Archive for the ‘The Marmalade’ Category

The Grass Roots

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Listen: Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots
Where Were You When I Needed You / The Grass Roots

These guys had a string of sizable and worthy successes through the late 60′s and into the 70′s. Pretty poppy but very musical stuff, including a few covers of should-have-been hits, like The Marmalade’s English smash ‘Lovin’ Things’ and The Forum’s ‘The River Is Wide’. All their records past the first few incorporated soul, brass or percussion heavy songwriting in an English sounding setting.

The early stuff seems most non-existant, even though their second single, ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’, became a hit, perfectly marrying a British Invasion image with west coast folk rock jangle, and peaked at #28.

Listen: Only When You’re Lonely / The Grass Roots
Only When You're Lonely / The Grass Roots

It’s followup, ‘Only When You’re Lonely’, in a very similar style, had a brief moment at #96, and is largely forgotten. Too bad, it’s a good one.

The whole Grass Roots story is a bit manufactured. The act was basically an outlet for writers and Dunhill Records owners PF Sloan and Steve Barri to latch onto LA’s folk rock movement, which had an undeniable UK slant, much like The Sir Douglas Quintet purposely went British Beat to gain success. In actuality, The Grass Roots’ first three singles were by an entirely different band from the one that followed and proceeded to have hits.

Their original sound, of which ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ basically concluded, rivaled The Byrds, who clearly ran with both it and the image in their teeth, thereby claiming the prize of massive success.

I have a nagging instinct The ‘Only When You’re Lonely’ Grass Roots easily had the initial footings of a great band to be. Early clips, there are very few, show them possessing a natural body language, much closer to say, The Seeds, than the later successful lineup, more easily compared to clumsy high school football team players, true visual eye sores indeed, like The Turtles or The American Breed.

Were the original Grass Roots destined to be the real deal, we will never know.

Long John Baldry

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Listen: When The Sun Comes Shining Thru’ / Long John Baldry

Long John Baldry, as with Georgie Fame and Alan Price, was another guy from the early 60′s London blues and soul club circuit. Then known as Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, he and his band can be found on numerous schedules from The Flamingo and The Marquee clubs, double billing with several similar up and coming American RnB music enthusiasts, all hell bent on reinterpreting their worshiped heroes.

Like with yesterday’s post, he too took a more commercial route as the 70′s approached, successfully achieving mainstream pop hits in England. A switch of labels in both the UK and US, as well a change in musical style and the recruitment of Tony Macaulay as producer resulted in ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’, which went to #1 in Britain during November of ’67. A year later, ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”, written by Manfred Mann’s lead vocalist Mike D’Abo, went Top 30, although neither caught much traction in America.

Around ’68, Tony Macaulay began cornering many of my favorite records, either as writer, producer and in some cases, both. Current day British pop had become his forte with Scott Walker, Pickettywitch, The Marmalade and The Foundations amongst his successes. I guess he had a sound, and quite frankly, in my world, these two were a perfect pair.

Come ’71 though, Long John Baldry had reverted back to his original boogie woogie style, as he called it. Teaming up with Elton John and Rod Stewart as producers, both struggling newcomers in the early 60′s but by then successful superstars, afforded their old friend some decent US traction. Good for John Baldry of course, but for me, the music wasn’t as much fun nor more memorable than that period anchored by Tony Macaulay and ‘When The Sun Comes Shining Thru”.


Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Listen: Northern Lights (Edit) / Renaissance

I went through a prog rock stage like every kid, but secretly never had the patience for all those long songs in private. I was playing The Kinks and The Marmalade to be honest. Even the bands exclusively part of that genre won me with their attempts at more traditional songs or singles, as they are ultimately best described.

Camel, Caravan, Curved Air, they all had great 7′s, and that’s just a few of the C’s. The likes of Yes, The Nice, Genesis, King Crimson or even Van Der Graaf Generator, when their full album sided epics got edited down for a single, probably discovered they’d essentially written a pop song. I’m guessing a few, like possibly Robert Fripp, are still shivering from the prospect.

I stumbled on a most fascinating Facebook post yesterday from a friend Bruce Garfield. He’s now managing Renaissance, a band who I would classify as prog, and remember from college. In fact, I booked them at my school and a few members came back to our apartment after the show, to buy drugs from my then girlfriend. His post centered around their new album, and how they’re raising money to record it via Kickstarter. Really impressive plan and I truly wish them well.

