Check my other Peter & Gordon comments for background and other ramblings.
Peter & Gordon are a strange birds.
They are folk, they are MOR, they are pop.
They wrote their own songs. They did many covers.
Maybe they were trying to cover all the bases.
They weren't the vanguards of any revolution. They were no threat.
But their music is easy listening at worst, sublime on the senses at best.
Look, early on I found it easy to mix them yup with Chad & Jeremy and maybe a couple of the other "someone and someone" groups but if you listen to them enough you realise they do have their own sounds and they write their material to that beat. Their covers (which are quirky and at times eccentric and imaginative in selection) are all manipulated to fit in with that sound.
And how well it woks depends on how much of their sound you can take.
The starting point is the era. It was the 1960s and you have to like the 60s sound, and I do.
Sixties pop is wonderful and when that pop was applied to folk or country or traditional music it all seems to work to my ears.
Does it have to be weighty, lofty and earth shattering?
It was pop. But from that came some of the greatest hum-able, toe tappable and feel good-able (?) music ever.
That's enough isn't it?
Peter & Gordon have a "thing" for pre-Beatles 60s tunes and for Elvis tunes. I'm not sure why but given I love both of those things so I'm not complaining.
There is a tendency to think of the British Invasion acts as inventing something new … they weren't they were just repackaging what the Americans had already sent to England and importantly all of them had grown up on Elvis and pre-Beatles music. That is what they loved and perhaps (probably) got them into music in the first place. So when the opportunity for a cover comes up it's a no brainer to reach back into your musical memory (even if its fairly recent) and pay homage to those artists your love.
This was Peter & Gordon's third album in the US and, again, (much like fellow Britshers, The Animals) this US release is a mishmash of UK releases and bears little resemblance to anything specific in England. The front sleeve here was taken from their second English album "In Touch with Peter & Gordon" (1964) which only shares three of the same tracks (A Mess Of Blues, I Still Love You, I Don't Care What They Say). Tears Don't Stop, What You Gonna Do 'Bout It, Someone Ain't Right, All Shook Up are from the UK "Hurtin' 'N' Lovin'?" LP (1965). Th e other songs are made up of "I Go To Pieces" and "If You Wish", and two tracks only issued in the United States ("Sleepless Nights" and "Good Morning Blues").
This isn't perfect and may be derivative but smarts, skill and imagination means these guys are miles ahead of other British Invasion acts like Herman's Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Freddie and the Dreamers and probably a few others ….
Tracks (best in italics)
- I Go To Pieces – (Del Shannon) – The saga of this song makes good reading. Check the link below. This is supreme pop and Peter & Gordon do justice to the song but I heard the version by Shannon (which was recorded in March 1965) and I love his version best. Still a great song is a great song …
- Sleepless Nights – (Felice Bryant) – The Everly Brothers tune from 1960. Very familiar, but good Everly Brothers teen romance ballad. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepless_Nights_(Everly_Brothers_song)
- Tears Don't Stop – (Gordon Waller, Peter Asher) – A nice pop tune.
- If You Wish – (Gordon Waller, Peter Asher) – A good beat song in the style of the early Beatles (circa their first album)
- All Shook Up – (Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell) – Peter & Gordon have turned this familiar Elvis tune on it's head and made it into a slow blues. It's not a dirty blues but a blues nevertheless. Elvis apparently came up with the song title but Blackwell wrote the song. David Hess recorded it first in1957 but Elvis' version a couple of weeks later went to #1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Shook_Up
- Whatcha Gonna Do 'Bout It – (Doris Payne, Gregory Carroll) – The Doris Troy R&B song from 1964 (also done by The Hollies in 1964 and Cilla Black in 1965). This was quite the American song for British beat bands to cover. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27cha_Gonna_Do_About_It
- Good Morning Blues – (Alan Lomax, Huddie Ledbetter) – Leadbelly from the early 40s but often revived on compilations of his work. Ypu know this osn't too bad. It's not authentic but it's not meant to be. Peter & Gordon have captured the blues feel without sounding ridiculous.
- Someone Ain't Right – (Doris Payne, Gregory Carroll) – Doris Payne is Doris Troy. New York born singer-songwriter Doris Troy (Doris Higginson, 1937-2004) moved to Britain after she charted there with "What'cha Gonna Do About It". She became a regular on the Ready Steady Go TV show and wrote and released songs. Co-writer Gregory Carroll (John Carroll, 1929-2013) had been in 50s vocal groups including The Four Buddies, The Orioles and The Dappers and he, and Troy both sang in gospel group The Halos, as well as in the R&B backing vocal group The Cues. Quite good and catchy.
- A Mess Of Blues – (Pomus-Shuman) – Elvis' #32 (US) hit in 1960 but in England in the same year it went to # 2. The original is magnificent but this is quite good and shows how the beat sound could be overlaid on earlier tunes without too much difficulty. Apparentlt that's Brian Jones from THe Rolling Stones on (some fine) harmonica. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mess_of_Blues
- I Still Love You – (King) – I don't know much about this song but this reminds me of English pre-Beatles pop rock. Quite nice.
- I Don't Care What They Say – (Gordon Waller, Peter Asher) – Another, "why did you have to break my heart" song. Which is actually one of the lines. Nice.
I like this … I think I'm keeping it.
1965 I Go To Pieces The Billboard Hot 100 #9
I Go To Pieces
All Shook Up
Live later, circa 2008
A Mess Of Blues
if you want to untangle their US discography