SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Arrival: Friends – Complete Recordings 1969-1973, 3CD Set

FRIENDS:  COMPLETE RECORDINGS  (1969-1973)   Arrival   (3CD Set)
Hi Guys and welcome to another year of Smart Sounds reviewing the best new re- releases of the 60’s & 70’s. I’m delighted to start the year with this cracking 3CD set, i have been looking forward to receiving this since i had the Press Release a couple of months back. I still have my well played vinyl single of ‘Friends’ in one of those old carry cases where it’s lived since 1970. This new release is very welcome as it’s been difficult (and expensive) to find any of this superb band’s material on CD (or download). This 3CD set expands on the 2CD set released back in 2012 on the excellent but sadly now defunct RPM label. This compilation brings together their 2 albums, one for Decca and one for CBS on the first 2 CD’s, whilst the bonus 3rd CD captures the band in several BBC sessions performed during their tenure at Decca and never before previously released. Also included is a rare Japanese only released single in Jon (So In Love). A little history….the band had its roots in Liverpool in the early 60’s as a four piece named The Excelles, their name being taken as a conjunction of 2 very popular American band’s of the time, The Exciters & The Shirelles. They, like so many others at the time, played local gigs covering Tamla Motown and Soul material becoming popular and appearing at the city’s premier club The Cavern. Despite early appearances on Radio Luxembourg and trips to the likes of The Star Club in Hamburg (following in The Beatles footsteps) mainstream success was still a way off. As the 60’s progressed there were line-up changes with the most significant of these being a young girl who worked in the Record Department of NEMS (Brian Epstein’s Store) by the name of Dyan Birch, who was to become the main lead vocalist and the possessor of the voice we all associate with the band. Realising if they were going to make it big they would have to make the move to London, in 1969 this they did where they signed up with music entrepreneur Tony Hall who added 3 further musicians to their line-up and duly signed them to Decca Records. It’s worth mentioning here that one of the newly added musicians was keyboard player Tony O’Malley who you may have seen several times locally in Hastings over the years playing on The Stade in the Old Town. In fact Tony was the only musician to remain with the band for their whole existence. Their debut single was released in November 1969. ‘Friends’ was a cover of illustrious musician Terry Reid’s composition from his eponymous album released earlier that year. It wasn’t an immediate hit and the new 7 piece band were somewhat dismayed at Decca’s seemingly lukewarm promotional activity on their behalf. They then discovered it had been banned from airplay by the BBC.As it turned out some idiot at the Beeb (it was full of them then) misheard the line ‘all sitting round taking Port after dinner’ as taking POT after dinner! with that error swiftly rectified by the band, by January 1970 the single had made the Top 10 peaking at number 8. I was blown away when i first heard it way back then, The vocal, lead and harmonies were/are stunning backed up by fine musicianship. Arrival really stood out amongst a sea of disposable pop (albeit some of it great) which was 1970 in general. Their follow up single the equally ambitious and sublime ‘I Will Survive’ (not the Gloria Gaynor one!) was issued in May and climbed to No 16 by mid June. I was and remain a big fan of the band’s work, but a very frustrated one! Why? Because professionally i couldn’t promote them as neither ‘Friend’s or ‘I Will Survive’ were records i could use doing my live DJ gigs. They weren’t ‘dance’ records and neither did they suit a slow end of night ‘smoochy’ slow closer, they were just in a different class. Unfortunately, i was yet to do radio at this point, if i had had a show then, i would have plugged the band as much as possible. However, after a year and a fine album for Decca (DIsc1) the band terminated their connection with Tony Hall and upped sticks to new management and a new album in 1972 with their new label CBS (Disc 2). Now normally i would pick out tracks from both albums and quote their titles, but in this instance i don’t think doing that would mean much to many reading this. Let me assure though that Arrival’s blend of superb vocals and superior musicianship are well represented accurately by the previously mentioned singles, unlike some bands, If you enjoyed them, then these albums will more than satisfy you. The overall fusion of Gospel/Jazz/Blues/Rock all overlaid with those superlative vocal arrangements makes for a great listening experience. But don’t take my word for it. no less an artist than the late great Dusty Springfield was quoted as saying if she ever returned to singing in a group it would be Arrival’s sound they would try to emulate. Overall there are 43 tracks to savour in this new compilation and as previously stated they are laid out logically and chronologically mapping the bands career. Disc2 contains a Jimmy Webb song (Let My Life Be Your Love Song) which was in fact their debut single release for their new label. It’s a wonderful track and probably one of their very finest (i admit to being a huge Jimmy Webb fan) but it didn’t do anything chartwise, indeed no further singles did, and apparently the band, especially Dyan were not overly happy with Jimmy’s song as a single, they would have preferred to have tried a different sound to that which they had become known for. During 1972 they gigged extensively with the likes of Thin Lizzy, Taste etc but In the end result by 1973 whether they had stuck with their established sound or chosen a new direction became irrelevant as interest and gigs began drying up and gradually the band lost heart and just petered out with some members going on to become new band Kokomo, a successful soul band, whilst other ex members formed the Olympic Runners or became session musicians. I’ve thought long and hard about why Arrival were not the hugely successful band they should have been. I believe personally it was all down to timing. 1970 was the year when pop and rock separated and embarked on different paths and Arrival were difficult to ‘pigeonhole’ as the media loves to do. In short they weren’t ‘heavy’ in the rock sense and in my opinion were far classier than any ‘pop’ band. If there’s such a thing as being too classy at the wrong time, then this was Arrival’s fate. Strawberry Records are to be congratulated on making this new release available, as i said at the start it’s a cracker. I have only one small niggle, the accompanying booklet and repro card sleeves for each album are great, it would have been perfect however if they were housed in a clamshell or digipack instead of the rather flimsy cardboard outer cover, but hey, that’s a minor price to pay. But taken overall what a great start to this year’s releases. I’m happy to conclude with the fact that all the band members are still with us, with the exception sadly of Dyan who passed away in late 2020 and to whom this release is quite rightly dedicated. Enjoy.
for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…………..Colin

