With its pounding piano, loud guitars, and bubblegum-sticky melody, Hello’s 1972 debut single “You Move Me” epitomized the glam side of pop. Written and produced by Russ Ballard (Argent, America), the Bell label 45 inaugurated a roughly seven-year run for the Tottenham band. All of Hello’s A- and B-sides for Bell, Arista, and Polydor have recently been collected by Cherry Red’s 7Ts imprint on The Complete Singles Collection. This set is a companion to 7Ts’ 2016 box set Hello: The Albums.
Bob Bradbury (vocals/rhythm guitar), Keith Marshall (lead guitar/backing vocals), Jeff Allen (drums), and Vic Faulkner (bass) first came together with young lead singer Caroline Hall as The Age, but with Hall’s departure, they were rechristened Hello. The 40 sides on this collection (including post-Hello solo turns from Jeff Allen) reveal that the group attracted some of the most notable behind-the-scenes names of the period including Ballard, Mike Leander, and Phil Wainman. They were more versatile than their hits would indicate; their first B-side, Ballard’s “Ask Your Mama,” is soft pop with a Seekers-esque guitar figure. But Leander’s production of 1973’s “Another School Day” b/w “C’mon Get Together” built on Ballard’s template to lend Hello a tougher glam sound similar to that of Gary Glitter whom they supported on tour.
Hello scored their first U.K. hit (No. 6) with an amped-up 1974 revival of Bert Berns’ Exciters classic “Tell Him” modeled after the version recorded by The Glitter Band under Leander’s supervision. They failed to have the same success with an equally fashionable reinvention of Scott English and Larry Weiss’ “Bend Me Shape Me” which had come to Hello from The American Breed via Amen Corner. (Amusingly, the liner notes remind us that Hello was booted from an Osmonds tour around the time of this single, with the promoters finding them “unsuitable” to support the clean-cut American family group.)
Russ Ballard gave the group its second and final U.K. hit (No. 9) with 1975’s stomping, echo-laden “New York Groove.” Kiss’ Ace Frehley did almost as well with the song in the U.S. in 1978 when his rendition reached No. 13. Hello attempted to follow it up with Ballard’s “Star Studded Sham,” but lighting didn’t strike twice. (Or three times. Russ’ 1977 “Let It Rock” was another sideways rewrite of “New York Groove;” it was a moderate hit in Germany only.) A subsequent association with producer/writer Phil Wainman (Bay City Rollers, The Sweet) yielded results that wouldn’t alienate a longtime Hello fan but moved the group in a more mainstream rock direction. The big, anthemic “Love Stealer” scored well in Germany even if the U.K. was seemingly ready to say goodbye to Hello.
The band’s next couple of sings were released in Germany only as Hello transitioned to Clive Davis’ new Arista Records label, built from the ashes of Bell. 1976’s “Seven Rainy Days,” written by Jeff and Chris Allen and Keith Marshall and produced by Richard Myhill, was an appealing slice of smooth pop-rock but Hello’s next single went even further. 1977’s “Shine on Silver Light,” written by Jeff Allen, Bob Bradbury and Keith Marshall and produced by Colin Frechter and Bill Kimber, embraced melodic, orchestral soft rock. It’s all but unrecognizable from the previous songs on this collection, and it’s not hard to imagine Clive Davis, with his ear for a well-crafted song, having had a hand in its selection. A German single release yielded a minor hit with the rhythmic dancer “Good Old USA” and then Hello’s final U.K. release on Arista came with “Heart Get Ready for Love,” a poppy confection from Dominic Bugatti and Frank Musker (Air Supply, Paul Nicholas) that was also recorded by Cilla Black, The Dead End Kids, and a reconstituted Herman’s Hermits. The band bid farewell to Arista altogether with the ironically uptempo, guitar-heavy ode to “Slow Motion” (with its “coughing” hook and odd lyrical callback to Randy Newman’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come”) in December 1977 but returned on Polydor in September 1978.
Complete Singles Collection concludes with Hello’s Polydor singles including a slick revival of The Jeff Beck Group’s “Hi Ho Silver Lining” and the disco-oriented “Feel This Thing.” The latter is heard in both its 12-inch extended version and its 7-inch single edit (though not in a third, even shorter 7-inch edit issued to DJs). Once Hello disbanded, Jeff Allen went solo, and three solo sides from him – including two under the pseudonym Local Boy Makes Good – round out the set.
