Listen: Dance Round The Maypole / Acid Gallery
It was December 2000, and I was stranded in England for a few days of Sony meetings. Actually, I was jamming to get home on the Friday, when early that morning I got a call from Will Botwin, then president at Columbia, asking very nicely if I could stay through Monday night for an Emiliana Torrini showcase. Will was always the greatest guy, awesome boss. How do you say no? I mean, he could have just told me I needed to do it. Period. But it was never his way.
So I suddenly found myself with three full days/nights on my hands. Reading the latest MOJO on the flight over, I was annoyed to be missing The Roy Wood Christmas Extravaganza Tour. I should have juggled the trip to take it in but by then it was too late. Now that I was there for a few days extra, I rechecked his schedule.
Sure enough, that evening Roy Wood was a couple hours away, in Wolverhampton. Jackie Hyde in the touring/artist relations department at Sony got me tickets and passes God love her. And I was on the 6 pm train heading north I think, alone. No one was interested in joining me. Grass is always greener.
I get there around 8, and decided to try speaking with Roy Wood. The band/crew etc are all around and tell me Roy has gone down the road to the pub. Ok. I wander off down the wet, deserted streets and find said establishment. Walk in, there propped up against the bar is a lone Roy Wood, nursing a pint. I proceed over, and no problem, he’s as friendly as I’d hoped. All talk about the past welcomed. Really fun guy.
I was always curious about the Acid Gallery single. He wrote and produced it, but it sure did sound like The Move to me. Was it? He confirmed his participation but no, it wasn’t The Move. Instead it was “some guys who were on Deram back then, name escapes me”.
Well was it The Syn, or The Eyes Of Blue, um, Tintern Abbey?
“No, these guys had a hit a few years later with ‘Yellow River’ “.
Bingo: The Outer Limits.
“That’s them” he confirms.
Listen: Just One More Chance / The Outer Limits
Actually The Outer Limits changed their name to Christie and had that smash with ‘Yellow River’. Main writer in both bands was Jeff Christie and he’d originally written ‘Yellow River’ for The Tremeloes but decided to record it himself after they dragged their feet. The rest is history, I guess. I loved that Outer Limits single, ‘Just One More Chance’ at the time, summer ’67.
Listen: Great Train Robbery / The Outer Limits
But the follow up, ‘Great Train Robbery’, holy whatever, talk about British sounding. And on Immediate’s subsidiary imprint, Instant. Even better. Now why Immediate needed another in house label is pretty funny actually. Still very nice label and stock sleeve from Andrew Loog Oldham.
The Roy Wood Christmas Extravaganza was a total treat that night. Twelve piece, all female band. Sounding full scale, Phil Spector live. Reproducing all those Wizzard hits flawlessly. Roy dressed in black teddy boy jacket, purple lapels, purple streaks in the infamous hair and a lavender Strat. Once a star, always a star.
The finales, ‘Blackberry Way’ and ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ being sung along loudly by a full theater audience with fake snow falling on the stage, well it doesn’t get much better.
One last closing bit to the Roy Wood pub conversation:
Will you fill out my juke box tab?
“Sure. No problem”.
Above: Jukebox Tab signed by Roy Wood