Posts Tagged ‘Freddie & The Dreamers’

Wayne Fontana / Jackie Edwards

Saturday, March 16th, 2013

Come On Home / Wayne Fontana

Listen: Come On Home / Wayne Fontana
Come

Wayne Fontana’s version of ‘Come On Home’ came on the radio during the summer of 1966 and it was an instant favorite.

Sixteen months earlier, he was the apparent leader of the first live band I’d ever seen, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. They opened for Freddie & The Dreamers. And so from my initial baptism into the live music world, I had a tendency to favor the support acts, especially if they were English.

By early ’66, they had split into two. It seemed like an eternity at the time. Both had several hits in the UK, with only The Mindbenders getting any real airplay here with ‘A Groovy Kind Of Love’ and ‘Ashes To Ashes’.

By that summer though, I was over anxious to finally hear a solo record from Wayne Fontana, having scoured the UK singles chart in BILLBOARD as part of my weekly ritual at Smith’s Records each Friday after school and seen one too many by him that had not entered my life.

Alas, ‘Come On Home’ got a few weeks worth of spins locally upon release, but then on the more mainstream leaning Top 40, WNDR, as opposed to the looser and much better WOLF. And yeah, I loved it immediately.

I recall mustering up the guts to shout it out at the London Palladium in April ’01. Along with Dave Berry, he was supporting Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Seriously, he was hysterically funny between songs and pretty great vocally as well. He ignored me when it came to my audience request although.

Listen: Come On Home / Jackie Edwards
Come

Little did I know at the time, ‘Come On Home’ was written by Jackie Edwards, the same guy who’d composed my early favorites by The Spencer Davis Group: ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Somebody Help Me’ and ‘When I Come Home’.

Years later, I discovered his history in ska, duets with Millie amongst others and several pop singles, many of which I’ve managed to obtain over time.

It was while digging through one of the seemingly endless storage cupboards at Island’s St. Peter’s Square office in London that I unearthed an unplayed promotional pressing of his ‘Come On Home’. I still experience a deja vu hot flash to that moment every time I hold this copy.

The Searchers

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

SearchersTakeUK, The Searchers, Pye, Kapp

SearchersTakeUS, The Searchers, Pye, Kapp

Listen: Take Me For What I’m Worth / The Searchers SearchersTakeWorth.mp3

Despite their clean cut Mersey look, The Searchers made consistently good singles for years. A staple of The English Invasion, like The Beatles and Freddie & The Dreamers, their past haunted them a bit when smaller labels in the US that had issued unsuccessful debut singles trudged them out to compete with more current hits. Didn’t seem to harm them much as ‘Sugar & Spice’ fared equally well next to ‘Needles & Pins’ in ’64.

A short time later, hits became a bit of a struggle (although most were well chosen covers), with spotty airplay hindering P.F. Sloan’s ‘Take Me For What I’m Worth’ unfairly. It’s seven week run that began in January of ’66 got it to only #76. Oddly, it didn’t fare much better back at home (#20).

SearchersHaveYouEverUS, The Searchers, Pye, Kapp

Listen: Have You Ever Loved Somebody / The Searchers SearchersHaveSomebody.mp3

Maybe the suits needed to go, and the adaption to an image more in line with Them, The Yardbirds or The Kinks would have kept initial fans interested. Even The Beatles dumped that look, probably in their constant effort to unsuccessfully keep up with The Rolling Stones, although for predictably klutzy flower power / Nehru gear. ‘Have You Ever Loved Somebody’, like ‘Take For What I’m Worth’ before it, was highlighted by a very unique vocal harmony that gave both singles something irresistible. Again, US airplay was playing it’s fickle hand and it’s short three week chart run found it stalling at #94, with a similar fate in the UK (#48).

The Applejacks

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

ApplejacksTellUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksTellMeUSA, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksTellMeUS, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Tell Me When / The Applejacks ApplejacksTellMeWhen.mp3

Hard to believe, but once was a time when a color photo of a UK band was a big treat. Color usually wasn’t the first look you’d ever get of a new act in the mid 60′s. Coincidentally, the only exception I can think of is The Applejacks. They were pictured, in color, like all the other bands, on the cover of ENGLAND’S GREATEST HITMAKERS, a benefit compilation album issued by London Records in aid of the Lord’s Tavern Fund, which was an association that helped finance cricket fields in England. My how the causes have become rather more worthy through the years.

There was once talk that bassist Megan Davies was sister to Ray and Dave. The fact that they covered and released as their fifth single an obscure Ray Davies song fueled the rumour for years. Turns out it wasn’t true. But the potentially accurate info at the time made the agony of struggling to hear The Applejacks even more acute. Despite blagging promos from the local adult station, WMCR – and having some really good shops (Walt’s Records, Smith’s Records) that would stock three to five copies of just about any new English band, The Applejacks first few singles were very evasive. Years later, I guess in the early 70′s, I finally scored a coveted US stock copy of their first single ‘ Tell Me When’ (pictured above), which spent one short seven day run on BILLBOARD’s Bubbling Under The Hot 100 chart at #135 (6/6/64). And that was their entire chart history in the US. Don’t feel bad, I’m embarrassed too.

‘Tell Me When’ paralled the stereotypical Beat Group sound, leaning a little too close to Freddie & The Dreamers. Still at the time, the wait was so long (almost six months – then a lifetime), that all it’s Mersey leanings were forgiven once a copy arrived from my cousin Anne in London.

ApplejacksBabyJaneUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksBabyUSB, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksBabyJane, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Baby Jane / The Applejacks ApplejacksBabyJane.mp3

The real surprise was ‘Baby Jane’, it’s B side. More loud and bluesy, this was closer to The Spencer Davis Group or The Downliner’s Sect than any of their eventual tracks. ‘Baby Jane’ is also one of the first released songs from writers Pete Dello and Ray Cane, who would eventually form The Honeybus, so it’s historical value is quite high. I like to think this was indicative of The Applejacks live. Can you imagine how fun that would have been to see?

ApplejacksThreeUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksThreeLittleUSA, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Three Little Words (I Love You) / The Applejacks ApplejacksThree.mp3

Their third single was also the last to make the UK chart (#23). ‘Three Little Words (I Love You)’ also became their finalt US release, for some reason retitled ‘I’m Gonna Send My Love (Three Little Words)’. Megan was a pretty swinging bassist, you’ll notice her carrying this one along too. The single came into the radio station, I recall seeing on the counter, but not in my stack of weekly rock discards, which would clearly have been headed for the rubbish bin until God put me on earth to save them all. I learned then and there to ask and you will recieve.

ApplejacksByeByeUKA, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksByeByeUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: Bye Bye Girl / The Applejacks ApplejacksByeBye.mp3

1965′s ‘Bye Bye Girl’, like ‘Baby Jane’, has a slightly heavier, early Moody Blues slant that I much preferred to their often Liverpool sounding tracks. By now, cousin Anne was well trained in grabbing The Applejacks’ 7′s week of release. She in turn, wanted The Mamas & The Papas’ singles. No problem. They were everywhere. A more than fair trade.

ApplejacksGameUKB, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

ApplejacksGameUK, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

Listen: It’s Not A Game Any More / The Applejacks ApplejacksGame.mp3

B side, ‘It’s Not A Game Any More’, was another early Pete Dello song. Clearly still finding his footing, practising you could say, on The Applejacks, there are a few signature Pete Dello twists and turns here – if you know his work, they’re easy to spot.

ApplejacksLP, The Applejacks, Decca, London, Megan Davies

There are those who insist the album was never released in North America. Proof above otherwise. A cherished item.