Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lulu



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Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie was born in 1948 in Lennox Castle, Lennoxtown, Scotland, the daughter of a butcher. Marie grew up in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where she attended Thomson Street Primary School and Onslow Drive Junior School. Little Marie loved to sing as a child and started at the tender age of 12 year old with a local group called the Bellrocks. At 14 she joined The Gleneagles and had a regular spot at the Lindella Club, Glasgow.


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The owner of the club had a sister, Marion Massey (c.1930 – 2014) who was one of a few female theatrical agents based in London. In 1962 Marion signed up the new girl and gave her the stage name Lulu and the backing band The Gleneagles became The Luvvers. Lulu and the Lovers became part of the Decca stable of artist. The precarious nature of the music business and the vulnerability of a young girl was enough for Massey to invite Lulu to live with her family in her London home. Lulu attributes much of her success to having had a family-oriented and mature manager in Marion Massey. Decca released Lulu’s first record in 1964. It was a raucous cover version of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” and it became an instant UK hit and reached #7. She was fifteen.


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Decca quickly followed up with the more soulful ‘Here Comes The Night' (1964), and 'Leave A little Love' (1964). 'Try To Understand' (1965) was a bit more poppy and all reached the lower end of the UK charts.


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By the end of 1965, Lulu was voted 'Britain's Most Promising Newcomer in Showbusiness,' and she and The Lovers briefly featured in 'Gonks go Beat' released in the same year. Lulu also sang 'Choc Ice' over the title sequence.


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The lack of major chart success forced her to leave The Luvvers behind and join Columbia as a solo artist and there she was teamed with producer Mickie Most. In April 1967, Lulu was back in the UK singles charts (#6) with "The Boat That I Row", written by Neil Diamond.


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The relationship between artist and producer was not always as harmonious as her singing but the results in chart success gave her the most successful years (1967-68) in her career. All seven singles cut with Most made the UK Top Ten Singles Chart. These included: 'Let's Pretend'(1967), 'Love Loves To Love Love ' (1967) 'Me The Peaceful Heart' (1968), 'Boy' (1968) and 'I'm A Tiger' (1969)'.


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In 1967, Lulu had shown herself a credible actress when she co-starred with Sidney Poitier in E. R. Braithwaite's 'To Sir with love' directed by James Clavell. Lulu also sang the title song which surprisingly did not chart in the UK, but topped the charts in the US, ensuring her internationaal success.


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In 1967, Lulu appeared with The Monkees at the Empire Pool, Wembley, and quickly there were rumours she and Davy Jones were an item.


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By now she had become a polished performer and toured extensively. In 1968 she co-hosted a new TV show (BBC) entitled Three Of A Kind, with Mike Yarwood. Lulu was such a hit she appeared regularly until 1975. Her popular variety shows went under various titles including: Lulu's Back In Town, Happening For Lulu, Lulu and It's Lulu, which featured Adrienne Posta. Her BBC series featured music and comedy sketches and star guests, including Jimi Hendrix. TV history was made when Jimi Hendrix shocked everyone with an impromptu tribute to Cream on live TV.


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In 1969, Lulu was chosen to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest and won with, "Boom Bang-a-Bang", written by Peter Warne and Alan Moorhouse.


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In the same year Lulu married Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees). A romance which started after the couple met backstage at Top of the Pops. Sadly careers and his heavy drinking forced them apart and they divorced in 1973.


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In 1970, she embarked on a trans-American tour with Englebert Humperdinck and also took time out from her heavy schedule to co-host television's 'Andy Williams Show' with singer Ray Stevens.


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She toured Australia, New Zealand and the Far East at the peak of her career. Despite this chart success eluded the singer then in 1974 she released a cover version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World" and "Watch That Man". Bowie and Mick Ronson produced both recordings and the former became Lulu's biggest record successes going to #3 in the UK and Top Ten in other countires but failed to chart in the US.


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Lulu was chosen to sing the title song for the James Bond film 'The Man with the Golden Gun.'


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Her follow up release 'Take Your Mama For A Ride' (1975) sold reasonably well but barely broke into the Top 40 in the UK.


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The singer got married to London Hairdresser John Frieda in 1976. The couple separated in 1990. The erly 80s saw more chart success for Lulu in the US with 'I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do)' (1981), 'If I Were You' (1982), and the Grammy nominated track 'Who's Foolin' Who' (1982).


