The ones that got away

You can see all the stars as you walk down Hollywood Boulevard
Some that you recognize, some you’ve hardly even heard of

Celluloid Heroes (Ray Davies) by The Kinks

It failed to trouble the chart compilers pens …
Cliché, attributed to Chris Welch, The Melody Maker

NME front page promotes MCA as “Britain’s No. 1 Independent Singles Company.”

So how did they fare? John Rowles had had two previous hits in 1968, If I Only Had Time (#3) and Hush… Not A Word To Mary (#12) so he was a reasonable bet. However One day did not trouble the charts  enter the charts. It has no measurable value nowadays.

Peter Gordeno’s My Girl Maria sunk without trace went nowhere. His 1961/62 singles are in Rare Record Guide. This 1969 one isn’t.

Troy Dante’s These Are Not My People also failed to trouble get anywhere. His other 1969 MCA record is £8 mint. This one isn’t.

So, an NME front page and three misses in a row for MCA.

It pays to advertise? Apparently not, judging from 1960s and 1970s music weeklies. There are release listings, box ads, and whole page ads for singles you’ve hardly even heard of. 

No doubt some were records by pretty boys or pretty girls who were being indulged by hopeful managers, but any artist at the time would have had their hopes raised by large ads (even cover pictures) in the music press. The cover of the NME was paid space, unlike the highly-prestigious lifetime-award space that was the cover of the Rolling Stone in the USA.

A large proportion of issued records were doomed to instant obscurity. On collectable labels, that means rarity, which boosts the value, because of the number of collectors out there who want every Immediate, Planet, Stax or Stiff record, or even those optimistic souls with their eyes fixed on a complete collection of Stateside or London-American. Yes, if you want a complete Immediate set, you will need Jimmy Tarbuck’s single, but then again, it was produced by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

For the rest? It depends on genre. Anything vaguely Merseybeat or mod or psychedelia will be collectable, and the rarer it is, the better. Some singles truly dropped by the wayside, and had short initial runs, many of which would have ended up remaindered into a skip, so any particular one will be as near unobtainable as you can get. This is the area where stock copies are rarer than demos. You won’t find all of them in Rare Record Guide either because they’ll fall below the £5 cut off on value. 

Terry Hounsome’s Single File is more comprehensive because it aimed to list every British release regardless of value. Both claim over 100,000 entries, but Rare Record Price Guide includes LPs and EPs and goes up to the point of publication, while Single File went up to 1990. I’ve found a few it missed, but not many.

Here are a few case studies taken from the adverts, and we’ve been through and eradicated that rock magazine cliché It didn’t trouble the charts which is true in every case.

Carter-Lewis, 1962

Record Retailer, 8 November 1962

It’s as big as any ad in Record Retailer, and they’re also listed in a Pye Group box ad in the same issue. Here’s Hoping, Piccadilly, 1962.

Carter-Lewis, with and without backing band, The Southerners have collectable singles on Piccadilly, Ember and Oriole in the early 60s without troubling any chart success on any label. Their singles rate between £20 and £50 mint though. The Southerners were named after their music publisher, Southern Music, which might be a first.

 They were basically songwriters and studio musicians and later became The Ivy League, The Flowerpot Men and First Class, and John Carter sang lead on the New Vaudeville Band’s Winchester Cathedral. 

Their pedigree accounts for their collectibility (and Jimmy Page played on their Oriole single, Skinny Minnie, but not on this one).

Tony D & The Shakeouts, 1964

New Musical Express, 21 February 1964

The full-front page treatment from Piccadilly in 1964 for Tony D and The Shakeouts and Is It True.

Their management is based in Nottingham. They got a tour ad on the back page of the same 21.2.64  issue documenting their tour from Oswestry to Uttoxeter and reinforcing that as usual the Pye-Piccadilly distinction was random. Perhaps the NME threw that ad in for free. For a Nottingham group, they weren’t straying far from home.

This is clichéd chirpy Merseybeat style (it even has yeah, yeahs) with its only unusual aspect being piano with lots of nail splitting runs along the keys, as well as guitar. Lyrically, it seems they say that: she’s one of the bad kind but he can’t get off her mind. He’s afraid she’ll leave him lonely, but he does’t care because she’s his one and only. He doesn’t care if it’s true what they say about you, in fact. 