During the presentation, when snippets of their various songs were used, I caught a passage from ‘Northern Lights’. Blimey, I hadn’t heard it for the longest time, and so headed downstairs for a listen. A bit overlooked here at home when current in ’78, lost time is being made up for presently. If this got played once, it easily got twenty spins. Really good song, and am now planning on seeing their show in June as a result.

The band deserve a lot of respect, and they deserve a break. Turns out their label partners from those lucrative years all shut their doors and draw the blinds when they come knocking, tossing a mere dribble of royalties their way. Having worked for the majors a solid two plus decades, I know how true their claims must be.

Cupid’s Inspiration

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

My World / Cupid’s Inspiration

My World / Cupid’s Inspiration

Listen: My World / Cupid’s Inspiration

Both a ridiculous band name and one I loved immediately. Seems there was a late 60′s music business formula: find a proper soulful voice, three or four other good looking guys, smart them up with some loud London clothes, get them some women’s haircuts and off you might go to the charts. Usually these were bands that actually had some chops but needed a break, so my guess is they sucked it in and went along. I would think The Marmalade and The Love Affair were guilty victims.

Cupid’s Inspiration had to have been just that. Vocalist Terry Rice-Milton could really sing. And they made a couple of singles (five in total were released) that were timeless in. ‘Yesterday Has Gone’ and this, it’s follow up.

Occasionally you hear them on BBC Radio 2. Dale Winton in particular played them often while he was still the presenter of PICK OF THE POPS.

Every time ‘My World’ comes on I just think it’s a perfect symphony.

Junior Campbell

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Listen: Sweet Illusion / Junior Campbell
Sweet Illusion / Junior Campbell

Very over produced commercially intended records, often termed schlock, were in full swing by ’73, when ‘Sweet Illusion’ was a #15 UK hit. British Decca and sometimes their subsidiary label Deram, seemed to puke them out regularly. Years later, these titles were occasionally referred to as guilty pleasures. Some of us didn’t wait for the hipster’s chic nod of approval, instead finding such artifacts a genre onto themselves to collect from the start.

‘Sweet Illusion’ was an airwaves fixture that summer ’73 in London, played way more than the sales charts indicated it should have been. Clearly, this was a disc jockey favorite, a turntable hit for sure, despite a non aggressive chart climb and ultimate peak. My guess is even the #15 slot was a healthy dose of a deal being done. Like did anybody really, really buy this one?

During his time as a founding member of The Marmalade, who used Keith Mansfield as an orchestral arranger on many of their successes, including ‘Lovin’ Things’, ‘Wait For Me Mary Ann’, ‘Baby Make It Soon’ and ‘Reflections Of My Life’, Junior Campbell reportedly studied Mansfield’s scores at close range. Being impressed with the craft of arranging for orchestras, as well the expertise of orchestral musicians in general, led to him handling accompaniment arrangements on the band’s future sessions himself. Once tired of touring in ’71, he left The Marmalade to study orchestration and composition with Eric Guilder and Max Saunders at the Royal College of Music

During the 70′s he had two self-penned solo successes, ‘Hallelujah Freedom’ (#9 in ’72), with Doris Troy, and ‘Sweet Illusion’.

The Tremeloes

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Listen: (Call Me) Number One / The Tremeloes TremeloesCallMe.mp3

Never liked Liverpool bands. No, that’s wrong. Never liked Merseybeat. I may be mixing up adjectives here though. Sorry Liverpool. Most of The Swinging Blues Jeans singles are good, particularly ‘Don’t Make Me Over’ and ‘Rumours, Gossip, Words Untrue’. They were Merseybeat, I guess. And if The Applejacks or The Cryin’ Shames fall into Merseybeat, then they shouldn’t.

A band that did get that Merseybeat tag were Brian Poole & The Tremeloes. Never followed them, yet once The Tremeloes lost Brian Poole, things got way more updated in keeping with the times. They co-existed alongside the formula pop The Love Affair and The Marmalade, which was fine by me.

It was surprising to hear their first few singles all over the US airwaves and see them in the charts. As time went by (’68 – ’70), the quality of releases stayed high, but the US airplay didn’t. Without reason or logic, The Tremeloes were forced into my ‘I’m pissed off these bands don’t get radio play’ column.