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She continued to make records and popped up in the top ten charts starting with a release of 'Shout' (1986). 'Relight my fire,' with Take That topped the charts in 1993, and a duet Ronan Keating, "We've Got Tonight" reached Number 4 in 2002. This would mark her last chart entry.


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She continues to to entertain and from time to time has successfully diversified into acting. Lulu was made a Companion of the British Empire (CBE) in 2021 for her serves to music and her charity work. Lulu remains without question the greatest Scottish Female entertainer of the 20th century.


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Reviewed 14/06/2021

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Glam, glitter boots and disco foot: It's the 70s !



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The first discothèque to open was the Scotch Club in Aachen, Germany in 1959. The owner of a local dancehall refused to pay for live performers and used an amplified record player instead. Klaus Quirini became the first DJ when he commandeered the turntable and became master of ceremonies. His style was immediately popular and as DJ Heinrich, he organized other DJs into workers' union that made DJ an official (i.e. healthcare registered) profession. The first song Quirini played was 'Ein Schiff wird kommen,' by Lale Andersen.


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The Scotch Club became a Mecca for young people but there was a dress code with bouncers refusing entrance to men not wearing a tie. By the time the first discos were opening in US and elsewhere there were 17 discos in Aachen. The Scotch-Club finally closed its doors in 1992.


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By the late 60s and early 70s, high tech discothèques (discos) with light shows and glamorous settings replaced dance halls. Instead of dancing to live music played by cover artists night clubbers crammed into small licensed venues with a disc jockey (DJ) playing hifi vinyl records.


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Jimmy Saville was considered the first DJ to use twin-turntables that played non-stop music.


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Statuesque dancers (Go Go Dancers) needed to stand out as a focal point and were central to the layout of the dance floor. Elevated and caged the girls and boys, danced in a blaze of lights choreographing the latest dance moves.


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The fashion for elevated or platform shoes also came to pass. The Cockney, Scottish football fan extraordinaire Rod Stewart had been a humble boot boy at Brentford Soccer Club long before he became gravel voiced lead singer of the post Mod band, Faces. The height challenged, Rod, unlike his musical chum (Sir) Elton John, wore elevated shoes on stage to look tall and sexier. Other Glam Rockers performed in towering platforms


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Tiny Elton by contrast needed the extra leverage his boots gave him to reach the piano keys on his Steinway during live performances. Later Elton appeared in the film Tommy sporting the largest pair of DM boots ever seen.


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In antiquity, Greek actors wore raised shoes to tower over their audience and the resulting swaggering gait was understood to send females into sexual ecstasy.


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Platform shoes were first introduced in the Middle Ages and were worn by court ladies but the fashion was short lived and fell to the prerogative of the height challenged until they were rediscovered in the 1940s.


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Paul Gadd (aka the disgraced Gary Glitter) was certainly the latter and used his glitter platforms to achieve the former. He was, in his heyday, an act to catch. His platforms were specially made for his feet and allowed him to achieve quite spectacular choreography during his live shows.


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Young people began to dress in ambiguous ways, the style was called unisex. For the first time in hundreds of years’ men appeared in clothing modern society designated as female attire. The Thin White Duke aka David Bowie was certainly not stuck in the cupboard when it came to express his female side on stage. Ziggy (Stardust) definitely wore the boots and shoes to be seen in, in tights.


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Whilst this was a zenith for excellent dance music, ironically the dance styles were remarkably bland. People did however, dance a lot and a common injury associated with "all-nighters" was a flat foot caused by ligamentous collapse. The condition was called "disco foot."


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Then in 1977, something happened that put dance into disco and it was called Saturday Night Fever.


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Reviewed 09/06/2021

Gary Glitter and The Glitter Band



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Paul Francis Gadd was a war baby and born in 1944 in Banbury, Oxfordshire. From his mid-teens he sang rock standards and gentle ballads appearing in the 2 I's in Soho, the Laconda and Safari Clubs, London. Robert Hartford Davis (a film producer), discovered him and financed a recording session for Decca label under the stage name Paul Raven, he released his first single, "Alone in the Night" in 1960.


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A year later and under new management (Vic Billings) he was signed by Parlophone with Sir George Martin as his producer.Paul recorded two singles, "Walk on Boy" and "Tower of Strength," but neither sold well.