Mick O’Dowd… Didn’t realise they had so much in their catalogue! I thought they were a one-hit wonder and disappeared!

Peter Houghton… I’ve got there Album

Colin Bell… Pete, A man of taste!, just so you know Peter this release has really good sound quality, not always the case with re-issues, but better than my own original vinyl

Samantha’s Club – New Burlington Street. What clubs and venues do you remember in London? Tiffanys Club and Gullivers People chat.

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All images supplied by Colin Bell

Colin Bell… I was looking for something in my archives (I must organise them one day!) and came across this. I was struck by the artwork and how creative it was then. Samantha’s was in a basement off Regent Street and I was introduced to it on a night out with Clem (from the Foundations) and Jimmy James, from memory  it was around late 1969 early 1970. A great place with soul bands appearing and the D.J. ‘booth’ was the body of an E Type Jag (very swinging sixties). Drinks 2/6d! You could get well pissed for a coupla quid! I was lucky enough at that time to have the use of a mate’s flat in Berwick Street Soho, ideally placed to go to all the great clubs. Many hours spent at the Marquee, Whisky-a-go-go, the Flamingo, Middle Earth and Hatchetts in Piccadilly, a great club over 3 floors with a chill out bar level, a restaurant with a glass wall overlooking the ‘disco’ floor. I’d be interested to hear any memories of this period from other Smart members? Great times and great memories…………..

Alan Esdaile… Happy days in Wardour Street at The Marquee. Also the Speakeasy. Also remember auditioning bands at Tiffanys nightclub in Shaftesbury Avenue and a club in Piccadilly with the disco on the top floor, mirrored lift and the club had records stuck to the wall. 100 club, Roxy, Ronnie Scotts etc.

Peter Fairless… Went to some dodgy, some good clubs in London. Some were very dodgy but very good! Can’t remember all the names but most of those listed above.

Steve Gage… My mate Ray was a bouncer at Samanthas where are you now mate??? 🙂

Mick O’Dowd… Went to The Q Club in Paddington after seeing James Brown at The Rainbow in the 70’s I think. JB turned up after we got there and jammed with the band. Awesome!

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More Colin Bell photos. Hastings Caves setting fire to his hands 1970/71 and working with Freddie Starr

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supplied by Colin Bell

Alan Esdaile… Just noticed that’s the back of my head in the first photo. Colin’s setting his hands on fire with lighter fluid and giving me bad ideas. When I did it, I left my hands alight too long, blisters with yellow puss come to mind!

Mick Mepham… A yellow cat Alan?

Andy Qunta… Never forget how much fun it was lugging gear down to the Caves! The sound down there was interesting too! Echo….echo…..echo…. & “natural” reverb!