I could name a few of their singles that could have been, should have been. And I’m surprised Epic didn’t use their muscle to turn the momentum from downward to upward. But they didn’t.

‘(Call Me) Number One’ should have been just that. Great Mike Smith production and when the song delivered one more hook than most other songs can muster, another freaking one swings round at you. Try counting them yourself.

The Marmalade

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

Listen: Baby Make It Soon / The Marmalade MarmaladeBabyMake.mp3

Apparently, The Marmalade’s ‘I See The Rain’ was one of Jimi Hendrix’s favorite records. Their most collectable release, considered a psych classic, on and on.

All good, a deserved single. Having released a few musically revered but consumer ignored 7′s, UK CBS decided they’d had enough. Onto their pop assembly line The Marmalade went.

Perfect. The more manufactured or schlock, as one friend arrogantly puts it, the singles became, the more I liked them. Indeed, pop/schlock 60′s and 70′s UK singles in general – especially non-hits by nobodies get me excited every time.

‘Baby Make It Soon’ was probably a song the band hated and most likely didn’t even play on. Who cares….it’s a period classic, and many a person’s guilty pleasure. That, I would bet my life on.

Definitely a keeper.

Dream Police

Monday, October 19th, 2009

dreampoliceuka, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

dreampolicehomeusa, Dream Police, Junior Campbell, The Marmalade, Decca, London

Listen: I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So) / Dream Police DreamPoliceHome.mp3

Reportedly Scotland’s Dream Police began as a psychedelic/progressive band that included future members of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and The Average White Band. Signed to Decca in late ’69 on a tip from Junior Campbell, himself then on the label’s roster as a member of The Marmalade, their first (of three) singles for the label coincidentally included him as the band’s producer, arranger and conductor. Conductor?

The Marmalade had a sound, not unlike The Love Affair or Cupid’s Inspiration, and a whole bunch of lesser known ‘pop’ acts, all wonderfully over produced and clawing for a slot in the charts. Despite being considered manufactured fodder by the intelligent and/or hip music community, I found this stuff fascinating. Totally formula in it’s conveyor belt style, I still can’t get enough of it. Decca UK reigned king in the field. Always with a soft spot for inhouse producers or production deals, Junior Campbell, as with Jonathan King, Wayne Bickerton, Mike Hurst and others churned out endless pap to lap for the label. I’m still finding overdone stiffs from that period. One such example: Dream Police.

‘I’ll Be Home (In A Day Or So)’ could have indeed been a hit for The Marmalade (they recorded a version) had it been issued as a single. Junior Campbell’s production of the song for the Dream Police includes his obligatory rock lead guitar over the top of multi tracked vocals and string section bits galore. And quite frankly, the version deserved to be a hit.

The Attack / The Syn

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Hi Ho Silver Lining / The Attack

Listen: Hi Ho Silver Lining / The Attack

If ever you wanted to hear the ultimate English group sound, you are on the right post. Two examples being The Attack and The Syn.

Originally known as The Soul System, the group signed to Decca UK in late ’66, changing their name to The Attack. Despite various line-up changes, which included David O’List and John Du Cann, then soon to be members of The Nice and Atomic Rooster respectively, as well a future founder of The Marmalade, Alan Whitehead, the band spawned four class singles. Their second in the UK, and lone US release on Decca’s US imprint, London, ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, lost out in the British charts to Jeff Beck’s version, which reached #14 in ’67, then #17 in ’72 and yet again #62 in ’82. Embarrassingly, his version peaked here at #123 in ’67 due to very little airplay, a pathetically common tale known as the sewer of US radio. The competing version also gave The Attack controversial attention in the British press claiming Jeff Beck had stolen the song from them.

Created By Clive / The Attack

Listen: Created By Clive / The Attack

Created By Clive / The Syn

Listen: Created By Clive / The Syn

Amazingly, despite having been damaged by the Jeff Beck fiasco, Decca jumped into a similar fire and chose to release the terrific follow-up, ‘Created By Clive’ on the very same day as it’s in-house subsidiary label, Deram, issued The Syn’s version of exactly the same song. It unknowingly predates Clive Davis’ eventual destruction of the record business with frightening accuracy by some forty years.

Neville Thumbcatch / The Attack

Listen: Neville Thumbcatch / The Attack

The Attack’s fourth and final single, ‘Neville Thumbcatch’ seems to mix The Kinks ‘Big Sky’ with the sound of LSD.