Immediate

Hang On Sloopy: The McCoys. Immediate IM 001, 1965

Immediate ticked every box … from a major hit with its very first release, Hang on Sloopy in August 1965 (Immediate IM001), through to financial collapse in 1970 ensuring that its memory was forever confined to the late sixties time frame.  Along the way they released Nico, before she met the Velvet Underground, and they had Jimmy Page playing guitar on her record.

New Musical Express: 28 August 1965. Immediate is launched.

The label was founded by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, the author of three entertaining autobiographies, together with record plugger, Tony Calder. Oldham’s talents in promotion were equalled by his talents in production. He had taken the Rolling Stones away from Giorgio Gomelsky, he had discovered Marianne Faithful, and managed to prise The Small Faces from Don Arden’s grasp.

Ian McLagan of The Small Faces summed up the partners (with hindsight):

Ian McLagan: Where Andrew had style and vision, his partner, the prematurely balding disc jockey, Tony Calder, had no flair whatsoever and wasn’t looking any further than the pile of contracts he was eagerly waiting for us to sign. His role would be to look after the books and play the part of bad cop while Andrew passed joints around.

Hang on Sloopy: The McCoys. Immediate LP, IMLP 001, 1965

Early press releases announced that Jimmy Page was to be the Immediate’s main producer (and he was until he formed Led Zeppelin) and Jagger and Richards were to be the principle songwriters. Oldham announced the new label:

Immediate will operate in the same way as any good small independent producer in America. We will be bringing in new producers, while our main hope lies with the pop session guitarist, turned producer, Jimmy Page, and my two friends, Stones Mick and Keith.

Oldham had met Jimmy Page after he was recommended to him and just about his first session with Oldham was As Tears Go By by Marianne Faithful (Decca).

The music press derided them for buying immediate success for Immediate. The industry rumour was that Oldham bought in Hang on Sloopy from Bert Bern’s Bang label for so much money that he had no chance of making a profit, but it was worth it because it was “a guaranteed hit”.

His rival manager Simon Napier-Bell said:

Immediate was a business joke because Andrew said, ‘Right. I’m going to form a record company and have a hit.’ So he went to another record company, and bought at an exorbitant price, records that were US hits and were obviously going to be hits in England. He came back and he released them on Immediate but he was losing money, He was paying more for the English rights than he could possibly make, even if they went to number one. But it was a very good ploy. If I started a record company I would do that – but you do it for window dressing and you know you can only do it once or twice.
Simon Napier-Bell, quoted in Starmakers & Svengalis, by Johnny Rogan.

Not so. No such thing as a guaranteed hit unless it’s by the premier league of established artists. The list of American hit records that failed to chart at all in Britain is long (especially circa 1965)… Tommy James & The Shondells, Johnny Rivers, The Buckinghams, Gary Lewis and The Playboys, Jan & Dean, Jay & The Americans, The Beau Brummels,The Gentrys, the Vogues. Also we are only talking about once for Oldham … The McCoys Hang on Sloopy.

New Musical Express 27 August 1965

Oldham had ways of making it a hit, and it was a suitable record to apply them to. It was a rewrite of My Girl Sloopy by The Vibrations. The producers, Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer, had their own studio group, The Strangeloves. They had just recorded I Want Candy, and Dave Clark announced he intended to cover their US follow-up, Hang on Sloopy. They were devastated, knowing they couldn’t release it themselves in the UK just days after I Want Candy, and determined to find a band to record it. They hit upon Rick & The Raiders, fronted by Rick Derringer, and changed their name to The McCoys (because there were internal feuds, like The Hatfields and McCoys of hillbilly legend). The performance is the original Strangeloves instrumental backing track, with added vocal by The McCoys, and an inserted Rick Derringer guitar solo. The great drums and bass are a hallmark of Feldman-Goldstein-Gottehrer productions for Bang records. The title change from My Girl Sloopy is said to have been Rick Derringer’s idea. He was just eighteen.

Hang On Sloopy: The McCoys, US copy on Bang

Oldham was an ace promoter. I trawled through a pile of late 60s music weeklies, and there are few Immediate adverts, but lots of whole page ads for Robert Stigwood artists … The Bee Gees especially, and releases on Track, Reaction and Island. Looking at the number of non-hits with whole page adverts, Oldham was right.

Nico came on board as a pal of Brian Jones. Page and Oldham wrote The Last Mile for her, which Page produced, arranged and played on. The Gordon Lightfoot song, I’m Not Saying was the A-side.

Andrew Loog Oldham: Jimmy (Page) and I wrote a song which we recorded with her as a B-side. It might have been better than the A-side. It should have been the A-side, because that was fucking awful. It really was stiff as Britain.

Eric Burdon brought them Chris Farlowe, and produced his first single for Immediate, The Fool.

Immediate was also working as the promotion company for The Beach Boys. Sloop John B and Do It Again on Capitol have a small credit: Immediate Music London Ltd.

John Mayall’s I’m Your Witchdoctor pre-dated Immediate. It was recorded in June 1965 (some say August) with Jimmy Page producing.

Jimmy Page: When Witchdoctor came to be overdubbed, Eric (Clapton) had this idea to put feedback wail over the top. I was with him in the studio as he set this up, then I got back into the control room and told the engineer to record the overdubs. About two thirds of the way through, he pulled the faders down and said, ‘This guitarist is impossible to record.’ I guess his technical ethics were compromised by a signal that was putting the meters in the red. I suggested that he got on with his job and left the decisions to me.
quoted in ‘Jimmy Page; by Chris Salewicz

The Golden Apples of The Sun were named after the Ray Bradbury sci-fi collection or the  W.B. Yeats line which its title quoted, or both. Or either. They did just one single, a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s The Monkey Time (IM010), and a Decca demo exists and is worth a lot more. The Decca demo pictures I have seen have typed labels, so it might be a studio demo rather than a planned release. According to some, Golden Apples of The Sun were Jimmy Page plus some Rolling Stones members. The lead singer is female and it’s a first-rate version. If the backing group as illustrious as claimed, they’re also self-effacing.

The B-side is classic Immediate. Written by “Oldham.” A basic Can I Get A Witness riff with tasteful guitar and swirling organ. It has such an abrupt fade-out that it sounds like they might have done one very long jam session and sliced it up into “Oldham” B-sides. It was the Phil Spector method. The B-side enjoys the same royalties as the A side.

