I love 60s music.
It was a pretty amazing decade musically and I’m not just talking about the obvious mainstream recollections of it: Merseybeat, surf music, soul, psychedelia, folk rock.
I love all the in-betweens and forgotten sounds: the frat rock, garage rock, country stylings, teen pop, Brill building pop, blue eyed soul, white R&B, beatnik experimentalism, avant-garde, dance craze music, cabaret pop and easy listening.
That doesn’t mean it’s all good though.
And, also sometimes a "sound" you find appealing will make something sound better than it is.
And that leads me to David & Jonathan (and many of their ilk).
I don't love English Merseybeat but I like it enough so that a band like David & Jonathan sound a bit better than they are.
They have, however, taken English beat and removed it’s rough edges, made it slick and available to all markets.
Producer George Martin's classical and trad pop background are all over this record with a full band sound with strings, horns etc which still "rocks" albeit very gently. Clearly he played a large part in the Beatles "orchestrated" pomp of the mid to late 60s.
The music is pleasant on the ears and quite appealing but there is very little substance. You find you are being seduced by the sound and the gentle cleaned up beat.
What they have created is sickly sweet pop for the masses which is cavity inducing given that Merseybeat was, pretty much, sweetened rock pop for the masses itself.
But, there is no denying that while the music is on the turntable it is pleasant.
Allmusic: With typical show-biz logic, David & Jonathan was the stage name for a duo comprised of two guys named Roger — Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway. Boasting smooth harmonies and lush melodies that suggested a less adventurous variation on the Walker Brothers, David & Jonathan were solidly in the more polished and studio-bound camp of the 1960s British pop scene, and were protégés of George Martin, who lent his production expertise to their recordings.
The beauty of David & Jonathan is that Cook and Greenaway were no mere puppets for George Martin. They had song writing skill and vocal talent (no matter how sickly sweet it is).
Wikipedia: “Both Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook were members of the close harmony group the Kestrels, and while on tour they decided to begin writing songs together. Their first was "You've Got Your Troubles", a No. 2 UK hit single for the Fortunes (1965), which also made No. 7 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was the first of several successes they enjoyed during the next few years. Later that year they began recording together as David and Jonathan. Their first single "Laughing Fit To Cry" did not chart, but they scored hits in 1966 with their cover version of the Beatles' "Michelle" and their own "Lovers of the World Unite". Their final single, "Softly Whispering I Love You", in 1967, was not a success at the time, but became a No. 4 UK hit in 1971 for the Congregation. In 1968 Cook and Greenaway announced that they would no longer be recording as a duo but would continue as songwriters.
Their hits as writers for other acts, sometimes with other collaborators, include: "Home Lovin' Man" (Andy Williams); "Blame it on the Pony Express" (Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon); "Hallejuah" (Deep Purple); "Doctor's Orders" (Sunny (UK) and Carol Douglas (US)); "It Makes No Difference" (Joe Dolan); "Something Tells Me (Something Is Gonna Happen Tonight)" (Cilla Black); "I've Got You On My Mind", "When You Are a King", "My Baby Loves Lovin'" (White Plains); "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress", "Gasoline Alley Bred", (The Hollies); "You've Got Your Troubles", "Freedom Come, Freedom Go" (The Fortunes); "Banner Man", "Melting Pot", "Good Morning Freedom" (Blue Mink); "Green Grass" (Gary Lewis & the Playboys); "New Orleans" (Harley Quinne); "A Way of Life" (The Family Dogg) and "Something's Gotten Hold of My Heart" (Gene Pitney)…. They also wrote "High and Dry" (Cliff Richard), which was the runner-up for the UK Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1968”.
They aren’t up there with the (more adventurous) Walker Brothers but they do sit comfortably alongside Peter & Gordon, and, Chad & Jeremy.
And, perhaps, because of their MOR stylings and George Martin's trad pop chops the music doesn't date as much as the other Merseybeat music
Tracks (best in italics)
- Michelle – (Lennon – McCartney) – Hey, they nail it. A facsimile of the Beatles original it may be but ….a great song. And a #18 in the US – not an easy thing to do (in the 60s)
- Laughing Fit to Cry – (Greenaway – Cook) – pleasant and very much in the Beatles style (circa 1964), though with strings.
- I Know – (Greenaway – Cook) – very ctachy
- Bye Bye Brown Eyes – (Herbert Kretzmer – George Martin) – pleasant
- A Must to Avoid – (P.F. Sloan – F. Barri) – very mid 60s US – sounds like something from a "hip" TV show.
- Every Now and Then – (Greenaway – Cook) – blah
- Let's Hang On – (Crewe – Randell – Linzer) – The Four Seasons #3 hit from 1965. (Jan & Dean covered it in 1966). A great song but very MOR here.
- Yesterday – (Lennon – McCartney) – They nail Lennon and McCartney again (well McCartney actually).
- 'Bye Now – (Greenaway – Cook) – hmmm
- This Golden Ring – (Greenaway – Cook) – pleasant
- You've Got Your Troubles – (Greenaway – Cook) – Written by David & Jonathan it was a #2 two hit for the Fortunes in the UK and a #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States in 1965.
- The End is Beginning – (Greenaway – Cook – Martin) – blah.
Hmmm …. I’m undecided as to whether I will keep this or not.
1966 Michelle Adult Contemporary #3
1966 Michelle The Billboard Hot 100 #18
Surprisingly, despite the strong single and the general hoop-la with the British Invasion the album failed to chart.
- The band were from Bristol not Liverpool. (forget about "Michelle" there should be a "Judy", no?)
- Maybe they should have called themselves "The Two Rogers" or "The Jolly Rogers". Maybe not.