I am partial to Peter & Gordon,
I have always been partial to tea,
I can take or leave London*
*(though if I were to take it I would take North London where I stayed with friends in my salad days).
Peter and Gordon are strange cats.
Though distinctly English they seem to have had more success in the USA. Anything in the US Top 10 is worth, in returns, as much as a #1 in the UK as the market is so much bigger and, as a result, it is so much harder to get a Top 10 (especially a #1 … that’s why one hit wonders are revered as wonders, perhaps). And, Peter and Gordon had three Top 10 hits and a #1 in the US (they had another five Top 20 songs). If that's not enough they had more chart longevity in the US … charting through to 1968 (their last chart success in the UK was in 1966).
Their non-threatening appearance and clear desire to cover American tunes from both the rock and pre-rock era, as well as their sympathetic ear for country music, probably gave them access to that part of (middle) America that didn’t care for the long hairs from across the pond.
Check out my other entries for biographical detail on Peter and Gordon.
Peter and Gordon were perhaps best known for their big hits from mid-60s and their Beatles link, two of those hits being written by Paul McCartney (“A World Without Love”, “Nobody I Know”) and the fact that McCartney dated Peter Asher’s sister, Jane, at the time.
Like a lot of British Invasion bands their popularity waned quite quickly and, today, they are occasionally mixed up with Chad & Jeremy, and, David & Jonathan (and, as an aside, Peter Asher is sometimes mistaken for Austen Powers (and that’s not a bad thing perhaps)).
They never became as identifiable as other male duo’s of the time like the Righteous Brothers (who had a distinctive soulfully implacable sound) and Simon & Garfunkel (who were influential in folk rock), Jan & Dean (who were wedded and iconic in their surf sound) or the Everly Brothers (the most distinctive rock 'n' pop duo stylists of them all) though they shared elements of them all.
They also brought something to that pop duo table, and that is a knack for mixing pure pop, trad pop and Tin Pan Alley without fear.
These songs are British beat based, safe and aimed at mainstream radio but, whether it be the times, or the personalities of Peter and Gordon, there is usually a bit going on that gives the music an edge over other pop. It may be the decision to experiment (but not in an avant garde way) with the new sounds of the day or the song selection which is from all over the musical spectrum but there is something interesting going on.
Their three late 60s’ albums never saw an English release. ‘Lady Godiva’ was an EMI export (import) only, whilst the other two (including this album their second last) only had US releases, as the duo’s popularity was still quite high in the States. That's not to say they didn't have a following in England – they were obviously popular enough to be used for the title song to a reasonably major English film like "The Jokers".
But, their big hits had dried up and I suspect they didn’t know they were on the way out because, when you are living it, you don’t always assume that the pop music world would be that quickly fickle.
Well, with hits you would think that you had more than four years.
It also probably didn't help (though it wasn’t unusual) that the album releases weren't matching up with when the hit singles were on the charts. The LPs were lagging at least a couple months after the singles had fallen off the charts, an eternity in a pop market that was still singles-driven.
And they had other problems which took away from the “fun”:
As a duo, they were at a disadvantage on concert tours” … Gordon Waller: "We didn't have a regular backup group. So on tour we had to make do, and it was frustrating because we didn't even have a keyboard player in those days. That would have made a lot of difference in the way we carried on. If we'd had a proper band, we probably would have lasted longer." "Echoes of the Sixties" (www.editpros.com/echoes_ebook.html).
Q – You stopped having hit records in 1967. Would that be accurate?
A – '67, '68, something like that. Yeah.
Q – Why would that have been? What was the problem there?
A – 'Cause we weren't making records. In the end it all comes down to enjoying it and making money. The actual artistic side of it got to the stage where it wasn't worthwhile financially going out, in other words sometimes we went out on tours where we actually lost money. So, it was purely a promotional tour. That really shouldn't have been us taking the burden of that. That should've been down to the record company.
