7 August 2014

Good Ship Lollipop - Maxwell's Silver Hammer/ How Does It Feel

Label: Ember
Year of Release: 1969

Here's a riddle for you all - which Beatles album tracks haven't been released as singles by other singers or groups based anywhere in the world? "Revolution #9" would, I suppose, be the first obvious answer to this question, closely followed by "Her Majesty" and some of the other song cycle tracks off "Abbey Road" (but by no means all of them). After that, I wouldn't be willing to place too many bets. Wherever there's a Beatles song which hasn't been issued as a single already, there's always been somebody out there trying to generate a hit with it for their own group or label.

"Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is probably one of the more bizarre choices I've come across. "Abbey Road" is an astonishing album which showcases, possibly more than any other Beatles LP, how untouchable Paul McCartney's songwriting skills could often be. Taking McCartney's talents for granted has sadly become something of a familiar stance in recent years, but one listen to the roller coaster ride that is the song cycle on Side Two should be proof enough that the use of the word "genius" is not, in this case, inappropriate. Despite this, there is one definite weak spot on the record, and it's this thudding, clanging novelty march about a fictional mass murderer. Passably amusing for the first listen and then progressively more and more irritating thereafter, "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" is the kind of track skip buttons were invented for, doing very little but stink the place out with its violent whimsy. Whole debates have been had about why the hell this, of all the "Abbey Road" tracks, was granted such an early slot on the album.

Still, The Good Ship Lollipop - who I assume were a studio group - produce an accurate facsimile of it here, and one which is likely to be of interest to people curious about Beatles cover versions. A certain chirpiness and polite jollity is added to the fantasies about caving skulls in, and does, to my ears, add a few new twists to the track.

The B-side is interesting too, being a cover version of the sixties rarity "How Does It Feel" by The Perishers. It fails to match the mod majesty of the original track, but is definitely a slightly rawer and rougher interpretation.


Timmy said...

Horrid. My computer doesn't like.

Klepsie said...

I'm certain I recall reading that the Good Ship Lollipop were actually from North Devon (which would stick in my mind, because so am I, and apart from the Wurzels, there seemed to be no music scene closer than Bristol when I was growing up there).

Ah, here we go: "A North Devon group composed of - Andrew Butler from Bideford, Mike Oram from Braunton, Terry Tildersley from Torrington and Mike Warburton from Berrynarbor. They were managed by Mike Deakin from Barnstaple and their sole single release was produced by Mike Berry (no relation to Mike Berry the singer/ actor). [Biographical info supplied by their former roadie, 'Martin'.]" -- from

23 Daves said...

Thanks for that information, Klepsie! I hadn't managed to locate that online, although I think I made the careless assumption that this was unlikely to be the work of a proper gigging outfit.

"The Good Ship Lollipop" even sounds like the name of a studio group, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for another release of theirs called: "Girl on a Subway Train" that I recorded off the radio in 1969. Can't find it anywhere. When I recorded it, the volume was too low on my little radio so the copy I have doesn't start cleanly. I'm just amazed this little number hasn't made on YouTube by now.

23 Daves said...

It's here:

I doubt it's the same group, though.