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Friday on my Mind 204: Here it Comes Again

I saw in the Guardian during the week that Barry Mason died last month.

Songs to his credit include Delilah, The Last Waltz and Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes.

Many of his songs were written in collaboration with Les Reed whose Death I noted here.

Earlier than those songs he had written this hit for The Fortunes.

The video is clearly the recording played over TV footage.

The Fortunes: Here it Comes Again

John Barry Mason: 12/7/1935 – 16/4/ 2021. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 203: Baby Now That I’ve Found You

I’ve always liked the drum fills on this, the Foundations’ first hit.

Their lead singer on the Top of the Pops appearance couldn’t quite reach the high note on ‘Baby’. (Yes; acts did used to sing live on TOTP sometimes.) He’d left by the time of Build Me Up Buttercup, now forever known to me as the xylophone song.

The Foundations: Baby Now That I’ve Found You

That TOTP performance is here.

Friday on my Mind 202: Different Drum

This was most people’s introduction to the voice of Linda Ronstadt as she was the lead singer in the Stone Poneys. The song had been released before by the Greenbriar Boys but wasn’t a hit. (Nor was the Stone Poneys’ version a hit in the UK.)

Its writer though was Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. He offered the song to them but the show’s producers turned it down. He recorded it himself in 1972 and his version has a much more ‘country’ feel.

The Stone Poneys: Different Drum

Michael Nesmith: Different Drum

Not Friday on my Mind 64: Night of Fear

The first big hit on the Deram label (DM 109, see my previous post here) was this song by The Move, which reached no. 2 in the UK. The song’s writer Roy Wood borrowed extensively from his musical hero Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture for this. While normal lead singer Carl Wayne takes the verses, the song features Ace Kefford singing the “chorus” with Roy Wood and Trevor Burton adding their voices to the harmonies. Wood first contributed a lead singer role in the bridge of the follow-up single I Can Hear the Grass Grow on which Kefford also sang the middle eight.

The Move: Night of Fear

Friday on my Mind 201: That’s What Love Will Do – RIP Trevor Peacock

Trevor Peacock, who was best known as an actor (particularly as Jim Trott in The Vicar of Dibley, died earlier this week.

However he was also a songwriter, with several hits to his credit in the early 1960s, though they were performed and sung by other people. Mrs Brown, You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter was a no 1 in the US for Herman’s Hermits, though it wasn’t released as a single in the UK.

This one was a No 3 in the UK. It is a very “early 1960s” sound, from a tiny bit before my time.

Joe Brown and The Bruvvers: That’s What Love Will Do

Trevor Edward Peacock: 19/5/1931 – 8/3/2021. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 200: House of the Rising Sun – RIP Hilton Valentine

I heard on the radio news on Sunday that Hilton Valentine, guitar player in the Animals, one of the signature mid-1960s British bands, has died.

The group’s arrangement of an old folk song, to which Valentine made no mean contribution with his guitar arpeggio introduction, was their breakthrough single, reaching no 1 on both sides of the Atlantic. (As I recall, though, the record label attributed the song to Trad: arr Price.)

The Animals: The House of the Rising Sun

Hilton Stewart Paterson Valentine: 21/5/ 1943 – 29/1/2021. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 199: Baby I Love You

That he committed a murder is the main fact that ought to be remembered about Phil Spector, who died last weekend.

His death would not have made the headlines, however – murderers are not usually accorded such notice – had he not, as a record producer, been the main architect of the sound of mid-60s US pop music with his ‘wall of sound.’ A sound characterised by heavy drums, layered vocals, strings and highlighted percussion. As typified in the song below, recorded by The Ronettes.

Spector’s life was always likely to come to some sort of horrific event. He had a disturbed childhood, subjected to bullying by his mother and schoolmates and further traumatised by his father’s suicide. His behaviour in adulthood could be described euphemistically as erratic or, more emphatically, as demented. He treated his second wife, Ronnie, abominably and had a history of pulling guns on people in the recording studio. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Without him the Sixties would have sounded very different.

