31 August 2016

Roaring 60s - We Love The Pirates/ I'm Leaving Town

Label: Marmalade
Year of Release: 1966

Without offshore pirate radio in Britain in the sixties, it's hard to see how the music scene would have progressed as quickly. The BBC Light Programme did dedicate some airtime to beat pop, but the needle-time it gave to American soul, noisy mod bands, early psychedelia or indeed anything else that might upset your visiting Auntie wasn't really that impressive. For those kinds of sounds, Radio London or Radio Caroline would most likely be your friend, or - if you wanted to look to more legal channels - Radio Luxembourg might just do it, provided you could get a clear signal.

However, while the offshore pirates were given a relatively easy ride from the powers that be initially, the Government began to get increasingly huffy about their easy, licence-free ride over the airwaves. The final straw was possibly the shooting and death of Radio City owner Reginald Calvert, after a scuffle with Major Oliver Smedley about an unpaid bill for a new transmitter. (Which hardly makes the venture sound very underground or hip and happening, more like a scuffle between a couple of posh men about some dodgy under-the-counter business).

From that point on, the time for all the boats was almost up, and "We Love The Pirates" represents an early cry of protest about their possible demise. "You can hear your favourite rock and roll/ rhythm and blues with a lot of soul!" The Roaring 60s sing, quite accurately. There's not a great deal of soul or rhythm in blues in their performance, though - this is more like an airy Beach Boys pastiche meeting a protest song. Nonetheless, it was reasonably popular at the time (possibly due to Pirate Radio airplay, I'd say) without actually charting, and got the new Marmalade record label off to a good enough start.

Rumours have persisted for years that the group Family is behind this recording, which is false. While they did briefly perform under the Roaring 60s name, this was really just John Carter and a gang of session musicians doing their bit for the chaps at sea. It was all for nought, and the pirates all closed down as soon as an appropriate law was passed to make their activities illegal. Except, that is, for Radio Caroline, a stalwart that remains functioning to this day, though these days legally from a studio in Maidstone rather than at sea. 

The Roaring 60s wouldn't be the last people to care about the offshore pirates, either. As late as 1985 the track "I Spy For The DTI" was released in protest about the Department of Trade and Industry's "interference" with Radio Caroline and Laser 558. 


Anonymous said...

I missed the B-side

Many thanks for this track

Greetings Albert

Anonymous said...

Hi from Belgium

Your blog is really superb !!, many hard to find singles on your blog

I have a question, if possible of course
I'm looking for years after this from Bill J Kramer ( solo)

- A Fool Like You
- Darlin' Come To Me/Walking (Decca F 13442) 1973

Maybe you can help ?

Many thanks in advance

Greetings Albert

23 Daves said...

I'm afraid I don't own this record, Albert - I'll let you know if I ever stumble on it, however.