A clue to their line-up and various items elsewhere on B-sides or blues compilations comes in Chris Salewicz’s biography of Jimmy Page. He says Immediate released some tracks featuring Eric Clapton which had been recorded by Jimmy Page when Clapton was staying at his house. He says that Clapton then distrusted Page for some time … he was not alone in that. He quotes Page:

Jimmy Page: They were just variations of blues structures, and in the end we overdubbed some instruments over some of them, and they came out, with liner notes attributed tome, though I didn’t have anything to do with writing them. I didn’t get a penny out of them anyway.

The overdubs were Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts, with Mick Jagger on harmonica. Whether Jimmy Page is complaining that he never got paid for writing liner notes or songs is not clear. There are a few “Oldham-Page” B-sides after all.

Out Of Time (Jagger-Richard): Chris Farlowe, IM035 1966. UK #1.
First sleeve design: Philips pressed

The first number one, quite naturally, was a Jagger-Richards composition, Out of Time by Chris Farlowe. The swirling strings (produced by Jagger) trounced the stones version, and Mick Jagger is prominent on back-up vocal. It had massive pirate radio airplay, which was then Oldham’s favoured route to the charts. Farlowe stayed with Jagger-Richard on Ride On Baby and Yesterday’s Papers.

Mike d’Abo, later of Manfred Mann, wrote Handbags and Gladrags specifically for Chris Farlowe, as Farlowe was telling live audiences forty years later … this was written for ME, not for Rod Stewart. Mike d’Abo was a member of Apostolic Intervention, a band signed to Immediate.

Immediate spent an unheard of £40,000 on two albums: by Twice As Much and by Chris Farlowe. Mick Jagger produced Chris Farlowe, and brilliantly too. Oldham complains that Jagger was a natural producer, but lost interest, having a more important other career. Chris Farlowe resented EMI releasing at last the album he’d done three years earlier on the heels of his Immediate success. While he was having success with Immediate, Farlowe was touring heavily with his band The Thunderbirds, yet they played on very few of his Immediate recordings … the guitarists were Jimmy Page and Big Jim Sullivan, with John Paul Jones on bass, Nicky Hopkins on piano and Ronnie Verrall on drums. The final single Dawn was at last credited to Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds had Dave Greenslade, Albert Lee and Carl Palmer so as good as any studio band you could assemble.

Jagger was also responsible for plucking P.P. Arnold from the Ikettes during their 1966 tour and persuaded Immediate to sign her. He produced the early P.P. Arnold / Rod Stewart duet that was reissued in 2005. Oldham said:

Andrew Loog Oldham: Mick Jagger’s Chris Farlowe album was Immediate’s finest hour, He was meticulous and professional, getting an “American” feel” from the musicians that they weren’t capable of ordinarily.

Farlowe’s My Way of Giving in 1967 sums up Immediate. Composed by Marriott and Lane. Produced by Mick Jagger. Backing arranged by Art Greenslade. B-side co-written by Andrew Loog Oldham. Join the club. 

Sittin’ On A Fence: Twice As Much IM033
Reverse side of Philips sleeve.
This is a replica sleeve, and you can’t get replicas of the later sleeve design

Twice As Much were the other major recording investment, starting with the single Sitting On A Fence, a Jagger-Richard composition. They were a folky duo, and were seen as potentials to emulate the success of Peter & Gordon, and Chad & Jeremy.

Fleurs De Lys were brought to Immediate by Tony Calder. They were a Dorset band, named after the Fleur de Lys pub in Cranborne, which shamefully changed its name to “The Inn at Cranborne” when it became a gastropub. As it also is mentioned by name in a Rupert Brooke poem, it should have two blue plaques. Fleurs De Lys had a Buddy Holly song, Moondreams, foisted on them.

Keith Guster, Fleur de Lys drummer: Tony made us record this version of the famous ’59 Buddy Holly Song, with Jimmy Page turning up to produce it … none of us were keen on it as we didn’t feel it was representative of our music.
From I Can See The Light: The Fleur de Lys Singles Box Set.

They were excited at having their own composition, Wait For Me, on the B-side. When the single appeared they were shocked to find Wait For Me was credited to Jimmy Page who’d produced their session. They put the record on and found it wasn’t their song, but an easy 12-bar instrumental that Page had cobbled together. At least he hadn’t stolen their credits. Only their song title.

Keith Guster, Fleur de Lys drummer: Wait For Me should have appeared as the B-side of Moondreams, but didn’t, due to a certain Mr Jimmy Page who swapped it for a 12 bar jazz tune featuring himself, claiming a tape malfunction had ruined our version! We never believed that, but we only found out once the single was released.
From I Can See The Light: The Fleur de Lys Singles Box Set.

Their follow up was a cover of The Who’s Circles.

Circles advert: note the unsubtle reference to the Who’s title … Instant Party

Keith Guster, Fleur de Lys drummer: Because of a court injunction in relation to the Who’s version, ‘Instant Party,’ being banned for a short time, Immediate gave us about two days notice to come up with a version, we had to get up to IBC Studio in London and record it on Monday March 7th 1966. It was engineered by the great Glyn Johns and came out on Immediate on 25th March 1966. It’s become a classic of the 60s.

It should have been a hit, but Immediate delayed the release just that couple of weeks, by which time The Who’s version was out. 

New Musical Express. 13 May 1966
The First Cut Is The Deepest: P.P. Arnold, IM 047
Second sleeve design, EMI pressed

P.P. Arnold had been brought to Immediate by Mick Jagger, deserting The Ikettes. She said of The First Cut Is The Deepest:

P.P. Arnold: I had six months and Mick invited me to stay in England, with his manager Andrew Oldham who had Immediate Records, which was the record label Small Faces and all of us were on. They asked me to stay in England and record on Immediate, that’s how the Cat Stevens song came to me because, Immediate Records had the publishing company, Dick James Music, next door and Steve, we called him Steve, was one of the young writers. All the young writers wanted to be with Immediate because it was one of the first independent record labels in England. Unfortunately the legacy is terrible, we really all got ripped off, there was lots of stuff but, anyway… I got the song through being with Immediate and Andrew knew about the song, which was just like the story of my life, I really connected with the song, so we recorded it.

