29 April 2018

The Musicians - Jaunty Joe/ The Chelsea Set

Two sixties instros perfect for swinging your shopping bags down Carnaby Street to.

Label: King
Year of Release: 1967

A lot of easy listening tinged sixties instrumental singles are awfully uncollectible these days, and none more so than the slices of perkiness that soundtracked the later part of the decade. There are few British sixties youth films you can watch without hearing jaunty melodies and women singing "oo-doobe-doobe-doo!" in the background, but we have a tendency to consider these as rather kitsch tunes these days, not something we would willingly listen to of our own volition. They may have had a bit of a second wind in the mid-nineties (thanks to Mike Flowers) but since then, they've dipped back below the horizon again.

That's a shame, because I actually love this stuff. Cheery and bubbly without scrimping on the quality, there's an infectious charm and joy about them. They do sound like the soundtrack to every ageing bachelor's cocktail party, but there are far worse things in life to accompany than booze, fun and frivolity. 

"Jaunty Joe" is credited to a band called The Musicians, but like so many tracks of this ilk, I doubt the group were anything more than a studio entity. With a honking brass and a insistent hook, and a careful arrangement, it's a nice listen. "Jaunty Joe" was also released by the Ray McVay Orchestra to slightly more success, but this version sounds a bit rawer, a tiny bit more mod (though these things are all relative). It does sound like the lost theme tune to a seventies sit-com, and indeed somebody missed a trick by not using it as one. 

The flip "The Chelsea Set" is pretty much more of the same, though slightly less memorable and deserving of its flip side status as a result. 

This was one of a number of curious releases on the King independent label, owned by Rita and Benny King who also ran the R&B Records store in Stamford Hill. A beacon to East London mods and a prime place to buy Ska and Rocksteady Records before these genres were absorbed into the mainstream, it's a fascinating and under-appreciated slice of London history. This blog entry tells you everything you need to know about them, and reveals that besides this kind of fare, King and its cornucopia of subsidiary labels also put out early records by Lee Perry, The Skatalites, The Maytals, and slightly less likely candidates such as The Guess Who, Lou Christie, Dora Hall and The Afex. I doff my cap to them, wherever they now are. 

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