28 August 2014

Sam Apple Pie - Call Me Boss/ Old Tom

Label: DJM
Year of Release: 1972

Walthamstow… so much to answer for. Actually, scrub that, Walthamstow in East London doesn't really have its name up in big rock and roll lights, instead tending to humbly get along with its business without too much fuss. It may be where Ian Dury went to art college, the place where the semi-legendary punk label (and shop) Small Wonder records was based, the home of Grime, and where (of course!) East 17 hailed from, but despite these facts to most people it will always be a dormant outpost of London. Though not, of course, if the Estate Agents who are irritatingly remarketing the area as Awesomestow have anything to do with it.

Blues rockers Sam Apple Pie are another band we can add to the area's hall of fame. Despite achieving only very modest success in their time, they were present at the first Glastonbury Festival line-up in 1970 and were mainstays of the pub and student union circuit for most of the decade. Their eponymously titled debut album was issued in 1969 on Decca Records and is available to buy all over the place, but it's their 1973 follow-up "East 17" (no, I'm not making this up) on DJM which is harder to come by. With the line-up consisting of Sam Sampson, Bob Rennie, Andy Johnson, Denny Barnes and Lee Baxter Hayes at this point, "Call Me Boss" was the sole 45 from this period, and emphasises a flair for deeply catchy hooks which wasn't always apparent across their albums. Part rough hillbilly magic, another part sprightly pop, it perhaps could have registered with more people in those peculiar days when Mungo Jerry were top flight hit makers and merry rawness of this ilk stood half a chance of success. It was, however, not to be. 

Sam Apple Pie are an outfit who seem to attract the statement "You really had to see them live to understand how great they were!" across the Internet, which is very unfortunate for somebody like me who was born too late to appreciate them in that context. The vinyl is really all we have, and it's still pretty smart - just not worthy of excessive superlatives. Those with memories of their live shows may well be able to invest much more enthusiasm into their work than me, though. 

The band finally ceased their activities for good in 1980, and member Andy Johnson regrettably passed away in 2010. 


the possessive apostrophe said...

I met founding member and all-around decent bloke Mick Smith at a Glenn Tilbrook show here in San Francisco. Sadly, he passed away not long after:

23 Daves said...

I'm really sorry to hear that, I wasn't aware of his passing.

I do find the numerous line-up changes in Sam Apple Pie hard to follow as well - while they existed they seemed to go through a huge run of members.