P.P. Arnold was doing the same as Farlowe in concert in the 2000s, singing a stunning, long version of First Cut Is The Deepest, in which she inserted the words for Rod Stewart (who covered it), ‘And I wanna tell Rod Stewart … the first cut IS the deepest …’ and she proved it.  

P.P. Arnold: Immediate went bust and everybody went their own way. It was a shame because we were trying to make Immediate a bit like Motown in England where all the artists work together and collaborate together but had their own separate scene as well. It worked.

If You Think You’re Groovy: P.P. Arnold IM061
Reverse of second sleeve design

Sure, there were some odd excursions, like professional Liverpudlian Jimmy Tarbuck singing Someday with a rare Rolling Stones composition, (We’re) Wasting Time on the B-side. Someday was a 1940s standard, dating back to Eddie Hodges, who composed it. Ricky Nelson covered it in 1958. Tarbuck was in the same class at Dovedale Road Junior School, Liverpool as John Lennon and broadcaster Peter Sissons. (We’re) Wasting Time gets the full treatment with Art Greenslade orchestrating and Oldham producing. Tarbuck sounds no worse than several other wannabee singers of the era, and with his Sunday job introducing Sunday Night At The London Paladium his cheery version of Someday with cooing chorus would have been a reasonable bet in a chart dotted with Ken Dodd and Val Doonican singles. Oldham says:

Andrew Loog Oldham: I made an atrocious record, amongst many, with the comedian Jimmy Tarbuck. Jimmy gamely rambled through the Ricky Nelson song Someday backed by a big band arrangement I nicked from Cher’s American TV Show.

Amongst many? Greg Phillips who covered Down Among The Boondocks was a child star Oldham met ‘through Lionel Bart’.

Andrew Loog Oldham: While I enjoyed hanging out with him, our recording of Royal American’s pop classic was a stretch that showed we often did things at Immediate simply because we could. We were ambitious, but our bottom line was often obscured by a cloud of marijuana smoke. 

The Marquis of Kensington, who sang Changing of The Guard, was Kinks’ manager Robert Wace, and Oldham describes the single as one of our little in-jokes. A mint copy goes for £30 whatever. Mick Softley was Donovan’s roadie. His I’m So Confused single from 1965 rates at £45. Glyn Johns, soon to become one of the great rock producers, was an engineer at Immediate, and they issued his Mary-Anne single, which Oldham says was his best Jim Reeves by way of Epsom. 

Charles Dickens was the fashion photographer, David Anthony, who cut one of the rarest Jagger-Richards compositions, So Much In Love. Our Soul Brother TH, the B-side, was also credited to Charles Dickens. TH is Tony Hall, who Oldham liked from his days plugging stuff to Decca, and it’s a blues instrumental jam with piano and slide guitar to the fore. Charles Dickens had nothing to do with it. I have to say that Jagger-Richard had nothing to do with composing the opening bars either, though they had been listening to Pet Sounds.

A certain eclecticism (a nicer word than plagiarism) is a hallmark. Joey Vine’s Down and Out was IM017 in October 1965. Excellent backing, but did no one mention that it was Dylan’s She Belongs To Me with a different lyric? So Much In Love by Charles Dickens is a collage of bits derived from Phil Spector productions. Girl Don’t Tell Me by Tony Rivers and The Castaways does the same to the Beach Boys catalogue, glueing together borrowed pieces then ending with the Ooh Ooh ending from Big Girls Don’t Cry by The Four Seasons.

Today’s Pop Symphony: The Aranbee Pop Symphony Orchestra

Then there was the Aranbee Pop Symphony Orchestra LP, “directed by Keith Richards” (Not!), with a full (so expensive) orchestra essaying the hits of the day. Not as great as its reputation actually … I finally bought a vinyl reissue.

They released records by bands like The Turtles, The Poets and The Strangeloves. But not the seminal records by those bands. The Poets, a Scottish band previously on Decca, covered Baby Don’t You Do It, and were produced by Paul Raven, years before he became Gary Glitter. This Marvin Gaye classic was done far better by Rod Stewart & Steampacket, The Who and The Band. Loog Oldham had previously produced The Poets on Decca, their first release being Now We’re Thru in October 1964, when POP Weekly had asked:

The Poets, according to rumours, have already been told they’ll make the charts. Could it have been Andrew Oldham who told them?

The record got to #31, but stayed in the charts for five weeks.

Immediate had bad luck with Goldie’s version of the Goffin-King song, Going Back. She altered the words slightly, Goffin & King objected and it had to be withdrawn soon after release. Dusty Springfield’s version then got the accolades and success. Both versions are great, but I’d give Dusty the clear edge.

Winter Is Coming was recorded by Vashti Bunyan as a single for Immediate, but never released. She recalled being asked to paint the walls of the Immediate offices as part of the route to a record deal.

Immediate Lets You In: LP sampler, 1968

The Small Faces were their most successful artists. When Oldham had ceased to be the Stones manager, he is supposed to have “bought” The Small Faces from Don Arden (aka Sharon Osborne’s dad) for £25,000 in cash in a brown paper carrier bag. Multiply that by around twenty to get current values. Arden in his autobiography said the story was invented by Calder and was “complete bollocks”. Oldham maintains it was true forty years on.

There was a series of hit singles: Here Come The Nice (UK#12), Itchycoo Park (UK #3), Tin Soldier (UK #9), Lazy Sunday (UK #2), The Universal (UK #16) and Afterglow (UK #36), and the highly-regarded Odgen’s Nut Gone Flake album.

Amen Corner have a similar tale to The Small Faces. They were doing well on Deram, and were managed by Ron King, an associate of Arden. They returned from a gig in the north, to find Don Arden sitting at Ron King’s desk. He told them he was now their manager and had a piece of paper “signed” by all of them to prove it. They knew nothing about it. Arden moved them to Immediate and sold their contract to Oldham. Amen Corner took Immediate to a Top Twenty audience with the label’s other number one hit, (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice.