Mick O’Dowd…. A real rock venue! I agree Andy Qunta it was a long trek especially in inclement weather, but a great venue I promoted & played at several times. It’s rumoured that the Stones played a private gig here in early 60’s. The walk was as nearly as bad as the trek up the Pier to The Happy Ballroom!

Yvonne Cleland… <groan>

Jim Breeds… So *That’s* why there are no hamsters in the caves!

Alan Esdaile… Did a number of gigs in the Caves. Always had lots of helpers to lug the gear in but they all disappeared when it was time to pack up! A bit of a walk and worse then the pier as no trolley. All the leads and cables ended up covered in sand stone. Saw lots of great gigs here, remember seeing The Jazz Caverners a few times and The Breathers did an excellent gig.

Peter Gladwish… I will never forget playing at the caves several times during the early 70’s with ‘King-Rod’. Fabulous place to play but it’s not the gigs I remember…….it was getting the gear in and out!!!

Mick Turner… He was the Last of the Comedians. He was Brilliant!

Jan Warren… Oh, Freddie Starr, Loved him

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Once Upon A Time In The West Midlands – The Bostin’ Sounds Of Brumrock 1966-1974, 3CD Box Set Various Artists

ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST MIDLANDS  – THE BOSTIN’ SOUNDS OF BRUM ROCK 1966-1974   (3CD SET)  Various Artists
I’ve been looking forward to this release for some time. Whenever we start talking about the 60’s and the leading bands and artists its inevitable we will start talking about Liverpool, Merseybeat and The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Cilla etc, followed by Manchester with The Hollies, The Dakotas, Georgie Fame, Hermans Hermits, Barclay James Harvest etc and of course London at the very heart of things which spawned 100’s if not 1000’s of bands. But as Merseybeat began to wane in the mid 60’s and the ‘beat’ scene in general, another city was on the way up bursting with talent and boasting some musicians destined to be at the forefront of the music scene, some to this present day. That city was Birmingham and this new 3CD box set is devoted as the title says to ‘Brum Rock’.  When you start to list just some of the main acts you can hear on this new compilation you begin to appreciate just how much influence these artists have had on the world. So who do we have in the main league? The 2 most obvious ones are a pair of guys who couldn’t work together eventually, but between them created some of the greatest and much loved music of all time. I speak of course of Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne. Roy as any rock fan knows came to prominence with his band The Move in 1966 which Jeff was to join briefly before the pair of them started the Electric Light Orchestra and then due to musical differences went their separate ways with Roy forming Wizzard and Jeff developing ELO into the monster success it became. When i think of Birmingham its Roy and Jeff that first enter my mind swiftly followed by a man who fronted another huge band from the city. The Moody Blues, with original lead singer (and old friend) of many years Denny Laine. Everybody is familiar with Denny’s lead vocal on ‘Go Now’ (not included here) but when he went solo he made a record that became the inspiration for a 15 year old schoolboy to get in the music business. That 15 year old was me and the record was ‘Say You Don’t Mind’ which is included on this compilation which i am so pleased to see, as the original version has been incredibly hard to find over the years since it was initially released in 1967. It became a bigger hit when Colin Blunstone recorded it a few years later and he did a great job, but Denny’s original is sublime. I could write pages on just Roy, Jeff & Denny but with space limited let’s have a peek disc by disc at some of the great music and artistes to be found. Disc1 contains tracks from the previously mentioned heavy hitter’s such as The Move ‘I Can Hear The Grass Grow’ alongside Jeffy Lynne’s band The Idle Race with the catchy psyche pop ‘Imposters Of Life Magazine’. ‘Life’s Not Life’ from The Moody Blues and Denny’s ‘Say You Don’t Mind’. Other big names abound with The Spencer Davis Group ‘Moonshine’ their spin off band Traffic with one of my all time favourite numbers of theirs ‘No Face, No Name, No Number’. The Rockin Berries follow with the seldom heard ‘Yellow Rainbow’ and Chicken Shack weigh in with ‘When The Train Comes Back’. Notable mentions go to 2 more less familiar bands in the shape of Locomotive with the excellent ‘Mr Armageddon’ and The Uglys with ‘I’ve Seen The Light’. It’s also great to see tracks from The Move’s guitarist Ace Kefford after he left to go solo. Disc2 headliners include The Climax Chicago Blues Band, Medicine Head, Trapeze & Big Bertha who collectively may not have shifted records in the quantities that the main artists on Disc1 did but they all have loyal fans and followers. Scattered throughout the disc are also some previously unissued gems including the delightful ‘Dance In The Smoke’ from Kansas Hook, a band that arose from the ashes of The World of Oz, another favourite band of mine who released the psyche/pop near hit ‘The Muffin Man’, i recently wrote about elsewhere. The World of Oz also feature in their own right on the compilation with ‘Like A Tear’. Other tracks that stand out come from acts Tea And Symphony, The Californians, Bakerloo & Cathedral with the previously unreleased ‘Its A Hard Way’. Disc3 gives us the debut hit from Roy and Jeffs baby, ELO, with what would become the bands signature set closer, ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, nestling alongside this is Roy’s undoubted homage to all things Phil Spector/Wall Of Sound with ‘Ball Park Incident’ which is nice to see, rather than the usually compiled ‘See My Baby Jive’.  Roy also features solo with his wistful rendition ‘Dear Elaine’. Slade crop up with a track i confess i’ve never heard before in ‘One Way Hotel’ which catches them in 1970 on the cusp of breaking through. The ever satisfying Steve Gibbons features with ‘Brown Girl’ & another favourite appears with Jim Capaldi and ‘Eve’. Proto metal rockers Judas Priest join the party with ‘Rocka Rolla’ a quite restrained rocker given their usual fare. The compilation climaxes with the aptly titled ‘Bye Bye Birmingham’ a rocker from Blackfoot Sue, best known for their hit ‘Standing In The Road’ but proving here they were a more than competent good time rock band. All told this 3CD set runs to over 4 hours, containing 69 tracks and i have only featured just some of my personal highlights. As ever, this release from the excellent Grapefruit Records, comes housed in a sturdy clamshell box complete with a 48 page booklet with a wealth of information and artwork. I’m sure the good folk from Birmingham and the West Midlands particularly will love this new package and look back lovingly on their local bands, but those local bands grew in many instances to be known all over the world and are right up there with anything Liverpool, Manchester & London produced. I’ll leave you with the record that started it all for me. Here’s Denny. Enjoy.

