THE ELECTRIC PRUNES – I HAD TOO MUCH TO DREAM (LAST NIGHT)

The next ’60s group under my spotlight is the Electric Prunes from Los Angeles. There isn’t much in my ’60s music magazine archive about this psychedelic group but what I have found will be posted on “Yellow Paper Suns”.

Their first hit in America was the new-age acid punk number “I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)” but apart from the odd promo advert in the UK press, this release seemingly went unnoticed over here.

RADIO, LIVE TRANSMISSION #02

AZTEC CAMERA – “High Land, Hard Rain” (Rough Trade) 1983
COCTEAU TWINS – “Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops” (4AD) 1984
JOSEF K – “It’s Kinda Funny” (Postcard) 1980
LYRES – “Someone Who’ll Treat You Right Now” (Ace Of Hearts) 1985
LONG RYDERS – “Looking For Lewis & Clark” (Island) 1985
FUZZTONES – “Creatures That Time Forgot” (Music Maniac) 1989

Here it is, its that time once more for a delve in the boxes of records and shelves upon shelves of black gold, looking to add to my ‘Transmission’ interludes, where I play records from my past. Many of these have never seen my turntable since the mid eighties. But it’s time to return to them with fresh and somewhat older ears and senses. Will I still rate these records?

First off is Aztec Camera‘s album “High Land, Hard Rain” released on Rough Trade during the Spring of 1983. I would have bought this soon after, no doubt about that. I already had one of their Postcard Records singles from the year before and had witnessed the young Roddy and his group sometime in ’82 at the ‘Bier Kellar’ Club, Waterloo Street, in Newcastle. I can’t remember that much about the gig other than I noticed just how young Aztec Camera were and Roddy Frame was wearing the suede jacket he wore in the photo posted opposite. I’m guessing they played their Postcard material and songs from the album, not yet released or perhaps even thought about!

To put things into perspective, Roddy is the same age as me. So in 1983 he would have been no more than eighteen years old, possibly still only seventeen. I’m kinda laughing to myself here because when young Roddy was writing, arranging and recording every song on this album I was still earnestly reading Shoot football magazine and playing Subbuteo with my younger brothers.

I must have played this hundreds of times during 1983/84 period and listening to the music now reminds me of those days when I’d drop the needle onto Side One, read a Shoot, an Oor Wullie annual from Christmas, or simple grab a piece of paper and a pencil and draw the birds I’d see from my bedroom window.

It’s difficult to chose a favourite, they’re all worthy. I believe a couple of the tracks were released as singles but I never got beyond “High Land, Hard Rain,” around the corner for me was the discovery of the Byrds, Love and 60s garage mayhem via “Back From The Grave” compilations.

Anyway, this record is influential and skillfully innovative. Not really my scene anymore but I can appreciate its value. The intricate ‘bright’ guitars, strummed acoustics, youthful exuberance and words weave their patterns. Remember, all created by a teenager.

During some of the numbers I can hear those horrendous electric drums, known as Syndrum drums. This awful percussion takes away huge enjoyment for me nowadays. But I’ve recently read that Roddy Frame liked what producer, John Brand did with his songs, so who am I to argue?

Continuing with the Cocteau Twins and their second single from April 1984, or at least a year since their debut “Peppermint Pig.” It seemed that I couldn’t go anywhere in the mid eighties without hearing one of the local DJ’s playing “Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops”.

I didn’t take much notice then, by mid 1984 I’d discovered garage punk, so this goth cum indie cum noise was no longer on my agenda, unless of course there was some jangle. This then, was not on my agenda.

Roll on thirty odd years later and I’m perusing a dealers record stock on Discogs and this was for sale among a batch of others I was going to buy. OK, it was only a couple of quid, so I added it to the ‘basket’ at no extra postage costs.

Playing the disc now I’m hearing that the Cocteau Twins have a certain dream-like quality and could be considered pioneers of what would be described as ‘dream pop’, in that they’re creating very ethereal textures of sound, all very gloomy with dollops of murk and mire. Apart from the vocals, it’s minimalist. They’ve got a full palette of paints but they’re only dipping their brushes into a few colours, and I like that.

What I’m not so keen on though is that synthetic beat. I’m not sure they had a drummer in their band so probably got a studio automaton to press a couple of buttons on a drum machine. The percussion would have sounded superior with the human touch and slight of hand.

