This version of Michelangelo by Jimmy Campbell was recorded for submission to BBC Radio Merseyside to celebrate their 50th Birthday. Billy Butler, a former Cavern DJ who has been with the station for over four decades, invited members of the music community to submit covers of songs released in 1967.
Jimmy Campbell tribute – 50 years since the release of Michelangelo.
In his lifetime, JimmyCampbell received very little recognition, despite being an excellent songwriter. Born in Liverpool, he was a member of the Merseybeat group the Kirbys. Apparently, they adopted this name following a mix-up by the Cavern Club Compare, Bob Wooler, who announced the area that they originated from instead of the band name, which was the Panthers (previously the Tuxedos). After becoming professional The Kirbys recorded for RCA under the management of Brian Epstein’s former secretary Beryl Adams. His songs were recorded by his contemporaries; the Escorts, the Merseys and the Swinging Blue Jeans.
Moving with the times and steering toward a more psychedelic flavoured sound the band changed their name to the 23rd Turn Off (an exit off the M6). The group’s first single was Michelangelo and was released on Decca’s Deram label in 1967. Very few of the Merseybeat artists, such as the Beatles, were able to successfully make the artistic transition from exciting beat music to credible psychedelia, but Jimmy did. There is a collection of tracks from this period called The Dream of Michelangelo it features recording by the Kirbys and some 23rd Turn Off demos.
He went on the record three albums as a solo artist for the Fontana label: Son of Anastasia (1969), Half-Baked (1970) and The Jimmy Campbell Album (1972). During this time he also worked with Billy Kinsley, of the Merseybeats, and recorded an album called Yes it is (1971) as Rockin’ Horse.
I’m not going to say too much about Jimmy’s music here as it is something I’d like to write more about in future.
In this recording I played the guitar and vocals live, that’s how I came to get the lyrics muddled in the last verse. I later doubled the vocal and added a shaker, tambo and a cymbal. The vocals were recorded using an Audio Technica AT4033 and the classical guitar was miked with a Rode NT3.
This song was written at a time when there was some discussions among family and friends about teardrop trailers, and how cool it would be to own one. The words teardrop trail found it’s was into a melody I was playing one day and eventually became this song. It was influenced, no doubt, by the sentiment of Leon Payne‘s Lost Highway, which was made famous by Hank Williams Sr. in the late 1940s.
I played the drums, bass and guitar over the track. The lead was played on an Eko Ranger. Ali Roberts sings from the final verse. The last thing I added to the track was some piano. I was going for a kind of Floyde Cramer thing, playing by ear. I’ve never had any formal music lessons and so the piano remains a fascinating mystery to me.
I was interested to learn that there is a real Teardrop trail; a hiking route in Vermont.
Alan Price has steadily become one of my favourite song writers. For too long I was only aware of his arranging skills on the classic Animals recordings, such as, House of the Rising Sun. His natural charisma and sense of humour are apparent in the short screen time he got in the Bob Dylan documentary, Don’t Look Back. As far as songwriting goes, I’m ashamed to admit, I had him written off as a kind of, Randy Newman, cabaret, cover artist. Sometimes it’s great to be wrong!
My curiosity was raised when I caught a clip from O Lucky Man! on YouTube. The song was Sell Sell Sell. From there I picked up hi 1974 LP Between Today and Yesterday, which I personally think is a masterpiece. Savaloy Dip, which was due for release in 1974, got pulled and was finally released in 2016. Had this been released fully at the time, I think Alan’s career would have received a welcome, and not insignificant, lift. So, while still enthused by the release of Savaloy Dip, I decided I wanted to see Alan perform live. A quick internet search revealed that he plays a regular spot, once a month, at the Bulls Head.
The Bulls Head is a riverside pub, built in 1684; it is one of the oldest pubs in the area. It has a rich history as a Jazz and Swing venue. The bar itself had a traditional, yet modern feel and served real ales and food. Although the food looked great, it was pricey (probably cheap for the Richmond area) and we were there to see music, not eat. Fortunately, right next door, was a little chippy which did a great curry and chips for just over a fiver. While we ate, we could see the band loading in. We noticed that they were loading in to the building behind the pub. Apparently, that used to be stables and got converted into a venue.
We began to queue and as we did you could hear the band sound checking. The night was a sell-out, as it is every month. For this event, a sell-out equated to about 100 people. We got a seat on the second row just to the side of Alan’s keyboard. The average age of the folks in the audience was about 65, which is great, because that meant I could still feel like a kid.
After not too much time, Alan took to the stage on his own and began playing. It was at this point I wish I’d brought some pen and paper, because I’m not entirely sure about the set list which followed. I thought he’d be using a Fender Rhodes sound, but instead, he had the most cheesy of all sounds; electric piano with string pads, combined. Nevertheless, it really works for him. His voice was powerful and bang in tune. After the first song he challenged an member of the audience who was standing up, filming, with his mobile phone. Alan said, “Right and you’re going to stop now aren’t you? Because it’s really bad manners.” With that business taken care of the rest of the band made their way on to the stage. The band consisted of Zoot Money on keys and vocals, Bobby Trench on Guitar and vocal, Peter Grant on Bass and Darby Todd on Drums.
Despite appearing to be rather grumpy, Alan does enjoy a natter on stage. Before he began he said that there is a point in most sets where the women will want to go to the bathroom. He continued, that he’d only won a BAFTA for this next section and they might get bored, so now was the time to go. “There’s no accounting for public taste is there?” he concluded. Fortunately no one moved; everyone was riveted. I didn’t expect to hear anything off that album, let alone a a handful. Alan lead the band the whole way with actions to control the tempo and volume. The sound was tight and funky where it needed to be and the musicians blended seamlessly.
Sometime Alan’s his dialogue was longer than some of the songs, which isn’t a bad thing since he has a strong stage presence and a good sense of humour. He made up a story about Zoot Money‘s childhood and there was plenty of banter relating to Zoot being well-off and spending his days at leisure and Alan being skint, and really having to work for a living. They did a jam of Nothin’ Shakin’ But The Bacon. Alan would grimace every time Zoot played a solo. He later moaned that everyone was was too loud (in good humour) and said now he wears ear plugs.
In another money themed anecdote, he talked about what it was like when his contract suddenly ended with the Animals and he had to return home, with no future plans and very little money. He couldn’t get the best seat in the restaurant, prestige cars and women. His career wasn’t down for long as he had a hit with his version of, I put a spell on you. He did a solo version of Who’s gonna drive you home, which was interesting. He followed it up with The Letterand Jarrow Song.
Jackson Browne got a mention as the unhappiest man in the business. Alan told a tale (fictional I think) about how his lawyers told him to get married because he had too much money and so set up a series of interviews to help him select a wife. Then the layers told him to get a divorce and that was the inspiration for Say it isn’t so. Alan followed it up by doing a version of the song. Bobby Trench did a great solo on it too. Alan joked that no one gives him credit for performing that track, instead people praise Bobby for his guitar work.
Other songs in the set included Dole song and Savaloy Dip. Towards the end of the set Alan played a few Animals hits; We gotta get out of this place,Please don’t let me be misunderstood and House of the rising sun.
Towards the end of the night Peter Grant on Bass and Darby Todd on Drums got to do solo spots.
I was really impressed by the performance. Considering Alan is 75 (at the time of writing) he’s incredibly mobile and his voice is untarnished; strong and operatic at times. He admitted, that because he can only play in the key of G, F and C he’s had to keep the songs in the same keys as he played them in the early days.
I was hoping to have a chat with him on the night. I offered to buy him a drink during the break, but he was getting a drink for someone else. He didn’t seem much in the mood to stand around and chat after the show so I didn’t get any photos or get him to sign my LP sleeve of Between Today and Yesterday. He didn’t playSimon Smith and his amazing dancing bear, House that Jack built or Between Today and Yesterday. Nevermind, it was a great show and I was completely blow away at times, one of the best gigs I’ve been to in a long time. I would highly recommend you to go and see him.
This is a live recording, with three members of the Mojave Collective, from July 2009. Here, myself, James Barton (drums and backing vocals) and Pete Johnson (pedal-steel) were working out some parts for We Know Her Well. I decided to record and film the jam. The Mojave Collective split in 2011, but we did record one album, Rust & Dust, released in 2008.
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We Know Her Well Lyrics.
It was said she flirts with danger just like she flirts with every guy in town Her door is always open; her bed is warm regardless of who’s around
She’ll drink you right under the table She’ll love you as long as you’re able to read between the lines of every fable she lays down.
Her bed is like a stage you know she’s always willing to perform When your out her eyes will wander though she doesn’t seem to think it will do no harm
She’ll be on a man like a dog on a bone She’s entertaining When you think she’s alone Your heart would have to be made out of stone I’m going home
You think you know her well but the stranger knows her better than you He fills you in with stories of the things that she and he often do.
Any girl in the would could be like her Just lie on their back on forget to care Nothing for a man to do but despair…if it were.
Copyright January 2006 words written by Mark Pountney.
We just set up in my parent’s front room and played. The setup worked quite well. Jay used brushes on the drum kit. To mic it, we used a cheap, Samson drum microphone set for the kick, snare and tom. For an overhead, I used a stereo ribbon microphone, made by HDW Audio, which I imported from USA. Pete played a twin-neck MSA through a Fender Champion (solid state). I used a Sennheiser 609e on that. I played a Guild GAD JF48, miked with a vintage Electrovoice PL10, and I sang through a vintage Sennheiser MD421. The ribbon microphone does a great job of picking up Jay’s backing vocals… it also picked up when he caught the hi-hat by mistake at 2:38. You can see him laugh about it in the clip.
All the microphones went in to a Mackie Onyx 1200F and on to a really old Acer laptop. I think it was mixed using Mackie Tracktion and mastered using TRacks. The video was shot on one of those old DV camcorders. Somehow, it didn’t seem so arcaic at the time.
We Know Her Well does not currently appear on any albums.