Archive for the ‘Brian Epstein’ Category

A Band Of Angels

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Listen: Invitation / A Band Of Angels

A Band Of Angels are possibly the most unique of any British Beat group. You see, they actually managed a national US television spot, yet never achieved a domestic release. Not even one single in America. True.

In early ’65, they were on Brian Epstein’s black and white UK segment of HULLABALOO, a weekly installment positioned as a live feed direct from England. It didn’t last long, but I recall a barefooted Marianne Faithfull, also interviewed post song and a bunch of suit/tied Merseybeat acts getting similar looks. Parallel with his management roster, he was very safe, dare I say, white. So forget about seeing anything with a blues or RnB influence in said segment. Never happened. Still, A Band Of Angels were a real treat to this little kid.

I’d seen their photo in 16 MAGAZINE, and was itching for a listen. They performed ‘Not True As Yet’, even crazier given the track was a B side of ‘Me’, a colossal UK flop on United Artists. One listen on that program, and I sang it for years to follow, almost ten, until I landed a copy for myself. That’s both how much I wanted to retain it and how strong the song’s hook was.

Jump forward to summer ’66, and the band’s recorded peak, ‘Invitation’, gets a UK release. The single has become more appreciated through the years, slowly revered in the Northern Soul clubs and deemed as one of Mike D’Abo’s best lead vocals ever. Now that’s saying something, given his later hits with Manfred Mann, like ‘The Mighty Quinn’ and ‘Semi Detached Suburban Mister James’ particularly.

The Chants

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Listen: She’s Mine / The Chants

The Chants, despite a very ordinary name, were different than most from the British Invasion era. Basically a five piece vocal group with no musicians in their lineup, their real historical moment came late in ’62 when turning up at The Cavern Club for an audition without a band. The Beatles offered to fill in, but Brian Epstein objected. John Lennon overruled and The Chants made their Cavern dubut in November of that year with his band providing the backing.

Phil Ward turned me on to this one, having been hooked on it big time. At first, I mistook them to have Phil Spector involvement, given ‘She’s Mine’ could double for any number from The Crystals or The Ronettes songbook pretty easily with the arrangements and even production not unlike his.

Released in the US on Interphon got my curiosity up. Being Vee Jay’s subsidiary imprint, created exclusively for UK product, meant The Chants were English. Digging through my hardcore, only for obsessed collectors, research books allowed the plot to thicken and the above piece of trivia to be uncovered. Never knew it until recently.

Why didn’t Interphon market them via that Beatles connection? This was ’64, and anything Beatles was contagious. The label could easily have spread the rumor it was indeed them on the record. What a blunder.

The Silkie

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away / The Silkie

Listen: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away / The Silkie
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away / The Silkie

A 1-2-3 blueprint for success in the burgeoning UK folk rock scene of 1965: be managed by Brian Epstein, cover Beatles song in folk style, have obligatory female harmonizer in lineup. Boom, you’re off to the charts. And that’s exactly what happened with The Silkie. But, after said single, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ made the UK Top 30 and US Top 10, no one, including Brian, was interested. Despite being afforded an album on Fontana, with good songs and production, and a beautiful sleeve – the world moved on.

Born To Be With You / The Silkie

Listen: Born To Be With You / The Silkie
Born To Be With You / The Silkie

But the world made a mistake, as the fourth and final single released in 1966 was a gentle but terrific remake of ‘Born To Be With You’, a hit for The Chordettes some ten years prior. It went unnoticed by just about everyone, except me that is. I couldn’t believe no one cared. Admittedly the folk scene was a bit passe two years down the line, but the song alone deserved more attention. Proof came in ’73 when Dave Edmunds literally recreated a wall of sound production and applied it to what became a hit remake.