For more information contact… https://www.cherryred.co.uk

Til next time……stay safe…..Colin

Leigh Mitchell… as always, very interesting…..xx

Alan Esdaile… Look what I found! Colin and Denny Laine.

Georgie Fame & Alan Price & compere Colin Bell – White Rock Pavilion 28th October 1973

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supplied by Sarah Harvey

Alan Esdaile… Can you remember who the support was Colin?

Matt Thomas… Probably played one of my favourite tunes ‘Rosetta’ 

Mick O’Dowd… Remember working on this one. I think it may have been Martin-Casson only gig at White Rock.

Colin Bell… I can’t be absolutely certain but I think they were called ‘Highway’, I remember the actual night very well as they were a heavyish rock band and the audience hated them! I should add that it wasn’t because Highway were bad far from it, it was just not what the audience were expecting as a support act, I liked them! The late Paul Casson and I hid in the bar til the second half when F & P did their set. Fortunately the night then ended well! Not the best night to be compere, especially in my home town..lol..Also backstage it was clear F & P didn’t get on, they arrived separately didn’t speak a word to each other and left separately without a word. On stage together chemistry, offstage………Ah the memories!..

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing The Drifters: We Gotta Sing – The Soul Years 1962-1971, 3CD Box Set

WE GOTTA SING! THE SOUL YEARS (1962-1971)    The Drifters (3CD SET)

