RECORD MIRROR Singles Reviews, 25th November 1967

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Poll Closing Date: Monday, 6 December 2021 00:00 (in 3 days)

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In which, heroically, Peter Jones reviews 99 new releases on a single page. I have "curated" these into 50 poll options, excluding the iffiest no-hopers and the three biggest front-runners.

This is an absolute treasure trove, spanning the full range of late 1967 pop. It's all here: psych-pop, future Northern soul, blue beat, West Coast rock, Carnaby Street beat girls, comedy, jazz, African highlife, etc etc. And yet Peter Jones - a man with seemingly no genre bias whatsoever - chooses to lead the column with the Mike Sammes Singers and Harry Secombe. Go figure.

You can have a fortnight for this one.

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - The Equestrian Statue
The Peep Show - Esprit De Corps (Fifty Years Old)
Country Joe And The Fish - Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
Diana Ross And The Supremes - In And Out Of Love
Tim Hardin - Lady Came From Baltimore
The Fantastic Johnny C - Boogaloo Down Broadway
The Jefferson Airplane - The Ballad Of You And Me And Pooneil
Mickey Murray - Shout Bamalama
Lou Rawls - Little Drummer Boy
The Lovin' Spoonful - She Is Still A Mystery
The Glories - (I Love You Babe But) Give Me My Freedom
The Bar-Kays - Give Everybody Some
The Searchers - Secondhand Dealer
Sandy Posey - Are You Never Coming Home
Truly Smith - The Boy From Chelsea
Tim Andrews - Sad Simon Lives Again
Ronnie Jones - In My Love Mind
Nancy Whiskey - Freight Train
Margo And The Marvettes - When Love Slips Away
Skip Bifferty - Happy Land
The Marmalade - Man In A Shop
The Zombies - Care Of Cell 44
Savoy Brown Blues Band - Taste And Try, Before You Buy
Gilbert (O'Sullivan) - Disappear
Blossom Dearie - Once I Loved
The Invaders - Limbo Girl
Lyn Roman - The Penthouse
Lloyd And The Groovers - Do It To Me Baby
Richard Boone - Boone's Blues
(Max) Romeo And The Emotions - Don't Want To Let You Go
Dave Smith And The Astronauts - Lover Like You
The Universals - Green Veined Orchid
Kim And Kelly Braden - Didn't I
The Orange Bicycle - Laura's Garden
Inquisitive People - Big White Chief
Otello Smith And The Tobago Bad Boys - My Home Town
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - Flames
Marion - I Go To Sleep
Noel Harrison - Suzanne
The Fallen Angels - I Don't Want To Fall
London Jazz Four - It Strikes A Chord
Steven Lancaster - San Francisco Street
Dandy (Livingstone) - There Is A Mountain
Joyce Grenfell - Nursery School
Mood Of Hamilton - Why Can't There Be More Love?
Don Fardon - (The Lament Of The Cherokee) Indian Reservation
The League - Nothing On
The African Messengers - High Life Piccadilly
The Bunch - Spare A Shilling
Tuesday's Children - Baby's Gone


mike t-diva, Monday, 22 November 2021 10:39 (one week ago) link

The three front-runners which I've excluded for "levelling up" purposes are:
1) The Beatles - Hello, Goodbye/I Am The Walrus
2) Erma Franklin - Piece Of My Heart
3) Smokey Robinson And The Miracles - I Second That Emotion

Very few of these actually charted. Here are the peaks for those which did:

1 The Beatles - Hello, Goodbye
3 Solomon King - She Wears My Ring
3 Don Fardon - Indian Reservation (but not until 1970)
9 Erma Franklin - Piece Of My Heart (but not until 1992)
13 Diana Ross And The Supremes - In And Out Of Love
27 Smokey Robinson And The Miracles - I Second That Emotion

mike t-diva, Monday, 22 November 2021 10:45 (one week ago) link

Median sales figures on Discogs (or eBay via Popsike, if there haven't been any Discogs sales), in descending order down to £10:

Lovelace Watkins - I Apologise Baby - £380.00
The Bunch - Spare A Shilling - £320.00 (however, the last eBay sale, a month ago, fetched £1023)
Marion - I Go To Sleep - £225.00
The Orange Bicycle - Laura's Garden - £130.00
Truly Smith - The Boy From Chelsea - £117.50

The League - Nothing On - £75.00
(Max) Romeo And The Emotions - Don't Want To Let You Go - £69.00
The Zombies - Care Of Cell 44 - £61.25
Margo And The Marvettes - When Love Slips Away - £51.25
London Jazz Four - It Strikes A Chord - £50.00

Gilbert (O'Sullivan) - Disappear - £49.99
Mark Barkan - A Great Day For The Clown - £43.89
Lyn Roman - The Penthouse - £41.99 (promo only available)
The Universals - Green Veined Orchard - £39.00
Skip Bifferty - Happy Land - £33.75
Svensk - All I Have To Do Is Dream - £33.17
The Fallen Angels - I Don't Want To Fall - £33.00 (promo only available)
The Invaders - Limbo Girl - £27.83
The Searchers - Secondhand Dealer - £26.69
Mood Of Hamilton - Why Can't There Be More Love? - £25.70

Mike Felix - Blueberry Hill - £23.00
The African Messengers - High Life Piccadilly - £20.99
Savoy Brown Blues Band - Taste And Try, Before You Buy - £18.56
Lloyd And The Groovers - Do It To Me Baby - £18.38
The Marmalade - Man In A Shop - £17.99
The Glories - (I Love You Babe But) Give Me My Freedom - £15.00
Blossom Dearie - Once I Loved - £15.00

Richard Boone - Boone's Blues - £13.00 (promo only available)
Peter Pumpkin Pleases People - Would You Believe, A March? - £14.64
Kim And Kelly Braden - Didn't I - £13.00
Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera - Flames - £11.00
Lesley Dawson - My Patient Heart - £10.70
Tim Andrews - Sad Simon Lives Again - £10.63
Country Joe And The Fish - Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine - £10.27
James Last Orchestra - The Last Waltz - £10.00
Dandy (Livingstone) - There Is A Mountain - £10.00

mike t-diva, Monday, 22 November 2021 10:50 (one week ago) link

Long time back (blimey, 13 years ago), our Alice returned from Brownie Camp, with tales of how she’d enjoyed herself.

“Oh, and I won the Talent Competition”
‘Oh, what song did you do?’ I ask..
“The Equestrian Statue”

(Some years later, she did say she was terrible. Bloody perfectionist)

Mark G, Tuesday, 23 November 2021 01:34 (one week ago) link

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"Do You Hear What I Hear" has been covered so often that I don't even know whose version I heard first, but The Mike Sammes Singers do a decent version, warmly and comfortingly rendered. The song was reluctantly written to order for the Christmas market during the Cuban missile crisis, and its writers - a married couple at the time - fulfilled the brief by framing it as a plea for peace, thus imbuing it with enough sincerity to resonate. The grandmother of an old friend was a member of the Mike Sammes Singers, and she'll be heard with them again in a few records' time.

Gorilla, the parent album for these two Bonzos tracks, was one of the few records that Kevin and I both owned when we first got together in 1985. (The others: ABC The Lexicon Of Love, Human League "Hard Times/Love Action" 12", Style Council Café Bleu, Yes Relayer. I agree with Peter Jones that "The Intro And The Outro" is the stronger side; it was played on the radio for years to come, and was one of the main reasons I bought Gorilla second hand in 1977. (Princess Anne on sousaphone!) The Bonzos were regulars on kids' TV in the late 1960s, as well as appearing on Do Not Adjust Your Set with future Pythons and Goodies, and their absurdist humour was right up my street (as was their name, pure catnip to a 5/6-year old). "The Equestrian Statue" suggests a familiarity with The Move, its brass band arrangement chimes well with the Sgt Pepper-led Edwardian style revival, and I remain fond.

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 12:47 (two days ago) link

Voted Lovin' Spoonful.