Elizabeth Frasers’ vocals are tuneless but original, I can’t recall many other singer like this before or after since, not that I’m that well informed with dream-pop / goth music. Don’t have a clue what her indecipherable warbling means though, can’t make out any words.

More of the same dirge on the other side, much worse with the drum machine programming though, no rhyme nor reason to it. I wanted the side to end so I could throw the record out of the window.

I found this quote from bass player, Simon Raymonde: “We said no to a lot of things and people don’t like the word no. We should have done ‘Top Of The Pops’ when “Pearly Dewdrops’ Drops” was a hit. We were offered it but we said no. It was too scary. We didn’t talk about the fear, but the bravado side of it was “this is bollocks – people dancing with balloons” – We just weren’t comfortable in that world.”

Next up are my new find, Josef K. Both sides of the single were recorded at Castle Sound Studio during October 1980. “Final Request” is way better in my opinion than the A-Side “It’s Kinda Funny”, there’s an alliance of urgently spiky guitar, military drum racket, bass with darting notes and discordant vocals – all very anti-pop in approach and style. No way day-time radio friendly, a bonus of course.

“It’s Kinda Funny” is slower, restrained and drags along, even the band sound bored. It’s all very Joy Division and the misery is boundless. Nothing really stirred me into action that’s for sure, and the electric drum ‘pow’, pow’ didn’t do anything for me at all. This was a mistake in retrospect. I believe there is another version without this annoyance.

The lyrics are good though:

“You may be dumb, but the passage of time can change anything,
like the feelings we find, so I’ll disappear through the crack in the wall
and the memories I leave will be nothing at all.
It’s kinda funny.”

The Lyres have been around for years, led by “Mono Man” or in some minds ‘thee irritable curmudgeon’. Here they are presented on my turntable with a rather pedestrian garage rock number called “Someone Who’ll Treat You Right Now” from 1985. This one hasn’t been out of the box for decades, more vibrancy on the parrot’s feathers than in between the grooves on this disc. 😅😅😅 Am I missing something?

At least they’re incorporating real drums, although they’re mixed too loud, turn up the guitar, turn up the organ and I want to hear your tambourine clattering away like a a thousand milk bottles crashing from a great height. The Kinks inspired riff doesn’t really get off the ground, hardly in the Ray / Dave Davies class, but then not many of the ’60s beat merchants were.

I know many wired Lyres numbers but this isn’t one of them, may take me a few listens to fully appreciate this single, its not immediately rattling my cranium and that’s what I demand from mid ’80s garage punk.

The other side, “You’ve Been Wrong” is slightly better, more melody and the vocals are not so strained. Drums too loud again, organ has plenty of space but the guitar and bass are barely audible.

“Mono Man” is active on Facebook in a variety of guises, he keeps changing his profile, its difficult to keep up if you can be arsed. I once hooked up with him on that platform years ago but this was only a fleeting alliance, before he culled me from his friend’s list during one of his regular meltdowns. For no reason, its just what he does.

The Long Ryders hit my deck last time out with “I Had A Dream”, this time around it’s “Looking For Lewis & Clark” from 1985. I bought this when it came out and I believe all copies came with the addition of a bonus single matching “Southside Of The Story” with “If I Were A Bramble And You Were A Rose.”

“Looking For Lewis & Clark” is a solid country turned punker with a steady beat for hillbillies to get all excited about while they get pissed on their bottles of moonshine. Then, possibly after an evening of line-dancing go back home to their shack to fertilize their cousins. So, it’s a good rocker with a good harmonica break, which to be honest was a rarity in the mid eighties.

The other songs on offer are country rock and not my scene and probably the main reason why I never ventured beyond “Native Sons.” But if rescuing your fiddles out of the garage and havin’ a hoedown is your bag, you’ll dig them all I’m sure. I just wanted the record to end so I could play Josef K once again!

The Fuzztones had an impact on me during the mid to late to eighties, not necessarily just with their music, which I loved, but also their way-out dress sense. Mixing as they did leather, denim, hideous outsider hairstyles, necks draped with a silver talisman and boots so pointed and heeled high that their appearance looked terrifying. Remember, this was the eighties. No one was meant to look like this.

Although this album was released outside my strict 1977 – 1985 period, all of the tracks are demo versions, radio appearances and long-lost alternate takes of garage punk lullabies recorded during the early eighties.