Does the world need another Drifters compilation you may ask? There are dozens available its true. Most of them are ‘Best Ofs’ or ‘Greatest Hits’ which are fine i have a couple myself.  Well i would say the answer is yes, if like me you are a true fan. This new 3CD set from Strawberry Records boasts 76 tracks, including 5 unissued songs long deleted from available CD’s. Plus 2 tracks ‘I Dig Your Act’ & ‘You And Me Together Forever’ which were thought to be lost making their worldwide debut here on this collection. Over the years i have written thousands of words about the institution that is The Drifters and i have been very fortunate at different times to have worked with Ben E King & Johhny Moore. If for some reason you are new to The Drifters they were formed the year after i was born in 1953 and must now qualify for the world’s longest running band. Originally fronted by Clyde McPhatter they were 50’s R&B Stars. The story of the band is a long and complicated one and one i have told before so let’s confine ourselves to this release. The band really can be thought of in terms like a sandwich divided into 3 parts. The bottom slice being their early R&B years from 1953-1960, the top slice their re-incarnation in 1972 when they relocated to London and had a string of pop/soul hits and the meat in the middle is their glorious years contained here, with a title that does what it says on the tin. What i really like about this new compilation is that the tracks appear in chronological order, something i am always a big fan of when a project like this is put together. It allows the listener to grow with the band and hear them change and mature rather than the aforementioned ‘Best Of’s’ etc that tend to leap about all over the place in time and often make for a jarring listen. Disc1 contains 25 tracks and contains some of my favourite early soul tracks ‘Only In America’ ‘Rat Race’ ‘Vaya Con Dios’ & ‘One Way Love’ (which most people know from the hit version recorded by Cliff Bennett) sit alongside the classics ‘Up On The Roof’ ‘Under The Boardwalk’ mono & stereo mixes, ‘On Broadway’ studio & live recordings & ‘Saturday Night At The Movies’. Lead vocal duties are shared by Rudy Lewis & Johnny Moore. Everyone has their own favourite lead singer when it comes to The Drifters. For me it will always be Johnny Moore, they all have their different distinctive styles. but for me Johnny’s seemingly effortless delivery has always captivated me the most, and having had the privilege to know him i admit to also being swayed by what a really lovely guy he was. Disc2 Kicks off with the gorgeous ‘Spanish Lace’ followed by ‘The Christmas Song’, which to be honest i don’t recall hearing before but features a sublime vocal performance by Johnny, indeed it may be one of his very best ever. Other familiar favourites to me are ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I’ ‘As Long As She needs Me’ & ‘Looking Through The Eyes Of Love’ (probably better known to people through Gene Pitney’s hit version). The 2 absolute ‘classic’ hits on this disc are probably in my all time top 5 of all their hits and are records i have played at my gigs thousands of times they are, ‘Come On Over To My Place’ & ‘At The Club’ (in both mono & stereo mixes). Disc3 begins with my all time favourite single 1965’s ‘I’ll Take You Where The Musics Playing’ its the epitome of Johnny Moore at his effortless finest and has always lifted my spirits every time i’ve ever played it. Track 4 is another track i’ve always loved in ‘Up In The Streets Of Harlem’ others are ‘Memories Are Made Of This’ ‘Aretha’ & ‘Baby What I Mean’. Its here on this disc you can also hear the 2 tracks making their debut i referred to at the start. The enduring success of The Drifters wasn’t just down to their peerless singing. They also benefitted from material written by some of the best songwriters in the world Goffin/King, Ellie Greenwich, Bacharach/David, Pomus/Shuman and one of my own favourite combinations in Mann/Weil (The Crystals/The Ronettes/Righteous Brothers). They have now been making music for an incredible 7 decades. You may be a fan of their early years or of the catchy poppier years in the 1970’s, but it would be a brave person that argued against this compilation representing their finest work. The decade this covers from 1962-71 truly was the soul years and with Rudy & Johnny at the helm was a magical time. The compilation comes in a sturdy box with a very well researched and detailed booklet and the sound quality throughout is excellent, Due to space constraints i have only scratched the surface of all the joy that is waiting to be had, listening to all the wonderful treats contained here. Enjoy.

for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time…..stay safe….Colin

Colin Norton… Great album!

Mick O’Dowd… Love it. Love them!

Geordie plus Bitch or Moonstone?? and Colin Bell – Hastings Pier 26th October 1973

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poster supplied by Mick Mepham

Pete Prescott….after Brian Johnston left the reformed Geordie to join ac/dc i was briefly in the band that struggled to continue (with a different name – the DUDES ) they tried terry slesser from crawler.i replaced him.i recorded three tracks with them at Luxembourg studios.they wanted me to re locate to newcastle.i couldn’t do that.nice guys.

Yvonne Cleland….Great band, Geordie! Saw them on the pier! it was a good gig!

Pete Fairless….The best Slade record Slade never made!

Pete Prescott….i sang love if you want it another night in the city and the last one escapes me.i think i have the versions of terry slesser singing them as well as mine.brian sang nutbush city limit at the ac/dc audition and got the job instantly.i was told he is a nice guy.

