very hard to imagine The Move's work without Carl Wayne's charismatic presence and throttling lead vocals. While you could try to argue that Roy Wood might have been able to carry the band by himself in the earliest days, Wayne had a star quality, and it's perhaps no surprise that he thought a solo career might be more beneficial to him than the trappings of a band.  Solo careers failing to fly despite seemingly positive odds is, unfortunately, an old old story in rock and pop (just ask Paul Jones).

Wayne would eventually earn some success as the new lead singer of The Hollies from the year 2000 until his tragic death of cancer in the year 2004.


Arthur Nibble said...

The B-side is a re-gendering of Lynsey De Paul's single "My Man And Me". As fate would have it, seven years after this single, London Weekend produced a sitcom starring Richard O'Sullivan as a single father called "Me And My Girl", with the theme tune sung by Peter Skellern.

23 Daves said...

De Paul must have been hoping for top notch royalties on this effort, but it was not to be.

Meanwhile, we've had Skellern, De Paul, Zavaroni and Griffiths on this blog entry now! It's turning into 70s light entertainment singer trumps.

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