Gerry Rafferty~Clowns to the Left Jokers to the Right!

April 20, 2011

Scottish singer Gerry Rafferty and comedian Billy Connolly were an unlikely pairing in their group the Humblebums but for a while it worked really well with Gerry supplying the songs and Billy the comedy between the music. Gerry Rafferty’s strong songwriting talents were already in evidence at this early stage of his career with songs like the turntable hit ‘ Shoeshine Boy ‘ and the Humblebums became well~known on the live folk club circuit of Glasgow.

However as Billy’s jokes became longer and longer, Gerry’s songs had to get shorter and shorter and Gerry soon spilt from Billy and headed to where the bright lights of London were calling in 1969 and as for Billy Connolly the rest as they say is history!

Our little Scottish singer songwriter signed a solo deal in London with Transatlantic Records and in 1971 released ‘Can I Have My Money Back’ which received excellent reviews and featured the vocal talents of his ol’ school chum Joe Egan on some tracks and from these sessions the group Stealer’s Wheel was born.                                                                      

‘Can I Have My Money Back’ was produced by Hugh Murphy who would work with Rafferty again on his solo work in 1978.

Stealers Wheel first self titled album released in 1973 was a big success produced by legendary 50’s producers and writers Leiber & Stoller. With Egan and Rafferty on vocals and  harmonies they sounded a little Beatle~ish and with a great back up band  the chosen single ‘Stuck In The Middle’ zoomed up the charts in the UK and the States and was later used in the Quentin Taratino film ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in 1991.

Stealers Wheel were to last for three albums, the self titled Stealers Wheel, Ferguslie Park and Right or Wrong and each one is really really good in their own right! In this time Gerry Rafferty left the band and then came back on the success of the single before the whole thing fell apart again, but this period of his career is well worth searching out!                   

It took him three years of legal hassle before he could get himself free and release another solo record and what a record it was!

The great British pop record of 1978 was ‘ Baker Street’ right in the middle of the Disco period the instantly recognizable sax riff from Raphael Ravencroft helped make the record a world~wide hit from his first solo album ‘City To City’ which went Platinum (back when Platinum sales really meant something!) selling over five million copies. Every radio station around the universe had the song on heavy rotation, but our reluctant star Gerry refused to tour the USA and continued to do things in his own relaxed way!

That was the one thing about Gerry Rafferty he was a songwriter talent of the highest order and didn’t suffer clowns or jokers gladly!                  

He will always be remembered down on the corner of Baker Street. 

Once again Gerry’s solo albums are all of the highest quality and look out for the songs : Can I Have My Money Back ~ Mary Skeffington ~ Shoeshine Boy ~ Steamboat Row ~ Everything Will Turn Out Fine ~ Star ~ Right Down The Line ~ Night Owl ` Get It Right Next Time ~ Whatever’s Written In Your Heart ~ Days Gone By and North & South ~ to name but a few!


Information Emily 45 ~ A Bubbleglam Classic!

March 16, 2011

I was staggered to see and hear the rare pop~psych single 45  ‘Information Emily’ which I made in 1972 with the group Midas Mould on the internet at the site called purepop1uk.blogspot.com which is run by Robin Wills guitarist from the Barracudas and on eBay recently selling for 15 UK pounds.    

Released on March 10th 1972 on Columbia Records UK cat. No. DB 8868

This stirred lots of memories !

While I was working as  a tape operator at the Marquee Studio in 1970 I struck up a friendship with a session  guitarist called Andy Goble from Croydon and I was singing at the time so after a few meetings, beers and rehearsals we decided to form a 4 piece group called Midas Mould. Terrible name, I think it was someone who was from Oliver Cromwell’s new model army ? But I remember his mother used to make the best Sunday dinners.

The bass player was Martin Yates and his father was responsible for the design of the Esso advertising for their ‘ Put A Tiger in the Tank ‘ campaign, so he financed the band until we signed to EMI.

The song our EMI producer chose to record as the A~Side was ‘Information Emily’ which was a rip off of the Jeff Beck hit ‘ Hi Ho Silver Lining’ and was written by our guitarist Andy Goble who was a great player himself and said he was taught by Beck and was also friends with Jim McCartey who sat in on drums with us one time as we were more of a rock group live than a bubbleglam pop group.

Not sure who the drummer was on the record as we always had problems in the drum department but the lead guitar solo was double ~ tracked with a classical violin session player and we used a Hammond organ Leslie speaker to get the unique effect on the guitar. I was the not so great a singer singing those bubbleglam lyrics, the backing singer was brought into the band, a lad from Fulham by the name of Tony Carpenter who also played guitar and has been Beaky in the classic 60’s band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich for the last 20 odd years, but we meddled by and had a great pop group adventure at EMI Abbey Road studios ! 

The highlights for me was that we recorded the single at the Beatles studio at Abbey Road, quite an experience for us and we were signed to the same label at EMI as the Yardbirds and the Jeff Beck Columbia Records.  Also I remember at one gig Jim McCarty from the Yardbirds showed up and played drums for us on our rocked up version of ‘Shapes of Things’. 

The B~Side Love Sweet Love was co~written by Glo Marcari, whose father owned Marcari’s Music Shop in Charing Cross Road in London and our EMI producer Roger Ferris who I didn’t get on with very well because of the choice of songs they wanted us to record (you need a hit record).

