With the recently-released tenth volume of its year-by-year chronicle, Ace’s The London American Label series revisits 1965. Though America was swept up in the sounds of the British Invasion, Great Britain was still interested in the music from the United States – as evidenced by the 27 selections here drawn from 72 singles. That said, the tide was turning; London American issued 109 singles in 1964 and 177 in 1963. Hit-wise, though, the London American label yielded 11 chart records in 1965 compared to eight in 1964. Compiler Tony Rounce has done his usual stellar job in assembling a selection of the hits and the misses from the label’s catalogue – itself drawn from American labels like Kapp, Bang, Big Top, Philles and Valiant.
On the R&B front, this volume offers tracks from James Brown and His Famous Flames (“Have Mercy Baby,” “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. I”), underrated soul titan Lou Johnson (his dramatic vocal version of a Sidney Bechet jazz tune, “A Time to Love, A Time to Cry”), Inez and Charlie Foxx (“Mockingbird” wannabe “Hummingbird”), teenaged Philadelphia native Barbara Mason (“Yes, I’m Ready”) and Dobie Gray (the brassy and irresistible “The In Crowd.”) Displaying the breadth of London’s releases drawn from an ever-dwindling number of American labels, there’s garage rock (The Castaways’ future Nugget “Liar, Liar”) and proto-country rock from The Sir Douglas Quintet (folk adaptation “The Story of John Hardy”) and Jerry Lee Lewis (the updated rockabilly of “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia,” with its prominent chorus backing vocals).
Novelties or near-novelties abound here, too, like The Novas’ growled “The Crusher” and Jewel Akens’ “Georgie Porgie,” a retread of “The Birds and the Bees.” Shirley Ellis fared better with “The Clapping Song,” in the same vein as her “The Name Game.” The Simon Sisters – Lucy and Carly – are heard here with the sweet “Cuddlebug,” a folk-bossa hybrid written by then-folksinger and future Academy Award-winning actor Alan Arkin! French-born actor Charles Boyer has one of the oddest songs on this set, a recitation of The Addrisi Brothers’ “Where Does Love Go.”
Of course, lush pop was at somewhat of a zenith in 1965. Three Phil Spector productions are here – The Righteous Brothers’ majestic “For Once in My Life” and “Unchained Melody” and The Ronettes’ dreamy “You Baby” – and two from Burt Bacharach: his own renditions of “Trains and Boats and Planes” (recorded in the U.K. with The Breakaways on vocals) and “My Little Red Book” (with Tony Middleton handling the lead). The gorgeous pop-soul of Ruby and the Romantics’ “Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore” (heard here in a U.K.-exclusive single mix) and Lenny Welch’s thunderous “Run to My Lovin’ Arms” both found arranger Alan Lorber and producer Tom Catalano inspired to reach Spectorian heights.
A couple of songs here originated in Britain but arrived on London by way of America, like The Pageboys’ “When I Meet a Girl Like You” featuring Jimmy Page on guitar. (However, the studio band was named for producer Larry Page, not Jimmy.) Harmony group The Vogues had a hit in America with Tony Hatch and Petula Clark’s bubbly “You’re the One,” but when London issued the song in the U.K., Pye responded with Petula’s own version. Petula, of course, won out!
Tony Rounce provides track-by-track liner notes as well as an introductory essay for this set which has been remastered by Duncan Cowell. Full credits, discography and chart positions (both American and British!) are also provided. The London American Label 1965 is available now from Ace.
- Have Mercy Baby – James Brown and The Famous Flames (HL 9945)
- Just Once in My Life – The Righteous Brothers (HL 9962)
- A Time to Love, A Time to Cry – Lou Johnson (HLX 9994)
- The Story of John Hardy – The Sir Douglas Quintet (HLU 10001)
- You're the One - The Vogues (HLU 9996)
- Carry Me Back to Old Virginia – Jerry Lee Lewis (HLS 9980)
- Trains and Boats and Planes – Burt Bacharach, His Orchestra & Chorus (HLR 9968)
- The Crusher – The Novas (HLU 9940)
- You Baby – The Ronettes (HLU 9976)
- Georgie Porgie – Jewel Akens (HLN 9969)
- Your Baby Doesn’t Love You Anymore – Ruby and the Romantics (HLR 9972)
- When I Meet a Girl Like You – The Pageboys (HLU 9948)
- The “In” Crowd – Dobie Gray (HL 9953)
- Cuddlebug – The Simon Sisters (HLR 9984)
- Liar, Liar – The Castaways (HL 10003)
- Run to My Lovin’ Arms – Lenny Welch (HLR 10010)
- Out in the Sun (Hey-O) – The Beach-Nuts (HL 9988)
- Hummingbird – Inez and Charlie Foxx (HLC 10009)
- Teardrops (Every Step of the Way) – Tina Britt (HLC 9974)
- The Clapping Song – Shirley Ellis (HLR 9900)
- It’s Their World – Ernie Maresca (HLU 10008)
- Yes, I’m Ready – Barbara Mason (HL 9977)
- My Little Red Book – Burt Bacharach & His Orchestra featuring Tony Middleton (HLR 9983)
- It Hurts – Carolyn Carter (HL 9959)
- Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. I – James Brown and The Famous Flames (HL 9990)
- Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers (HL 9975)
- Where Does Love Go – Charles Boyer (HL 10002)
All catalogue numbers pertain to release on London, 1965.