Andy Qunta…..singer of Geordie was Brian Johnson, who later joined AC/DC, and still with them now! After Factory’s gig with them in Torquay, I met him in the motorway services Gent’s (accidentally, not pre-arranged, before your minds start working overtime!). He was very flustered! He had been driving their truck, it was one of those where the cab tipped forward to get to the engine. After checking the oil or something, apparently the cab wasn’t locked properly, so when he got to some traffic lights, the whole cab tipped forward, and he was properly freaked out! Geordie almost lost his liggy!

Peter Howard… I know one of Bitch

Colin Bell… Always handy to know what i was doing 48 years ago tonight! I remember Brian (Johnson) being a really nice guy, sadly i don’t remember Bitch.

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing White Plains: The Collection, 3CD Digipak

THE COLLECTION     White Plains  (3CD SET)

I have looked forward with great pleasure to this release for some time. At last, released this Friday is a comprehensive overview of one of the finest UK vocal harmony bands we ever produced.  Much has been written about White Plains over the years and much of it has been wrong, So let’s finally put the record straight..pun intended! In 1969 a group of session singers, hit songwriters and additional touring musicians were coming to the end of their successful run. This collective was The Flowerpot Men forever immortalised with their big hit of summer 1967 ‘Let’s Go To San Francisco’. Later that year, on 25th November to be exact,. they played a gig on Hastings Pier where i first met them. Their glorious harmonies were as good live as i had hoped, they were a class act. After ‘San Francisco’ they had more modest success with subsequent records and by 1969 with ‘flower power’ now passe the band had reached the end of it’s natural life. At this point the members consisted of man of many voices & hit records Tony Burrows, plus Pete Nelson, Robin Shaw, Ricky Wolff & additional touring musicians lead guitarist Robin Box & drummer Roger Hills. In March they released their final single ‘In A Moment Of Madness’ written by serial hitmakers Roger Cook & Roger Greenaway. Another great piece of work albeit commercially unsuccessful. By Autumn it was clear the band had reached the end of the road and on the 28th of October 1969 they entered the studio for the final time and recorded 3 tracks before finally disbanding. All their material had been released on Decca’s ‘progressive label’ imprint Deram. Head of A & R at Decca was Dick Rowe, the man forever remembered for being the guys who passed on signing The Beatles. However Dick was not slow when it came to spotting the worth of recordings under his nose. Having listened to those final 3 songs recorded by the now defunct Flowerpot Men he spotted hit potential. All 3 songs were Greenaway/Cook compositions and comprised ‘Today I Killed A Man’ ‘You’ve Got You’re Troubles’ (a previous hit for The Fortunes) and ‘My Baby Loves Lovin’. Loathe to sit on this potential hit material, at his instigation ‘My Baby Loves Lovin’ was released in January 1970 under the name of White Plains (named after the district in New York). By February the record was a Top 20 hit in both the UK & the USA.  So what in fact was the last recording made by the Flowerpot Men became the debut hit for White Plains. With a swiftly re-assembled group made up of past Flowerpot Men minus Ricky Wolff who had other commitments they appeared on Top Of The Pops with Roger Greenaway standing in for Ricky, together with Tony Burrows, Robin Shaw & Pete Nelson. Simultaneously Tony Burrows was enjoying hits as lead singer with Brotherhood Of Man & Edison Lighthouse, given this workload after promoting ‘My Baby Loves Lovin’ Tony quit. Ricky Wolff returned and together with Pete Nelson took the lead on all subsequent releases. Phew! I hope i have now made the history clear once and for all! And now to this splendid 3CD box set. Disc1 contains their self titled debut album which naturally includes ‘My Baby Loves Lovin’ and the follow up hit from April 1970 ‘I’ve Got You On My Mind’ nestling alongside some beautifully constructed songs including ‘When Tomorrow Comes Tomorrow; ‘Taffeta Rose’ ‘In A Moment Of Madness’ (incredible harmonies), ‘Sunny Honey Girl’ (a hit for Cliff Richard), the previously mentioned ‘You’ve Got Your Troubles’ & the exquisite ‘Summer Morning’, The disc contains 2 bonus tracks and one of them is what i consider to be one of their finest ever tracks in ‘Gonna Miss Her Mississippi’ which was the bands 7th single release and while it didn’t fare well at the time it still stands up today as an object lesson in how to produce a top rate vocal harmony track, and one that is damn catchy, why it didn’t do well with the record buying public is a mystery to me. Disc2 finally sees a full release on CD for the bands second album ‘When You Are A King’ which of course features the title track that was another hit for the band and a memorable one, a glorious confection in a strange time signature that is still played regularly on the radio. The other big hit contained here is ‘Julie Do You Love Me’ the bands cover version of American Bobby Sherman’s hit in the USA. Other standout tracks are ‘Home Lovin Man’ ( a hit for Andy Williams) ‘Julia Ann’ ‘Carolina’s Coming Home’ & I’ll Go Blind’, The 12 tracks of the album are augmented by 9 bonus tracks, including ‘Step Into A Dream’ familiar as the theme used in a Butlins TV commercial, also notable amongst the bonus tracks are ‘I Cant Stop’ & the poignant ‘Dad You Saved The World’. Disc3 scoops up 11 tracks, 3 making their first apperance on CD. The firsr 4 recorded under the name Crucible for a 1972 film ‘Extremes’. The following 4 are the aforementioned tracks making their debut on CD recorded under the name Zenith. The compilation comes to a close with 3 tracks from a mid 70’s different line-up of White Plains. Although Disc3 is fine and in rarity terms a gift to collectors and an interesting listen it will probably more likely appeal to die hard completists. The First 2CD’s are the real meat and for my money the essential listening. White Plains were an unpretentious pop band who made some of the best harmony pop ever recorded and i’ve long extolled their virtues to anybody that would listen! If you are into the genre and have never had a proper listen now at long last 7T’s Records have given you that opportunity, for which i am truly grateful. The packaging, accompanying booklet and the sound quality of the recordings are all first class as you would expect from this label. Enjoy.

