Posts Tagged ‘The Applejacks’

Hedgehoppers Anonymous

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Listen: Stop Press / Hedgehoppers Anonymous

Quite possibly the very first copy of BILLBOARD I ever laid my eyes on had Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 in the Hot 100. I know because still have that edition.

Mind you, those early copies of the magazine were life changing. For a youngster desperately obsessed with English music during the 60′s, this publication was a tsunami of joyous information and statistics. BILLBOARD enabled me to actually see Britain’s Top 50 singles chart on a weekly basis. And believe you me, I gunned my way to Smith’s Records after school every Friday to pour over the current week’s edition, and to pick up last week’s now worthless copy from Mrs. Smith herself. I was her chosen charity. I suppose it was me or the rubbish bin, all pre-recycling of course. I cringe to think how many copies were tossed. Regardless, a week old BILLBOARD was useless to even Mrs. Smith in Oneida, NY. The world moved fast back then as well.

Now I’d already seen mention of this band, as with many others, probably in TEEN SCREEN or 16 MAGAZINE. Those publications would all dedicate a page or two toward reprinted miniatures of the record companies’ new band 8×10′s. And Hedgehoppers Anonymous were one such. Their name was hard to forget, especially for this youngster’s unblemished hippocampus.

And so with great excitement, and desperate catch-up, ‘It’s Good News Week’ at #48 made me desperate for an airing. Fate and luck were on my side. Local Top 40 WNDR ran a weekly Tuesday night program, ‘Echoes Of England’, whereby they’d spin all the singles they didn’t, wouldn’t and/or couldn’t play in regular rotation. It’s how I first heard Them, Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville, The Applejacks, The Pretty Things and on this particular occasion, Hedgehoppers Anonymous.

Years, although not that many, later I discovered they were produced and guided by Jonathan King, a big favorite of mine then and now. I honestly don’t recall when I acquired ‘Stop Press’. I’m guessing ’74-ish. Back then I would buy records, via snail mail, from UK dealers out of the set sale pages of, I think, TROUSER PRESS. Whatever, it turned up in the post, most likely all of two weeks and $3.00 (including post) later and I truly loved it. A total package complete with Mick Tinsley’s black and white drizzly English minor key vocal melody and all the noisy drum/tambourine stuff. Properly tagged as percussion, the sound felt like a first to me. Why on earth had no one thought of using that racket prior?

‘Stop Press’ is by far the band’s best and most English record, at least by my not so humble standards.

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 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.


Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

sunnydoctors, Sunny, Sue & Sunny, The Brotherhood Of Man, Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway, Geoff Stephens, CBS

Listen: Doctor’s Orders / Sunny SunnyDoctors.mp3

Basically Sunny has loads of history. Solo artist, one half of Sue & Sunny (both of whom were also members of The Brotherhood Of Man) and background voice on many, many, many hit singles (Dusty Springfield, Elton John, The Love Affair, Lulu, Mott The Hoople, T. Rex, Tom Jones, and Joe Cocker to name but a few bigger ones). She’s probably on more records than even she can remember – let alone you or me.

Often associated with the Cook & Greenaway writer/producer team, it was their song ‘Doctor’s Order’ (co-written with Geoff Stephens, himself claim to a long list of song credits: The Applejacks, Manfred Mann, Scott Walker, Dave Berry, Frank Sinatra, The Carpenters) that became a favorite for literally months in ’74. As into rock and soul as I was in ’74, the occasional pop track would bite me hard. I was never comfortable that Sunny’s version didn’t become the US hit version, it was better and smoother than Carol Douglas’. Rest of world though, the crown went to the awesome Sunny. I want to meet her someday.