The label had blues credentials with John Mayall and Fleetwood Mac 45s … but only one from each of them. Fleetwood Mac had been signed to Mike Vernon’s tiny Blue Horizon label, distributed by CBS, and had had a UK #1 hit with Albatross. Clifford Davis, the band’s manager had noticed that the contract had to be renewed after a year. He waited until Day 366, and told Vernon they were out of contract. Vernon had just negotiated the band a huge signing-on fee / advance of $250,000 with CBS. He was devastated to find that the band were gone … and had been snapped up by Immediate who released Man of The World (UK #2) without getting their names on a contract. Fleetwood Mac used its success to broker a better deal with Reprise. What had happened is that Peter Green had signed away his copyrights to Malcolm Forrester who was working with Immediate. In order to extricate the copyrights, they had to give Immediate the single, and Immediate promised they would match the CBS deal. Mike Vernon said:

The band didn’t see a penny of the supposed quarter of a million dollars.

Clifford Davis said:

The money was not forthcoming. I was negotiating a deal with Warner Brothers (i.e. Reprise) and I needed that single out as a follow-up to Albatross, so in good faith I just gave them the tapes. They just done us! But it served its purpose. It was a big hit. I spent a lot of money getting it to the right people … and you can read into that whatever you like. (Bob Brunning. Fleetwood Mac, Behind The Masks).

The Nice were one of the first hugely successful examples of Prog Rock, before they mutated into Emerson, Lake and Palmer, with Keith Emerson from the Nice, and Carl Palmer who had been one of Chris Farlowe’s Thunderbirds. The Nice backed P.P. Arnold live and she invented their name: P.P. Arnold & The Nice, but they took it with them when they left. Members of the Small Faces backed her in the studio. Oldham encouraged Emerson to set fire to an American flag during their rendition of America at the Royal Albert Hall as a publicity stunt.

Happy To Be A Part of The Industry of Human Happiness: Immediate sampler LP 1969

The only thing about Immediate, the cause of its inevitable demise, was that they … well, they forgot to pay people. And that included the artists. They managed to go bankrupt during the biggest boom in record sales. The basis of the problem was Oldham losing the Stones in September 1967 and having his management income frozen during a legal battle with Eric Easton, which Oldham lost. They also paid large advances. Oldham says it was £25,000 each to The Small Faces and Amen Corner, plus £40 a week wages, and that he bought out Peter Frampton’s contract for £12,500.

The later history of deals is confusing, and all the witnesses partial, so unreliable. Oldham is always an entertaining commentator on his own travails in his autobiographies Stoned, 2 Stoned and Stone Free. Oldham was interviewed at great length by Simon Spence who was the uncredited collaborator on the first two autobiographies, and Spence produced a full-length work on Immediate (Immediate) which is an even better read than Oldham’s books. The trouble with Simon Spence’s book is that it’s full of colour picture sleeves, most of which are European, not British. Many of them are much later and he leaves the implication floating that they’re British. The European numbers (Electrola) are obvious. Also, his main source is Oldham.

When he was interviewed in 2001 by Peter Reichardt (dotmusic.com), Oldham was enraged by Ian McLagan’s statement that no one had ever paid royalties to the Small Faces in his own autobiography. McLagen was one of many artists making the same complaint. He calls Oldham ‘a thieving bastard.’ Oldham said:

Andrew Loog Oldham: Ian McLagan is a malignant bitter git operating on selective memory. As regards Immediate Records 1967-70 he’s chosen to forget the weekly retainers The Small Faces enjoyed, the bills sent to my office as the Faces bought up London, the drug bills, the doctor bills and the rents paid on all their abodes. You must remember that, for the most part, this was a group that was too stoned to tour, which meant they had no income other than occasional gig money and publishing royalties and record sales. The group had four Top Twenty records on Immediate and all of them had their first legs bought into the charts. They had one best selling album, the rest was all protective camouflage. They had a single that sold 600,000 in America and then they refused to tour. You can do the math on that data.

But then Oldham adds:

Andrew Loog Oldham: After 1970 Mr McLagan has a point about royalties. From ’70 to ’75 I was paying off Immediate’s debt to EMI, then the liquidator of Immediate Records Ltd sold my tapes to Patrick Meehan  … who never paid a cent in royalties from ’75 to ’96 to anybody. He sold the tapes he’d bought to Castle, who collaborated on this shortchanging of artists until they made some payments in 1996. Castle is now owned by Sanctuary, who, it is rumoured, paid The Small Faces, and I presume McLagan, £265,000 UK for past royalties in ’95 or ’96.

Phew. Not according to McLagan in 1998. He’s not alone.

In 2009, Andy Fairweather-Lowe said:

Amen Corner never got any money whatsoever for our hits and the two albums.

Oldham still expressed surprise that Fairweather-Lowe had snubbed him when he and P.P. Arnold were playing Bogota, where Oldham lived. But there was clearly no love lost. Oldham called him a teenybopper idol with blues ambitions and again:

Andrew Loog Oldham: Fairweather-Lowe was one of those artists who just can’t leave well enough alone. As seriously as he took himself, it came as no surprise that he felt we didn’t take him seriously enough. Shel Talmy gave him a perfectly good follow up to Paradise with At Last I’ve Got Someone to Love, but Fairweather-Lowe’s ill-advised persistence paid off for him, if not for us, and we went with a lacklustre version of Roy Wood’s Hello Suzie and an even worse cover of The Beatles’ Get Back.

OK, but Hello Suzie was a UK #4 hit, so hardly ill-advised. The Amen Corner album The Return of The Magnificent Seven was an exercise in astonishing chutzpah with covers of Get Back, The Weight and Proud Mary. It’s a rated album, but I’d say all three of those covers were ill-advised.

Spence unravelled the story as far as anyone did, but through the filter of Oldham. As briefly as possible, this is the story.

In December 1970, Oldham bought out Tony Calder’s share of the company. Immediate was wound up. Oldham was the biggest creditor, owed $250,000 (which were his Rolling Stones earnings). The music publishing arm, Immediate Music, went to United Artists, then eventually to EMI. Fairweather-Lowe noted that just before the dissolution, Oldham’s Aston Martin and Calder’s Mercedes Pullman were shipped across to New York. Amen Corner lost their rights to their own name when Immediate collapsed.

Oldham still controlled Immediate Inc., the American arm, and licensed out Humble Pie’s back catalogue to A&M.  In 1975, Tony Calder reappeared, in association with Patrick Meehan (the son of the actor). Meehan had been involved with Black Sabbath, and bought the name of NEMS, Brian Epstein’s old company, from Robert Stigwood in 1969. NEMS bought Immediate Records Ltd from the liquidator in 75. In a particularly astute deal, they bought the assets, but not the contracts or obligations, enabling them to avoid paying royalties.