Let’s tango through the Time Tunnel, back to September 19th, 1980. The “Mind Expanding” Fuzztones are making their debut at Club 57, a seedy little underground dive in NYC. Day-glo lights are flashing, go-go girls are frugging with wild abandon, and the World’s Wickedest Voodoo Slingers take the stage. With leather and paisley abounding, human bone necklaces flying and black Beatleesque hair gone amok, the Fuzztones launch full throttle into a raunchy explosion of psycho-punk bursting with enough passion to make it seem vital all over again.

SOUNDS REPORTER, DAVE LEWIS TRAVELS TO AUSTRALIA TO JOIN THE CONGREGATION IN THE CHURCH – SOUNDS, 13TH MARCH, 1982

RADIO, LIVE TRANSMISSION #01

FELT – “The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Stories” (Cherry Red) 1984
LONG RYDERS – “I Had A Dream” (Zippo) 1985
EYES OF MIND – “Tales Of The Turquoise Umbrella” (Closer Records) 1984
LIME SPIDERS – “Slave Girl” (Citadel) 1984
JOSEF K – “Radio Drill Time” (Postcard) 1980
ORANGE JUICE – “Simply Thrilled Honey” (Postcard) 1980

the Eyes Of Mind – 1984

I bought this copy of “The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories” sometime in 1984, possibly 1985. Inside the cover is a £2.50 price tag, marked in pen. I recognise the writing from a Sunderland record shop called Pet Sounds. I bought a ton of records there back in the day, some from their Newcastle shop.

But during 1984/85 I rarely ventured outside Sunderland so I probably bought my Felt album there. Maurice Deebank’s guitar sound is mesmerising throughout. It’s the first time I’ve played this for many years and straight away my attention is captured completely, I’m almost in a transfixed state of mind. It’s so ethereal and jangly.

Lawrence adds his strange vocals to some of the numbers. He sounds like a drawling Lou Reed sometimes or is it just me thinking that because I’m so spellbound by the guitar sound? He’s not the greatest singer you’ll ever hear and Lawrence may even put a host of people off, but that uniqueness adds to the beauty of the music contained within.

My copy came with a small insert of lyrics, tiny writing on a piece of thin paper. These days, with my eyes, I’d need the Hubble Space telescope to read them.

The countryfied Long Ryders I can live without, in fact I never ventured beyond “Native Sons” and the two cuts on this single are both from that album. This is a massive Byrds cum Flamin’ Groovies inspired rocker from 1985, and since I last looked on YouTube someone has uploaded the promo video. “I Had A Dream” last night that it was the mid 80s. How spooky is that? The other side, the contemplative psychedelic tinged rocker, “Too Close To The Light”, is credited as the ‘Buckskin Mix’ but it just sounds the same as the version on the LP. Or am I missing something?

Zippo were releasing some very important, mostly American, discs in the mid eighties and I thank them for that. It allowed my ears to sample some beautiful sounds. American bands sounded much different to ours that’s for sure.

Cover photo by Henry Diltz.

Next up on my imaginary “Transmission” is an album by the Eyes Of Mind. They hailed from Los Angeles and were tentatively linked with the so-called ‘Paisley Underground’ scene. I suppose that was inevitable coming from where they did and playing a brand of new psychedelia. If I was to compare their sound with their contemporaries it would be sort of like the Three O’ Clock injected with a tiny piece of Rain Parade.

The album is laden with delicate rhythms and accomplished vocal harmonies, all on the right side of alternative but definitely pushing through the boundaries of modern day pop commercialism.

“She’s Got Stars” is probably the strongest number of the collection, fast paced with swirling keyboards and certainly psychedelic, “it’s so deceiving”

They had some heavy guns helping them out too. Most of the album tracks were produced by ’60s wizz-kid Marc Wirtz, a sprinkling of cuts made way for Brett Guerwitz’s control, who went onto acclaim by producing Bad Religion and developing Epitaph Records.

The cover art is a collage of flowers, skulls, spooky Adams Family style houses, flashy vintage cars, clocks, umbrellas and there’s a snake in there too. I remember spending many minutes looking at the art and wondering what it all meant?

Recorded at Pacifica studios, Los Angeles and Silvery Moon studios, Hollywood, CA – August 1984.