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He continued to get work including warm-up for Ready Steady Go! (ATV). Paul Raven joined the Mike Leander Show Band in 1965 but the group fell apart and Paul formed his own band, called Boston International. The group found regular work gigging around the UK and Germany and when not performing, Paul Raven became a record producer working with several artists including The Poets from Scotland .


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Now 25, Paul Raven was still keen to pursue a recording career and released several singles in 1969. "Musical Man", "Goodbye Seattle" and a version of George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun," under the name Paul Monday, all enjoyed modest success.


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Then in 1971, he changed his name to Gary Glitter just as glam rock hit full swing and things started to happen. In the studio they recorded a fifteen-minute jam which was edited to a pair of three-minute singles which Mike Leander called " Rock and Roll (part one and two) " and released as a double sided single. It was a sleeper and took about six months before it made its full impact. "Rock and Roll (Part One)", was a hit in France, where as the rest of the world seemed to prefer “Rock and Roll, Part Two and ran high in the US and UK charts.”Rock and Roll" proved no fluke and became a popular sports anthem in North America.


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Between 1972 and 1975 Gary Glitter and the Glitter Band had twelve top ten consecutive singles in the UK and a worthy king of glitter keeping all other gliterista at bay including Sweet, Slade and T. Rex. Gary’s stage performances were excellent entertainment and the singer owned a reported thirty glitter suits and fifty pairs of his trademark silver platform boots.


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Despite this success in the UK, he and the band were unable to crack the US market and hence did not have the earning potential of Rod Stewart or Elton John. When Glam Rock fell to the ravages of Punk music, Gary retired in 1976. Privately he became depressed battled with alcohol and became bankrupt. Gary had influenced many Punk and post Punk bands including Human League. When his record company cut a dance medley of his greatest hits, All That Glitters, it charted in 1981 and Gary started to make his comeback playing college and club venues and various guest spots and collaborations.


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Chart successes followed with “Dance Me Up" and one of the most popular Christmas records of all time "Another Rock N' Roll Christmas".


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For the next decade Gary Glitter was an in-demand live performer. Keen to keep himself solvent he had several business interests including music and record label and a successful Snack Bar in the west end of London. All fared well at first but eventually folded. In 1999, Paul Gadd was convicted on child pornography charges in the UK, and was afterwards listed as a sex offender. The King of Glam’s reputation was greatly tarnished, and though he continued releasing new music, Gary Glitter’s popularity declined sharply. His debauched and depraved behaviour eventually caught up with him and in 2015, the former pop star was sentenced to 16 years in prison for sexually abusing three young girls between 1975 and 1980. BBC TV's Top of the Pops (TOTP) has subsequently removed the recordings of GG's from their show videos.


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The Glitter Band were formed to support Gary. The line-up included John Rossall (trombone and musical director), Gerry Shephard (lead guitar and vocals), Pete Phipps (drums and keyboards), Tony Leonard (drums), John Springate (bass and vocals) and Harvey Ellison (saxophone). As the Glittermen they enjoyed several best sellers in the mid 70s away from their lead singer. Eventually to disassociate themselves from the scandals of Gary Glitter, they renamed themselves, The G Band but could not find another hit single. Music tastes had changed and glam rock was no longer in vogue. In 1977, as The Glitter Band they release of "Look What You've Been Missing", co-written by John Rossall and Gerry Shephard.


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Reviewed 8/05/2021

Friday, June 4, 2021

Chas McDevitt (The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group)



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Charles (Chas) James McDevitt was born in Eaglesham, Ayrshire, Scotland in 1934. The family moved to Camberley, Surrey where he grew up. As a teenager he suffered a long illness and during this time developed a liking for American Blues and Jazz. He taught himself to play the banjo and later joined a local college jazz band called The High Curley Stompers. In 1955 McDevitt moved to London and played with the Crane River Jazz Band. Fellow band members included Ken Colyer, Sonny Morris and Marc Sharratt.


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Keen to progress he also busked and performed in a skiffle group with blues singer Redd Sullivan (The Thameside Four). Quickly they established themselves as coffee bar favourites and appeared regularly at the 2Is Coffee Bar and other Soho Jazz Clubs. Chas McDevitt became a featured artist at the Cy Laurie Jazz Club and during the intervals as a trio with Marc Sharratt still (washboard) and Pete Timlett (piano) later joined by guitarists Dennis Carter and Alex Whitehouse. In 1956, Oriole Records recorded a demo the group’s version of Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train” (composed by Paul James and Fred Williams).