But here they sound optimistic and committed. There is more of a “Swinging London" sound overlayed on a mixed bag of American and English tunes. The guitar is aggressive and some soul-ish horns give it the big
They had stepped back from the slick big orchestrations on their preceding albums.
This is nothing less than pleasing and a lot less grating than similar big pop of the time.
Recorded in England, Mike Leander arranged and conducted the musical accompaniment, and John Burgess produced.
Tracks (best in italics)
- London at Night – (Cat Stevens) – This was a "lost" (never recorded by its composer) Cat Steven's song, It was written about searching for love in London at night. I would have thought that would be dangerous. It is quite good, the song that is.
- The Jokers – (Mike Leander-Charles Mills) – A very good pop song. From the Michael Winner film starring Oliver Reed and Michael Crawford. Mike Leander and Charles Mills, who also wrote two of the duo's preceding hits, "Lady Godiva" and "Knight in Rusty Armour."
- I'm Your Puppet – (Oldham-Penn) – In soulful dramatic style this is not something you often associate with Peter and Gordon but it works. A US #6 pop, #5 R&B hit for James & Bobby Purify in 1966. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27m_Your_Puppet
- Here Comes That Hurt Again – (Allen Toussaint) – First released by Lee Dorsey (1966) on his “Ride Your Pony – Get Out Of My Life Woman" album. This comes off as a big beat Manfred Mann type song
- You've Got Your Troubles – (Greenaway-Cook) – Often covered, the song became a #2 UK hit for The Fortunes in the UK in 1965. A reasonable version. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27ve_Got_Your_Troubles
- Sally Go 'Round the Roses – (Sanders-Stevens) – Often covered this was a US #2 Pop hit in 1963 by female vocal group The Jaynetts. The original version was unusual compared to other pop songs of the day, with a spooky, ominous, musical ambience with obscure and opaque lyrics. This is quite good with British Beat influences overlaid. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sally_Go_%27Round_the_Roses
- Sunday for Tea – (Carter-Lewis) – written for Peter & Gordon by English songwriters Ken Lewis and John Carter (formerly of “Carter-Lewis and the Southerners" and "The Ivy league"). A good tea song with a ye olde mixed with light psych influences. This evokes another time beautifully. There have been many great tea songs, “Tea for Two” (Doris Day – 1950), “Tea for the Tillermann” (Cat Stevens – 1970), ‘Everything Stops for Tea” (Long John Baldry – 1972), "Afternoon Tea" (The Kinks – 1967) and the magnificent “Have a Cuppa Tea” (also by The Kinks – 1971). And another good example of something with a distinctly English theme charting in the US (#31 pop) and not at home.
- Red, Cream and Velvet – (Gordon Waller) – an original. Very good with a Dylan goes British Beat feel.
- Stop, Look and Listen – (Breedlove-Brown) – First release by Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders in 1964 (#37UK). Big pop.
- Please Help Me, I'm Falling – (Don Robertson-Hal Blair) – Peter and Gordon loved the drama in American country music and this has a lot of drama. The first recording was by country singer Hank Locklin who had a big crossover hit with it in 1960 (US #1Country, #8 Pop). Peter and Gordon were one of the first “big” acts to cover it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Please_Help_Me,_I%27m_Falling
- Goodbye My Love – (Swearingen-Simington-Mosely) – Originally recorded by the co-writer Robert Mosley in 1963, though identified with R&B singer Jimmy Hughes, who released a version in 1964. The Searchers then had a beat hit with it (UK #4, US#52) in 1965. Quite good but not distinctive.
Not the best Peter and Gordon album but there is nothing wrong with it. It is quite pleasant … I'm keeping it.
1967 Sunday for Tea #31 Pop
1967 The Jokers #97 Pop
London at Night
I'm Your Puppet
Here Comes That Hurt Again
You've Got Your Troubles
Sally Go 'Round the Roses
Sunday for Tea
Red, Cream and Velvet
Stop, Look and Listen
Please Help Me, I'm Falling
Goodbye My Love