spac42

2CD Set: RHGB42

827565060948

 

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THAT’LL BE THE DAY
FIVE DOZEN DODGY BRITISH COVER VERSIONS

Disc One
LARRY PAGE • That’ll Be The Day
BREAKAWAYS • He’s A Rebel
FRANK KELLY with THE HUNTERS • I Saw Linda Yesterday
GARRY MILLS • Running Bear
DICKIE VALENTINE • A Teenager In Love
KING BROTHERS • Wake Up Little Suzie
BOB CORT SKIFFLE • School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes The Bell)
RONNIE CARROLL • Footsteps
MUDLARKS • Book Of Love
BARRY BARNETT • When
BILLIE ANTHONY • I Dreamed
DON LANG • Queen Of The Hop
DON CHARLES • The Hermit Of Misty Mountain
VINCE EAGER • El Paso
JESS CONRAD • This Pullover
CLIFF RICHARD & THE DRIFTERS • Schoolboy Crush
ALEX MURRAY • Teen Angel
NELSON KEENE • Image Of A Girl
PAULINE SHEPHERD • Treasure Of Love
OLIVER REED • Ecstacy
CHAS McDEVITT GROUP ft SHIRLEY DOUGLAS • Real Love
AVONS • Rubber Ball
COLIN HICKS • La Dee Dah
CUTTERS • I’ve Had It
JIMMY JUSTICE • A Little Bit Of Soap
RICKY JAMES • Party Doll
THREE BARRY SISTERS • Tall Paul
CRAIG DOUGLAS • Nothin’ Shakin’
MARION RYAN • Ding-Dong Rock-A-Billy Wedding
ANNETTE KLOOGER with THE FOUR JONES BOYS • Why Do Fools Fall In Love
FRANKIE VAUGHAN • My Boy Flat Top
CHARLIE DRAKE • Sea Cruise
VIPERS • Summertime Blues

Disc Two
JOHN LEYTON • Tell Laura I Love Her
MOST BROTHERS • Whole Lotta Woman
WEE WILLIE HARRIS • Love Bug Crawl
TERRY WAYNE • Your True Love
DENNIS LOTIS • Honey Love
ANN SHELTON • Seven Days
CAROL DEENE • Johnny Get Angry
GARY MILLER • Mission Bell
RAY ELLINGTON • Charlie Brown
TERRY DENE • Start Movin’ (In My Direction)
KESTRELS • There Comes A Time
EDMUND HOCKRIDGE • Sixteen Tons
GALE WARNING • Heartbreak Hotel
KAYE SISTERS • Dark Moon
DOUG SHELDON • Runaround Sue
VISCOUNTS • Rockin’ Little Angel
BROOK BROTHERS • He’s Old Enough To Know Better
ALMA COGAN • I’m In Love Again
DANNY DAVIS • Patches
DeLAINE SISTERS • It Might As Well Rain Until September
EMILE FORD & CHECKMATES • Your Nose Is Gonna Grow
AL SAXON • Only Sixteen
RORY BLACKWELL & HIS BLACKJACKS • Bye Bye Love
FOUR JONES BOY • Tutti Frutti
LITA ROZA • Lucky Lips
MIKE PRESTON • Just Ask Your Heart
DUFFY POWER • Kissin’ Time
LANA SISTERS with AL SAXON • (Seven Little Girls) Sitting On The Back Seat
RIKKI PRICE • Tom Dooley
ADAM FAITH • Country Music Holiday
WINIFRED ATWELL • Raunchy
MIKE BERRY with THE OUTLAWS • Will You Love Me Tomorrow
JIM DALE • The Train Kept A-Rollin’

THAT’LL BE THE DAYFIVE DOZEN DODGY BRITISH COVER VERSIONS

When deejay Kenny Everett started playing random dodgy oldies on Capital Radio back in 1977, in search of “The worst record ever made”, he struck a nerve. Every week he’d get a sack of mail from listeners, nominating increasingly bigger stinkers, and the whole shebang quickly mushroomed, taking on a life of its own. The sheer enthusiasm and unsuppressed, manic glee with which Everett pursued his task made for radio gold, and he duly played us some magnificently dire stuff. Eventually, one of the specialist reissue companies, K-Tel, got in on the act and collaborated with Kenny to compile the World’s Worst Record Show album, which presented twenty of the biggest clinkers. Pressed up on special yuk-green vinyl,?it sold in its truckloads, and even made the UK?LP charts.

