26 March 2017

The Hallmarks - One Way Street/ Johnny's Gone For A Soldier


Label: Polydor
Year of Release: 1967

Before they really got a grip on the UK market, Polydor released a slurry of flop singles which were barely heard at the time, and have drifted into absolute obscurity since. These were often by artists who haven't even managed to gain an entry in the usually exhaustive "Tapestry of Delights" encyclopaedia of sixties pop. 

That's certainly the case with The Hallmarks here, who appear to have been a folk rock group based in Britain (though it's hard to say for sure). The A-side here, "One Way Street", is a rather underproduced but strident piece of work, with the vocals somewhat suffocated in the mix by a treacle of chiming guitars and thumping drums. No matter - the song itself is actually an enjoyable example of the folk rock genre, containing close Mama and Papas-esque vocal harmonies, wintery sleigh bells, and a jingle jangle morning air. With a more sympathetic mix, it's possible to imagine this having been a hit, however by January 1967 folk rock was beginning to seem a bit passe, and more ambitious songwriting and production was beginning to shape the pop landscape.

Whoever they were, The Hallmarks seemingly never issued another record, and naffed off after this without leaving behind any clues to their identity. The A-side was also recorded by the Irish group Brendan Bowyer and The Royal Showband, aka The Royal Showband Waterford, so it's possible that the group were actually Irish rather than British. Equally possibly, however, "One Way Street" might have been a Denmark Street composition bought up by both bands at different times. Who knows? Certainly not me, that's for sure.

If you can identify the mystery band, please do leave a comment.




3 comments:

Devon Young said...
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Devon Young said...

Very interesting. There's a copy of an acetate from 1967 on Youtube by a group called The Hallmarks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eENPIq49a8A). It seems to have been recorded in New Jersey, so it might be a different group with the same name, but I can't help but wonder if maybe they got into a studio in the US and tried to change their sound a bit. The vocals sound similar enough to make me think this might be the same group, or at least the same singers trying to get another single out.

23 Daves said...

Thanks Devon - that's a really interesting acetate, and I agree it could be the same group. However, the vocals do sound ever so slightly different, and the overall production is a lot less folky. So I wonder...

There was also another American teen-pop group called The Hallmarks who were around in 64/65, but I strongly doubt they have anything to do with either recording. Such a confusing business!