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The group regularly played "Freight Train" as part of their live set and featured it in a talent contest promoted by Pye Records on Radio Luxembourg. Bill Varley, their new manager suggested they recruit a female vocalist to help them stand out from other skiffle groups and they asked a Scottish folk singer called Nancy Whiskey (1935 – 2003) to join them. They re-recorded Freight Train with Nancy as lead vocalist and when the single was released in 1957 it reached # 5 in the UK Singles Chart. Riding high on chart success the group toured Europe and America featuring on the Ed Sullivan Show.


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Chas McDevitt Skiffle Band had a second lesser hit with `Greenback Dollar' on which Nancy was again vocalist.


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The popular skiffle group made guest appearances in a couple of movies including The Tommy Steele Story (Rock around the world) (1957); and The Golden Disk (1958). When Nancy left the band at the height of ther fame, she was replaced by Irish singer, Shirley Douglas (1939 - 2013), who later married Chas McDevitt. Dennis Carter and Alex Whitehouse also left the group to form a rival group, i.e. The Oldtimers Skiffle Group.


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New members came and went including Jimmie MacGregor, Tony Kohn, Lennie Harrison and bass player, Bill Bramwell as the group continued tp tour extensively.


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Once the skiffle phase had passed the The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group broke up in 1959. They did reform briefly in the 80s for festival performances with Chas McDevitt, Marc Sharatt, John Paul and Nick Lawrence. The Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group still survive with Steve Benbow (lead guitar), Jack Fallon (bass) and Chas' daughter, Kerry on vocals and washboard. Occasional members include Martyn Oram (fiddle), Mike Martin, (guitar and banjo) and Richard Sharp (bass).


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Reviewed 4/06/2021

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Summer of Love and beyond



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In the mid-sixties youth broke into two rival factions: the nouveaux moderns or mods who were followers of black music and designer clothes; and the macho rockers, or neo Ton-Up boys. Both styles had started in the fifties but now there were enough young people around to support a dual culture.


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Mods evolved from the new moderns and had linage to the Skiffle movement of the 50s. Sixties Mods wore designer suits and shoes, or parkas with light dessert boots for their Italian scooters. They listened to black music from North America and gathered in discotheques.


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Greasers continued the swashbuckling tradition of the earlier Ton Up boys with knee length leather boots, tight jeans, white T shirts, and leather jackets. They were rock’n’roll fans and congregated in the old dance halls preferring to maintain the dance steps of the previous decade.


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Needless to say, these groups did not enjoy each other's company and began to terrorise the English coastal towns by fighting each other. Mods and rockers fought over the beaches of south coast England wearing the trademarks of their generation, i.e. boots verses shoes.


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Few in the fashion industry could predict Mod fashions and for a short time anyway chaos ruled within the rag trade. Whilst most young idealists followed the road to enlightenment and self-discovery many rejected materialism and dropping out. This was displayed symbolically by going barefoot. In the Era of the hippies the sandal (thong) became part of the accepted outfit along with kaftans, bells, loons and Afghan coats.


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Open air festivals became all the rage and dancing was more self-expression with little interaction between partners. The dance style of the time resembled folk dancing of ancient times. Experimentation with mind altering drugs meant less well co-ordinated movements were common and hence no need for supportive footwear.


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When soldiers returned from Vietnam suffering battle fatigue some found themselves unable to adjust to civilian life. Alternative lifestyles such as nomadic bikers became more popular. Membership of the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Clubs (1%' ‘rs) grew in vast numbers.


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The teenage cult movie "Easy Rider" for once did not depict the standard adolescent fun and games at high school but instead dealt with real adult themes living in a country still divided by prejudice. 'Easy rider` also assured the urban cowboy image was legitimised and the Hollywood cowboy boots, a macho icon forever.


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Reviewed 2/06/2021

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Marmalade



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Glaswegians, William "Junior" Campbell met Patrick “Pat” Fairley both enjoyed playing rock roll and inspired by the Everly Brothers and Cliff Richard the Shadows, the boys formed a band in the early sixties. Junior Campbell (instrumentalist, vocalist), Pat Fairley (bass guitar), Billy Johnson (bass) and Tommy Frew (drums) became the Gaylords and played at local clubs. Later Bill Irving and Raymond Duffy, replaced Billy Johnson and Tommy Frew respectively and the quintet’s format was complete when Thomas McAleese (Dean Ford) joined them as the singer. Dean Ford and the Gaylords became one of Scotland’s most popular groups but like many others in the early 60s had little chance to get a recording contract. The group regularly supported visiting acts and were regulars on BBC Radio Scotland but real success failed them despite their undoubted popularity within Scotland. Eventually they were signed by EMI-Columbia in 1964. Their debut single "Twenty Miles," sold well in Scotland, but failed to chart nationally.


