19 March 2023

The Bloomfields - The Loner/ Heads Hands & Feet - Homing In On The Next Trade Wind


Back by popular demand - it's The Futs plus orchestra! (kinda)

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1972

What a peculiar find. The Richard Harris directed 1971 sports film "Bloomfield", featuring Harris himself playing the title role, was one of those British flicks which drifted into cinemas and out again without much fanfare or harsh criticism, just a general shrug of the shoulders. Having made only mild impressions, it then drifted to the back of everyone's memory holes and presumably onwards to some storage vault at the British Film Institute somewhere (it certainly hasn't turned up on DVD yet, though YouTube has the full picture available if anyone's interested).

If it's remembered for anything much at all these days, it's probably the lush, dreamy soundtrack overseen by Johnny Harris, which is held close to the chests of a few discerning record collectors. The two key moments from it are presented across seven inches here, and of interest to Bee Gees fans is likely to be Maurice Gibb's track "The Loner" which would have formed the centrepiece of his 1970 solo LP had it actually seen commercial light.

For a proposed LP title track, it's shockingly brief - less than two minutes of melancholy pop backed by soaring orchestral swells and an acoustic bounce. It's a pretty and sophisticated listen, but arguably too short, sweet and subtle for its own good, and as such, it's unsurprising it wasn't a hit. This would likely have been the case even if Gibb had put his name front and centre of the recording.

Also of note is the fact that he recorded and co-wrote this with Lulu's brother Billy Lawrie, also a member of his unofficial Beatles-apeing project The Futs. This, it's safe to say, has less of a "laid down on tape after eight pints of Newcastle Brown" feel to it. 

Over on the flipside are fellow soundtrack contributors Heads Hands & Feet with a atypically airy composition of their own. This is probably the side which will excite most people. Keeping the slightly dark, rueful mood going, its the atmospheric cousin to Andy Williams "Home Lovin' Man" and The Beach Boys at their saltiest. While the track doesn't give Chas Hodges and the boys much of a chance to rock out, it does show how damn versatile they could be. 

Given that HH&F were also primed for huge success at the time, it could also be argued that this single points towards a future the seventies never really took; Maurice Gibbs' solo career that never was, HH&F's thwarted ascension to the big time, and Richard Harris's possibilities as a director (Bloomfield was his only directed film). Sometimes white elephants can be fascinating creatures, and this one is singing its own sweet blues while an orchestra agreeably dips and soars behind it. 

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