|side one||side two|
|1 Back In The States|
|2 We Sing|
|2 Beautiful Afternoon|
|3 It’s Home|
|3 8 o’clock And All Is Well|
|4 Home Country Blues|
|4 Mean Pappie Blues|
|5 Good To Me|
|5 You Too Can Have A Body Like Mine|
|6 Sylvester’s Last Voyage|
‘Sam Hedd’ was the name used for songs credited to the whole band
I have a homemade compilation CD of late 60s major popular songs. Marrakesh Express, Waterloo Sunset, Days, Whiter Shade Of Pale, Hey Jude, Bad Moon Rising, 25 Or 6 To 4, In The Summertime, Crimson & Clover, Uncle John’s Band. Solid Gold 60s. Nestling in there is Beautiful Afternoon by Forever More from 1970. You don’t know it? Most people don’t, but insert it in such mega-selling popular company, and you really can’t see the join. I’ve played it to younger music fans and asked ‘Were they all hits?’ The answer is always ‘yes.’ Yes, it’s that good. Forever More were that good. As I started Googling to research this, I kept finding references to Forever More and “great lost albums”. It seems that everyone who bought a copy of their two LPs, retained deep affection for their music.
Forever More was a four piece consisting of Alan Gorrie (vocals, bass, piano), Onnie McIntyre, also known as Onnie Mair (guitar, bass, vocals), Stuart Francis (drum, vocals), Mick Travis (guitar, vocals). Alan Gorrie is the main lead vocalist, and Mick Travis sings lead on some of his own compositions, some of which are stylistically different.
Gorrie, McIntyre and Francis had all been in the Scots of St. James, which later became Hopscotch (with Hamish Stuart). Scottish bands had a different training to English ones. English prog bands visiting Scotland around 1970 were wary of Scottish support bands who had the disconcerting habit of running through a set of ten contrasting songs, all drawn from the month’s top forty, and all played well. They were an absolute bastard to follow for bands with fifteen minute renditions of original stuff the audience had never heard before.
Hopscotch made two singles for United Artists, Look At The Lights Go Up, and a Band-inspired cover of Long Black Veil. An original single of Look At The Lights Go Up would cost you £140, but iTunes has it at 99p. It’s a poppier version of Forever More perhaps, but the vocal and bass playing are instantly recognizable. Hopscotch mutated into Forever More, managed by Simon Napier-Bell. That should have been a passport to success. It wasn’t.
Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre went on to form the Average White Band with Hamish Stuart, and fellow Scots and old friends, Roger Ball and Malcolm “Molly” Duncan from Mogul Thrash (with John Wetton and Jim Litherland), They were known as The Dundee Horns for session work. They had played with Alan Gorrie in Perth years earlier. Malcolm Duncan guests on Yours, playing tenor sax on Good To Me, and also guests on Words On Black Plastic.
Forever More made two albums for RCA, Yours (aka Paint it Yourself) in 1970, and Words On Black Plastic in 1971. Both albums were produced by Ray Singer and Simon Napier-Bell. Singer plays percussion, and Napier-Bell is credited with “sexy brass and string arrangements”. Tracks are often credited to “Sam Hedd” which was a joint name.
Yours has two sleeves. The North American one is a valentine’s scrapbook collage (and Canada was their most successful market), while the UK one is a “paint by numbers” picture. The title “Paint it Yourself” is sometimes applied to the album, though apparently it had been scribbled on the rough as a style instruction to the designer. This is an album you’d want in its entirety. There are two very short folky and funny Mick Travis songs, It’s Home (very much like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer) and the Appalachian styled and comic Mean Pappie Blues. Both are jug band in style, one with kazoo, the other with jaw harp.
They had a spot of bother with misapplied titles as it’s said that “Words On Black Plastic” was also a design instruction, rather than an intended title. Words On Black Plastic tracks are longer, which is a shift from 1970 to 1971 for everyone. An obvious issue with some songs is the added strings and brass weren’t available live.
As with the related Mogul Thrash (the Mogul Thrash song St. Peter from this period is a Gorrie-Wetton co-write), the albums have failed to reach CD. Presumably they are tied up in tangled contracts from the era.
The band were in the 1970 British B-film, Permissive about the adventures of a groupie, in which they play themselves. The film features Forever More as themselves, and has extracts from songs from Yours. It was released on DVD in 2010. I was told the film was poor, but rented it anyway. “Poor” is probably the nicest thing anyone has said about the film, which now has cult status as so many off-target 60s films do. Here’s a ten minute extract. We Sing is in the background.
