Musical renaissance man Les Reed is responsible for some of the most beloved pop tunes of all time – “It’s Not Unusual,” “There’s a Kind of Hush,” and “The Last Waltz” among them. His songs have been recorded by Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Shirley Bassey, Petula Clark and Bing Crosby. Less well known is that Reed also founded a record label. His Chapter One Records was formed in 1968 and lasted until 1973, releasing music by a diverse collection of artists including Episode Six (a proving ground for Deep Purple), Mark Wirtz, arranger Robert Farnon, and Reed himself. Some of the label’s most intriguing offerings were collected in late 2014 by Cherry Red’s Grapefruit label. Shapes and Shadows: Psychedelic Pop and Other Rare Flavours from the Chapter One Vaults 1968-1972 features 26 selections from the Chapter One discography.
Due to its Deep Purple connection, Episode Six is probably the best-known band from the Chapter One roster. Roger Glover (bass) and Ian Gillan (lead vocals) were mainstays of the group between 1965 and 1969, during which time they were joined by a somewhat fluid line-up. The various sounds explored by Episode Six – among them pop, psychedelia and blues-rock – certainly played a role when Gillan and Glover helped shape Deep Purple’s commercial heavy rock style. Episode Six is represented here with four tracks including the pop nugget “Lucky Sunday.”
Songwriter-producer Mark Wirtz (A Teenage Opera) recorded under a number of names, one of which was The Matchmakers. Cherry Red’s RPM imprint recently reissued the entire output of Wirtz’s bubblegum studio creation on Bubblegum A Go-Go; a couple of the Matchmakers’ singles appeared on Chapter One including “Thank You Baby (For Coming)” and “Lovers’ Congregation.” Both are reprised here. The Matchmakers’ tracks weren’t the only appearances on Chapter One. He also released Philwit and Pegasus, an ambitious successor to A Teenage Opera. “The Elephant Song,” featuring vocals by John Carter of The Flower Pot Men, appears here from that project. It was in reality a plea for racial tolerance but, according to Wirtz, was banned by the BBC when the institution believed it to be about bestiality!
Many of the tracks here boast unfamiliar names though the personnel is anything but. Before Chris Neil went on to produce Mike + the Mechanics (“The Living Years”) and Celine Dion (“Think Twice”), he’d recorded for a number of labels including Chapter One, where he went by the single name of Christopher. Both sides of his lone Chapter One single, “Sharkey” b/w “The Race,” are included here.
Les Reed himself, naturally, is represented on a few tracks here. As songwriter, he co-wrote with Barry Mason both The March Hare’s “Cry My Heart” and Episode Six’s “Gentleman of the Park.” As artist and songwriter, he’s responsible for “Big Bare Beat,” credited to The British Lion Orchestra and Les Reed. The track was featured in the erotic 1968 Marianne Faithfull/Alain Delon film Girl on a Motorcycle. Along with Reed and Mason, another of the most famous British pop songwriting teams of the sixties is featured here. Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway’s “You’ve Got Your Troubles,” a 1965 hit for The Fortunes, was reinvented in psychedelic style by the Wolverhampton-based The Californians (!) in 1969.
Shapes and Shadows, licensed directly from Les Reed, includes a 16-page booklet with David Wells’ copious notes about all of the artists represented, and Simon Murphy has remastered. This exciting compilation of psych-pop is available now at the links below!
- Putney Bridge – What’s It All About (CH 129, 1970)
- Episode Six – Lucky Sunday (CH 103, 1968)
- The Bliss – Lifetime (CH 107, 1969)
- Philwit and Pegasus – The Elephant Song (CH 137, 1970)
- Jason Cord – Spring Never Came Twice (CH 110, 1969)
- Episode Six – Mozart vs. the Rest (CH 104, 1969)
- Putney Bridge – Your Turn to Die (CH 135, 1970)
- Christopher – The Race (CH 121, 1970)
- Sad People – Turn Around (C H 113, 1969)
- The Matchmakers – Lovers’ Congregation (CH.R 127, 1970)
- The Californians – You’ve Got Your Troubles (CH 112, 1969)
- Episode Six – Mr. Universe (CH 103, 1968)
- Christopher – Sharkey (CH 121, 1970)
- The March Hare – Cry My Heart (CH 101, 1968)
- Morning Glory – Marjory Daw (CH 148, 1971)
- The Bliss – Courtyards of Castile (CH 107, 1969)
- Brother John – Brother John (CH 151, 1971)
- Sad People – Lonely Man (CH 113, 1969)
- Episode Six – Jack D’Or (CH 104, 1969)
- Putney Bridge – The Meaning of Love (SCH 163, 1972)
- The Matchmakers – Thank You Baby (For Coming) (Chapter One LP CMS 1004, 1971)
- Morning Glory – Munday Street (CH 140, 1971)
- The March Hare – With My Eyes Closed (CH 101, 1968)
- Episode Six – Gentlemen of the Park (Polydor LP 583 728, 1969)
- British Lion Orchestra and Les Reed – Big Bare Beat (Polydor LP 583 714, 1968)
- Tandem – Shapes and Shadows (CH 109, 1969)
All tracks from Chapter One singles unless otherwise indicated.