Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Four Pennies

Lionel Morton grew up in Blackburn, Lancashire, and formed his first band, the Lionel Morton Four with Mike Wilsh (piano), David ‘Fritz’ Fryer (lead guitar), and Alan Buck (drums). Lionel played rhythm guitar. Alan Buck had previous experience and played with Joe Brown and Johnny Kidd. They changed their name to the Four Pennies but their debut single "Do You Want Me To," but did not reach the charts.

A second single Tell me girl was released but DJs preferred the B side, ‘Juliet.’ Promoted as a double A side ‘Juliet” rocketed up the UK charts and gave the group a number one hit. The year was 1964.

The song was written by Morton, Fryer and Wilsh and produced by Johnny Franz. Franz was the resident A&R man and record producer at the Philips label with a distinct production "trademarks" of lush choirs and big orchestrations. He produced several UK number ones including “Lay down your arms (Anne Shelton). Garden of Eden and Tower of Strength (Frankie Vaughan), Make it easy on yourself and The Sun ain’t gonna shine anymore (The Walker Brothers), and You don’t have to say you love me (Dusty Springfield).

The Four Pennies had another hit with their third single third ‘I found out the hard way.’

Their success continued with an out of character version of Leadbelly’s "Black Girl.”

This charted in the US but their cover version of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s "Until It's Time for You to Go" released in 1965 sold well in the UK, only.

The song was rerecorded in 1972 by Elvis Presley. By the mid sixties the Four Pennies had fallen behind in musical trends and Fritz Fryer left the band. He was replaced by David Graham but when Fryer returned to the line-up soon after, David Graham left the band. When "No More Sad Songs For Me", failed to chart and the group broke up in 1966. Lionel Morton tried to go solo but found regular work on BBC children’s television (Play School and Play Away). Alan Buck continued to work in show business; Fritz Fryer became a successful record producer working with Clannad, Horslips, and Motörhead. Mike Wish keeps their memory alive on the retro circuit and fronts the new Four Pennies.

Worth a listen
Four Pennies
Juliet (1964)
I Found Out The Hard Way (1964)
Black Girl (1964)
The Way of Love (1965)
Until It's Time For You To Go (1965)

Midnight Special (1940)

Winifred Atwell
Let's Have Another Party (1954)

Anne Shelton
Lay Down Your Arms (1956)

Frankie Vaughan
The Garden Of Eden (1957)
Tower Of Strength (1961)

Shirley Bassey
As I Love You (1959)

Walker Brothers
Make It Easy on Yourself (1965)
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore (1966)

Dusty Springfield
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (1966)

Buffy Sainte-Marie
Soldier Blue (1970)

Ace of Spades (1980)

Theme from Harry’s Game (1982)

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