Rockingscots is a website dedicated to Scottish beat groups and rock bands from the '60s and early'70s. Visit the Rockingscots homepage for more groups or to e-mail us.
Before we start - some camera phone pics
from The Only Ones gig in London - Sat 9 June 2007.
Well done Alan Mair in getting another band back on stage.
A great night. 'The Beast' was just the business.
Now to the main event
Stalking the Beat 1962-1969 (complete singles + 2 extras)
click here to buy.
First up - never actually saw the band! Initially reliant on some encyclopedia of rock, that we can't find now to name check, for chunks of the text - those parts have been italicised. All pics from the collection of Stuart Prentice from Lanark, Scotland. Cheers Stuart. Before the above CD came out in 2005 tape and CDR copies of their output had been obtained from three contributors - (1) Stuart again; (2) an unknown collector of Scottish '60s rock from Dumfries (he used to run a wee secondhand bookshop in Academy Street) and (3) Mark Vanderkerke of Keekaboo records in Ghent, Belgium. Many sides were also available on compilation CDs of freakbeat or psychedelia etc.
Personnel: DAVIE LENNOX - vocals; EDDIE CAMPBELL - organ; RONNIE SMITH - guitar and vocals; ALAN MAIR - bass. 'TUDGE' WILLIAMSON - drums (replaced by JEFF ALLEN in late '60s).
A Glasgow band, sometimes referred to as The Scottish Beatles in their early days, although when they signed to Decca in 1965, they moved down to London. In their early days their live repertoire was drawn from originals, black America and less well known Rolling Stones cuts. They had a mod image and built up a very loyal audience around Glasgow before moving South.
A couple of big lads in this band!
ALAN MAIR in close-up. In the late 1960's and early 1970s he ran a boutique in Kensington market selling hand made clothes and especially shoes & boots. Everybody bought them. Platforms, stacked heels, fancy patterns and colours. Freddie Mercury was a sales assistant until Queen started to break big. In the late '70's early '80s Alan played in the magnificent 'Only Ones' - of 'Another girl Another planet' fame etc. Check out Alan's website at: http://www.fieldofone.homechoice.co.uk/ where he gives a comprehensive interview on the band and thereafter. A further short interview with Alan can be found below.
1967 saw a label change to CBS and a new line-up. In their later days they were managed by Kenneth Pitt who also looked after David Bowie's affairs. At Pitt's suggestion they recorded some of Bowie's songs:- Silver Treetop School For Boys, Everything Is You and When I'm Five.
By 1969 the band were in terminal decline and when their van was stolen with all their equipment in it they packed it in. Eddie Campbell was later in Tear Gas and Jeff Allen went on to play for Dr. K's Blues Band and then East Of Eden (he also did a John Peel session with Blue - see Blue page). Alan Mair eventually joined The Only Ones - see above. Lennox was a member of The Joe O'Donnell Band in 1978.
The band released seven singles in their career. Here's a few words on what they sound like plus some pics.
1 Everybody's Talking 'Bout My Baby/Mr. Disappointed
(Decca F 12259) 1965
Dominated by a great organ riff. A medium paced pop/R&B number it is faintly reminiscent of the 1965 Small Faces. A sequence of march-shouted 'Hey, Heys' is catchy too in place of a middle eight. Interesting lyric - Everybody's taking 'bout his baby though he's not sure what she is supposed to have done. Nevertheless, "He's gonna do something about it!" What she did and he then did about it remain rock n roll mysteries. 'Mr Disappointed' is just brilliant with its "talkin' 'bout D-I-S, Mr Disappointed" chorus, organ solo and chinking guitar chords.. Shame this song is not longer. Written by one of the men later responsible for 'Puppet on a String' and 'Congratulations' no less. Well worth seeking out.
2 Left Right Left/ You'd Better Get A Better Hold On
(Decca F 12352) 1966
More good r&b on the second single and again worth searching out. ' Left Right Left' is the poppier of the two sides. Organ riff based again with screaming vocals on the chorus. The (guitar based at last) b-side is a Joe South song with stomping beat and rabid fuzz guitars, shouting soul sections - possibly nearer to their live act of the time.
3 A Love Like Yours/Base Line (Decca F 12460) 1966
A-side is a straightforward Tamla number by Holland/Dozier/Holland. No solo. OK but generally unremarkable. The B-side is apparently an instrumental version of the Troggs '"I can only give you everything". Initially sounded to me more like an instrumental reworking of 'Everybody's Talking' and 'Left, Right, Left'. I'm persuaded otherwise now though - Cheers Lenny.
4 My One Chance To Make It/Ain't Got No Soul (Left In
These Old Shoes) (CBS 2732) 1967
The A-side is a ballad. Not unpleasant, half interesting, well constructed lyric with bass phrases to the fore. Nothing else going for it though.. Now the B-side has real great guitar lines running all through it. Played at a frantic pace this was a Major Lance composition and a popular Northern soul number.
5 Silver Treetop School For Boys/Sugar Chocolate Machine (CBS 3105)1967
A Bowie composition for the A side. Bowie also sang backing vocals. So one for collectors. English whimsy psychedelia whereby the singer recounts his days at a minor public school full of odd schoolmasters. The boys do their best with it. One drug reference in the lyric - "Everyone just loves the grass at Silver Tree Top School for Boys". B-side is an original!!! and not a bad one at that. More psychedelic whimsy but more working class - scratching loved ones names on coffee stalls etc. Three changes of tempo and beat, peace references, sitar like guitar, piano outro - very 1967. Too bad they didn't write anything else.
6 Rain Coloured Roses/Everything Is For You (CBS 3557) 1968
The A-side is one of those English whimsy-psych tracks complete with toytown-esque lyrics and trumpets. You find the type on those 'See for Miles' compilations. Has a certain period charm as such tracks do. The b-side is a curio only in that it is a Bowie composition. Here he parodies the 'Howard-Blaikley' song writing team's efforts for DDBM&T. Our hero is a lumberjack oppressed by his evil foreman. Luckily he has a bird somewhere to think about - "Your strength is in the axe I wield" etc - I ask you!.
7 When I'm Five/Little Boy (CBS 3936) 1969.
Another Bowie penned A-side. Like others I used to think this was absolute tripe and the worst side the group recorded. It might still be the latter but it has grown on me especially since obtaining a good conditioned version. Bowie's lyrics are reasonably insightful once given a decent study. The final flip side, Little Boy, was a version of an unreleased Action recording. What a high note to go out on. Lyrics not great but fantastic fuzz guitar and organ. The outro is very like the end of 'Let there be more light' by Pink Floyd from 'Saucerful of Secrets'. Can be found on one of those psych compilations.
A short interview with Alan Mair for Rockingscots.
Rscots: Alan, the interview by Lenny Helsing on your own site is fairly comprehensive wrt the band- as was the recent one on BBC Radio Scotland interview so we'll be brief but a bit anorakish.
The group in 2005. Ronnie, Alan & Dave plus Jeff (inset). News of the World 27.11.05
More Pics From Stuart Prentice's Collection