Andrew Loog Oldham says in Stone Free:

(NEMS Records Ltd) was not the NEMS of Brian Epstein and Liverpool fame, this was a nasty name-alike foisted upon a still unsuspecting industry by a host of city slicker wide boys and flush young spivs, in the shape and malice of Helmdale. 

Calder started reissuing the Immediate catalogue, in controversial circumstances. NEMS planned to reform the Small Faces and started a programme of releasing back catalogue, paying the artists, such as The Small Faces, Chris Farlowe and P.P. Arnold cash to help in promoting it. They also issued at least one new single in May 1976, labelled “an Original Immediate Recording” which was Crispian St. Peters retreading his old Decca hit You Were On My Mind on the A side, coupled with Glandular Fever by Traxter. The producer David Nicholson took the backing track from The Truth’s 1966 single, Hey Gyp, and added the new title.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch … Oldham had done a deal with Jean-Luc Young of Charley, licensing the catalogue of Immediate Inc (the same catalogue as Meehan’s Immediate Records Ltd) to Charly for France and Belgium, which Jean-Luc interpreted more broadly as “Europe.” Young and Oldham teamed up with Don Arden, who loathed Meehan due to unfinished Black Sabbath business. In the arguments that followed Arden placed a gun in Calder’s mouth, saying afterwards, “What’s the fuss about? I forgot to pull the trigger.” 

EMI licensed the catalogue  from 1968 to 1975, restricted to Europe and Canada. In the USA Oldham licensed the catalogue to A&M, and then to Sire. He says:

Andrew Loog Oldham: Advances for US deals and royalties from EMI earned me approximately $250,000 – and none of the Immediate acts received any royalties. Nor were any due since not one of the acts had recouped their advances.

Between 1976 and 1983, NEMS had the releases in the UK, with Charly operating outside the UK and America, in Europe (which is where most of the illustrated picture sleeves in Spence’s book originate). 

In 1983, Meehan sold the Immediate catalogue to Castle, which became part of Sanctuary in 2000. A comprehensive reissue programme followed, but no royalties, except for Small Faces drummer Kenny Jones who successfully sued them. 

People could play fast and loose with the catalogue, hence Everything’s Gonna Be Alright by P.P. Arnold appeared on the mid-80s Northern Soul scene. It says “Immediate Records Inc.” “IM-040” and was assumed by gullible UK buyers to be an American copy. Not so. It is an “unofficial release” or in simple terms a bootleg. The original record (IM-040) is valued at £200 in Rare Record Guide 2018, or £300 for the demo, hence the impetus to bootleg it. However, this IM040 is not worth anything special. They appeared in faked British EMI Immediate sleeves … actually, they should have been in Philips ones. The logo looks hand-copied from an original, and badly too.

In 2002 Oldham went to the High Court in an attempt to regain the rights. He did not fare well, the judge disliking his place of abode being Bogota, and asking him why he had never obtained a legal receipt from Mr. Arden for the £25,000 in a brown paper bag. Oldham lost the case and Charly and Sanctuary were awarded costs. Sanctuary became part of Universal in 2007. Oldham complains that he was not allowed to bring up the previous case of MCA v Charly in court. Charly had reissued the Chess catalogue without permission, were sued by MCA and MCA were awarded seven million dollars in damages.

Spence believes that Oldham was lucky not to win, as many of the artists believed, erroneously, that he owed them for millions of sales. Oldham in Stone Free in 2012 admitted as much: that he would have had to account for lots of small sums on current sales, and that Immediate had been a black hole that swallowed his Rolling Stones profits.

Sanctuary produced the final Immediate 45 in 2005, coupling Don’t Burst the Bubble by The Small Faces with Come Home Baby, the Rod Stewart and P.P. Arnold duet, which had been produced by Mick Jagger in 1968.  It was designed to be packaged with the Immediate Mod Box Set much in the way that the Complete Motown Singles had 45 vinyl records attached to them. The singles have a demo A on them, and it’s said one thousand were pressed, then Sanctuary / Castle baulked at the cost of packaging with a 7” size box. The discs were destined for “the crusher” but were rescued and can be found at record fairs.

Charly were responsible for a well-annotated series of four x 2 CD sets, The Immediate Singles Seriez (sic), which contains every Immediate single A&B sides, and so rounds up all the rarities. I’ve listened to tracks back to back with several original 45s, and to say sound quality is fuzzy is a compliment. But it was comprehensive.

Sleeves and labels

Galleries … click to enlarge

Every Immediate single is collectable, even the Jimmy Tarbuck in mint condition. Charly records have issued four 2 CD sets that cover all the Immediate singles. Incidentally, the black Immediate “square” isn’t squared up on the sleeves. It’s just off, and not by accident I think. 

There’s money in Immediate labels and sleeves, so this section goes into detail on those anally-retentive number bits.

The Philips distributed sleeve, on IM004. Note the B-side is an “Oldham-Page” composition.

Otherwise there are two main sleeves, the first one has Immediate repeated all over the front, and a plain back with “Manufactured and Distributed by Philips Records Ltd”. This is repeated at the foot of the centre label. 

The blue Philips sleeve is rare, and debated.

Most labels have oddities. A blue Immediate sleeve has turned up three times for me, but always on a different record. It’s Philips era, so before IM040. Some say it was only used on Hang On Sloopy (IM001). The black sleeve at the top is on my original copy and I have seen dozens of black ones. The blue sleeve the other copy of Hang On Sloopy is shown in turned up on a Twice As Much single (but didn’t belong to it; there was a different owner name on the centre and the sleeve). Record Collector (August 2011) has an article about someone turning up IM002 and IM003 both in blue sleeves, in an Immediate singles collection. IM001 wasn’t in the set. In the Rare Record Guide 2016, Nico’s I’m Not Saying (IM 003) is listed as worth £90 in the “first blue sleeve” but only £80 in the “later black sleeve.”

A copy of The Monkey Time by Golden Apples of The Sun, IM010, was advertised as in the original sleeve, and it’s a blue one. The point was made that both Philips and Fontana were blue and white, and the theory was that blue was either used, or intended to be used for the first three sleeves. I have doubts … why not do the centre design in blue, if that were so? You can get both the black version and the blue version as replica sleeves.