When Smeato Met Moaty (Tom D.), Tuesday, 30 November 2021 12:53 (two days ago) link

I assume The Bunch isn't the Fairport related, erm bunch.

Dan Worsley, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 13:22 (two days ago) link

That's a nice arrangement of Suzanne but Noel Harrison has such a wet blanket of a voice.

Dan Worsley, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 13:27 (two days ago) link

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We're only a month away from the release of the Magical Mystery Tour double EP, on which "I Am The Walrus" makes a repeat appearance, and the EP package would reach Number 2 at the end of the year, just behind "Hello Goodbye" at Number 1. My friend's grandmother is back with The Mike Sammes Singers on "I Am The Walrus", and her daughter is insistent that they also sang on "The Fool On The Hill", recorded later in the same month - but if they did ever provide backing vocals, their work has never surfaced. (They did, however, return in July 1968 to sing on "Good Night".) "Hello Goodbye" was recorded a week after the Mystery Tour sessions; Lennon later slagged it off, albeit at a time when he was slagging everything off, but while I can't help thinking it must have disappointed those who'd been blown away by Pepper, its deftness adequately compensates for its essential shallowness. Nice little concluding Beefheart reference there from Peter Jones.

"Ding dong, Santa's on his psychedelic way". This one-off release by Carnegy Hall, aka Geoff Stephens of the New Vaudeville Band, can be read either as flower power parody or flower power cash-in, but I'm leaning towards the former (the latter being of course implicit). Although generally a songwriting hack for hire, with hits that stretched from "The Crying Game" in 1964 to "Silver Lady" in 1977, Stephens had discovered and managed Donovan, and so he knew of what he spoke.

Nepotism ahoy: The Peep Show's single was co-produced by Norman Jopling, a long-time staff writer at Record Mirror who worked with Peter Jones on the review section (the two of them share this week's album reviews). Jopling's dabblings in production work didn't extend beyond The Peep Show, a Wolverhampton band who put out just two singles before vanishing. Their best known song, "Mazy" - the B-side to their earlier single - has surfaced on a number of psych/freakbeat compilations, and an album containing other previously unreleased tracks finally came out in 1999. This single is as doleful as "Mazy", but it's more acoustic than freakbeat, segueing into a bar-room singalong of "The White Cliffs Of Dover" at the end. The comparisons which the song sets up between its singer and the WWII veteran he addresses are touchingly portrayed, and they remain unresolved into the sort of "message" which you might have expected from the protest-singer era; this only makes the song stronger.

I'll take The Peep Show's WWII song over the Royal Guardsmen's WWI song every time (and likewise the Bonzos' miltary brass), and this attempt to recapture the 1966 success of "Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron" proved to be way too blatant for the UK and US, even though it topped the charts in Australia and New Zealand. The Royal Guardsmen got back together for "Snoopy vs Osama" in December 2006, and it's every bit as horrendous as you might imagine.

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 14:24 (two days ago) link

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Taken from Country Joe & The Fish's debut album Electric Music for the Mind and Body (May 1967), "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" was the band's first nationally released single in the US, following a couple of earlier self-released EPs that had been attached to Joe's SF fanzine Rag Baby. The titular Lorraine ("Martha" is never mentioned in the lyrics) is depicted as an angel of death, in a way that could perhaps be taken as a drug metaphor, and the overall gothic feel punctures the Californian counterculture idyll almost as soon as it has been established. The instrumentation is gorgeous, particularly the acid guitar and the garagey chug of the organ.

"In And Out Of Love" was the last Supremes single to feature Florence Ballard, recorded during Ballard's final studio session with them. By the time of its release, Cindy Birdsong had already been announced as Ballard's replacement, and the group had become billed as Diana Ross & The Supremes (starting with this single's predecessor, "Reflections"). The power shift was so markedly in Ross's favour that Birdsong and Mary Wilson didn't even get to sing on any of their remaining singles with Ross, expect for some backing vocals on their collaborations with The Temptations. This was also the penultimate Supremes single to be written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, all of which signals the end of a partnership that given the Supremes thirteen UK hits in just three years. This is a lovely piece of work, more fluid in feel than some of the earlier stompers, but with that same winningly yearning quality, even as the essential innocence behind the group's appeal was in the process of being shattered.

