30 May 2018

Marc Reid - For No One/ Lonely City Blue

Faithful but slightly baroque styled cover of The Beatles track

Label: CBS
Year of Release: 1966

I've often wondered why there hasn't been a volume of Rubble - or a similar series - dedicated entirely to obscure Beatles covers. God knows there are enough of them to pick from, and despite the record label or the artist's manager's best hopes, the vast majority seemed to be complete flops.

Perhaps one reason such a project has never seen the light of day is the fact that very few of these releases messed with the original template much. For every track like The Score's "Please Please Me" (better than the original, in my controversial yet humble opinion) there are dozens if not hundreds of carbon copies of Fabs tunes - especially their album tracks, which record labels loved to take a punt on, hoping to repeat the success of Marmalade's "Ob La Di Ob La Da" or St Louis Union's "Girl".

Marc Reid's version of "For No One", then, isn't an especially radical reworking, but it does feature a thrumming harpsichord, woodwind arrangements and Reid's polite, rounded, considered vocals. As such, it's astonishing it hasn't featured on a "Fading Yellow" or "Piccadilly Sunshine" compilation yet, where it would be completely at home. It's a very pleasant listen indeed. If the data I have on its release date is correct, it was issued on exactly the same day (5th August 1966) as The Beatles "Revolver" LP, which would suggest that someone at CBS or his management heard an advance demo of the album and whisked him into the studio as quickly as possible to record a cover - such opportunism sometimes paid dividends for artists in the sixties, but it didn't work in this instance. 

The flip "Lonely City Blue" is a Reid composition, and is a much folkier muse on uprooting yourself from love and familiarity to the promise of the "big neon city".

Marc (whose real name was apparently Malcolm Reid) appears to have become a bit of an enigma in recent years. Despite having three singles out on CBS - this, his debut, was followed up with "The Magic Book" and "We Should Live Together", neither of which sold any better - he appears to have disappeared from the music business not long afterwards, and completely off the map after that. The 45Cat forum is filled with friends of his from the late sixties trying to trace his whereabouts, all seemingly without any success. Given that "Left and to the Back" often features near the top of Google rankings and has even managed to reunite estranged family members in the past, perhaps this entry will finally smoke him out of his hole, or at the very least alert a current friend or family member that he's a wanted man.

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