for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time….stay safe…..Colin…..

Alan Esdaile… I’m always amazed by the amount of tracks Tony Burrows sang on and lots that he is not credited for.

King Rod and Co every Thursday & Tony Stark & Colin Bell – Regent Discotheque & Bonitas 1970

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supplied by Colin Bell

October 1969

Mick O’Dowd… Ah The Regent. Grand memories!

Peter Gladwish… FAB……and so cheap!

Andy Qunta… Yes, I remember seeing King Rod & Co at the Regent! Inspiring.

Rober Searle… Played there with Easy Street,remember seeing Shaft there with Dave Shaw on vocals.

Jan Warren… My ex-husband, Pete Watson used to do the Saturday night Disco there too, must have been 1973(ish) – remember the bands, especially Black Raven/Rubber Band who released the single “Moonwalker”! – good times!

SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Mike Hurst: In My Time – Recordings, Productions and Songs 1962-1985, 4CD Box Set

IN MY TIME (1962-1985)     Mike Hurst  (4CD Set)

Settle down guys there’s a lot to get through here! If the name Mike Hurst doesn’t immediately ring a bell with you trust me you have heard him or one of his productions. Mike is one of the pioneers of the UK music industry. A singer/songwriter/producer, his body of work is frankly enormous. This excellent new 4CD box set from Strawberry Records covers just 3 decades of his career yet spans 93 tracks! spanning Mike’s solo recordings, those with his early beat band, his tenure in The Springfields, his later ‘singer/songwriter’ phase of the 70’s and his work with internationally renowned artistes as a sought after record producer. Listening to the collection has been in turns, delightful, surprising, baffling, hugely enjoyable and sometimes (sorry Mike) in a few instances dire, but anything but dull. Pushed on stage aged 4 by his mum and meeting the great Buddy Holly at a stage door in London when he was 16 were the catalysts that set Mike on his career path in the music business. And what a career the man has had. I don’t have the space to write a book (he should write his memoirs) let’s take each of the 4 discs in the set in turn and i’ll precis them and give you a taste of what to expect. Disc1 starts with Mike’s early singles from the 60’s which for the first 8 or 9 tracks or so are pleasantly typical offerings of early rock and roll. The sort of fare you would have heard from his contemporaries like Marty Wilde, Vince Eager, etc unremarkable but perfectly listenable. Then comes track 11 ‘I Couldn’t Wait To Tell You’ i sit up as he comes out with a song my great friend Peter Sarstedt might have made, this is more like it. Then the next track ‘Mexican Melody’ is redolent of one of those songs Pat Boone would show up playing in a naff 60’s American ‘beach movies’. Having recovered from that, the next track ‘For Always’ further confuses me as Mike turns in a performance Gene Pitney would be proud of! Now you know what i meant when i said baffling! Mike himself says in the accompanying booklet he enjoyed this phase of his career, especially the cuts he made with his band The Methods who contained who else but the ubiquitous Jimmy Page, sometimes i think Jimmy was the only guitarist in London in the 60’s! Disc1 concludes with 7 bonus tracks which contain 2 gems from Mike’s first big break as we skip backwards to 1962 when he replaced Tim Field and joined Tom and Dusty in The Springfields. ‘Silver Threads & Golden Needles’ & ‘Island Of Dreams’ evoke in me happy golden childhood memories of time spent with mum and dad, lovely. Then i’m jerked out of that by Mike Hurst’s Orchestra playing the theme to ‘Mission Impossible’….Let’s move on, Disc2. This comprises 2 albums Mike made in