233. The Tremeloes – Silence Is Golden (1967)

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May 1967, and much had changed since Brian Poole and the Tremeloes were at number 1 with Do You Love Me? four years previous. Beatlemania had just begun, and with Poole and co toppling the mighty She Loves You, the future bode well for the beat group from Dagenham. However, they simply couldn’t compete with the Fab Four, and as fashions changed, their fortunes were mixed. In 1964 they had two top ten hits with covers of Roy Orbison’s Candy Man and the Crickets’ Someone Someone, but sales dropped the following year for I Want Candy and Good Lovin.

In 1966, singer Brian Poole left the group to try out a solo career. This didn’t work out, and he went on to form a label called Outlook Records. By the 1970s he was working in his brother’s butchers. He would later have career in cabaret though, and his daughters Karen and Shelly made it to the charts in 1996 as Alisha’s Attic.

In addition to Poole’s departure, bassist Alan Howard left, so only rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Alan Blakley and drummer Dave Munden remained from the original line-up. They regrouped as a four-piece with new bass player Len ‘Chip’ Hawkes (father of 90s one-hit wonder Chesney Hawkes), and were now known as simply the Tremeloes. Making a conscious decision to cover more ‘hip’ material, their first two singles were versions of Paul Simon’s Blessed and the Beatles’ Good Day Sunshine. Neither charted, but a cover of Cat Stevens’ Here Comes My Baby reached number six.

For reasons unknown, they decided to follow this with Silence Is Golden. Previously a B-side for the Four Seasons, it had been written by their producer Bob Crewe and group member Bob Gaudio, the duo responsible for The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore. The Tremeloes version closely followed the sound and arrangement of the original, with the band apeing the Four Seasons’ distinctive harmonies.

It had been three years since the original version of Silence Is Golden, and tastes had changed, so what were the Tremeloes thinking? Actually, scratch that, what were the British public thinking to take it to number 1 and make me look stupid?

It’s not that it’s a terrible song (although certainly no classic like The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore), it’s just an unusual chart-topper as tastes had changed since 1964 and we’re here at the start of the Summer of Love, such an exciting time for music, and somehow, this single was at number 1 for five whole weeks.

What makes it worse is the lyrics suggest the singer is feeling sorry for themselves because a girl they care for is being mistreated by their lover, and they daren’t do anything about it, so ‘Silence is golden, but my eyes still see’. Well, forgive me for not thinking you should have a word with yourself and do something about the situation… A rather mediocre number 1, and the harmonies make me slightly nauseous.

The rest of the 60s were a mixed bag for the Tremeloes, with singles failures like Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released in 1968, and big hits such as (Call Me) Number One in 1969, which ironically went to number two.

In 1970 they were set to release a song called Yellow River by Jeff Christie as their follow-up. However when they changed their minds, producer Mike Smith removed their vocals and replaced them with Christie’s lead. It was a number 1 that June, while the Tremeloes’ By the Way bombed.

From 1972 onwards the group went through several line-up changes, with Munden the only constant throughout. Hawkes left to record solo albums but returned in 1979. In 1983 the original quartet reformed briefly. Hawkes left again in 1988 to manage his son, whose The One and Only was a big number 1 in 1991. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band, Brian Poole, Chip Hawkes and the Tremeloes toured together in 2006. Poole is to briefly appear with them again this year, before retiring from touring.

While Silence Is Golden reigned, Tottenham Hotspur defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the first all-London FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium (20 May). On 25 May, Celtic FC became the first British and Northern European team to reach a European Cup final and also to win it, beating Inter Milan 2-1. That same day, Conservative MP Enoch Powell attacked the Labour government, calling Britain the ‘sick man of Europe’.

28 May saw Sir Francis Chichester arrived in Plymouth after completing a single-handed sailing voyage around the world in his yacht Gipsy Moth IV. It had taken him nine months and one day. A day later, the first Spring Bank Holiday occurred on the last Monday of the month, replacing the former Whitsun holiday in England and Wales. The Tulip Bulb Auction Hall hosted music festival Barbeque 67, featuring up-and-coming rock acts the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream and Pink Floyd.

The first day of June heralded the release of the Beatles’ landmark album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as the eponymous debut of a singer called David Bowie.

