Friday, 19 July 2013

Retro Vinyl: Hits 67 (Music For Pleasure, 1967)

I wouldn't usually venture into the world of cover albums by anonymous artists but I was thumbing through vintage vinyl in my local Healthy Planet recycle store the other week when Hits 67 (MFP 1089) caught my eye.

I remembered seeing this particular release promoted in the inner sleeve of a vintage MFP album as a child and thinking what a great track-list it possessed The Beatles' Penny Lane, The Monkees A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You and Englebert Humperdinck's Release Me.

One slight problem here Andy - it's not the original artists singing!

Hmmm but the sleeve of the album does have the question "Can you tell the difference between these and the original sounds?" So maybe these could be quite interesting!

The album kicks off with Edelweiss, that wonderful ballad from The Sound of Music taken to Number 2 by Vince Hill in 1967. The instrumentation on this version is pretty close to the original, while the vocalist doesn't do a bad version of the song. There are a few moments towards the end of the number where singer and music don't quite tally up.

Penny Lane is next. I have to say the vocals sound neither like The Beatles  or David Bowie (of who it has been suggested in recent times recorded this track). The singer doesn't do a bad job and the instrumentation is good especially the trumpet solo, but unfortunately the trumpet player seems to be totally out of sync with everybody else. A deliberate ploy perhaps to distinguish the cover from the original? After reading speculation that many seem to believe this is David Bowie I have to disagree, this doesn't sound anything like the guy who recorded The Laughing Gnome.

Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear does much better at attempting to emulate Alan Price's original imitating Price's piano skills and a pretty good vocal too.

Next up is A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You. This again sounds little like The Monkees original (or I'm sorry, David Bowie!), it is a good cover though and of the calibre I would expect to hear from a 60s inspired garage band.

Peek-A-Boo seems to play faithful to the style of The New Vaudeville Band as similarly does Memories Are Made of This to Val Doonican (complete with female vocal backing).

Side Two kicks off with a good version of Engelbert's Release Me, ballad brilliance which is equalled later by Green Green Grass Of Home, a Christmas 1966 Number One for Tom Jones.

A version of Whistling Jack Smith's I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman sounds like it was fun to make, while possibly the best anonymous cover here is Charles Chaplin's composition This Is My Song modeled on the Pet Clark version. The girl singer here even sounds like Pet Clark which must have been quite a scoop for the makers of this album. I wonder who she was?

There's a decent interpretation of I've Been A Bad, Bad Boy popularised by Manfred Mann's Paul Jones and the album closes on a high emulating the Georgie Fame sound with a version of Sittin' In The Park.

This was the first of many anonymous cover albums released by MFP (more famous are their Hot Hits series of the 70s) and was released in mono format only during 1967. It was produced by Bill Wellings who masterminded several anonymous cover version  releases for MFP and other record labels.

An interesting point of this album is that MFP made a huge effort to promote the release's budget nature by putting the price of 12'6 on the album cover. This was later upgraded to 13'11 causing the cover to be reprinted (or in some cases stickered). I actually found a sticker within my album that appears to have come away from the inner sleeve promoting the price change.

Anyway back to the albums original question. Can You Tell The Difference Between These And The Original Sounds?

My answer - yes! Definetely so on Edelweiss, Penny Lane and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You for the reasons I list above although I might have been fooled on This Is My Song!

Not a bad covers album on the whole though and very 60s in feel!

Read more on this and many other MFP covers albums at The Hot Hits LP Tribute Site. Also an earlier Bill Wellings produced album that features tracks from this LP Bill Wellings life before MFP

1 comment:

  1. I have this album! I brought it for £1 in 1991 in a charity shop in Sunbury, Middx. I was offered £50 for it my a friend at the time as they were sure it was David Bowie singing on it when he was a session musician. Anyway not sure. I still have the album, I'm playing it at the moment of typing as I googled it and found your blog ;o) I love the cover's artwork too!

    Charlotte

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