(14) THE LAST BUS HOME (Billy May) – STEVE DAY AND THE SYNDICATE (2.30) In Beatle books, you often come across a reference to Wump and his Werbles being one of the first beat groups at the Cavern. Sadly, nothing by Wump is to hand, but the group did become Steve Day and the Syndicate and this 1964 acetate features “The Last Bus Home” and “You Ask Me Why”. Songwriter Billy May is a member of another Liverpool band, the Pathfinders. Sign of the times: no-one would write a song about the last bus home these days as everyone goes by car.
(15) I WONDER IF I CARE AS MUCH (Don Everly) – THE DIMENSIONS (2.50) Most Merseybeat bands had some Everly Brothers material in their repertoire and this version featured some very tight harmonies. The Dimensions made records with a Chester girl. Tiffany.
(16) LEND ME YOUR COMB (Kay Twomey, Ben Weisman, Fred Wise) – RORY STORM AND THE HURRICANES (1.45) Rory Storm and the Hurricanes made very few records and even fewer demos are around. This song, originally recorded by Carl Perkins, was ideal for Rory, who put his blond quiff in place with a large comb. The demo was recorded in 1965 but sounds earlier, and on its B-side, Rory says, “And now it’s time for the star of our little show, Britain’s answer to Duane Eddy, the magnificent, the sensational, the fabulous Johnny Guitar”. On this playing of “Green Onions”, however, Duane has little to worry about.
(17) HE WAS A FRIEND OF MINE (Roger McGuinn) – TONY JACKSON GROUP (3.02) Tony Jackson formed the Vibrations after leaving the Searchers and with a change in line-up,they spent some time in Portugal, even recording an EP there. This track, a lament for President Kennedy, shows how similar the Byrds’ sound was to the Searchers’. Eventually released in the UK on the Tony Jackson CD, “Just Like Me”, on the Strange Things Are Happening label in 1992.
(18) ONCE UPON A TIME (Strouse, Adams) – THE SEARCHERS (2.02) The Searchers excelled at melodic ballads: this reminds me of their B-sides, but it wasn’t released until the 1992 Sequel set.
(19) IF YOU CAN’T GET HER (Wayne Bickerton, Tony Waddington) -PETE BEST COMBO (3.20) This single was released in the UK in 1964 and credited to “Peter Best, formerly of the Beatles”. The record showcases the early songwriting and performing abilities of Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington, who later wrote and produced the hits for the Rubettes. The Liverpool accent is so to the fore that it sounds like a male version of the Vernons. First released in the UK on “Beyond The Beatles, 1964-1966″ on Cherry Red records last year.
(20) CASTIN’ MY SPELL (E. Johnson, A. Johnson) – THE PETE BEST COMBO (1.50) The original Johnny Otis record was a favourite with British beat groups, but few of them recorded it. This was released in the US and did not get released in the UK until “Beyond The Beatles, 1964-1966″ on Cherry Red Records.
(21) WE’RE HERE AGAIN (Ralph Ellis) – THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS (1.35) The Swinging Blue Jeans never wrecked hotel rooms – quite the reverse, when they returned to a hotel they might put another show for the patrons. Ralph Ellis wrote this pastiche of a music hall song for those occasions. It contains the same humour as the Beatles Christmas records for the fan club. “How much was that suit then?” “25 guineas.” “Good god, you could have got a new one for that.”
ALBUM TWO – SECOND CD – END OF AN ERA (56.31)
(1) OVER THE RAINBOW (Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg) – THE NEWTOWNS (2.50) Very nice, light beat treatment of the Judy Garland standard, recorded at Unicord Overseas Promotions, 34 Moorfields, Liverpool 2. At the same session, the Newtowns covered Sandie Shaw’s “Tomorrow” and the Drifters’ “Please Stay”.
(2) MAKE UP YOUR MIND (The Connoisseurs) – THE CONNOISSEURS (3.00) The Connoisseurs did a recording test for George Martin, who decided not to offer them a contract. A few months later they acquired a new lead singer in Vince Earl, which could have made the different. This mid-paced demo was made with Vince in Stockport and has good harmonies and instrumentation, although the song is repetitive. “I haven’t heard it for a million years. The mixing could have been better but it’s not bad,” says Vince, who now plays Ron Dixon in “Brookside”.
(3) SORROW (First session) (Feldman, Goldstein, Gottehrer) – THE MERSEYS (2.20) After the Merseybeats, Tony Crane and Billy Kinsley went the way of the Walker Brothers with “Sorrow”. The single made No.4, but that was recorded at the second attempt. The first session featured Jack Bruce, Clem Cattini, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, but Fontana thought it was too heavy and had them recut it with an orchestral arrangement. Pity.Lots of Merseybeat bands sang this Arthur Alexander song.
(4) NOTHING CAN CHANGE THIS LOVE (Cooke) – THE MERSEYS (1.55) This Sam Cooke song is a close cousin to “Bring It On Home To Me” and the call-and-response between Tony and Billy on this revival is first rate. The Merseys never did much beyond “Sorrow” but this could have made the Top 10.
(5) KEEP ME WARM (‘TIL THE SUN SHINES) (Jimmy Campbell) – THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS (2.28) In 1966 the Swinging Blue Jeans showed they were capable of keeping up with the Beatles via this piece of psychedelia. The excellent song was written by Jimmy Campbell of the Kirkbys and was produced by Paddy Chambers of the Escorts and Paddy, Klaus and Gibson. EMI refused to sanction its release because it wasn’t made by one of their staff producers. Ironically, Jimmy didn’t know that the Blue Jeans had recorded his song until I told him a couple of years ago.