The EMI sleeve. IM041 onwards.
At Better record Shops Everywhere / Happy To Be Part of The Industry of Human Happiness.

The sleeve design changes to the “At better record shops everywhere” slogan on the front, and  the “happy to be part of the industry of human happiness” slogan on the rear (the side with folded over edges)  in March 1967 after catalogue number IM 040 (Everything’s Gonna Be Alright by P.P. Arnold) which is Philips. This marks the distribution change from Philips to EMI. IM041, My Way of Giving by Chris Farlowe, is the first EMI pressing. EMI pressings don’t mention EMI.

Immediate sleeves are soft white paper and have aged more obviously than most to give a patina of antiquity.

The major difficulty in tracing and matching is that Immediate re-issued the same singles several times over four years. However, when they did so they gave them new catalogue numbers, something other labels didn’t do.

So John Mayall’s I’m Your Witchdoctor (featuring Eric Clapton, Produced by Jimmy Page) might appear as IM012 (the 1965 release), or as IM 051 (illustrated) which is a 1967 reissue. The original does not mention Eric Clapton on the label, and says “Manufactured and Distributed by Philips Records.” The 1967 issue, during the ascendancy of Cream, mentions Eric’s name, and is an EMI issue. It does not mention EMI. The original’s worth about three times as much to a collector.

America: The Nice. IM068.
It appears in the older white centre label, and the newer pink centre label

There are three centre labels, white, lilac and pink. It’s hard to tell the difference between the lilac and the pink. It’s hard in daylight, but when you scan the labels, you have to lighten the “pink” to see the difference, particularly on the 45s. Lilac is earlier and this is crucial for valuation (see albums below).

The lilac is earlier and on (e.g.) The Universal by The Small Faces (IM 069) raises the value by 50% compared to those pressed on a subtle difference in pink. The lilac / pink centres arrived well after the change of sleeve. An intelligent guess would be July 1968. We have two copies of America by The Nice (IM 068), both bought new. One is white, one is lilac, suggesting the design changed while it was on first release.  The catalogue number directly before is Angel of the Morning (IM 067), which also has white and lilac versions. The Universal (IM069) is lilac, then later pinker.

A number of Immediate releases had picture sleeves … Tin Soldier, Little Miss Understood, Angel of the Morning. Several early Immediate singles were reissued in 1969 with different B-sides and catalogue numbers and picture sleeves, with the slogan A good sound can stand up twice.

So if you find Hang on Sloopy by The McCoys in the colour cartoon picture sleeve, then you have # IMO 76, the 1969 reissue, not IM001 the 1965 first release.

There are just eighty-four Immediate singles, together with five on sub-label Instant and two on Revolution. This has given collectors the aim of owning every one. As a result the most difficult to find is rated £800 mint in the 2022 Rare Record Guide. It’s by the Australian Playboys and is called Black Sheep R.I.P. It’s a version of Ba Ba Black Sheep and is utterly dire.

Immediate in the UK charts

catalogue artist title yearchart
001The McCoysHang On Sloopy19655
021The McCoysFever196544
023Chris FarloweThink196637
033Twice As MuchSitting On A Fence196625
035Chris FarloweOut of Time19661
038Chris FarloweRide On Baby196631
047P.P. ArnoldThe First Cut Is The Deepest196718
050The Small FacesHere Come The Nice196712
055P.P. ArnoldThe Times Has Come196747
057The Small FacesItchycoo Park19673
061P.P. Arnold(If You Think You’re) Groovy196841
062The Small FacesTin Soldier19689
064The Small FacesLazy Sunday19682
065Chris FarloweHandbags & Gladrags196833
067P.P. ArnoldAngel Of The Morning196829
068The NiceAmerica196821
069The Small Faces The Universal196816
073Amen Corner(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice19691
077The Small FacesAfterglow (Of Your Love)196936
080Fleetwood MacMan Of The World19692
081Amen CornerHello Susie19694
082Humble PieNatural Born Boogie19694
NEMS reissues
NEMSChris FarloweOut of Time197544
NEMSThe Small FacesItchycoo Park19759
NEMSAmen Corner(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice197534
NEMsThe Small FacesLazy Sunday197539
Compared to early 60s labels, 19 hits out of 84 releases is a very high percentage

Some hugely collectable singles failed to chart, as can be seen from the list. Circles by The Fleur de Lys changes hands for £800 mint, up from £500 five years ago. Moonbeams lists at £300 mint. As bassist Gordon Haskell has said, that’s more than the band ever made from recording them. If you really want a vinyl copy, go for the I Can See The Light: The Fleur de Lys Singles Box Set on Acid Jazz from 2017. They even have a design tribute to Immediate. Not only that, the B-side of Moondreams is as originally intended, Wait For Me by Fleur de Lys, NOT Wait For Me by Jimmy Page.

EPs

The EP was getting near its last gasp, but Immediate put out just four. The only one you see is Farlowe In The Midnight Hour (IM EP 001):

Chris Farlowe on EP … click to enlarge

IM EP 002 and IM EP 003 are Hits Vol 1 and Hits Vol 2 by The McCoys. Then Hits by Chris Farlowe is IM EP 004. They weren’t great at thinking of EP titles.

Albums

New Musical Express: front page 20 July 1968

Albums: The Small Faces

They are highly collectable. Their first Immediate album The Small Faces rates at £250 mint whether in stereo or mono, and as it has a white centre label, the lilac / pink distinction between early and late pressings doesn’t come into it.

The Small Faces: Immediate LP 1967 IMLP 008

Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake: The Small Faces, Immediate LP 1968 IMLP 012

Oldham has said that Immediate was deliberately a singles label, and that Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake was the biggest-selling album on the label, but that it “only” sold 65,000 copies in Britain. Note, that was only “in Britain”. Itchycoo Park was a Top Ten hit again in 1975 when NEMS-Immediate reissued it.

This is one of the all-time classic albums. This is where the lilac / pink distinction gets important. It’s a swine because you’d need to see one of each, side by side, to be sure. These are the listed mint values (IMLP 012) for the circular cut out gatefold sleeve:

lilac mono (IMLP 012)- £250 / lilac stereo (IMSP 012) – £150 / pink mono – £120 / pink stereo- £80

That’s a great deal of money resting on fine colour perception (see album centre labels below). (Discogs doesn’t distinguish mono v stereo, and the “Highest” sale was £123. There’s an unplayed one on sale, so mint, at £218 from Canada.) If you find a copy pressed by NEMS from 1975 in a square sleeve from 1975, or one pressed by Charley in 1978, then £15 mint is the top. Even in the 1999 round sleeve it’s the same.