I don’t rave too much over Australian group the Lime Spiders, most of their recordings sound way too metal for me. The drums especially have that synthetic, over-load of noise. Probably gated to some extent and I fucking detest gated drums.

“Slave Girl” is perhaps their most famous garage rock tune. It powers along on a very basic knuckle draggin’ riff or in this instance, a bonehead slave girl draggin’ riff. The lead shouter could do with a bucketful of throat lozenges or Koala blood to lubricate his sore pharynx.

A decent stab at ‘Neanderthal Rock’ which is actually enjoyable and deserves its place on my turntable today. They tread the same prehistoric footpaths as the Avengers who gave their stone-age followers the magnificent ‘beat a woman about the head and keep her in line’ chaos of “Be A Cave Man” in 1965.

These Aussie Homo-Troglodytes were probably prowling the out-back at dusk hoping to knock-out some kangaroos with femur bones. Their record label, Citadel, may have even paid them a crate of tinnies for each kangaroo thrown on the Barbie.

The other side “Beyond The Fringe” is a fast moving punk charmer with a terror man scream kickin’ things off over a brisk and heavy opening riff and sounds at least five years out of time. Don’t know if there was a punk revival going on in Australia in 1984 but not much sounded like this in England anymore.

I’m unschooled in Josef K but I’m learning fast. “Radio Drill Time” from the start of 1980 is notable for jagged guitar strum, almost casually played drums and spacious production, very much lo-fi and heralds the new independent sound of young Scotland. What is that electro synth noise occasionally interrupting the bass heavy din?

The song was inspired by the sleeve notes of Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.”

The other side “Crazy To Exist” was seemingly recorded live in someone’s living room! The fast opening chords of the spiky guitar made me think I was playing the disc at the wrong speed but then I thought, hold on, I’m playing this at 45rpm.

There will be more Josef K records under the spotlight in future “Transmissions” because I’m very intrigued by their artistic approach.

“Simply Thrilled Honey” by Orange Juice has a great opening and builds strongly, quaint jangling guitar, economical drum beats and Edwyn Collins’ unique vocal style all combine to make this record a winner. Probably sold in decent amounts too.

According to an interview printed in ‘Sounds’ at the time of release, which was June 1980, the song is about a girl who tried to seduce Edwyn but he didn’t want to go to bed with her.

“Breakfast” on the B-Side was provisionally chosen as a future single in its own right but to be honest, this one is just too progressive and uncommercial. It may have delighted a few of the John Peel Radio show worshippers but it failed to satisfy my expectations. The opening is quite exciting and I was ready for take off but then it turned into a morass of unfulfilled ideas and rhythms, then ended.

I’m not sure when Edwyn Collins sings the repeated line “How I wish I was young again.” refers to him? I’ve checked and he would have been twenty years old when the record came out. Oh to be twenty years old again!

THE MOLES – ALL IS REVEALED

from Melody Maker, 23rd November, 1968

“Who are the Moles?” is the current cry of desperate deejays and jocular journalists. To recap for those not up on such topics of vital importance, the story went that pop manager Stephen Komlosy received a letter containing a key to a left-luggage locker at Waterloo Station. Wherein, surprise surprise, he found a tape of a song called “We Are The Moles” which has been getting a full share of Radio One plugs.

Mr Komlosy, ran the tale, had no idea as to identity of the artists on the disc so decided to put out the record as by the Moles.

Well, we can put everyone out of their misery. The Moles are Simon Dupree and three members of the Big Sound. The disc was made in London’s Trident studios and among those present was Mr Komlosy.
Nice try, Steve.

from Record Mirror, 5th October, 1968

“The best thing we’ve done” says Simon

Simon Dupree was in a “passive, could be funny if pushed” mood – and he was excited about his latest record “Thinkin’ About My Life”.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever written,” Simon enthused. “A friend of ours bet my brother Ray and I that we couldn’t write a song in twenty minutes and so we proved him wrong. At first, we were depressed about the failure of “Part Of My Past” but now we’ve owned up about ballads. We’re a beat group and that’s what we’re sticking to.”

workshop

The Big Sound recently completed their first two weeks of highly successful cabaret appearances. Why then change after their success in ballrooms over the past two years?

