Cherry Red has recently unearthed another pair of seventies pop gems on their Esoteric and RPM imprints, respectively, from Hudson-Ford and Roger James. Both titles will hit stores this Friday, August 24.
Daylight was the 1977 CBS Records debut of Hudson-Ford, a.k.a. Richard Hudson (guitar/vocals/sitar) and John Ford (vocals/bass/guitar), formerly of The Strawbs. Their fourth album as a duo, Daylight was produced at the label’s behest by Robin Geoffrey Cable, a Trident Studios engineer who went on to produce records for Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Webb, Dwight Twilley, and Chris De Burgh. Cable enlisted a number of outside musicians to aid in giving a sleek, contemporary sound to Hudson-Ford. Disco was nodded at on songs like “Shy Girl” and the brassy “Simple Man,” though more often the sound reflected what would later be described as “yacht rock” with slick yet funky backings plus brass and strings. The inspiration of The Beatles can be discerned, as well, especially on the lovely , baroque-tinged “Poor Boy,” which started with an introduction at the end of Side One of the original vinyl, and then opened Side Two in its full version. In fact, the Fabs’ associate Richard Hewson provided the album’s string charts.
Cable wasn’t the only producer represented on Daylight, however. The team of Rupert Holmes and Jeffrey Lesser, both of whom had already worked with The Strawbs, came in to produce a pair of songs. “95 in the Shade” made the final cut for Daylight, with “Lost in a Lost World” assigned as a B-side. Happily, it’s among the bonus tracks here. Holmes and Lesser brought their signature, expansive “widescreen” style to both songs incorporating orchestration and harmonies into the textured productions. Ford mentions in Malcolm Dome’s fine liner notes that he felt that the melodic gem “Lost in a Lost World,” arranged and conducted by Holmes, should have been an A-side, and it’s hard to disagree.
Daylight proved to be the final Hudson-Ford album, and Esoteric has expanded it for its official CD debut. The original 12-track album has been joined by four single versions including the non-LP tracks “Waterfall,” “Sold on Love,” and the aforementioned Holmes/Lesser production. Ben Wiseman has remastered from the original CBS Records master tapes.
Roger James, born Roger Scarrott, had been a presence in the British music business since the early 1960s, playing with artists like Danny Storm and performing under monikers like Rod Ace and The Fireballs, Robbie Hood and The Merry Men, and Robbie James. He formed his own Roger James Trio in 1962 but continued to back other artists. In 1965, The Roger James Four was signed to the U.K. Columbia label. Upon the departure of a member of the quartet, they transformed into The Hobby Shop. Further changes came and went for this musical Zelig including a short stint on NEMS Records, a label set up in the wake of Brian Epstein’s death. He crossed paths with Don Arden, Les Reed, Les Vandyke, The Beatles, Marianne Faithfull, and others, but it was Reed who signed James to the Chapter One label which he had founded in 1968. At Chapter One, James released a string of melodic pop treasures.
Riding Free, from RPM Records, collects not only James’ album of the same name but his various other recordings including his four NEMS recordings and both sides of his three Chapter One singles released in 1971-1972. The album, Riding Free, was originally intended to be produced by Alan Tew, but it was ultimately cult hero Mark Wirtz (A Teenage Opera) who helmed most of it. (Two early versions of songs recorded with Tew are included here as bonus tracks, and they reveal a much different, more stripped-down approach to the album.) Wirtz brought in such session players as Yes’ Rick Wakeman and Pentangle’s Terry Cox, and sheathed James’ songs in rich production ranging from twangy country-rock territory (“I’m Sure That I’m Sure”) to the Bacharach soft pop arena (“If You Say So”) and orchestrated, singer-songwriter-style balladry (“The Return”).
RPM’s expanded reissue of Riding Free also adds four tracks recorded in 1974 for BBC Records’ Up Country, featuring James, Bill Stanley, Doug Perry, and Sandie Shaw’s drummer Terry Doe in full-on country-and-western mode. Austin Powell tells the James story in his compelling liner notes, and Simon Murphy has remastered all tracks. Note that the album cover is a still from the 1973 cult horror film Psychomania; James’ music as heard in the film is featured on this set.
Both Hudson-Ford’s Daylight and Roger James’ Riding Free are due this Friday, August 24, and available for pre-order at the links below!
- Out of Your Shadow
- Kiss in the Dark
- Shy Girl
- Let It Rain
- Poor Boy (Part I)
- Poor Boy (Part II)
- Simple Man
- Are You Dancing
- Wicked Lady
- 95 in the Shade
- Waterfall (CBS single S CBS 4243-A, 1976)
- Daylight (Single Version) (CBS single S CBS 4243-B, 1976)
- Lost in a Lost World (CBS single S CBS 4505-B, 1976)
- Sold on Love (CBS single S CBS 4654-A, 1976)
- It Took Someone Like You
- If You Say So
- I’m Sure That I’m Sure
- The End/Something Wonderful
- High Into the Sky
- The Return
- The Reason Why
- Riding Free
- She’s Leaving Me Again (from Up Country, BBC Records REC 179, 1974)
- I Wonder If She’ll Sometime Think of Me (from Up Country, BBC Records REC 179, 1974)
- Out of My Mind Over You (from Up Country, BBC Records REC 179, 1974)
- It Took Someone Like You (from Up Country, BBC Records REC 179, 1974)
- Gold (Chapter One single SCH 165-A, 1972)
- Lauretta (Chapter One single SCH 149-B, 1971)
- Whistling Jack (Chapter One single SCH 181-B, 1970)
- If You Say So (First Mix – Demo) (previously unreleased)
- The Return (First Mix – Demo) (previously unreleased)
- Faces and Places (NEMS single 56-3972-A, 1969)
- If You Try (NEMS single 56-3972-B, 1969)
- If I Didn’t Have You (NEMS single 56-3719-A, 1968)
- I Know It’s Love (NEMS single 56-3719-B, 1968)