Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Highly Likely - Whatever Happened To You (1973)

The Likely Lads is a 1960's, black and white British sitcom, broadcast by the BBC and written by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais. It starred James Bolam and Rodney Bewes as two working class, life long friends, Terry and Bob and was set in the industrial backdrop of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The show's humour was based around Terry's cynical personality versus Bob's ambition and need to better himself.
Bolam & Bewes aka Terry & Bob

The show returned to the BBC in 1973 as "Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads", this time in colour and with a catchy new theme tune. "Whatever Happened To You (Likely Lads Theme)" is a nostalgia laden singalong with lyrics penned by La Frenais and music scored by ex Manfred Mann multi instrumentalist Mike Hugg. Vocals are provided by Bite It Deep favourite Tony Rivers. Production is handled by Hugg and David Heath Hadfield. It was released as a single on the BBC Records label under the name of Highly Likely.
Mike Hugg
The b-side, "God Bless Everyone" is also worth a mention. This time with Hugg and Rodney Bewes sharing a song writing credit. Not the most natural of singers, Bewes takes the lead vocal, which while it is not as good as his previous single, the fab popsike rarity from 1970, "Dear Mother, Love Albert" b/w "Meter Maid" it is a good effort.

Now, pour yourself an ale and reminisce about the good old days...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

George Bean - The Candy Shop Is Closed (1967)

George Bean's music career began in 1963, where signed to Decca Records he released four singles, most notably "Will You Be My Lover Tonight" b/w "It Should Be You". Both of these songs are known to be the first recordings of Jagger/Richards compositions not to be recorded by the Rolling Stones themselves. This record came about thanks to Bean's friendship with Andrew Loog Oldham, who also produced this and a further two Decca single releases. Still, these connections weren't enough to grant Bean some chart success.

The final release for Decca in 1965 was a cover of Bob Dylan's "She Belong's To Me", the b-side of which, was a Dylan-esque, Bean original, co-written with Tony Catchpole (later a member of The Alan Bown) "Why Must They Criticize", which was comped on English Freakbeat Volume 5 and covered by the In-Crowd who would later become Tomorrow.

In 1966 on Parlophone Records and under the moniker of Bean & Loopy's Lot, saw the release of the killer beat single "Haywire" b/w "A Stitch In Time", a highly rare record demanding top dollar on eBay, but comped on Diggin' For Gold Vol.6, for your listening pleasure.

It would be another year until the next George Bean recording would be released, this time on CBS records. "The Candy Shop Is Closed" for me is Bean's pièce de résistance, an overlooked Toytown Popsike lost classic with all the ingredients of a hit record. Songs about sweetshops were ten a penny back in 1967 but this offering really hits the spot, a jaunty romp filled with nostalgic lyrics, Beatlesque orchestration (courtesy of Mark London's nifty production) and some satisfying 12 string electric guitar, sounding more like the Monkees than the Byrds. The b-side is also a winner. "Smile From Sequin" another London/Bean original, more laid back than it's flip and mildly psychedelic. Both sides can be found on Piccadilly Sunshine Volume 2. If only Bean had been given the chance to record an album of his own material, I can't help but think we'd have another record of John Bromley "Songs" standards. Oh well!
George Bean in Privilege (1967)

The second single for CBS and final single as a solo performer was "Bring Back Lovin'" b/w "Floatin'" which is a stone cold, British psychedelic classic. Good luck finding a copy of this!

Bean's next move was an appearance in the movie and accompanying soundtrack to the movie "Privilege", listed as George Bean and the Runner Beans performing "Onward Christian Soldiers" and "Jerusalem", this is possibly the only available video footage of George Bean performing and can be viewed here.

By 1970, Bean had formed the Jazz Prog band Trifle along with John Hitchen (guitar), Patrick Speedy Keen (bass), Barry Martin (sax), Dick Cuthel (horns) Brian Chico Greenwood (drums) but would pass away before the release of their only album, "First Meeting" on Dawn Records in 1971. A tragic loss to an unexplored talent that should have left behind much more than he did.

I'll leave you with my favourite George Bean song which you're guaranteed to diggg!!!

The Candy Shop Is Closed

Now the candy shop is closed,
Yes the candy shop is closed

We descend up there each day
Rounding up pennies just to pay for things like
Raspberry lollipops, old milk bottle tops, comic books for swapping too

We play hopscotch, hide and seek
And between our meals we'd eat things like
Chocolate cigars, sticky nougat bars, gob stoppers by the jar too

Now the candy shop is closed
Office blocks come into view
And I know my rent is due
Yes the candy shop is closed

All those times were so exciting
You might see two friends fighting over
Who called who a name
Who won a football game
Whoever got the blame wasn't so

Now there's much more to get through
But only boring things to do
Settling insurance policies, parting nominees, hardships and worries by the score

Now the candy shop is closed
Office blocks come into view
And I know my rent is due
Yes the candy shop is closed
Oh, the candy shop is closed
Yes the candy shop is closed

Friday, 11 July 2014

Paul Ryan - The Maple Annie Singles (1972)

When pop duo Paul & Barry Ryan split, amicably in 1968, the twin brothers decided that Barry would go solo and Paul would focus on the song writing. This proved to be a winning formula, seeing Barry's second solo single, the heavily orchestrated "Eloise" sell over a million copies, reaching number 2 in the UK charts and the top spot in the German charts in 1969. The hit single spawned the accompanying LP "Barry Ryan Sings Paul Ryan", which highlights Barry's angelic choir boy vocals. I'll not go on too much about this record as I feel it warrants a post of it's own, but fans of the Bee Gees' "Odessa" or Chad & Jeremy's "The Ark" should go out and buy themselves a copy, pronto!

Paul (or is it Barry?) Ryan
Barry Ryan had a good chart run, notching up a further 5 top forty hits in the UK, but by 1972 the hits dried up. It was around this time that Paul Ryan fancied a bit of his own solo success, putting out two singles of his own compositions for the small Maple Annie record label, an offshoot of Island Records which appears to have only lasted for seven single releases. Production duties were handled by Phil Wainman (Sweet, XTC) and arrangements were by Pip Williams (Moody Blues, Colin Blunstone). Neither of the singles gained any chart action in the UK but each one of the four songs is solid pop gold. And I should add that surprisingly, none of these songs appear to have been comped.

"Born On A Beautiful Day" is a flamboyant popsike romp with suitably camp lyrics, "When I was born a smile was on my face, they slapped me on the bum and I joined the human race" The b-side is the dreamy lullaby "Come With Me" a Bill Fay-esque composition which perfectly suits Paul Ryan's ethereal tones. "Natural Gas" sounds the most like 1972, taking it's cue this time from T-Rex with it's Glammy tribal beat and Bolan-like vocal phrasing, there's plenty of groovy electric sitar buzzing away on this too if you dig that kind of thing! Finally, "Hellow, Hellow" a song so melodic and laid back it makes the Beach Boys' "Friends" album sound uptight and in your face!

I can't recommend these two singles enough and because it's been a while since my last blog post I'm going to share not one, but two of them for you to enjoy. The other two songs will most definitely turn up on future Bite It Deep mixes. Watch this space!