In among all the Death Discs and other sundry novelty items were some truly gruesome British cover versions of American hits - indeed, it famously featured three of Jess Conrad’s, most notably the dreaded ‘This Pullover’, which gave Jess’s then-moribund career (already some fifteen years past its sell-by date) the boost it needed to carry him into the 21st Century! Moreover, for myself and many of my like-minded mates, these were the hidden gems we’d been seeking out for years!

In truth, Jess was nowt but a Learner. Back in October 1957, Larry Page - aka The Teenage Rage - had been responsible for perhaps the most maligned, infamous UK?cover of them all, viz: his spectacularly bizarre reading of The Crickets’ ‘That’ll Be The Day’. But it is to his eternal credit that Larry - who of course, went on to carve out a mighty career as a manager, producer, and record company mogul - has always rather enjoyed his notoriety in the covers’ genre: “In those days you had no control over what you were doing... as Reg said, ‘I?didn’t have any fucking say in it!’ EMI thought that The Crickets’ record was a demo, and mine would be bigger. More uptempo, and better. Wrong! The first time I heard their arrangement was at Abbey Road... the backing was Geoff Love and his Orchestra and the Rita Williams Singers. It was the biggest load of crap you ever heard! But I did get to meet Buddy Holly, who told me he liked it... would he lie? And yes, it was me on the Sheet Music for ages, until they saw the error of their ways!...”

In microcosm, Page’s cover of ‘That’ll Be The Day’ perfectly depicts everything that was wrong with the UK?record industry at that time. Clueless record companies, A&R?men and arrangers who hadn’t the remotest idea what they were up to, and session musicians who had neither the feel nor interest in what they were playing. Many of the artists featured on this 2-CD?set were actually excellent singers, but were routinely lumbered with lame arrangements and even lamer session muso’s, and so it was they who ended up with copious egg-on-face, looking and sounding ridiculous.

The classic example was perhaps Cliff Richard, who was given Tommy Sands’ banal ‘Schoolboy Crush’ to cover for his first release; the disc was an utter dud, but fortuitously, ‘Move It’ was on the flip, and the rest is history. In much the same boat were Mike Berry (whose debut, ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’, was arranged in the wrong key for him) and a slightly lesser extent, Adam Faith - although has anyone ever sung flatter than John Leyton on ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’? (sorry, John, but it wasn’t your finest moment!)

The likes of Terry Dene, Wee Willie Harris, Vince Eager and Terry Wayne were appallingly served by their record companies, all four being far, far better singers than their early 45s suggest - as the fact that they’re still bloody good live performers, nigh on sixty years on, readily affirms. In much the same category were Nelson Keene, the eternally underrated Jimmy Justice and in particular, the late Duffy Power.

One of the very first R&R?hits to register in the UK?had been Frankie Lymon’s ‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’, in 1956, which attracted five high-profile covers; was danceband singer Annette Klooger’s effort the worst of the lot? (NB: on this she was backed, vocally, by The Four Jones Boys, who themselves weigh in with a diabolical cover of what must have been Pat Boone’s version of ‘Tutti Frutti’). Elsewhere, The Everly?Brothers occasionally came in for some rough treatment - check out Rory Blackwell’s and The King Brothers’ thoroughly useless attempts at ‘Bye Bye Love’ and ‘Wake Up Little Suzie’ - whilst surely somebody should have warned The Vipers not to mess with Eddie Cochran’s ‘Summertime Blues’?