fairly quick succession for Capitol Records in the 70’s. This is Mike in archetypal ‘singer/songwriter’ territory exploring different themes and encompassing various genres in what might be described as a bit of a scattergun approach. There’s the lushly orchestrated tracks such as ‘To My Daughter’ & ‘Hung Upside Down’ the introspective and rather lovely ‘All I Can Do Is Sing’ before changing tack with the jazzy ‘Photograph Of Love’ and then just to keep me on my toes the next 3 tracks turn in a ‘country’ direction, I leave Disc2 baffled with the question will the real Mike Hurst please stand up?! Disc3 begins and i have landed in familiar territory as we meet Mike the Producer, who after the demise of The Springfields, and his solo and band ventures, set off for pastures new as a Producer at Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate Records. There are some wonderful tracks from the likes of Chris Farlowe, Warm Sounds, Barry St John & a demo of Pat Arnolds’s ‘First Cut Is The Deepest’ which in 50 years of knowing Pat i’ve never heard before! Away from the Immediate stable of artistes there are other great productions for Paul & Barry Ryan, The Move, Colin Blunstone, The Spencer Davis Group, The Episode & Marsha Hunt demonstrating how versatile Mike is. I did say earlier i experienced a few ‘dire’ moments. Two of them sneak in amongst all these great tracks in the shape of New Worlds ‘Tom Tom Turnaround’ & Fancy with their truly awful version of ‘Wild Thing’   if there’s 2 songs in this world i loathe….But overall Disc3 is great and probably the most enjoyable in the whole set. That just leaves us with Disc4 which if i said the best term for describing it is ‘eclectic’  i don’ think you’d argue, when you see a tracklist of Mike’s further productions where sitting next to each other are The Bachelors, Shakin Stevens, Showaddywaddy, Cilla Black, Lena Zavaroni and The Four Tops! Not forgetting the original version of  ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ by Bruce Wooley & The Camera Club..who knew that? I certainly didn’t. However nestling amongst this bizarre range of artists is a name i recognise and is of local interest to Hastings. That name is Sundance with a track ‘Never Going Back’. Sundance were a vehicle for Mary Hopkin, Mike De Alberquerque (ex ELO) and Mike himself, Also present performing on some tracks were our very own, late and much missed, Steve Demetri on drums and Andy Qunta on keys. So i spoke to Andy about his recollections of Mike, he said the following ‘ the track i played on was called  ‘What’s Love’ and featured Ray Fenwick on guitar, Steve on drums and Steve ‘Vince’ Price on bass. Mike was very nice to work with, and it all went very smoothly, i liked the song and still listen to it’. I’m very grateful to Andy for that first hand account of working with Mike Hurst. Another old friend Pete Prescott also worked with Ray Fenwick and Mike too i believe. Mike is clearly a man possessed of a mighty talent and still going strong as he approaches his 8th decade. He can currently be heard hosting a radio show on The Wireless on DAB and the Internet. Strawberry Records have done a fine job with the sturdy fold out packaging on this compilation and i warmly recommend the accompanying booklet which contains some wonderful tales from Mike including a must read one concerning Chris Farlowe, a story i’d heard from Chris years ago and wasn’t sure i believed until now!  Fascinating. Enjoy……

for more information go to https://www.cherryred.co.uk
Til next time……stay safe …….Colin

Pete Prescott… I’ve got an earlier compilation of Mike’s. There are a few tracks that are, as you say, baffling and bizarre. He’s had such a varied career. He should write a book. Thanks for the info !