Covers and Originals


Every now and then I’ll try out a paragraph from this new book and invite comments. So here goes:

“During the Rendezvous and Birdcage days, very few of the British bands played ‘original’ material – the majority of R&B, soul and blues bands, covered American recordings for most of their set. John Mayall frequently wrote original lyrics but mainly in the form and style of the post-war 12-bar blues, Chris Farlowe’s material included songs by contemporaries like Jagger & Richards but on the whole the range of acts, whether Downliners Sect, Graham Bond, the Vagabonds, the Action, or Geno Washington found their live material on others’ records – even when as with the Action, their arrangements and style brought something unique to the covers. The Who, like the Beatles, were an exception from their fairly early days with some fine Townshend-penned singles, and so too Ray Davies with the Kinks. Locally, very few Portsmouth bands were playing any original songs as 1967 arrived – they were generally expected to cover well-known material in whatever genre – but that would change quite soon for some of them”.


Author: pompeypop

University lecturer, longtime local musician and recently historian of popular music - especially in and around Portsmouth. My blog is entirely about that topic

9 thoughts on “Covers and Originals

  1. I feel one big change for one of our local ‘stars’ might be on the way , now that P&O has taken Joe Jackson & Steppin’ Out for its new ad campaign…………………Bit of a good feeling everytime it plays……A Gosport Goodie….

  2. He is an extraordinarily talented musician – one of the most able to emerge from Pompey on the popular music scene. I hope he’ll get loads of dosh for it!

  3. Was that true of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound?

    • About writing? I don’t think they wrote much in those early days – certainly not “I See the Light” or “Kites”. Their stage act included lots of the classic soul covers in 1966 & 1967 – maybe they wrote some flip sides like “It is Finished”? If Tony’s looking in, he can tell us more.

      I think what generally happened when local bands got deals to record/tour they were encouraged to write because the management could then sort out their publishing and get a bit more dough. That happened (briefly!) with Harlem Speakeasy. But as a local band up to about 1967 it was generally the done thing to play covers your audience would recognise.

      Incidentally, nice to hear from you Tim – Happy New Year!

      • Happy New Year Dave!
        Where the Small Faces writing their own material as Marriot/Lane or was that later?
        Realise they weren’t Pompey based!

  4. Not sure how much they wrote in their Birdcage days but a good question Tim. I think they appeared twice in 1966 so I might add them after the mention of Ray Davies – cheers

    • I think you’ll find they wrote most of their recorded material,although the dreadful Don Arden made them record the Kenny Lynch penned ‘Sha La La La Lee’ in order to go top 10 as shown in the recent All or Nothing musical- highly recommended if it comes back to the Kings

      • Many thanks Mr G. Harlem Speakeasy were exploited by Don Arden in a brief relationship which by a set of extraordinary coincidences led to our recording contract and agency deal – but no thanks to that awful man!

      • With more than a little help from Mort Shuman.


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