Some artists were synonymous with covers; step up Craig?Douglas (he was no Eddie Fontaine), The Brook Brothers, the lovely Carol Deene, The Kaye Sisters, The Mudlarks (Mary’s “Ah-I-wonder-who”, on ‘Book Of Love’, is priceless), The (eternally square) Kestrels, Barry Barnett, etc, while blokes like Don Lang, Doug?Sheldon and Mike Preston routinely clambered aboard every bandwagon leaving town in the desperate search for chart action. Conversely, although The Avons wrote hits for other artists (Billy Fury, The Shadows), they were unable to pen one for themselves, hence their naff version of ‘Rubber Ball’.

Any number of ‘straight’ singers found themselves forced to record unsuitable Pop/R&R material, examples here including Lita Roza, Ronnie Carroll (check out that girlie chorus on ‘Footsteps’), Al Saxon, Rikki Price, Don Charles, Dickie Valentine (he was thirty when he recorded ‘Teenager In Love’!), Alma Cogan, Edmund Hockridge (dig the dodgy accent, Ted!), Marion Ryan and Gary Miller, whilst the likes of Charlie Drake and Oliver Reed probably had no right to be cutting Pop records in the first place!

Falling squarely into the “They just plain got it wrong!” bracket were The Breakaways (whose stiffly-corseted arrangement of ‘He’s A?Rebel’, with its marching band tempo, suspends belief), Winifred Atwell (Bill Justis’ ‘Raunchy’, played on the piano?!), Ray Ellington, Emile Ford (great singer, lousy song!), Frank Kelly &?The Hunters, The Cutters, Bob Cort (is Bob’s ‘School Day’ the worst-ever Chuck Berry cover?), Danny Davis and the less-than mighty Most Brothers (with a truly vile cover of ‘Whole Lotta Woman’).

Conversely, ‘brave failures’ included The De Laine Sisters, Jim?Dale and The Viscounts, all pluckily trying to punch above their weight, while a trio of unfortunate ladies, Billie Anthony, Anne Shelton and Pauline Shepherd, were let down by duff arrangements and hamfisted backings on their valiant attempts to tackle R&B?material.

But enough of “they nearly got it right”; let’s get back to the real stinkers - that’s where the fun is!!! Further spectacularly ill-judged efforts featured herein are those by Frankie Vaughan (who probably cut more diabolical covers than everyone else on this 2-CD?set combined), Ricky James, Colin Hicks (a man of precious little talent), Garry Mills (his ‘Running Bear’ is laughable), The Three Barry Sisters, and former Most Brother Alex Murray, whilst a few others simply defy rational explanation, notably those of Gale Warning, Chas McDevitt & Shirley Douglas and The Lana Sisters &?Al Saxon.

However, in closing, very special mention must be made of perhaps the biggest crock of the lot, namely Dennis Lotis’s wholly excruciating mangling of Clyde McPhatter & The Drifters’ ‘Honey Love’. This one is so abysmal, on just about every level, you have to wonder if they did it for a bet!

File Under: “They Stunk The House Out (and then some)”.

Groper Odson

Big Thanks to Larry Page, Pete Frame, Johnny Rogan, John Spencely, Sam Szczepanski, tiny Tony Martin and Bernie Keith.

Essential reading:
The Restless Generation by Pete Frame (Rogan House Publishing, 2007)
Starmakers &?Svengalis by Johnny Rogan (Queen Anne Press/Macdonald &?Co, 1988)

 

 

 

 

 

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RockHistory.co.uk is an on-going historical project to record the background stories and the anecdotes from the people who participated in greatest British musical explosion that started back in the 1950s and that went on to reverberate right round the world. Tales about the origins of the songs, the roots of the groups and the front of the performers. These CD releases are part of a series of multi-media release that are all linked via the www.RockHistory.co.uk

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