8 March 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 28 - Mike Conway - Reign of King Sadness

Mike Conway - Reign of King Sadness

Who: Mike Conway
What: Reign of King Sadness (b/w "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman")
Label: Plexium Records
When: 1968
Where: Reckless Records, Soho (RIP)
Cost: 50p

I've said before that the reduced boxes and bins of your average second hand record store usually have a fair few sixties solo artists nesting amidst the novelty pop, three hit wonders and rejected promotional singles. The musical history books have been particularly poor at recording the comings and goings of these lone rangers unless they were folk artists - and even then, there are some shocking gaps in everybody's knowledge.

If there's any information out there about Mike Conway at all, I can't find it. On the evidence of this recording, though, he sounds like a middle of the road supper club character who obviously didn't find enormous success. "The Reign of King Sadness" is a celebratory ballad about the end of bleak times which is really quite wearisome despite its good intentions, and it's the B-side in all its "You couldn't get away with that now!" glory that I'm really interested in. "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman" is a bold declaration of intent where, with a joyful, brassy orchestral backing, Conway assures us "I'm gonna get me a woman, yes sir/ I think that each guy should/ but I ain't gonna marry no gal/ unless she can cook real good". The year might have been 1968, and such thoughts may have already become desperately passe and offensive to some, but the mainstream of pop carried on churning out these feminist baiting lyrical corkers for years to come (as also evidenced in Moments and Whatnauts' hit "Girls" in the seventies). There's a bounce to "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman" I find enticing, and a distinct tone of wrongness about the lyrics which seems amusing now. The confidence in Conway's voice is a noise to behold - you can imagine him skipping down the street singing the song.

What became of the chap is anybody's guess. A search around the Internet reveals that this man here is a sixty year old singer from South Wales, which would seem to be about the right age, but there seem to be multiple Mikes in circulation, including an Indy racing car driver, a voiceover artist and musician based in the States, and the manager of Australian kid-pop band The Wiggles. Place your bets, please.

Of equal interest is the production credit for David Balfe, which I can only assume isn't David Balfe out of the Teardrop Explodes unless he was some kind of studio prodigy, and the fact this came out on Plexium Records, a very early independent label which failed to take on the might of the majors, but is now extremely collectible. Judging by the catalogue number, this looks like it may have been their first release.


Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your site while looking for Barnaby Rudge.

Really glad I discovered it...thanks for sharing all this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Mike Conway,

Mike lived in North Cheam, London and was the lead singer for a local band in the sixties called The Undergrades. He also went on to sing The Riegn of..and also I'm gonna get...yes sir. He was my Fathers brother and Mikes sister was Moreen Rose a singer who played venues throughout the UK ,I believe in the late 50's. Moreen was married to Dennis Newey who was with the BBC orchestra. Mikes father was Frank Quinn OBE the Quartermaster for MI-6 who died under mysterious circumstance in the early seventies. Mike was a really great uncle and he was the singing local generation in London in the sixties. He passed away in N.Ireland some years ago at age 55.
With better lyrics and coaching he could have been truly great. The undergrades I think produced a record, I am sure of it. "Rock on Mike" Love always, your family.

Anonymous said...

Further to my brother's comments on Mike his real name was Mike Quinn and had a stint in the Army, owned a shoe shop in Belfast and was also a prison guard for a while. He was a talented man but never managed the break needed to succeed. He was a fun man and good uncle but in truth we did not see enough of him over the years. Mike was a playboy type in his younger days but when his father died I feel that Mike somewhat lost his way with music and his image. Thank you for the chance to remember Mike's music via this site. I remember having the record and playing it every so often but it got lost over the years. Nice to see a picture of it again.

23 Daves said...

It's an absolute pleasure, and thanks for taking the time to share your memories of Mike. I still play "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman" now and then, and it never fails to cheer me up.

Anonymous said...

J had the pleasure of knowing mike. He had a great voice and deserved success.q

Anonymous said...

I also knew Mike at the time he released.......The reign of king sadness. We thought this would be the start of a successful career. He really just needed a break into the business. He had a powerful voice and an understanding of how to use it. A great guy with a great voice. Still remember after all these years. Keith Hutt.

Anonymous said...

Just to confirm it isn't THE David Balfe, as he would have been about 8 years old when this was recorded. I have a copy and this blog is about the only thing worthwhile about the record on the net. It is valued at £15 in the 2016 RRPG price guide.