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The group relocated to London and fellow Glaswegian, Graham Knight replaced Bill Irwin. Despite more efforts to crack the charts their records failed and fame eluded them. Things changed when the Gaylord’s changed their management at the request of their friends, The Tremoloes manager Peter Walsh, recommended a change of name and The Gaylords now Marmalade became the resident band at the Marquee Club, London. In 1965, CBS Records signed Marmalade and their first single under the new label was "It's All Leading up to Saturday Night," but despite showing how the group had improved no commercial success came.


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The group persevered and their two bass players gave them a unique sound. Their next single "Can't Stop Now" (with Alan Whitehead as the group’s drummer) did well in the US, getting to number one on some State charts.


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Marmalade were a hard working band and getting more and more exposure as well as winning the admiration of fellow artists such as Jimi Hendrix. However chart success was not forthcoming and they were all but ready to give up when in 1968 they recorded "Lovin' Things." The single sold well and gave the group their first UK hit.


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Their next single was a cover version The Beatle’s "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," from the White Album The song became number one hit in the UK and sold millions of copies around the world.


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Marmalade was delighted with their success but a bit embarrassed because the sound was too commercial for their tastes, however, their record company was keen they continued in the same vein. Keen to lose the ‘bubblegum’ tag they changed labels and released “Reflections of My Life," an original composition by Campbell and Ford incorporating pop/rock and harder progressive elements. The single went to the top of the UK and US charts.


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The follow up single "Rainbow," also sold well.


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By 1970, Marmalade was in serious internal strife and Junior Campbell left the band to pursue a successful solo career.


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Hugh Nicholson (former Poets) joined Marmalade and shared the vocals. Junior Campbell continued to do the band’s arrangements and Marmalade’s music changed back to rock’n’roll. Alan Whitehead was eventually replaced by Dougie Henderson (Poets). By 1972, Pat Fairley decided to give up performing, and took over as the band's publicist and coordinating publishing activities. In the same year they were back in the charts with "Radancer.


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As the years passed new lineups followed until Dean Ford was the only original member. By this time Marmalade were more like Status Quo but as music tastes changed their popularity slipped. Peter Walsh grabbed the opportunity and used Alan Whitehead and Graham Knight as the basis for a relaunched Vintage Marmalade. Sandy Newman (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Charlie Smith (guitar), made up the new format and they had a surprise hit with "Falling Apart at the Seams," in 1977. This was the group's last chart success. Marmalade continued with different formations to entertain live audiences.


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Dean Ford continued as a solo performer and released a self-titled LP in 1975 then later, worked on a project with former Marmalade band member Hugh Nicholson. When his solo efforts failed to attract attention he moved to US in 1979. Now battling alcoholism, he dropped out of the music business. The royalties from "Reflections of My Life" keep him financially afloat, and in 1986 with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, Ford was sober. Gradually he turned to music again by appearing in small clubs and open-mic venues. In 2002, he was back in the recording studio with a revamped The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (SAHB) and they recorded a version of Dancing In The Rain for a Tribute to Frankie Miller album. He continued touring with The Sensational Alex Harvey Band.


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Later in 2012, Dean worked with Joe Tansin (Badfinger) and recorded a notable version of "Reflections of My Life". Dean Ford passed away aged 73 in 2018.


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In 2020, Jayvee Tv (Youtube) reviewed "Reflections of my life" . The DJ had never heard the song before and his reaction would have pleased Dean and Junior Campbell no end.


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Reviewed 1/06/2021 Worth a listen:
Lovin' Things (1968)
Wait For Me Mary-Anne (1968)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (1968)
Reflections Of My Life (1969)
Rainbow (1970)
Cousin Norman (1971)
Radancer (1972)
Falling Apart At The Seams (1976)

Reviewed 1/06/2021

FIRST TIME HEARING MARMALADE REFLECTIONS OF MY LIFE REACTION



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