(6) MICHAELANGELO (Jimmy Campbell) – THE KIRKBYS (2.21) The Kirkbys try a few psychedelic tricks on “Michaelangelo” and the introduction of the trumpet can only mean that someone has been listening to “Penny Lane”. Good song, and Jimmy Campbell recorded a song about Van Gogh on his album.
(7) LET ME IN (unknown) – THE CRYIN’ SHAMES (2.38) The Cryin’ Shames had a UK hit with “Please Stay”, produced by Joe Meek, but Meek’s suicide meant that several tracks went unreleased. “Let Me In” has a driving rhythm track with a kitchen-sink arrangement, subsequently added by Meek. Good track but more typical of Meek than Merseybeat.
(8) HOLD ON I’M COMIN’ (Isaac Hayes, Dave Porter) – THE UNDERTAKERS (2.05) The Undertakers copying Sam and Dave’s original and making a good job of it.
(9) MAKIN’ WHOOPEE (Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn) – RAY SCRAGG (2.23) When Ray Scragg left the Dennisons, he cut some demos to his own piano accompaniment. He has a good R&B feel on “Makin’ Whoopee”, clearly inspired by Ray Charles’ version.
(10) I’LL TAKE YOU HOME AGAIN KATHLEEN (T.Westendorf) – THE DIMENSIONS (3.39) The Dimensions became a cabaret band and worked with Dickie Valentine, who encouraged them to get a record contract. Nothing came of it, but this demo shows the lead singer’s sensational voice, like Karl Denver in overdrive. Of all the unreleased tracks I have played on BBC Radio Merseyside, this one has attracted the most attention.
(11) LOVE ME (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller) – GUS TRAVIS AND THE MIDNIGHTERS (2.35) Gus “Crazy Legs” Travis never got a recording deal but he has been playing the Merseyside clubs since the 50s. This is from a live recording from the late 60s: Gus had got the Midnighters back as they’d been Freddie Starr. As Elvis imitators go, Gus Travis is pretty good and I love his Elvis-styled asides on this cut.
(12) PROMISCUITY (Sidney Hoddes, Roger McGough, Mike McGear) – SCAFFOLD (2.20) Wonderful lyric: “Promiscuity, promiscuity, it isn’t a sin or a vice / I don’t even it’s good for me, I just do it because it is nice.” Scaffold recorded this witty calypso for EMI but even in the late-60s, it was considered to be a risqué lyric and the track stayed on the shelf.
(13) GETTIN’ SENTIMENTAL OVER YOU (Jimmy Campbell) – BILLY FURY (2.30) Another Jimmy Campbell song, this time a lilting country song that sounds like a standard. Fury gives a fine performance and I like the honky tonk piano.
(14) MR BUSDRIVER (Bruce Channel) – JASON EDDIE (1.57) Billy Fury’s brother, Albie Wycherley, with a cover of Bruce Channel’s “Mr Busdriver”. I think Albert will take it as a compliment when I say this sounds like Billy.
(15) GOING BACK TO LIVERPOOL (Jackie Lomax) – JACKIE LOMAX (3.07) The former lead singer of the Undertakers, Jackie Lomax, was signed as a solo artist to Apple Records and made an album, “Is This What You Want?”, to which the public unfortunately answered no. This outtake was a bonus track on the CD reissue in 1991and features George Harrison (lead), Billy Kinsley (bass), Billy Preston (organ) and Pete Clarke (drums).
(16) HERE WE GO AGAIN (unknown) – PADDY CHAMBERS AND BERYL MARSDEN (3.45) Two Merseybeat stalwarts get together for a slow soul version of the Ray Charles classic, produced by Tony Hall. Other unreleased sides from the same session are “You And Me” and “Take Me In Your Arms Again”.
(17) GREEN EYED AMERICAN ACTRESS (Jimmy Campbell) – BILLY FURY (2.29) Fury recorded several of Jimmy Campbell’s songs and this excellent ballad should have been released.
(18) THAT’S RIGHT, THAT’S ME (Jimmy Campbell) – BILLY FURY (3.24) Opening lines: “Judas Iscariot loaned me his chariot / Mad Jack gave me a loan” – and get’s weirder. Intriguing song about losing your money at cards (I think).
(19) I’M AN OLD ROCK’N’ROLLER (Mickey Jupp) – THE SWINGING BLUE JEANS (2.35) If Chuck Berry had been writing songs in 1980, they might have turned out like this. The Swinging Blue Jeans with a good Mickey-take written by Mr Jupp: “I’m backstage drinking and watching the clock, And nobody knows that I’m too old to rock.”
(20) RUNNING BEAR (J.P.Richardson) – CLOUDS (2.40) Joey Bower, Dave Lovelady and Billy Hatton of the Fourmost formed Clouds to work social clubs, and they hoped to get a recording deal with a revival of “Running Bear”, although it never happened. Clouds enjoy the war whoops and there’s some great drumming from Dave Lovelady.
(21) SHANGHAI SURPRISE (George Harrison) – GEORGE HARRISON AND VICKI BROWN (4.30) Let’s put a Beatle in here. Madonna’s 1986 film “Shanghai Suprise” was a disaster in every way but one – the theme song. George Harrison recorded his song with another Liverpool singer, Vicki, the wife of Joe. Because the film immediately sank, the single was cancelled, but it’s one of George’s best songs and a good companion to “Hong Kong Blues”.