“We just wanted experience of other facets of show business,” explained Simon. “We enjoyed cabaret very much. But we’re not giving up ballrooms. That is why we hit on the idea of the Pop Workshop – an entirely non-profit-making experiment. It’s not a studio where artistes come to record singles and then LP’s, but a place where they can come and work on new sounds with a view to future recordings.

“Anyone is welcome whether they are star acts or not. We also intend to encourage would-be song writers. There is a lot of unnoticed talent in this country and the Workshop will give the unknowns a chance.”

It’s been a long time since there was an LP from the group. Any plans for another?

Our second album is almost finished,” said Simon. “It’s all original stuff, mostly written by Ray, myself, our sister Eve and Paul Smith. No comedy, though. We seemed to have picked up a comedy image and we’re trying to change it. It all started with “Kites”, when we thought we were never going to get a hit and were reduced to screaming hysterics. We even wore masks on stage to hide our desperation! The audience rolled up at it, so we kept it in the act, but now it’s routine to us and has lost its spontaneity.

Is there anything which could dampen Simon’s present bout of enthusiasm?

“Only the Musicians’ Union ruling about not using backing tracks,” he said. “I don’t think it’s ridiculous and in theory I agree with the ruling. But it does seem rather pointless to go into the BBC studios and record another backing track using the same facilities as the recording studios all over again. Mind you, this only applies to groups who don’t use session men, like us – to the groups who do use them the ruling probably makes more sense. It would be unfair to session men who are union members.

1,000 birds

“Most pop musicians are in the union and it would be better if they had more interest in the rulings of the union. Personally, I haven’t been to any meetings, but in the future I’ll make a point of attending.

“Also, I don’t think much of all these blues groups which are appearing – I don’t think they are genuine. There are very few original-sounding groups. All this ‘freak-out 12-bar blues, head-in-the-sand’ bit. Most of them are the same, with two “E” and a “B” string on their guitars, a fuzz-box and 400-watt equipment. Most of it doesn’t mean a thing. I’m sure it’s only a phase like the so-called rock-and-roll revival.

“Our own personal scene is looking much better. We did an open-air festival and were mobbed by over a thousand birds – it was lovely.”

SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND AT BUTLIN’S, CLACTION

from Fabulous 208, 6th July, 1967

Working as hard as they have to, Simon Dupree and the Big Sound make any spare minute they can holiday time. As you can see from the pictures we caught them having a super time at Butlin’s at Clacton.

They haven’t had a holiday for at least two years, but hope this summer they will be able to snatch a few weeks off. But already this seems unlikely, ‘cos if their latest record “Part Of My Past” is successful, which it is bound to be, they won’t be able to go away.

Apart from work connected with the record, they are planning to start a pop workshop. They will either rent a large studio or buy a big house which they can convert into a studio, and begin experimenting with music. Says Simon: “Pop is a bit stagnant at the moment, it needs someone to think of something new.”
And that’s just what the boys are going to try to do!

SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND – PART OF MY PAST

Written partly by Simon’s sister, Eve, and highly successful on all their stage appearances, this is the sort of number I used to associate with the Walker Brothers.
It has that same feel, that at any moment the control is going to go and someone is going to raise their right hand against the light.
A beautiful opening sound and some great trumpets full of heraldic pomp. A nice melody line too. The only trouble is, I feel, it could have done with a swift cut towards the end – goes on too long. (Disc & Music Echo, 25th May, 1968)

A bluesy rhythmic ballad – intensely and passionately handled by Simon Dupree, supported by one of those colourful and imaginative scorings that we have come to associate with the Big Sound.
Organ, a delicious string sound, flute and subtle brass blend effectively in this absorbing arrangement which achieves a hauntingly wistful quality, in keeping with the plaintive nature of the lyric.
The material is fairly strong – I suspect it’s a tune that grows on you after several spins. And while the disc doesn’t measure up to the delightful “Kites” it does have a fascination of its own, which could well put it in the running for Chart honours. A possible!
Flip: “This Story Never Ends”, a more forceful beat on this track – throbbing rhythm, rattling tambourine and clanking piano. Plus Simon’s uninhibited vocal. Above average for a “B” side. (NME, 25th May, 1968)

I assured Simon that this would be a very successful single, so kindly go out and buy it and prove I’m no liar. In fact, it really is a tremendous song and Simon sings with a bluesy edge, getting maximum feeling from it – and the strings behind are marvellous. And I’m staggered that “For Whom The Bell Tolls” slipped. Flip: A fair enough song, well produced. (Record Mirror, 25th May, 1968)

SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND – FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

And thank you Ernest Hemingway. Well, I have to own up and say this record is a bit of a mystery to me. I find it very hard to judge its commercial value. “Kites” was immediate and clear and I knew it was a hit. But this is an odd conglomeration of “In A Monastery Garden” and “Yellow Rose Of Texas” with Spanish guitar.
Mr Dupree’s voice sounds strangely far away and not all that happy on some bell-like notes. It is pretty but lacks any great immediacy. We shall see. (Disc & Music Echo, 2nd March, 1968)

Military drums open this and the melody is based on a sort of descending scale. Simon says, self-effacingly, that he doesn’t rate it all that much, which means it’ll be a smash. Actually it’s much more directly commercial than “Kites” in my opinion. And it certainly enhances the group’s fine sense of style. A hit, I tell you. Flip: “Sleep” – To be honest I thought this went on a bit. And on. And on. (Record Mirror, 9th March, 1968)

SIMON DUPREE & THE BIG SOUND – WHY SIMON DISLIKES POP MUSIC

from Record Mirror, 9th March, 1968

So I said to Simon Dupree “What’s your favourite colour?” and I thought I’d follow this up with “What’s your favourite food?” and “What are your likes and dislikes?”, thus getting some really good material with which to write a meaty story.

But strangely enough our little conversation developed into something of a far more serious and philosophical nature. You see, when I said “What’s your favourite colour?”, Simon replied: “I don’t like pop music” – so I had no alternative but to parry the answer with: “Why?”

And this started us off on a long discourse on pop music, the entertainment industry, and life in general.

“Pop music is such a surface thing,” said Simon. “On the whole it just goes in one ear and out the other. I know that “Kites” will be completely forgotten in a month or two – whereas Beethoven’s music, for example, will go on forever. I’m not decrying pop music – I just don’t like it.

“Basically I’m an entertainer – I love the business, and I’ll stay in it forever. Therefore, because I’m a pop musician I’ll play pop as best I can, and try to give the audience value for money. But I just can’t take pop all that seriously – I’m not trying to set myself up above pop music, it’s just a personal thing.

“But so many people, for example, come up to us and say “You’re a great group”. “They may not have heard us on stage or anything, but because they liked our record, they just say we play great music. What does it mean? Groups are judged on one record, or one song – and if they can’t live up to that on stage, they’re booed off and forgotten. This has happened two or three times to groups who’ve had hits this year – and I really feel sorry for them. It’s not their fault – they’re brought together to make a hit record, and they work to a formula. But so often they haven’t had the experience of working together as a group, and consequently when they go on stage they’re not at all professional, and they don’t give the audience value for their money.

“We’re fortunate in that we’d been together for about a year before our big hit, “Kites”, and we’ve got a good stage act now. The thing is that, even though I don’t like pop, I believe in giving the audience value for their money. If you’re an entertainer you have to be professional – and we’ve tried to be right from the start, and we’ve been well received right from the start as well.

“I think the most important thing, though, is to have star quality – and very few people in pop have this. The Beatles have it, but there are very few others. I’d like to think that we have it … perhaps we will in a few years. Personally I’ll be in this business for the rest of my life, and I think my brothers will as well, though eventually we’ll probably all go our own separate ways. Who knows?

“Some of these old-timers who’ve been singing for years are really fabulous. They have a fantastic presence on stage. For example, I always used to dismiss Vera Lynn – I didn’t think much of her at all. Then one day I appeared in a concert with her, and a lot of others – Bud Flanagan was another. And I was standing in the wings of the theatre watching them. I was completely knocked out – you know, they have such a fantastic presence on stage. They’re real stars, and no one in pop can hope to compete with them. It was then that I realised how superficial the pop business is compared to the real business of entertaining.

“The thing is, as I said, that I’m in the entertainment business as a pop musician, therefore I do my best to entertain a pop audience even though I don’t particularly like pop music. I don’t know which direction I’ll go in the future – but I’ll stay in the business, and so will my brothers. We’re very lucky actually, because the group is very much a family business. And of course, our next record, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” was written by my sister. She used to be a jazz singer – but then she got married and settled down as a housewife. Recently, though, she started songwriting, and she’s very good. Personally, I don’t like “The Bell Tolls”, but I suppose it’s a very good commercial number. Anyway, I’m no judge of what’s good and what isn’t – I didn’t like “Kites” very much.