The B-sides throughout the set are frequently as solid as the As. Hello’s second-ever single featured “The Wench” on its flip, the first group composition to make a 45. Soon, most of the band’s B-sides and a fair number of A-sides were being written by band members. “Lightning,” the flip of “Tell Him,” had the same hand-clapping swagger and brash Leander production style. The band’s own lusty and urgent admonition to “Do It All Night,” galloping “Little Miss Mystery,” and bouncy “Out of Our Heads” are among the strongest B-sides from Hello’s Bell era. At Arista, Bob Bradbury’s “Rebel” combined a pub rock lead with a stadium sing-along chorus; Allen, Bradbury, and Marshall’s “Gotta Lotta Soul” backed “Shine on Silver Light” but harkened back to the glam days.
Frequently the B-sides didn’t match the sound of the As – such as the match between “Heart Get Ready for Love” and the driving “Voodoo Eyes,” or the blistering “Slow Motion” with the Beatles-esque (and cowbell-laden!) “The In Place”- leading to a sense of musical schizophrenia. Eagle-eyed readers will also notice that “Another School Day” appears twice on this set. Its second appearance as a B-side (backing “Let It Rock”) utilized the unique album mix, hence its inclusion.
Phil Hendricks has provided the detailed track-by-track notes in the colorful 28-page booklet while James Bragg has remastered; sound quality is variable from track to track, but there’s no information as to the sources used. While the band didn’t break any new musical ground, fans of the U.K. glam sound will likely want to say Hello to Complete Singles Collection.
- You Move Me (Bell 1238-A, 1972)
- Ask Your Mama (Bell 1238-B, 1972)
- C’mon (Bell 1265-A, 1972)
- The Wench (Bell 1265-B, 1972)
- Another School Day (Bell 1333-A, 1973)
- C’mon Get Together (Bell 1333-B, 1973)
- Tell Him (Bell 1377-A, 1974)
- Lightning (Bell 1377-A, 1974)
- Games Up (Bell 1406-A, 1975)
- Do It All Night (Bell 1406-B, 1975)
- Bend Me, Shape Me (Bell 1424-A, 1975)
- We Gotta Go (Bell 1424-A, 1975)
- New York Groove (Bell 1438-A, 1975)
- Little Miss Mystery (Bell 1438-B, 1975)
- Star-Studded Sham (Bell 1470-A, 1976)
- Jenny Dream (Bell 1470-B, 1976)
- Teenage Revolution (Bell 1479-A, 1976)
- Keep Us Off the Streets (Bell 1479-B, 1976)
- Love Stealer (Bell 1482-A, 1976)
- Out of Our Heads (Bell 1482-B, 1976)
- Seven Rainy Days (Arista Germany 1C 006-98435-A, 1976)
- Rebel (Arista Germany 1C 006-98435-B, 1976)
- Let It Rock (Arista Germany 1C 006-98822-A, 1977)
- Another School Day (LP Mix) (Arista Germany 1C 006-98822-B, 1977)
- Shine On Silver Light (Arista 99-A, 1977)
- Gotta Lotta Soul (Arista 99-B, 1977)
- Good Old USA (Arista Germany 1C 006-99286-A, 1977)
- Midnight Strangers (Arista Germany 1C 006-99286-B, 1977)
- Heart Get Ready for Love (Arista 130-A, 1977)
- Voodoo Eyes (Arista 130-B, 1977)
- Slow Motion (Arista Germany 1C 006-60143-A, 1977)
- The In Place (Arista Germany 1C 006-60143-B, 1977)
- Hi-Ho Silver Lining (Polydor Germany 2040 210-A, 1978)
- Too Much Hesitating (Polydor Germany 2040 210-B, 1978)
- Feel This Thing (Polydor Germany 2040 233-A, 1979)
- Back Seat Talking (Polydor Germany 2040 233-B, 1979)
- Feel This Thing (12-Inch Extended Version) (extended version of Polydor 2040 233-A, 1979)
- Horoscope – Local Boy Makes Good (Arrival PIK 1-A, 1981)
- Hypnotic Rhythm – Local Boy Makes Good (Arrival PIK 1-B, 1981)
- Good Times – Jeff Allen (Polydor/Arrival 2040 339-A, 1982)