SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Let’s Stomp! Merseybeat And Beyond 1962-1969, 3CD Box Set Various Artists

LET’S STOMP!  Merseybeat & Beyond 1962-1969   (3CD set)

It’s not often these days that i write a review of music, that largely in this particular case, predates my own all consuming interest in the subject. This fine new compilation from Strawberry Records, as the title says, spans the 1960’s from 62 to 69 with a lot of the tracks springing from the earliest of those first years. In 1962 i was 10 & to be fair more interested in my Hornby train set at that stage, however 2 years later in 1964 I would fall firmly in love with music and the trains would gather dust. This 3 CD compilation turns the spotlight on Merseybeat & all those 1000’s of band’s that formed in the wake of The Beatles & indeed some that even pre-date The Beatles such as the Vernon Girls, Remo Four etc. As you might expect, you will not find any Beatles tracks on this compilation due to licensing terms, but that doesn’t mean other big names don’t feature. I liken it to a flotilla setting out to sea headed by battleship The Beatles which has disappeared over the horizon, but in its wake has left us listening to heavyweight cruisers like The Searchers, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Cilla Black, The Fourmost, The Merseybeats etc plus a whole lot of support vessels in the shape of bands that made some great records but were destined to be confined to long forgotten history. Due to the brevity of most singles back then, there are 83 tracks spread over the 3 CD set. There are importantly a number of firsts for those who are just that bit more senior than me. & will more fully appreciate the earlier material, including 5 newly re-mastered tracks from the Joe Meek ‘Tea Chest’ tapes discovered some years back, including 2 excellent cuts from The Cryin’ Shames with ‘Please Stay’ & The Maracas with ‘A Different Drummer’. Elsewhere rarities abound, including a number from the vaults of legendary American producer Shel Talmy who would later produce The Who & The Kinks, here represented by Birkenhead band The Pathfinders with the previously unreleased ‘Lonely Room’. Samantha Jones, ex member of the previously mentioned Vernon Girls puts in an appearance with a newly discovered acetate of a soulful number ‘This Is The Real Thing’. It happens i remember Samantha who i met some years later when she was recording for Penny Farthing Records, a charming lady. Somebody else i worked with in the 70’s also crops up in the shape of Eddy Arnoo then of the hit band The Real Thing, but here singing back in 1963 with The Chants & ‘Come Go With Me’. Of all the many recorded versions of ‘Do You Love Me?’, I’ve always been partial to Brian Poole’s version, however after hearing Faron’s Flamingos take included here, i think i have a new favourite version. It can’t be underestimated how hugely influential Merseybeat was as a musical movement, certainly here in the UK & for spearheading what became known as the ‘British Invasion’ in the USA. As i have already mentioned the early tracks don’t connect with me personally as much as those that followed later. But I can fully appreciate how exciting it was for those a few years older than me back then in ’62/63 listening to the likes of The Big Three taking on Ray Charles ‘What I’d Say’ live at the famous Liverpool Cavern club (hear the YT clip at the end of this review) the atmosphere is palpable. The first 2 CD’s in the compilation sum up that early period with a good selection of familiar big hits from The Searchers, Billy J Kramer, The Mojo’s etc combined with a plethora of names i honestly confess to not knowing. As is usual with any Cherry Red release the fully annotated booklet that accompanies the compilation does provide an excellent source of information. The 3rd CD in the set was i confess much more to my taste as it explores what happened post Merseybeat to some of its stars and also rans. kicking off with ex Searcher Tony Jackson with his band The Vibrations & a slice of freakbeat ‘Fortune Seller’, a blinding track from Wimple Winch, a band i usually associate more with psyche leanings & their ‘Rumble On Mersey Square South’. One of my all time favourite singles of any genre in the shape of The Merseys ‘Sorrow’ puts in an appearance in an alternate mix. It was produced by my old boss Kit Lambert co-founder of Track Records. What came as a genuine surprise to me was a further track from the band Kit produced, namely ‘So Sad About Us’. Who fans will recognise it as an album track from their ‘A Quick One’album. I can’t understand why I’ve never heard it before?! especially after a lifetime being around The Who, Kit etc but everyday is a school day! The compilation is brought to a close with Liverpool’s national treasure the late Cilla & ‘Step Inside Love’. Which is an apt invitation to anyone who lived through the exciting birth of Merseybeat to lend an ear to this collection. It comes as previously mentioned with an informative booklet & is housed in a sturdy clamshell box containing the 3 CD’s in separate cardboard sleeves. Enjoy.

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Til next time…..stay safe & well…..Colin…



Bob Searle… Great Colin. Still have my Big Three EP fantastic

Mick O’Dowd… What a compo Colin. Cryin’ Shames (not to be confused with The Cryan Shames) was an all-time faves along with the Big Three. I always treasured the EP live at the Cavern where this track was culled. The Undertakers were another fave along with The Chants. So many memories! Great stuff!!!!

Danny… The Maracas. Brings back great memories of the era. Great band!!