Three days later, the Stockport Air Disaster was all over the papers when British Midland flight G-ALHG crashed in Hopes Carr, Stockport, killing 72 people.

Written by: Bob Crewe & Bob Gaudio

Producer: Mike Smith

Weeks at number 1: 5 (18 May-7 June) 

Births:

Politician Graham Brady – 20 May 
Footballer Paul Gascoigne – 27 May 
Oasis singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher – 29 May 

Deaths:

Poet John Masefield – 12 May
Children’s presenter Derek McCulloch – 1 June 
Author Arthur Ransome – 3 June 

161. The Dave Clark Five – Glad All Over (1964)

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1963 saw the charts dominated by Liverpudlian acts once the Beatles hit the big time, but there were exceptions. London-based Brian Poole and the Tremeloes went to number 1 with a cover of Do You Love Me?, and another group from the capital also released a version. The Dave Clark Five’s single barely scraped into the charts that October, but their follow-up, Glad All Over, usurped I Want to Hold Your Hand and became the first new number 1 of 1964. Here was a warning shot to the Beatles and co – the Tottenham Sound was here.

Unusually, this group revolved around its drummer. Dave Clark, born in Tottenham, formed the skiffle group Dave Clark Quintet in 1957. He had left school at 15 to become a stuntman, appearing in many films, and formed the group as a way to raise funds so his football team could travel to the Netherlands. They became the Dave Clark Five because people were confused by the original name… By 1962 the line-up had settled down, consisting of Clark on drums (as well as manager), Rick Huxley on bass, Mike Smith on organ and vocals, Lenny Davidson on lead guitar and multi-instrumentalist Denny Payton on saxophone, harmonica and guitar.

Clark quickly showed a flair for business acumen. He struck a deal that enabled him to be the band’s producer, and he also became the chief songwriter, both unusual at the time. Having missed the boat with Do You Love Me?, Clark was determined the band come up with something original – ideally something that made his drumming the spotlight, as the audiences loved them for it (of course, this is how Clark remembers it – and as there’s lots of evidence suggesting he has a bit of an ego problem, this might not necessarily be the case). Mike Smith found an old Carl Perkins record called Glad All Over and wrote a new song around the title, possibly assisted by Clark, perhaps not, but he gets a credit anyway…

So how did the Tottenham Sound compare to Merseybeat? Well, using Glad All Over as a case study, there’s little difference. The backing vocals are very Beatlesque, and the lyrics are youthful, direct and simplistic, but this is a punchier, more primitive take on pop – and that’s no bad thing. The production is raw and powerful, with the drums and saxophone making it stand out from much of the pack at the time. Clark may have been self-obsessed, but you can’t knock him for turning the drums up here. This is a fun single, and must have sounded great in a live setting.

Fresh off the success of Glad All Over, the quintet released their best-remembered track, Bits and Pieces, which repeated the same formula, but was even catchier. However, it stalled at number two. Early 1964 was the peak period for the Dave Clark Five in the UK, but they became one of our top imports during the British Invasion of the US, and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 times. 1965 saw the release of their film Catch Us if You Can, the directorial debut of John Boorman. According to Bob Stanley in his brilliant book Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Pop, the film featured Clark and the gang as ‘they literally sold meat, encountered middle-aged swingers, smack heads and army brutality, and ended up in a derelict seaside hotel, their dreams all over’ Sounds very different to A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, doesn’t it?

The Dave Clark Five barely bothered to move with the times, having only the briefest dalliance with psychedelia, and disbanded in 1970. In the 80s, Dave Clark bought up the rights to all existing editions of Ready, Steady, Go!, the influential ITV music show that had ran from 1963 to 1966. He barely did anything with them other than release some videos that decade, in which unrelated clips of the band were inserted into the show (the band actually rarely appeared on the series). Since then he has lived a rather reclusive life – according to Stanley, one of his few public appearances was at Freddie Mercury’s funeral, and there are rumours of failed plastic surgery. The group were entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. Sadly singer Mike Smith had died shortly beforehand. His later years had been tragic – in 2003 he tried to climb a gate at his villa in Spain after accidentally locking himself out. The subsequent fall left him permanently paralysed after being laid undiscovered for several days. and complications from this incident eventually contributed to his death from pneumonia. Payton died in 2006 of cancer, and Huxley from emphysema in 2013, leaving only Clark and Davidson. Glad All Over was adopted by Crystal Palace FC as their anthem, and remains so to this day.