The Ronettes: Baby I Love You

Harvey Phillip (Phil) Spector: 26/12/1939 – 16/1/2021. So it goes.

Let us not forget his victim, whose young life he ended tragically abruptly.

Lana Clarkson: 5/4/1962 – 3/2/2003. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 198: Ferry Cross the Mersey. RIP Gerry Marsden

2021 is carrying on from where 2020 left off. Last Sunday Gerry Marsden died.

He is of course best known as lead singer and guitarist of Gerry and the Pacemakers, a group which had the distinction of their first three hits reaching no 1 in the UK charts, something his contemporaries The Beatles did not achieve. (To be fair they had many more hits in total.)

It was the third of these number 1 songs, a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical Carousel, which will be Gerry’s lasting legacy, a song adopted as a theme tune by the supporters of both Liverpool FC and Celtic FC, but because of Marsden’s Liverpudlian upbringing will now forever be associated with the city.

It was the following song though that was the first single I ever bought. The clip is from Top of the Pops but is either mimed or the record has been dubbed over the video.

Gerry and the Pacemakers: Ferry Cross the Mersey

Ferry Cross the Mersey was also the title song from the film the group made in 1965, a film I went to see but of which I can only remember this one scene, shot on one of the eponymous ferries with the group on its deck – complete with drum kit! – and an exchange with some woman saying, “Hello, Gerry.”

Gerard (Gerry) Marsden: 24/12/1942 – 3/1/2021. So it goes.

Happy New Year (Friday on my Mind 197)

Happy New Year, one and all.

I’ve been saving this one up for several years to wait for the next time Jan 1st fell on a Friday.

It’s the first ever single released on Decca’s Deram label – designated DM 101 – sung by Beverley (Kutner – later Martin) and featured Jimmy Page on guitar. Guitar is not the first thing that strikes you about the song, though. That would be the ringing piano chords at its start.

Beverley: Happy New Year

Deram’s releases were a curious blend of the commercial and the much less so. The label was originally set up to demonstrate a breakthrough Decca’s engineers had made in representing sound stereophonically on record.

This release was not a bad opening statement even if Happy New Year wasn’t a hit.

Howver DM 102 was; I Love My Dog by Cat Stevens which reached no 28 in the UK charts. He outdid that feat later in the year with Matthew and Son (DM 110) equalling the highest position (no 2) reached by DM 109, The Move’s Night of Fear. The oddest hit on Deram though was surely I Was Kaiser’s Bill’s Batman by the immortal Whistling Jack Smith.

Happy New Year was written by Randy Newman who is due a commendation for not adding an apostrophe ‘s’ as most USians do when talking about the day when the calendar flips. To my mind that makes it a felicitation for one day only (as in Happy Birthday! or Merry Christmas!) rather than the desire for good fortune to be with you for a full 365 (or 366) days.

Here’s Newman’s demo version – with a picture of Beverley’s single version cover sleeve.

Randy Newman: Happy New Year

Not Friday on my Mind 64: Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James – RIP Geoff Stephens

Song writer Geoff Stephens has died. The obituaries all mentioned Winchester Cathedral which was a hit for the group he set up, The New Vaudeville Band, no 1 in the US but no 4 in the UK. His song-writing CV is impressive (see link above.)

Co-written with John Carter, this was the third Manfred Mann single to feature Mike d’Abo on lead vocals and a no 2 UK hit. The lyric kind of prefigures the line, “She settled for suburbia and a little patch of land” in Albert Hammond’s The Free Electric Band.

The sound and vision in this Top of the Pops appearance aren’t in synch. (They are in this clip but the vision quality is poorer. Filmed off a TV screen I suppose.)

Manfred Mann: Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James

Geoffrey (Geoff) Stephens: 1/10/1934 – 24/12/2020. So it goes.

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