Even the comprehensive Tapestry of Delights can only describe them as a ‘long forgotten beat group.’ The Shakeouts also made a record for Columbia a year later. Neither of the singles troubled bothered the charts were successful in chart terms.The Piccadilly single goes for £25 mint. The Columbia follow-up is £60. Does that mean it’s better? No, it means it’s even more obscure.

Is It True is available on a couple of CDs, one a set on Piccadilly, the other a mod compilation.

Mia Lewis, 1965

New Musical Express, 9 April 1965

Front page of the NME for this Decca release of Wish I Didn’t Love Him in April 1965, but shared with another record. It was produced by Larry Page. It failed to trouble  make any impact on the charts. 

Mia Lewis had two Decca releases in 1965, then moved to Parlophone for three more in 1966 to 1967.  She made several TV appearances and joined package tours but without success. Every mention of her says that she was exceptionally pretty, petite and Welsh. Being pretty is never a bad thing for a female vocalist. 

As Tom Jones success was recent, Welshness was seen as a marketing virtue (as well as possibly selling a few in the Principality) hence the combination of Tom Jones and daffodils in the NME advert. 

As Lulu was doing well too, being short / petite was another positive. 

Wish I Didn’t Love Him, in mint condition, lists at £12. This follows the rule that if it’s mid sixties and you’ve never heard of it, it might be worth something.

Thane Russal, 1966

New Musical Express 4 March 1966

Thane Russal got a full page ad in March 1966’s NME, a then-rare black & white picture sleeve from CBS, and joined the P.J. Proby / Searchers tour. The Action would have been the best band on that tour, I suspect.

After a couple of ballad singles on Decca in 1965, he  had reinvented himself as a soul singer, and with support from the Rolling Stones got a CBS contract for his cover of Otis Redding’s Security, produced by Paul Raven, later known as Gary Glitter. 

Rumour had it that an “all star” assembly of backing musicians featured (not an infrequent advertising ploy in those days), but it sounds pre-punk, with more enthusiasm than skill and a prominent steady bass drum that previewed Gary Glitter’s later style. It did nothing in the UK or Europe but was a minor hit in Australia. 

Security: Thane Russal, CBS 1966

So full page ad to obscurity? Not really. Security is mod classic, and though anthologised on CD in the Archive International Productions English Freakbeat series in 1997, original singles rate £300 mint in a p/s, or £150 in the standard CBS one.

Los Brincos, 1967

New Musical Express, 27 May 1967

The week that A Whiter Shade of Pale entered the charts, on 27 May 1967, Page One took the front page of the NME to advertise Brincos (usually known as Los Brincos) who were Spain’s top beat group in the Franco era.  

They were known as The Spanish Beatles, but only in Spain, and that was the shape of the hair (but shorter and neater). And no, Lola is not the Ray Davies song, being three years too early.  Larry Page produced it, and the album, and it went to #1 in Spain.

Lola: Brincos, Page One, 1967

It sounds crisp with good production qualities, and they don’t look any worse than The Monkees did at the time. The first 5000 had picture sleeves, which are now worth £35.   The contemporary NME review said:

A leading Spanish group with their first recording in English. And like their compatriots Los Bravos they enjoy falsetto harmonies! The number has a captivating Latin quality – it’s a rhythmic ballad, slightly under mid-tempo with a deliciously exotic lilt enhanced by Tijuana-type brass. The tune’s quite pleasant too.

Sounds like a “miss” to me.

Tin Tin, 1969

New Musical Express, 29 June 1969

The whole back page of the 29th June 1969 NME was devoted to Tin Tin’s song, produced by Maurice Gibb on Polydor. 

The same issue devotes the whole front page to Robin Gibb’s Saved By The Bell, so maybe the Brothers Gibb got a discount for the two, or maybe it was “if you’re having a full page ad, so am I!” 

It’s a fey little piece with lots of “La la la la-ing” and a mint single is far from worthless at a tenner. Steve Kipner of Tin Tin went on to songwriting success, with Olivia Newton-John’s Physical.

Overall …

A few people have suggested that a whole page NME advert bought you a place in the Top Thirty, but on the evidence of this random selection from a small pile of music newspapers, it appears untrue.

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