During the song’s fortnight at number 1, the war movie Zulu was released (20 January), featuring Michael Caine in his first major role. The same day the trial for Great Train Robbery began, and on 29 January the Winter Olympics began in Innsbruck, Austria. Great Britain and Northern Ireland only brought home one gold medal.

Written by: Dave Clark & Mike Smith

Producer: Dave Clark

Weeks at number 1: 2 (16-29 January)

Deaths:

Novelist TH White – 17 January

158. Brian Poole and the Tremeloes – Do You Love Me? (1963)

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Knocking the Beatles’ She Loves You from the top on its first stint was Do You Love Me? by Brian Poole and the Tremeloes on 10 October. Someone who may have been asking himself the same question that day was the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan. The Conservatives were plummeting in opinion polls, thanks in large part to the Profumo affair, and Macmillan had only just scraped through a parliamentary vote on his leadership. The 69-year-old had been struck down with prostate problems on the eve of the Conservative conference a few days earlier, and was operated on for prostate cancer. Although his doctor said he would be well enough to continue to run the country, Macmillan decided he had been offered a way out. He officially resigned from his hospital bed on 18 October, and was succeeded a day later by Alec Douglas-Home. This proved controversial, as Douglas-Home was sitting in the House of Lords. To become Prime Minister, he renounced his peerage. A rather stiff, old-fashioned figure, like Macmillan before him, Douglas-Home looked decidedly outdated compared to Labour leader Harold Wilson, who was quickly gaining popularity.

Decca Records, the label of Brian Poole and the Tremeloes, must have been relieved when their act toppled the Beatles from number 1, as they had famously opted for them and turned the Fab Four down at auditions held on the same day – New Year’s Day 1962. As a London-based band, with a radio following, it had made commercial sense to do so.

Singer Brian Poole (b. 1941) grew up in Barking, east London. He met two Alans, Blakley and Howard, at secondary school, and a shared love of rock’n’roll saw the original formation of the Tremeloes in 1956. Poole took on vocals and guitar, with Blakley also on guitar and Howard on bass. Guitarist Graham Scott also joined up, with the line-up completed by drummer Dave Munden in 1957. Then known as just the Tremeloes, they quickly amassed a strong local following. Upon signing with Decca, they insisted the band became Brian Poole and the Tremloes, to follow prevailing fashions. Like other Merseybeat acts, they were in awe of rock’n’roll, Motown and other soul records, and their first single was their version of the Isley Brothers’ Twist and Shout, which came after the Beatles made it their album-closer on Please Please Me. They decided to cover similar ground with their follow-up, taking on the Contours’ classic from 1962.

Motown CEO Berry Gordy Jr had written Do You Love Me? with the Temptations in mind, but was struggling to find them. In the meantime he ran into the Contours and they performed a run-through. They were on the verge of being dropped, so were keen to make it theirs, but some band members believed it to be a pale imitation of Twist and Shout. They soon changed their tune when it became a huge hit.

Brian Poole and the Tremeloes clearly saw no problem in Do You Love Me? being so similar to their debut and were right to do so. The similarity is too close for my liking though, particularly near the end as they scream and shout their way into the chorus in exactly the same way the Beatles did in Twist and Shout. Ultimately, this number 1, although fast-paced and a very good facsimile of the Merseybeat sound, is a little bit too like a karaoke version for my liking. Poole doesn’t have the vocal prowess of Billy Gordon, and his spoken-word introduction is a little cringe-worthy. There’s some nice flourishes from the rhythm section, though.

The original has of course remained popular due in large part to its appearance in 1987 hit film Dirty Dancing. For me though, it tends to conjure up images of a young Jason Bateman as a werewolf in shoddy sequel, Teen Wolf Too, which came later that year.

Written by: Berry Gordy Jr

Producer: Mike Smith

Weeks at number 1: 3 (10-30 October)

Births:

Northern Irish footballer Alan McDonald – 12 October