Bobby Darin had already stolen much of Tim Hardin's commercial thunder, turning three of Hardin's songs into US hits, most notably "If I Were A Carpenter". I much prefer Hardin's own version of "Lady Came From Baltimore": a strings-backed, country-tinged thief's love song that's admittedly more album track than single, but perhaps you could argue that it paves the way for Gram Parsons.

mike t-diva, Tuesday, 30 November 2021 15:30 (two days ago) link

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Johnny Corley, aka The Fantastic Johnny C, was a Philadelphia singer who was discovered in church by writer/producer Jesse James (best known in Northern Soul circles for his work on Cliff Nobles' classic "The Horse"). "Boogaloo Down Broadway" was Corley's debut release, and a big hit in the US (#7 Billboard, #5 R&B). Future members of MFSB played on it, including Earl Young (pioneering disco drummer for Philadelphia International and Salsoul, also leader of the Trammps). All of this should make "Boogaloo Down Broadway" fantastic, right? Well, not really: it's routine stuff, accurately described as such by Peter Jones, although Earl Young's drumming does lift it somewhat.

There are only so many ways of saying "blunted by over-familiarity", so BBOF will suffice henceforth. As great as it is, Erma Franklin's original recording of the future standard "Piece Of My Heart" suffers badly from BBOF, most likely dating from its use on a 1992 Levi's commercial (which finally made it a European hit). For a tune that now borders on the canonical, it didn't make huge waves in the US at the time (#10 R&B, #62 Billboard), being trounced by Janis Joplin/Big Brother & The Holding Company's later version (#12 US, Joplin's biggest hit during her lifetime). Personally, I prefer Franklin's restraint to Joplin's all-out assault, but I then I have a massive in-built bias towards soul rather than rock vocal styles.

"Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit" had been huge US hits for Jefferson Airplane earlier in the year, but neither charted in the UK. "Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil" was their follow-up, but it only reached #42 on Billboard, and they never had another Top 50 hit in their Airplane incarnation. Just as "White Rabbit" referenced Lewis Carroll, "Pooneil" references A.A. Milne, quoting or paraphrasing his verse in three places during the song. I've never delved far into 1967 West Coast rock, and this isn't the track to awaken any further interest. Dour, messy, pretentious, and Grace Slick's counterpoints particularly grate.

Mickey Murray's cover of the B-side of Otis Redding's 1961 debut single, "Shout Bamalama", strips away the original's energy, replacing it with tame workmanlike competence. Fifteen days after the publication date of this review, Redding died in a plane crash. So at least we can't accuse Murray of cashing in on his memory.

Producer David Axelrod (for yes, it is he!) oversees a superbly inventive jazzy reworking by Lou Rawls of "Little Drummer Boy"; it's easily the best version I've heard, and as such it finally buries the memory of that interminable, godawful Lindstrom version. It's the lead track on Rawls' LP Merry Christmas. Ho! Ho! Ho!, all of which is produced by Axelrod, and I'm duly bookmarking it for a couple of weeks' time.

mike t-diva, Wednesday, 1 December 2021 16:02 (yesterday) link

(Link for "Boogaloo Down Broadway")

mike t-diva, Wednesday, 1 December 2021 16:04 (yesterday) link

#3 in Canada but only #27 on Billboard (a peak position which they never matched again), The Lovin' Spoonful's "She Is Still a Mystery" starts beautifully, before lurching into the sort of stentorian boom-crash chorus which was endlessly deployed by early 1970s UK Britgum singles of the Tony Macaulay/Tony Burrows school. For all its merits, I just can't get past that.

