Year of Release: 1966
Pity the sixties artists who nearly had hits. Oh, the torture. "Near-hits" counted for bugger-all back then, and usually the record label would only give them one or two additional shots before dropping them. Take Peter Fenton here as an example - his driving, propulsive take on "Marble Breaks, Iron Bends" climbed to number 46 in the charts (very slowly at that, across three steady weeks) before dropping out again, and one single later he was off Fontana's roster.
That's a bit harsh. Both sides of this are actually impressive pieces of work. "Marble Breaks", as stated already, is a kicking little track which is far superior to the Drafi take on the song, and the flipside "Small Town" is arguably even better, being a Howard and Blaikley penned pean to suburban tedium with a mod beat groove behind it. Fenton even shoots off an impressive little monologue at the end, declaring "Forget it! What can you do in a small town anyway? It's all over by nine o'clock!" Stop exaggerating, sir, The Carpenter's Arms is open until late and you might even get your head kicked in in the car park afterwards.
Fenton hailed from Yorkshire originally, though I've also seen reports online suggesting he originated from Canada - I'm going to take those with a lorry-load of salt given that the accent at the end of "Small Town" is absolutely not North American. Despite his relative success, certainly in comparison to most artists on the blog, he's pretty much disappeared under the radar since. It would be good to find out what he got up to in the years after this.