(A confession – my favourite is the CD in a round metal tin, with beermats and booklet … Castle, 1991, and rated at £60 mint, which a collectable CD in such a special box probably is).

The Autumn Store was their third Immediate album.

Other albums (and for record collectors)

For a “singles label” it had some excellent albums. Admittedly some were samplers or compilations of blues.

Any Immediate album is worth buying at a good price. Some so much that even in “Good” condition they’re worth something.

Would You Believe: Billy Nicholls, Immediate LP 1968 IMCP 009

The Rare Record Price Guide lists Would You Believe LP by Billy Nicholls as “withdrawn” with a spectacular mint value of £5000. which to me is “pluck a number from the sky.” In 2020 when it was published, the last recorded sale was $2500 in the USA, with an earlier one of $1600. So where does £5000 come from? According to Discogs, only 100 promo copies ever existed and then Immediate “ran into difficulties.” This wasn’t novel for Immediate, but other albums around that point sold well. The difficulties must be more arcane. However, that £5000 price is still low. In August 2022 Record Collector reported an auction sale price of £8,015.

Nicholls knew Cat Stevens and Reg Dwight (Elton John) and was a budding young songwriter. He was put on Immediate’s books at £20 a week, and put in a room full of Revox tape decks, the Rolling Stones’ guitars and a Mellotron.

The title track, Would You Believe, was arranged by Arthur Greenslade and John Paul Jones and The Small Faces contributed to the backing, adding Jerry Shirley from Apostolic Intervention, later to join Humble Pie with Marriot. Steve Marriot’s voice stands out. The single Would You Believe is The Small Faces arrangement. The song itself was by Jeremy Paul, and P.P. Arnold did a version too on The First Lady of Immediate.

The album was touted as the “British answer to Pet Sounds.” It was a conscious effort to emulate it. Remember that Loog Oldham was also promoting The Beach Boys at the time and several Immediate singles (Tony Rivers & The Castaways, Charles Dickens) show a powerful Beach Boys influence. The song London Social Degree deliberately aped Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds by spelling out “L.S.D.”

Discogs don’t have a price on it, never having sold one. The CD currently costs £24.99 (expanded edition) and you can buy new vinyl pressings for £49.

I liked the quote on the Amazon page for the CD:

I could go on and on about people who collect rare records, and you know, that’s just fine, but just because a record is rare doesn’t mean it’s good, quite the opposite, this and most other rare records are not that good, so if you collect rare records, don’t attempt to justify your collection by saying the music is sound, just say you like to collect rare records and leave it at that.
Jenell Kesler, amazon.co.uk, comments

P.P. Arnold albums … click to enlarge

The First Lady of Immediate is the next most collectable Immediate album (IMSP 011). According to Rare Record Price Guide it was “withdrawn” so rates at £400 mint. This is somewhat unlikely as most Immediate albums seem to suffer excessively from creased sleeves. I wonder what was happening around Billy Nicholls IMLP 009 and IMLP 011 that both were “withdrawn.”

Anyway, Discogs list its “Highest” sale at £366 and its “Median” sale at £232. Copies advertised for sale range from £99 to £399. The £399 is very specific … pro cleaned, only tiny spindle marks but “plain sleeve only.” So that seems to be the price. I’m not sure what “withdrawn” means … there were eight on sale today, and I’ve seen it two or three times (beyond my budget). Kafunta (IMSP 017) rates at £100 mint in the guide. The most Discogs has got for it (which won’t be mint) is £76. There are ones on sale at £75 to £127.

The Nice albums … click to enlarge

Two are mine. I saw The Nice three or four times. Yes, I have watched Keith Emerson stab his own organ. Some things from 1968 are a pleasant surprise on rehearing. Some are, ‘Did I really like that?’ Anyway, “min” which they won’t be, they’re all around £50.

Chris Farlowe albums … click to enlarge

Chris Farlowe did four Immediate albums … which is 20% of their LP output. The Art of Chris Farlowe is the year of The Beatles (White Album) and Beggar’s Banquet. A couple of them hit three figures in mint condition. In contrast to the Small Faces, a stereo Art of Chris Farlowe is worth more than a mono one. Personally I wouldn’t give £100 for it, but I saw a really rough one at £10 and spent ages inspecting it wondering whether it was playable. I decided to stick with my CD anthology.

Twice As Much … click to enlarge

Both Twice As Much albums are worth money too. Look them up.

Humble Pie

Oldham inherited The Herd just as they were breaking up, as were The Small Faces. Result? Peter Frampton from The Herd and Steve Marriot from The Small Faces = Humble Pie.

Amen Corner

Amen Corner was the final band to sell well.

Immediate chart albums

catalogueartisttitleyearchart
005Chris Farlowe14 Things To Think About196619
006Chris FarloweThe Art of Chris Farlowe196637
008The Small FacesThe Small Faces196712
012The Small FacesOgden’s Nut Gone Flake19671
014VariousBlues Anytime196840
023Amen CornerThe National Welsh Coast Live Explosion Co.196919
025Humble PieAs Safe As Yesterday Is196932
026The NiceNice19693
Immediate always declared it was a singles label, and the album chart is less volatile

Blues

Immediate did a series of blues sampler LPs as The Immediate Anthology of British Blues. Oldham describes it as a ‘pub and bed-sitter recording’ but it showcased early work by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and John Mayall.

Blues Leftovers (LP): 1969, fourth and last in the series

Centre labels … originals

Centre labels – LPs

That crucial Lilac v Pink distinction …

Reissues and chaos … what a tangled web.

Centres … none are 60s originals … click to enlarge

The end of Immediate and the rival claims of its two partners led to a field day of mining the catalogue in competition. Some of the valuable ones have been bootlegged purporting to be originals too.