"I fuckin' hate Northern Soul, it's like Motown's on the dole." (Sleaford Mods: "Shit Streets Runny") Yeah, but that's why I like it, Jason. It's the rawness, the urgency, the energy. Thought you'd get off on that tbh, mate. Two years as a monthly Northern Soul DJ has brought me to a more refined appreciation of a genre I'd mostly dismissed, and The Glories' "(I Love You Babe But) Give Me My Freedom" ticks all of my boxes - not least the "under-appreciated" box, as it's yet to have a repress, or to appear on a compilation. Instead, the group are now best known for the regularly anthologised "I Worship You Baby", an admittedly excellent stomper with a more restrained tempo that doubtless works better Out On The Floor.

As a 4CD box set which I once got for Christmas confirmed, I can only take Smokey Robinson & The Miracles in limited doses - but when they're good, there's no one better. I first knew "I Second That Emotion" in its Japan version, swiftly followed by its Diana Ross & The Supremes/Temptations version, only scrolling back to Smokey's original years later. They're all great, but Smokey wins, and if I'd not disbarred it from the poll, it would easily have had my vote. (And probably yours too. That's why it's disbarred.) This was their first UK chart entry, while in the US it gave them their biggest hit since "Shop Around" in 1960 (and only "The Tears Of A Clown" went on to do better).

Produced by Isaac Hayes, "Give Everybody Some" is basically a retread of "Soul Finger", The Bar-Kays' hit from earlier in the year, and the law of diminishing returns saw it flounder commercially. As four members of the six-piece band died in the same December plane crash which killed Otis Redding, the new line-up didn't regain its standing until well into the 1970s. This one's forgettable but fun, peppered with party-style vocal ad-libs that are kept low enough in the mix to prevent them from smothering the jam.

mike t-diva, Wednesday, 1 December 2021 17:22 (yesterday) link

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"Second Hand Dealer" was the final Searchers single for Pye, who opted not to renew their contract. The band had suffered from the 1966 departure of drummer Chris Curtis, who wrote most of their originals, chose most of their covers and supplied their high harmony vocals, and each successive single during 1966 and 1967 fared less well than its predecessor. But even a band on the slide can still produce good work, and reverting to an original A-side after six consecutive covers was, if nothing else, a brave last stand. This isn't a typical Searchers song: it's observational in a Kinks-esque style, and poignant in a way that "Sweets For My Sweet" certainly wasn't, although the demise of the titular dealer could perhaps have been more sensitively portrayed ("he falls and breaks his neck - he's a goner!").

Freddie "Parrot Face" Davies was an Opportunity Knocks winner who became a light entertainment/kids' TV regular during my childhood. He played a character called Samuel Tweet, whose black hat was pulled far enough down to make his ears stick out, and his character spoke with a "hilarious" speech impediment that is deployed to "hilarious" effect on the ghastly "Sentimental Songs".

Sandy Posey was also on the slide, following three big hits in 1966-67. In the US, she's best remembered for "Born A Woman"; in the UK, for "Single Girl". She can also be heard on Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman". "Are You Never Coming Home", written for her by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham (who had also played on "When A Man Loves A Woman") is classier than either, a lovely piece of plaintive pop with lyrics that could easily have been sung by Patsy Cline. Penn and especially Oldham (organist with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section) were as much soul as they were pop, and the soulfulness is what sells this, to me if not to the record-buying public. Posey ended up going full-on country in the 1970s, and she did OK in her field.

Like The Searchers, Truly Smith was about to be dropped by her label, after her six previous singles for Decca all flopped (a shame, as her Dusty-esque cover of Chris Clark's "I Wanna Go Back There Again" is a cracker). Nevertheless, nabbing Gerry Goffin & Carole King's "The Boy From Chelsea" was quite the coup, as it has never been recorded by anyone else. Perhaps Goffin and King had set the song in Manhattan, but it works perfectly in London, and Truly's journey from Warrington to Carnaby Street is just the sort of Rita-Tushingham-and-Lynn-Redgrave-in-Smashing-Time story for which I'm such a sucker. Maybe it's a bit too Cilla Black-like in its vocal stridency, but this presses all my buttons. Truly recorded one more single for MGM in 1968, and then that was that. She went back north, trained as a tescher, and ended up as a Northumberland headmistress.

mike t-diva, Wednesday, 1 December 2021 19:35 (yesterday) link


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