“At the moment I’ve got plenty of time to sit down and think, and try to sort things out a bit, because we aren’t doing so many one night stands or anything. So I’m still trying to sort things out in my mind.

“One thing I do know is that one day I’ll be a millionaire by the time I’m thirty. I’m not mean or anything – far from it – but I’m very conscious of the importance of looking after money. And that’s very important in this line of business. So I’m investing a lot of money – and I’m going to put a lot into property. The group’s getting a Rolls Royce as well – it’s a bit flash I suppose – but it’ll be just the job for all the travelling we have to do. So much more comfortable than going by bandwagon or coach – anyway, I didn’t travel very well in coaches. I get horribly sick.

“We’ve got a great act lined up for our forthcoming tour with Gene Pitney and Don Partridge – in fact we’re really looking forward to that tour. I think it should go down very well with the audiences – and the group should as well. The individual group members are emerging as personalities now, which is good – in fact, all of us brothers are very different, and each one of us is beginning to emerge as a different personality. I’m pretty certain we’ll all become stars one day, whether we stay together or not.”

…. and the funny thing is that I never did get to find out what Simon Dupree’s fave colour is …

WHAT SUCCESS DID TO THE BROTHERS DUPREE

from Melody Maker, 9th March, 1968

You only had to look at Simon Dupree’s hat to know that his new single, “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” out tomorrow (Friday), has a Spanish influence. I had expected him to order a glass of port to go with the headgear, but he settled for a tomato juice while he told me “For Whom The Bell Tolls” hadn’t been his choice as a follow-up to “Kites”

“I thought “Part Of My Past” was better, but my brothers, Ray and Phil, thought this was the right one for an A side. Anyway, it’s written by my sister and Paul Smith.
“Actually I had no idea of what is commercial and what isn’t, and I don’t like much pop music anyway. I really enjoy classical music and modern jazz. Favourite composers? Mozart, Handel and most symphonic music, though I don’t like the moderns much, apart from Elgar.”

Simon turned to the topic of the moment. “We’ve never used a session man on a record,” he said proudly.

PROBLEMS

“We feel that if you can’t do it yourself, don’t do it. If somebody else is playing, then where do you get the satisfaction. The great pleasure is hearing what you have done.”

Musical versatility can breed it’s own problems. Says Simon: “We sometimes have trouble on broadcasts. On Radio One O’Clock recently we had eight or nine instruments on stage and we asked the engineers for three mikes to sing in.

“They said they hadn’t got any spare. Most engineers hate anything that means a change from three guitars and drums.”

I asked what Simon felt about predictions of a rock ‘n’ roll revival.

“If the Beatles have gone rock on their new single then it may come back – and last six months,” he said.
“Actually, I like rock – it has guts. I still listen to Eddie Cochran records. And the early Shadows stuff – I still play “Apache” and the rest of them.”

The success of “Kites” has had some unexpected results, according to Simon. “For one thing, the three brothers – Ray, Phil and myself – are emerging as different sorts of people, getting their own separate identities.
The girls are always after Ray now – and Phil is always moaning that I get all the press.

“On the Gene Pitney tour we will feature the three of us as separate identities, try and project the different personalities.

“We shall be using a lot of instruments, too – on one number we will feature about 12 instruments including sax, vibes and French horn. After the tour we are going to take a break – we’ve been working continuously for a year. We’ll go our separate ways for three weeks. Then when we get back we’ll do something abroad – we want to promote ourselves in the States and “Kites” is doing well in places like Japan, Israel and Norway.”

As befits someone who had a long apprenticeship of one-nighters, travelling up and down Britain, before getting a hit record, Simon is not one to chuck his money away.

“I like to invest in things,” he says. “Property and shares. We all draw wages each week and put the rest of the money away.
“Mind you, we are thinking of buying a Rolls Royce to transport the group.”

WOW & FLUTTER

Weekly Words and Music

YELLOW PAPER SUNS

Focusing on punk, new wave, post punk and indie records 1977 - 1985

lightspots

1960s Music And Beyond

MOOF

psychedelic music & arts magazine with a penchant for the more obscure

%d bloggers like this: