Monday, June 18, 2012

The Genuis of Graham Gouldman: on 45

GRAHAM GOULDMAN-The Impossible Years/No Milk Today RCA Victor 47-9453 U.S. 1968

Manchester's very own Graham Gouldman is best known for the string of hits he provided to The Hollies, The Yardbirds and Herman's Hermits to name but a few. With his own band, The Mockingbirds, such chart success eluded him despite his knack for songwriting and possessing great voice (he fronted The Mockingbirds).  Between early 1965 and late 1966 the band cut five amazing, but commercially unsuccessful singles in the U.K. (two on Columbia, one on Immediate and the final two on Decca).  Shortly before the last Mockingbirds single ("How To Find A Lover" Decca F12510 October 1966) Gouldman released the soulful ""Stop! Stop! Stop! (Or Honey I'll Be Gone)" as his first solo single on Decca (F 12334) in the U.K.  It too failed.  Undeterred he plugged on and released another U.K. only solo single ("Upstairs Downstairs" backed with a funky Hammond/Mellotron instrumental called "Chestnut" as RCA 1667 in February 1968) and oddly a bit later in 1968 he was rewarded with a U.S only LP called "The Graham Gouldman Thing" (RCA Victor LSP 3954).  It was comprised of 11 tracks, all Gouldman originals, many of which were previously recorded by other artists.  The original sleeve production credits go to Peter Noone, of Herman's Hermits, though Gouldman was adamant in an interview quoted on the Edsel CD reissue that Noone had little involvement after an initial visit and the bulk of the LP's work was done by the brilliant touch of John Paul Jones with help from Eddie Kramer and session drummer extraordinaire Clem Cattini with Gouldman providing guitar.

"The Impossible Years" was the first of two singles launched in the U.S. to promote the album. It was previously released as the fourth solo 45 by fellow Mancunian Wayne Fontana in November of 1966 (Fontana TF 770 U.K.). Gouldman's ode to the difficult times of a blooming teenage girl are perfectly rounded out by immaculate orchestration (strings and woodwinds) courtesy of John Paul Jones and strong lead vocals by Graham. It easily blows the Wayne Fontana version away on all counts. "No Milk Today" previously a smash hit for Herman's Hermits (# 7 in the U.K. and #35 as a U.S. B-side) doesn't fare as well as the A-side for my ears, it almost sounds as though Gouldman is going through the motions.  Regardless it's a great track, just not as amazing as it's topside.

Both sides are available on the CD reissue of "The Graham Gouldman Thing".  And for a well done piece on his brilliant 60's career pop over here for a look:

Hear "The Impossible Years":

Hear "No Milk Today":

1 comment:

Monkey said...

Never heard "The Impossible Years" - love it.