Don’t Knock Upon My Door – Six Dozen Great British ‘B’ Sides

RHGB48

When I first became interested in Pop music, back in the late 50s, my pocket money wouldn’t stretch to records so I had to try and blag what I could from sundry uncles, aunts and cousins. The trouble was, their unwanted oldies were invariably either cracked old Embassy 78s or ancient, pre-R&R crooners/dancebands/novelty items, so my embryonic ‘record collection’ was crap!  A few years later, when I started earning money of my own (eleven-and-six a week – my first paper round!), I began to hang around local junk shops, where you could pick up old 45s for a couple of bob each.  And this was where my obsession with B-sides began.  Back then, I couldn’t afford to waste money on records which didn’t have two good sides… consequently, once I’d begun collecting seriously, I had a rack of ‘special’ 45s whose flips I preferred to their designated top decks.  Some of these I’m delighted to share with you on this compilation, which presents a generous six dozen of the finest British Killer B’s issued between 1957 and 1962.  As you’ll hear, many of these were wholly wasted as flips; several are long-forgotten goodies which were tacked onto the backs of significant hits, a couple even dented the UK charts under their own steam, while others simply appeared on the flips of obscurities which disappeared without a trace, nowadays mourned by just a handful of sad old vinyl junkies.

The earliest side featured herein is The Vipers Skiffle Group’s take on the traditional ‘Maggie May’, which in April ’57, as the flip of their top tenner ‘Cumberland Gap’, also briefly made the Record Mirror Top 20.  Another great early Skiffle B-side was Johnny Duncan’s frantic ‘Rock-A-Billy Baby’, while Terry Wayne’s, Jim Dale’s and Laurie London’s featured flips are all of a similar vintage.

By common consensus, Britain’s finest rocker was the mighty Billy Fury, whose self-penned ‘Don’t Knock Upon My Door’ was arguably thrown away as a lower deck.  Fortuitously, a particularly fine live clip has survived of Bill singing it on Oh Boy!, (NB: its top deck, ‘Colette’, was itself a real belter, and gave Bill his first Top 10 hit).  But Oh Boy!’s principal star was, of course, Cliff Richard, whose biggest-selling UK 45 was the theme song to his hit movie The Young Ones; tucked away on t’other side was the romping ‘We Say Yeah’, which remains a huge fans’ favourite.  Cut from much the same cloth were Marty Wilde’s ‘It’s Been Nice’ (the flip of his magnificent ‘Bad Boy’) and Tommy Steele’s ‘Give! Give! Give!’ (which dented the NME Top 30 after its topside, ‘Tallahassee Lassie’, had made the Top 20), whilst artists like Vince Taylor, Johnny Kidd (his ‘I Want That’ is a great lost/forgotten classic), Joe Brown, Lance Fortune (his ‘Action’ would have made a tremendous A-side), Vince Eager, The Vernons Girls and Michael Cox were also, of course, all hugely popular, fellow Oh Boy! and Boy Meets Girls regulars.

Meanwhile, over on the BBC, a new R&R-oriented TV show, Drumbeat, was introducing fresh names and faces under the musical direction of trumpeter/bandleader/arranger John Barry, whose augmented Seven Plus Four’s bizarre, pizzicato string-driven arrangement of Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Movin’ On’ was a real killer B. Drumbeat’s biggest star, by a long shot, was the diminutive Adam Faith (whose ‘Knocking On Wood’ wholly eclipsed its disappointing A-side, ‘Baby Take A Bow’), while other regulars on the show included The Lana Sisters (who famously included a teenage Dusty Springfield), Anthony Newley (his catchily-commercial ‘It’s All Over’ sounds like it ought to have been an A-side), Ricky Valance and former John Barry Seven singer/rhythm guitarist Keith Kelly.

Lonnie Donegan, of course, transcended all TV/Radio shows and genres. By the late 50s he was firmly established as a major star and he’d begun to stretch out musically, his Anglicised version of Ernest Tubb’s ‘Talking Guitar Blues’ (wasted, frankly, on the flip of ‘San Miguel’) being a prime example.  Conversely, Emile Ford, who suffered equally from synaesthesia and “his own worst enemy” syndrome, never quite became as big a star as he perhaps should.  Perpetually at odds with his record company, Emile wanted ‘That Lucky Old Sun’ issued as an A-side, whereas they insisted on going with ‘Slow Boat To China’ (mind you, Pye were right – it reached No.3!)

It took The Shadows a while to get going (they’re represented here by ‘Midnight’, the flip of the ubiquitous ‘F.B.I.’), but once established, they opened the floodgates for a UK Instro scene which was remarkable for its quality, if not always its commercial success.  In their wake, groups like The Outlaws, The Krew-Kats, The Fentones, The Ted Taylor Four, The Eagles, Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers, and solo artists like Rhet Stoller and even dear old Bert Weedon, routinely cut great double-sided 45s, whilst worldwide chart-toppers The Tornados even briefly threatened The Shads’ status as the UK’s premier Instro Group.  Ironically, after bassist Jet Harris left The Shadows he found himself asked to sing on a couple of B-sides, both solo (‘Chills and Fever’) and with fellow ex-Shad Tony Meehan (‘Footstomp’).

Elsewhere, early Brit Girls could also usually be relied upon for double-sided value – check out the sides herein by Helen Shapiro (‘Marvellous Lie’ made for a magnificent flip), Susan Maughan, Julie Grant (her ‘Lonely Sixteen’ was far better than its limp topside), The England Sisters, Carol Deene and even 50s’ favourite Alma Cogan – while a youthful Dusty Springfield pops up again in The Springfields.

By the turn of the 60s a new, slicker breed of Pop Singer had begun to emerge, guys like John Leyton, Eden Kane, Mike Berry, Shane Fenton, Jimmy Justice, Dave Sampson, Kenny Lynch, Jackie Lynton, Billy Boyle and a whole batch of Everlys wannabes, including The Allisons, The Brook Brothers, The Dowlands and Carter, Lewis & The Southerners.  Again, they all cut some great 45s, many with stunning flips – check out Eden’s ‘I’m Telling You’, Jimmy’s ‘Write Me A Letter’, Kenny’s ‘Jump On Your Broomstick’, Jackie’s ‘Don’t Take Away Your Love’, Billy’s ‘Held For Questioning’, The Allisons’ ‘Blue Tears’ and The Brooks’ ‘Double Trouble’.  Somewhat less slick, perhaps, were Frank Ifield, Karl Denver, Bill Forbes (with the spectacularly non-PC ‘Backward Child’) and old-timer Frankie Vaughan, who nonetheless got in on the act with ‘Rachel’, the dramatic, big beat ballad flip to his chart-topping ‘Tower Of Strength’.

Finally, among the less readily-known artists, there were further Killer B’s from Derry Hart & The Hartbeats, Lee Diamond & The Cherokees, The Big Jim Sullivan Combo (whose ‘Jackie Atom’ was, in fact, songwriter Trevor Peacock, who’d penned ‘Hot Hiss Of Steam’), Davy Jones, Bobby Angelo & The Tuxedos, Grant Tracy & Sunsets (their ‘Tears Came Rolling Down’ was highly redolent of Del Shannon), Perry Ford, Danny Davis and in particular, Jimmy Powell (quite how ‘Sugar Babe’ failed to make the charts defies belief) while Danny Rivers’ lilting ‘Waiting For Tomorrow’ and Houston Wells’ driving ‘North Wind’ remain firm favourites among fans of maverick indie producer Joe Meek.

Roger Dopson

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DISC ONE

  1: Billy Fury • Don’t Knock Upon My Door

Decca F 11128, May 1959 (A-side: “Colette”)

  2: The Krew Kats • Peak Hour

HMV POP 840, March 1961 (A-side: “Trambone”)

  3: Marty Wilde • It’s Been Nice

Philips PB 972, Dec 1959 (A-side: “Bad Boy”)

  4: Grant Tracy & The Sunsets • The Tears Came Rolling Down

Ember S148, March 1962 (A-side: “The Great Matchmaker”)

  5: Ricky Valance • Fisherboy

Columbia DB 4592, Feb 1961 (A-side: “Why Can’t We”)

  6: Jimmy Justice • Write Me A Letter

Pye 7N 15457, Aug 1962 (A-side: “Spanish Harlem”)

  7: Julie Grant • Lonely Sixteen

Pye 7N 15461, Aug 1962 (A-side: “When You’re Smiling”)

  8: Michael Cox • Don’t Want To Know

Triumph RGM 1011, June 1960 (A-side: “Angela Jones”)

  9: The Vernons Girls • We Like Boys

Parlophone R 4624, Jan 1960 (A-side: “Boy Meets Girl”)

10: Anthony Newley • It’s All Over 

Decca F 11163, Sept 1959 (A-side: “Someone To Love”)

11: Jet Harris • Chills & Fever

Decca F 11466, May 1962 (A-side: “Besame Mucho”)

12: Danny Rivers • I’m Waiting For Tomorrow

Decca F 11294, Nov 1960 (A-side: “Can’t You Hear My Heart”)

13: Shane Fenton & The Fentones • Fallen Leaves On The Ground

Parlophone R 4866, Jan 1962 (A-side: “Walk Away”)

14: The Shadows • Midnight

Columbia DB 4580, Feb 1961 (A-side: “F.B.I.”)

15: Adam Faith • Knocking On Wood

Parlophone R 4964, Nov 1962 (A-side: “Baby Take A Bow”)

16: Jackie Lynton • Don’t Take Away Your Love

Piccadilly 7N 35055, June 1962 (A-side: “Wishful Thinking”)

17: Carter, Lewis & The Southerners • My Broken Heart

Ember S165, Oct 1962 (A-side: “Tell Me”)

18: The Dowlands • Don’t Ever Change

Oriole CB 1781, Nov 1962 (A-side: “Big, Big Fella”)

19: The Brook Brothers • Double Trouble

Pye 7N 15441, May 1962 (A-side: “Just Another Fool”)

20: Eden Kane • I’m Telling You

Decca F 11381, Aug 1961 (A-side: “Get Lost”)

21: The John Barry Seven plus Four • I’m Movin’ On

Columbia DB 4505, Sept 1960 (A-side: “Walk Don’t Run”)

22: Lance Fortune • Action

Pye 7N 15240, Feb 1960 (A-side: “Be Mine”)

23: Carol Deene • It Happened Last Night (At The Movies With You)

HMV POP 1086, Nov 1962 (A-side: “James (Hold The Ladder Steady)”)

24: Lee Diamond & The Cherokees • Josephine

Fontana H 310, May 1961 (A-side: “I’ll Step Down”)

25: The Eagles • March Of The Eagles

Pye 7N 15473, Oct 1962 (A-side: “Exodus”)

26: Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group • Talking Guitar Blues

Pye-Nixa 7N 15237, Nov 1959 (A-side: “San Miguel”)

27: Karl Denver • Lonely Sailor

Decca F 11470, May 1962 (A-side: “A Little Love, A Little Kiss”)

28: Bert Weedon • Fury

Top Rank JAR 582, Sept 1961 (A-side: “Ghost Train”)

29: Bill Forbes • Backward Child

Columbia DB 4566, Jan 1961 (A-side: “You’re Sixteen”)

30: Kenny Lynch • Jump On Your Broomstick

HMV POP 1090, Nov 1962 (A-side: “Up On The Roof”)

31: The England Sisters • Heartbeat

HMV POP 710, Feb 1960 (A-side: “Little Child”)

32: The Outlaws • Fort Knox

HMV POP 1074, Oct 1962 (A-side: “Sioux Serenade”)

33: Davy Jones • Mighty Man

Pye 7N 15254, March 1960 (A-side: “Amapola”)

34: The Ted Taylor Four • Canyon

Oriole CB 1628, Aug 1961 (A-side: “Cat’s Eyes”)

35: The Big Jim Sullivan Combo featuring Jackie Atom • Hot Hiss Of Steam

Decca F 11387, Sept 1961 (A-side: “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got”)

36: Jimmy Powell • Sugar Babe (Part 2)

Decca F 11447, March 1962 (A-side: “Sugar Babe (Part 1)”)

 

DISC TWO

  1: Johnny Kidd • I Want That

HMV POP 978, Jan 1962 (A-side: “Hurry On Back To Love”)

  2: Billy Boyle • Held For Questioning

Decca F 11503, Sept 1962 (A-side: “My Baby’s Crazy ’Bout Elvis”)

  3: Houston Wells & The Marksmen • North Wind

Parlophone R 4980, Dec 1962 (A-side: “Shutters And Boards”)

  4: Jim Dale • Don’t Let Go

Parlophone R 4402, Feb 1958 (A-side: “Sugartime”)

  5: Laurie London • Up Above My Head

Parlophone R 4499, Nov 1958 (A-side: “3 O’Clock”)

  6: Johnny Duncan & The Blue Grass Boys • Rock-A-Billy Baby

Columbia DB 3959, July 1957 (A-side: “Last Train To San Fernando”)

  7: The Vipers Skiffle Group • Maggie May

Parlophone R 4289, March 1957 (A-side: “The Cumberland Gap”)

  8: The Tornados • Jungle Fever

Decca F 11494, Aug 1962 (A-side: “Telstar”)

  9: John Leyton • Six White Horses

HMV POP 956, Dec 1961 (A-side: “Son, This Is She”)

10: The Lana Sisters • Tell Him No

Fontana H 190, April 1959 (A-side: “Mister Dee-Jay”)

11: The Fentones • Lover’s Guitar

Parlophone R 4899, April 1962 (A-side: “The Mexican”)

12: The Allisons • Blue Tears

Fontana H 304, May 1961 (A-side: “Words”)

13: Bobby Angelo & The Tuxedos • Skinny Lizzie

HMV POP 892, July 1961 (A-side: “Baby Sittin’”)

14: Jet Harris & Tony Meehan • Footstomp

Decca F 11563, Dec 1962 (A-side: “Diamonds”)

15: Rhet Stoller • All Rhet

Decca F 11271, Sept 1960 (A-side: “Walk Don’t Run”)

16: Joe Brown • Stick Around

Piccadilly 7N 35000, April 1961 (A-side: “Crazy Mixed-Up Kid”)

17: Susan Maughan • I Didn’t Mean What I Said

Philips 326533 BF, Aug 1962 (A-side: “I’ve Got To Learn To Forget”)

18: Keith Kelly • Uh Huh

Parlophone R 4676, July 1960 (A-side: “Listen Little Girl”)

19: Emile Ford & The Checkmates • That Lucky Old Sun

Pye 7N 15245, Jan 1960 (A-side: “Slow Boat To China”)

20: Vince Eager • No Love Have I

Top Rank JAR 307, Feb 1960 (A-side: “Lonely Blue Boy”)

21: Frankie Vaughan • Rachel

Philips PB 1195, Nov 1961 (A-side: “Tower Of Strength”)

22: Dave Sampson • 1999

Columbia DB 4597, March 1961 (A-side: “Why The Chicken?”)

23: Alma Cogan • Don’t Read The Letter

Columbia DB 4607, March 1961 (A-side: “Cowboy Jimmy Joe”)

24: Helen Shapiro • Marvellous Lie

Columbia DB 4670, June 1961 (A-side: “You Don’t Know”)

25: Danny Davis • Lullabye Of Love

Parlophone R 4796, June 1961 (A-side: “Talkin’ In My Sleep”)

26: Perry Ford & The Sapphires with The Blue Flames • Prince Of Fools

Decca F 11497, Aug 1962 (A-side: “Baby, Baby (Don’t You Worry)”)

27: Nero & The Gladiators • That’s A Long Time Ago

Decca F 11413, Dec 1961 (A-side: “Czardas”)

28: Derry Hart & The Hartbeats • Come On Baby

Decca F 11138, May 1959 (A-side: “Nowhere In This World”)

29: Mike Berry • How Many Times

HMV POP 1041, July 1962 (A-side: “Every Little Kiss”)

30: Peter Jay & The Jaywalkers • Redskins

Decca F 11531, Nov 1962 (A-side: “Can-Can ’62”)

31: Tommy Steele • Give! Give! Give!

Decca F 11152, July 1959 (A-side: “Tallahassee Lassie”)

32: Vince Taylor & His Playboys • Move Over Tiger

Palette PG 9020, Aug 1961 (A-side: “What’cha Gonna Do (Southern Love)”)

33: Terry Wayne • Plaything

Columbia DB 4035, Nov 1957 (A-side: “Slim Jim Tie”)

34: The Springfields • Good News

Philips PB 1168, July 1961 (A-side: “Breakaway”)

35: Frank Ifield • Hoebe Snow

Columbia DB 4568, Jan 1961 (A-side: “That’s The Way It Goes”)

36: Cliff Richard & The Shadows • We Say Yeah

Columbia DB 4761, Jan 1962 (A-side: “The Young Ones”)