14 November 2019

Mike Wade - On The Make

Completely unreleased song by Scott Walker-esque crooner

Label: [acetate]
Year of Release: [n/a]

Acetates, particularly ones of unreleased songs, spark huge excitement in me. It doesn't necessarily matter if the song isn't a lost gem - I've been getting my knees dirty digging in plastic crates for long enough now to know that's a very rare occurrence - it's just interesting to get hold of a polished recording which never made it past the private studio pressing stage. If a record that only sold fifty copies is scarce, then an acetate which was only shared among a handful of people is always going to feel a bit like a "precious thing" to a record collector.

The trouble is, acetates usually aren't very cheap either, and if I'm being honest, they tend not to overly enthuse "Left and to the Back" readers, who perhaps sense that if it wasn't good enough to make it into record shops, it's probably not worth clicking to investigate further. If I'm being fair, that's not usually an unreasonable assumption. "So what have we here?" you may well ask while stroking your chins, and let me tell you...

Mike Wade was one of many theatrical, big-voiced male solo singers in the sixties, who issued one 45 on Beacon ("Lovers", backed with the danceable "Two Three Four") and two on Polydor ("Happiness" and "Lovin' You Lovin' Me"). With a singing style which does seem rather reminiscent of Scott Walker at times, he nonetheless failed to take the kind of creative risks our dearly departed friend did - there were to be no songs about death or Stalin, nor meat punched for its percussive qualities round at Mike's house.

As Scott became ever more introspective and experimental, perhaps record label bosses saw Mike Wade as being somebody who could be wheeled into his place. That really wasn't to be, though - all his singles sold poorly, and it's very tricky to track down any of them now. Scott's, on the other hand, have been reissued time and time over.

Unless I'm very much mistaken, "On The Make" wasn't on anyone's release schedule, but it's such a fully fleshed production that it sounds as if it must have been considered for a public release, or at least shopped around by an independent producer. Far from being a sketchy demo, this has a full orchestra, spirited female backing vocals and a slick, tidy feel. What it admittedly isn't is a "hit single". Mike sings passionately about a pesky lady who is only in the game of romance for financial opportunism, but it lacks surprises and relies too heavily on the repetition of an ordinary chorus to maintain the listener's interest.

The track was penned by Mike himself, but his earlier songwriting work showed more promise than this. It looks as if this may have been shopped around to various labels by his manager or agent, and when nobody bit, it was hidden in a box somewhere and forgotten about... until now.


Anonymous said...

Tank you David !!


Andrew said...

Honest opinion? Better than the official singles he issued. Could do with a more souped-up arrangement/orchestration - a la, say, Keith Mansfield.

23 Daves said...

I really do need to go back and listen to his official releases again. My favourite was always the Beacon release, but that was mainly for the groovier than usual flipside.

Anonymous said...

belle voix, j'adore avec l'orchestration. Un démo final mix peut être. Vraiment rare
Dommage pour la petite carrière de l'artiste. L'année de ce démo? je dirai fin 69 début 70 pour un éventuel single sur polydor? Thanks pour le partage. Very great!!!

23 Daves said...

Désolé, mais je ne suis pas sûr. Je suppose que 1970 ...?