6 September 2020

Reupload - Roaring 60s - We Love The Pirates/ I'm Leaving Town

John Carter led protest pop about the planned closure of the sixties pirates

Label: Marmalade
Year of Release: 1966

Without offshore pirate radio in Britain in the sixties, it's hard to see how the music scene would have progressed as quickly. The BBC Light Programme did dedicate some airtime to beat pop, but the needle-time it gave to American soul, noisy mod bands, early psychedelia or indeed anything else that might upset your visiting Auntie wasn't really that impressive. For those kinds of sounds, Radio London or Radio Caroline would most likely be your friend, or - if you wanted to look to more legal channels - Radio Luxembourg might just do it, provided you could get a clear signal.

However, while the offshore pirates were given a relatively easy ride from the powers that be initially, the Government began to get increasingly huffy about their easy, licence-free ride over the airwaves. The final straw was possibly the shooting and death of Radio City owner Reginald Calvert, after a scuffle with Major Oliver Smedley about an unpaid bill for a new transmitter. (Which hardly makes the venture sound very underground or hip and happening, more like a scuffle between a couple of posh men about some dodgy under-the-counter business).

From that point on, the time for all the boats was almost up, and "We Love The Pirates" represents an early cry of protest about their possible demise. "You can hear your favourite rock and roll/ rhythm and blues with a lot of soul!" The Roaring 60s sing, quite accurately. There's not a great deal of soul or rhythm in blues in their performance, though - this is more like an airy Beach Boys pastiche meeting a protest song. Nonetheless, it was reasonably popular at the time (possibly due to Pirate Radio airplay, I'd say) without actually charting, and got the new Marmalade record label off to a good enough start.

Rumours have persisted for years that the group Family is behind this recording, which is false. While they did briefly perform under the Roaring 60s name, this was really just John Carter and a gang of session musicians doing their bit for the chaps at sea. It was all for nought, and the pirates all closed down as soon as an appropriate law was passed to make their activities illegal. Except, that is, for Radio Caroline, a stalwart that remains functioning to this day, though these days legally from a studio in Maldon rather than at sea.

The Roaring 60s wouldn't be the last people to care about the offshore pirates, either. As late as 1985 the track "I Spy For The DTI" was released in protest about the Department of Trade and Industry's "interference" with Radio Caroline and Laser 558. 


Mike Davies said...

A Belgian group called Trinity released a cover version of this song in the 1970's.

23 Daves said...

How very bloody weird! I wonder what relevance the whole issue had to do with Disco in 1977?!

john111257 said...

Governments don't like people to have a good time, ban this,don't do that, don't eat this...great days of radio

Anonymous said...


Interesting. A very unique UK/European phenomenon. Grew up listening to Canadian Top 40 1050 CHUM-AM & did not "know" about anything else until best friend from France "opened my ears" in mid 70's. Ears have been "expanding" ever since.

Ciao! For now.

Timmy said...

Excellent! Thanx..........