Itchycoo Park: The Small Faces, NEMS- Immediate reissue, IM 102, 1976

Immediate singles were reissued by NEMS with a NEMS-Immediate centre label in 1976, and either picture sleeves or a “second” style Immediate sleeve with added NEMS logo. Oddly, some were assigned new catalogue numbers, so that Itchycoo Park was IM057 on the original 1967 release, but IM102 on the NEMS release. That’s good, you know which is which. But when NEMS released Lazy Sunday in 1975, it was given its original 1968 catalogue number, IM064. That’s common when a label has continuity. But this one didn’t.  There were also odd B-sides, so that P.P. Arnold’s The First Cut Is The Deepest was reissued with King of Kings by The Immediate All Stars on the B-side (IM109). The original Immediate All-Stars were not a group to play fast and loose with, consisting of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger and Bill Wyman. The brassy track dropped on the back of the NEMS release with some nice guitar may or may not be them.

The dedicated Immediate collector would be sniffy about these NEMS releases, but they play fine. Just don’t pay too much for them.

The Return of The Magnificent Seven: Amen Corner Immediate-NEMS 1975

There is one collectable Immediate-NEMS album, collectable because the content has Amen Corner’s hits on one side and live covers on the other. They add “Featuring Andy Fairwether-Lowe” writ large.

Out of Time: Chris Farlowe. IM201. Possibly Charley

The illustrated Out of Time reissue (IM201)mentions neither NEMS or Virgin. It says “Made in UK”. The picture sleeve looks and feels European. This might well be a Charly pressing. There’s a subtlety at play. Original Immediate records say “Immediate Record Company Ltd” which was the company acquired by NEMS. Andrew Loog Oldham’s dealings with Charly were on behalf of the separate company, Immediate Inc. This reissue makes no mention of “Record Company Ltd.”

Charly – Bellaphon

Charly-Bellaphon “Oldies: Original Hit Versions 1980

Also in 1980, Charly were putting out Immediate titles in the Charly-Bellaphon “Oldies: Original Hit Versions” series in Germany, though a lot appeared in the UK. They were double A sides from P.P. Arnold, Chris Farlowe, The McCoys, The Small Faces and Fleetwood Mac. Fleetwood Mac’s Man of The World was their only Immediate A-side, so had to be paired with Chris Farlowe on Handbags and Gladrags. Amen Corner’s release paired Bend Me Shape Me (which had been on Deram) with If Paradise (Is Half As Nice) which had been Immediate. They weren’t the only things mined by Charly- several Stax tracks were in he Oldies series too.

The Immediate Singles Collection, CD, Castle Communications 1985

When yet another label, Castle Communications, put out the first Immediate CD (The Immediate singles Collection 1985), they led with both sides of Little Miss Understood. This is not because it was the best single in the catalogue, nor one that its singer rates as a major part of his work, but was based entirely on Rod’s popularity at the time.

Little Miss Understood: Rod Stewart reissue

The cover illustration, on NEMS, is in much the same style as bitter enemy, Charly’s Lone Groover logo.

Virgin Immediate

Then in 1980, the “Virgin Immediate” logo appeared on yet more re-releases. Little Miss Understood by Rod Stewart had a Virgin catalogue number (VS366) but was “licensed from NEMS”. Two years later it was reissued again, but back to the original 1968 catalogue number IM 060. The original 1968 version is rated at £100 mint. The reissues are both rated at £5.

Virgin also produced the 2 x 45 Immediate Catalogue sets in gatefold sleeves in 1980. They covered only Chris Farlowe, Amen Corner and P.P. Arnold.

Virgin ‘Immediate Catalogue’ releases, each 2 x 45s 1980

Immediate Blues, is a 1980 compilation from Virgin / NEMS:

To add to confusion, Ariola / Immediate “original double hit” copies with German catalogue numbers turn up too often to be odd ones left by visiting Germans. They date from 1977 when the catalogue chaos allowed anyone to try anything.

Add in Golden Hit Parade copies from Fonior in Belgium (labelled “This is an original Immediate recording.”)

The exploitation is endless … three versions of Itchycoo Park. In the USA it was on the highly legit Epic Memory Lane label from CBS, so that must have been properly licensed … from who though?

Itchycoo Park … click to enlarge

Sanctuary 2005 … click to enlarge

Sanctuary’s 2005 replica releases use the demo design from later Immediate, which shows its EMI pressing, with the same large A in red as other EMI demos. They put the Philips earlier design on the other side. This release was to promote the Immediate Mod Box Set pf 3 CDs

Charley Club Soul, 2017 reissue.

They re-use Ace / Kent “Where It’s AT’ slogan … which was thought up for AT-lantic releases.

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright: P.P. Arnold. Charly Club Soul reissue 2016

Nico: I’m Not Saying. Record Store Day 2018 … click to enlarge

Record Store Day 2018 saw a white vinyl reissue of Nico’s I’m Not Saying which is part of the Immediate Masters series, possibly the only part. It has the original 1965 catalogue number, and is © 2017 Charly Acquisitions, adding FOR UK ONLY © Sanctuary Records Limited, a BMG company. The logos are Immediate / Charly / BMG. The credit to ANDESOUNDS could be Mr Look Oldham, who is resident in Colombia.

Immediate on CD

There is no shortage of compilations … just check the net. Given the murky copyright history, the number of CD sets is not surprising. These are ones I have.

The ultimate set is the 2000 Immediate Singles Story. It consists (or should consist) of four 2 CD sets, together containing all the singles, As and Bs, released by Immediate. The sleeve notes by Bill McAllister and Phil Cohen are excellent.

Episodes 1 (Blitz of Hitz) and 2 (Pop Goez Immediate) are still on sale on Amazon. Episodes 3 (Itz Immediate) and 4 (Oddz and Endz) are advertised in the booklet, but I haven’t ever found them. They’re not listed on discogs, and disogs has virtually everything.

Did they ever get released?

The Immediate Box Set: Castle division of Sanctuary, 2005 50 tracks on 3 CDs

You get a lot, but the selections are somewhat odd, such as the Australian Playboys B-side

The Immediate Anthology series of single CD and 2 CD sets has most of what you want by the major artists.

Three from The Immediate Anthology series,

Further reading:

The ultimate overall book, by Simon Spence …

Immediate by Simon Spence, Black Dog Publishing

And the quotable ones …

2 Stoned: Andrew Loog Oldham
All The Rage: Ian McLagen
Starmakers & Svengalis: Johnny Rogan
Black Vinyl White Powder: Simon Napier-Bell
Mr Big: Don Arden
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: Simon Napier-Bell

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