10 May 2020

Threshold - Friday On My Mind/ Tomorrow's Sorrow

Strange, pulsing, doomy take on the The Easybeats classic

Label: Sol-doon
Year of Release: 1976

Rarely do I find myself writing about Portsmouth groups on this blog. Despite having spent most of the nineties living there and continually looking for excuses to feature Portsea Island combos, there are two insurmountable obstacles standing in my way - firstly, very few bands have ever got further than the demo tape stage, so didn't get to "immortalise their sound in wax" (I do have a few Pompey demos in an old shoebox somewhere, but no cassette tape player to convert them with). Secondly, the ones that did get around to releasing records were often somewhat pedestrian.

Let's all sing "Hallelujah" and telephone our Mums, then, because this one-off 45 from Pompey is actually both strange and worthy of inclusion here. The Easybeats' original version of "Friday On My Mind" is, of course, ideal source material, being a wondrous track in itself. The fact it peaked at number 6 on the UK charts is further proof that the British record buying public are not to be trusted; that slow, ticking desperate build up to the raging, ecstatic chorus is endlessly relatable. You can picture the big city lights and sounds and the rush of nightlife almost as soon as it kicks in, the song stretching itself to near snapping point on the line "I've got to get to night". Never has anyone articulated the end of the working week so brilliantly, not in the field of rock 45s anyway. Number 6? Number one for six weeks would have been a fairer finish point. 

This makes Threshold's approach to the track so unorthodox and strange. The ticking rhythms of the original are replaced with a doomy, almost post-punk pulsing rhythm (though punk was in its infancy in 1976 when this was released, and post-punk most certainly hadn't been thought of). The vocals sound aggrieved and despondent rather than ecstatic. The emotional emphasis seems to have been moved from the thrills of Friday to the other less positive lines instead - lines about "working for the rich man". These are some pissed-off, moody, heavy dudes channeling their grievances through someone else's pop song. The droning organ in the background seems to owe a debt to a mid-sixties garage sound, and the whole thing seeps with gothic atmospheres. You might disagree with me on its effectiveness, but there's no doubting it's a unique take.

The group were yet another bunch of promising musicians who were offered a slightly stingy one single deal through the Pye subsidiary Sol-doon, shortly after Allen Heather of ATV Music spotted them playing live. Keyboard player and vocalist John Wilson and guitarist and vocalist Trevor Price had previously been a member of Portsmouth band Blues Unlimited, before gigging as the duo The Jays. In 1975, the pair joined with Paul Russell on drums and George Allen on bass guitar to form Threshold, who had barely been on the circuit for a year before getting their break.

Why "Friday On My Mind"  - and especially this version of it - was chosen as the track to launch them with is something of a mystery. If it had been released one or two years later with a little bit more aggression and vim in its veins, the group could have been on to something, but while it carries a certain menace, in the summer of 1976 this version would have been too strange and laidback to register. Still, it's left us with a hazy, sinister, droning view of the average weekend's heaviness, and for that we should be thankful. This has been one of my more fascinating finds in recent months.


Doctor Gaz said...

Maybe Shelley and Diggle holidayed south that year!

Graham said...

Just listened to their version of 'Friday on My Mind'. It really didn't work for me, I've heard some cover versions that improved on the originals in my time, but that was not one of them.

23 Daves said...

It's certainly not going to be everyone's cup of tea, Graham. I definitely don't think it's better than the original, but I do think it's an interesting alternative take.

John jock wilson said...

HI David thanks for putting my single friday on my mind on your site and keaping it alive lol

John jock wilson said...

Hi thanks for putting my song friday on my mind on your site and keaping it alive lol my email is and facebook as john jock wilson

John jock wilson said...

Hi I would. Like to say something about the single Friday on my mind I was the keyboard player in the band and didn't want to do this song we had no choice as atv music picked song I would rather have done one of our own songs that suited us better you cant beat the orignal song by the easybeats we had no choice on b side either but there you go lol never played it much live only if we had to

23 Daves said...

Thanks for dropping by, John! I really enjoyed this single.

John jock wilson said...

Hi daves thanks I never liked our versian of the song loved the originall we had no choice in the matter.Atv music picked song we we would rather have done one of our own originall songs

23 Daves said...

That's a huge shame. If it's any consolation, I think you approached it from a different angle and successfully stamped your own identity on to it, so it's a successful cover version from that point of view.

What happened to the group after this? Did you continue for much longer? I'm assuming nothing else was recorded for the label?