After Forever More, Stuart Francis and Mick Travis joined Glencoe, but Mick departed before the first album. His real name is Mick Strode, and he was in Band of Joy with Robert Plant before Forever More. He’s still recording in France, and his 2011 album Days I Left Behind was described by Onnie McIntyre as “like Forever More’s third album only in hi-def.”
This was originally written as a Toppermost with ten selections Taken from both Forever More albums. The notes on tracks from this album follow:
Back In The States Again (Mick Travis)
This is a huge anthemic song, and in a world of justice it would have opened their set explosively in American stadiums in front of 60,000 people, maybe that’s what they hoped for. It’s a Travis song, but straight away Alan Gorrie sets his claim to be among the first division of bass playing vocalists, with lead vocal and burbling bass guitar. Great chorus, a middle instrumental break takes off, which you can see would be extended live if they’d ever got to those stadiums … well, of course they did in the end, but with the AWB.
Beautiful Afternoon (Sam Hedd)
See above. If I were producing a fictional movie about the late 60s,and I wanted a new song purporting to be a major hit, I’d take Beautiful Afternoon. Simon Napier-Bell justifies his sexy brass credit with what sounds like tubas or euphoniums. The vocal is yearning, the melody will fix you. I think virtually every time I’ve played it, I’ve pressed replay (I put my LP onto CDR long ago).
8 O’Clock & All’s Well (Sam Hedd)
For the first full minute, this sounds like the AWB. Propulsive bass, choppy rhythm guitar, tremendous layers of percussion … then the horns come in. Lots of vocal yelping too.
Sylvester’s Last Voyage (Alan Gorrie)
How do you describe this? Psych-folk? It has a folkie theme, a strong narrative about fishermen and ships foundering, and a fabulous melody. The wash of strings and chorus voices is unexpected, and uncharacteristic for then, though not now. Its placing at the end suits its originality, but also creates a sequence on the album, from the exuberance of Back In The States Again to the central mellowness of Beautiful Afternoon to the chiller air of:
Looking out over the ocean
The wind colder now than it was yesterday
The season is changing and summer
is rushing away.
The story’s result is the sea is my master, and I am Sylvester its slave. The song is definitely a “ballad” in the oldest sense.
We Sing (Sam Hedd)
This is Mick Travis lead vocal, with Alan Gorrie in the middle section. Napier-Bell’s gentle string arrangements are prominent.. The guitar tone is liquid gold. The lyrical nods to candy floss, popcorn, teddy bears, a character called Finnegan are high hippy era. The middle eight is designed to confront and contrast: Wake me when it’s over! Surely this can’t be happening. The past is far away … Then right at the end you get a fiddle-led little bit of hoedown.
Yours (Alan Gorrie)
The online references call them a Scottish progressive band. This starts off as very AWB with the riff and dominant loud bass guitar, but then goes into a soft soul ballad style, then you get the chorus. The contrasts within the song make it sound prog, but what prog song does it all in 2 minutes 19 seconds? Not enough of them, I may add!
I remember seeing Forever More at the Marquee. Molly Duncan sat in on sax for a couple of numbers, and John Wetton added backing vocals too. One of my all-time favourite club gigs. They were all pals. The Average White Band was more of a reunion than a new band.. I was delighted to see Alan and Onnie with the Average White Band in Southampton years later.
If you are tempted to find this one, youwill need the sequel:
The point was that the album was not on CD. However, researching the pricing, there WAS an official Japanese CD release in 2018 of both albums and they are proper RCA releases:
It still means that for 48 years, this record was not on CD.
Yours: Forever More, UK LP:
Rare Record Price Guide 2022: £75
Prices are more modest on discogs, but then they aren’t mint:
There are several on sale at £40 to £50, one at £75 (near mint)
German copies are slightly cheaper
Words on Black Plastic. Forever More, UK LP:
Rare Record Price Guide 2022: £60
Again, discogs is (unusually) somewhat cheaper
Put Your Money On A Pony, 45 single 1971
Rare Record Price Guide 2022: £5
My conclusion from this is that the collectable price of both albums was driven by unavailability, and that the eventual release of the Japanese CDs has taken the edge of the market for the albums. That is, these records were collectable NOT as an investment but because rightly people wanted to hear the music.
Resellers have the CDs at £25 – £28 plus postage BUT amazon.co.uk has Words on Black Plastic in the Japanese import version for £14.99. They are also on a 2-on-1 CD for £13.99.
It was a surprise, but proves my point that lack of CD availability drove the price.
Still the singles hold up:
Look At The Lights Go Up / Same Old Fat Man, United Artists 45 single 1969 £140
Long Black Veil /Easy To Find, United Artists 45 single 1969 £10
Scots of St. James
Gypsy / Tic Toc, Go! single, 1966 £200
Timothy / Eiderdown Clown, Spot single 1867 £350