 The arranger and conductor on the 45 was Andrew Pryce Jackman (I think there is a small string section on the record as well) who was super good and came up with the ideas for the dual violin solo and sound of the guitar solo, he later worked with Peter Skellern, Chris Squire and Yes.

Sadly our little 45 was only played once on BBC Radio One on the Gary Taylor show and we only sold about 26 copies of the record mostly to family and friends and so the group quickly desolved and we went our separate ways, not even a photo of the band remained, but the record is now apparently a bubbleglam pop psych classic appearing on the Pop Cycles Vol. 12 download compilation and is now available as a ringtone for your cellphone. Wow! Go figure.

Flies are in your pea soup baby!


Beatles ~ Wow! It’s only the B side

February 18, 2011

Hey Beatles ~ Thanks for changing the world and to George Martin for arranging it!

One of the great things about the Beatles UK 45 rpm single releases  was the classic B sides that would appear on the flip side of their big hits, always different from the previous one and always brilliant songs and some would have been hits in their own write!

Like some of their hits some of the B sides didn’t appear on their LPs and here we will take a look at some of them. 

Let’s get back to 1963 for the fantastic ‘THANK YOU GIRL’ the B side of their third UK single ‘From Me To You’ with that signature John Lennon harmonica and vocal snarl. This track would have been a hit in its own right!

From the same year on the back of their million seller ‘ From Me To You’  we find ‘ I’ll GET YOU’  with the Oh Yeahs instead of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the boys songwriting talents start to shine through.

October 1963 sees the release of the fifth Beatle single ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ and Beatlemania is changing the world as we know it! and tucked on the B side is ‘THIS BOY’ with a superb three-part harmony from the boys and showing the softer side of the Lennon & McCartney partnership.

Christmas 1964 and ‘I Feel Fine’ hits the top of the charts and the Beatles are experimenting with the guitar feedback at the start of the song but equally as good is ‘SHE’S A WOMAN’  on the flip side with McCartney delivering a fine vocal performance and the whole band in rocking  form.

Next up issued on the B side of ‘Ticket To Ride’ on April 9th 1965 with another fine three-part harmony is ‘YES IT IS’ which was followed up in July ’65 with Paul McCartney’s blistering vocal tribute to Little Richard on ‘I’M DOWN’  which became a crowd pleaser on their live shows with John Lennon hamming it up on the keyboard in the solo at Shea stadium. Great stuff!  B side of ‘Help’.

Released the same day as the ‘Rubber Soul’ LP in December ’65 the classic ‘Day Tripper’ delivered a heavier sound from the Beatles as their music started to change, their hair is getting longer and they are spending more time in the EMI toilets! As a (joint) double A side release the other song to hit the ears of the world that month was ‘WE CAN WORK IT OUT’  which features a great vocal from Paul in the verses and together with John in the choruses.

My favourite Beatles 45 single is ‘Paperback Writer’ with ‘RAIN’ on the  B side the first Beatles song to feature a backward guitar effect , this record was released on June 10th 1966 one year before the Sgt. Peppers album. ‘RAIN’ is probably the Beatles at their best, the song has great interactive playing by the band and great words and vocal from John.

February ’67 and the start of the psychedelic period has arrived  and there is no going back now for the Mop Tops as they introduce us to ‘STRAWBERRY FIELDS’ a very delicate layered song with an amazing arrangement from George Martin. The start of the Pepper sessions. On the other side of the record ‘Penny Lane’.

‘BABY, YOUR A RICH MAN ‘ is full of eastern promise but you hardly ever hear this record today and it’s so good. Released in July 67 the B side of ‘All You Need Is Love’ which became the anthem for the summer of love and maybe should have been the world’s anthem as well!

Classic Lennon lyrics and vocals appear on ‘I AM THE WALRUS’  the Beatles at their best and didn’t they take us on a trip! I wonder if this one would have made number one, sure it would have been banned by the BBC. B side to ‘Hello Goodbye’ from November ’67.    

Step into the limelight Mr George Harrison with his first composition to appear on a Beatle 45 ‘THE INNER LIGHT’ was recorded at EMI studio in Bombay, India with Indian musicians under George’s guidance while the Beatles were there studying Transcendental Meditation . Issued March 15th 1968 with ‘Lady Madonna’ on the top side. A great  version appears on the DVD ‘Tribute to George’  which came out after his death and with Jeff Lynne doing the honours . Well worth seeing all the performances on this emotional night which are superb.

Swiftly released after ‘Get Back’ on May 30th 1969 ‘THE BALLAD OF JOHN & YOKO’ only featured two of the Beatles on this record, John on acoustic guitar, lead guitar and vocals and Paul on bass, drums, piano and backing vocals and it has a great live feel about it! This is John in his godly white period with  full beard, grannie glasses and madly in love with Yoko. 

Another George song ‘OLD BROWN SHOE’  appears on the B side with a great guitar solo from Mr Harrison not unlike his playing and sound on the Cream single ‘Badge’.

‘YOU KNOW MY NAME (LOOK UP THE NUMBER) was issued on March 6th 1970 as the B side to the glorious ‘Let It Be’ . Lasting more than four minutes this comedy number shows how much the Beatles were influenced by the Goons who were also produced by George Martin at EMI.

And in the end

The love you take

Is equal to the love

You make!

 

 

 


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