17 July 2019

The Embers - Chelsea Boots/ Samantha

Sixties instro-pop with - on the flip - a distinct Joe Meek feel

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1963

What could be better than a sixties guitar instrumental about everyone's favourite footwear - then and now - Chelsea Boots? The boots with an elasticated removal strap at the back which always gets used with rushed relief at the end of the day when you need to remove an agonising new pair of the things (I still think some kind of minor medal should be awarded to anyone who has endured a month of discomfort trying to wear a new pair "in").

As you'd expect, the A-side here has a typical, merry Carnaby Street skip about it, perfect for swinging your shopping bag along to having bought such shoes. It sounds perfect as incidental backing music, but perhaps lacked a strong enough melody or hook to become a charting single. 

The flipside generally tends to be more discussed online. "Samantha" apes Joe Meek's production style so much that I only hope he never heard it. If he had, I'm sure the familiar scream of "Rotten pigs!" would have been heard, closely followed by some objects being thrown around the room. Clearly, it's not as precise or as clean a style as Meek managed, but it's a neat imitation.

There seem to be a number of stories online about who The Embers actually were, with some people pointing out that they were a band from the Basildon/ Billericay area of Essex. However, the book "Tapestry Of Delights", which we should probably consider to be the most reliable source of information, states that they were from Edinburgh and consisted of Alan Bomfort on vocals, Peter Bottomley and Jimmy Cruickshank on guitar, Jimmy Hush on drums and Willie Syme on bass. Given that "The Embers" sounds like one of those racy, common-or-garden rock and roll group names, it's possible that there were two bands operating under it at the same time, one largely based in Scotland, the other down south. If anyone knows for sure, please let me know.

Another release under the name David and the Embers ("What Is This?") also emerged in 1963, which also sheds doubt on the official verdict. Was "David" a new member or Alan Bomfort adopting another name (and why would he do that)? Whatever the truth, neither single was a hit and the group seemed to disappear not long afterwards.


john111257 said...

Chelsea boots sounds so like earthy by the tornados

john111257 said...

Samantha is a real meek style tune, i like it, Joe wouldn't of course

Unknown said...

Hi I new the band that were introd by Johny Leyton they did Chelsea boots on Decca drummer was Howard Potter leed guitar was bonne mock vocal Dave hamber in the 60s Howard Potter was from the crown pub publicans son he had done drum solos on Decca . A great group practicing in the civil defence cella in billericay .

Kaiser Matt said...

I can support the Edinburgh link, as I met one of the band (guitar or bass player?) he had a shop on the south side of Edinburgh in the early 90s perhaps? With a copy of the Embers 45 on the wall in a frame. I've recently ordered a copy of the disc with Dave
- the flip is an instrumental that certainly sounds like it could be the same group to me. There is a good paragraph about the band in Bruce Welsh's book 'what about us' and a picture.

I have a spot-the-Scot feature on my local community radio show and will be spinning both discs in the near future. Saturday nights, 10pm - midnight. Kaiser Matt's Record Box. Thanks for posting your article, great stuff!