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of cabbages and kings, of arks and attics – the pseudo-psychedelic sound of chad & jeremy 1967-1968 (part 1)

THIS IS THE FIRST of five ar­ti­cles de­voted to the trio of al­bums and their re­lated sin­gles that Chad & Je­remy re­leased in 1967-1968. OF CABBAGES AND KINGS and THE ARK and the sound­track to 3 IN THE ATTIC re­flect the more ‘pop’-oriented psy­che­deli­cism of the Eng­lish mu­si­cians at the time and have long been held in a bit of con­tempt by older afi­cionados and col­lec­tors of Six­ties psych. Too bad, as they are al­most uni­formly fine record­ings!


Chad & Je­re­my’s last three al­bums of the ’60s in­cluded the final two on their con­tract with Co­lumbia: Of Cab­bages And Kings (1967) and The Ark (1968). Both were elab­o­rate studio cre­ations of Chad Stuart and pro­ducer Gary Usher with Je­remy Clyde con­tributing his first lyrics (and fine lyrics they were).

The equally neo-baroque-ish (sic) sound­track to the movie Three In The Attic (late 1968), was com­posed, arranged, and pro­duced by Mr. Stuart. The first side was a set of pop songs sim­ilar to the two Co­lumbia al­bums. The second side was in­ci­dental music from the film, also by Chad. Mr. Clyde pro­vided lyrics to one songs and, of course, sang with his al­most erst­while partner. The movie starred Christo­pher Jones, then a hot number due to this turn as the star of Wild In The Streets ear­lier in the year.

All three were fine al­bums. All three didn’t sell enough copies to pay the rent. In fact, they were among Columbia’s biggest money-losers of the late ’60s. OF CABBAGES AND KINGS was the hands-down sales champ among them, peaking at #186 on the Bill­board LP chart. The others failed to even make an ap­pear­ance on the sales sur­veys.

These al­bums may be con­sid­ered psy­che­delic by people who have never been psy­che­deli­cized. For those of us who have been “ex­pe­ri­enced,” these are fine ex­am­ples of late ’60s pop, showing the in­flu­ence of folk on the then fash­ion­able baroque rock, or art rock, with psy­che­delic flour­ishes added after the fact by pro­ducer Gary Usher, then at the top of game and the peak of his fame.

The term ap­plied to this type of music by col­lec­tors of ’60s records through the years has gen­er­ally been psych-pop-—at least among the many cir­cles in which I have moved con­versed de­bated and ar­gued. Re­cently I have come across a term that I prefer: lysergic-pop! Hence for­ward, I will al­ter­nate the use of the two, but their mean­ings are the in­ter­change­able.

Fine records, yes, but not ones that in­di­cate that the artists in­tended to trans­late any as­pect of the psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence to the lis­tener via the recorded sig­nals in the grooves.

These three al­bums were dis­missed by “se­rious” rock and (es­pe­cially) psych col­lec­tors for decades. Three In The Attic re­ceived a modest amount of at­ten­tion from movie sound­track collectors—not for its quality, but for its ob­scu­rity and such col­lec­tors’ needs for com­plete­ness in their col­lec­tions.

This, then, is a brief overview of that pseudo-psychedelic (or lysergic-pop) trilogy of al­bums by Chad & Je­remy, an un­likely pair to be as­so­ci­ated with per­haps the wildest genre of music in the Six­ties.

Each album has seen its place in the psy­che­delic scheme of things and in the field of col­lec­table records change rather dra­mat­i­cally in re­cent years. The essay below ex­plores var­ious as­pects of the records and the rea­sons why their status has im­proved among col­lec­tors …


Posh duo distinguished by cute jawlines

Their penul­ti­mate Co­lumbia album, OF CABBAGES AND KINGSwas al­ways con­sid­ered a bit of a joke by many col­lec­tors and rock his­to­rians. The more re­cent in­terest in these al­bums as ex­am­ples of ’60s psych and as gen­uine col­lec­tables ap­pears to be due to the broader scope of in­terest of younger col­lec­tors (or a less dis­crim­i­nating opinion?) and the fact that older psych col­lec­tors, in order to con­tinue col­lecting (and who ever wants to stop?) have to widen their scope of in­terest or simply stop col­lecting.

To show you the con­tempt in which our lads were held, the re­viewer for the Rolling Stones se­ries of record re­view books listed only three al­bums by Chad & Je­remy: YESTERDAY’S GONE (World Artists), THE BEST OF CHAD & JEREMY (Capitol), and OF CABBAGES AND KINGS, each re­ceiving less than two stars as a rating. He man­aged to dis­missed their en­tire ca­reer in less than fifty words:

“Strictly easy lis­tening, some­what dan­di­fied by British ac­cents, this posh duo, dis­tin­guished by breathy enun­ci­a­tion and cute jaw­lines, scored in 1964 with A Summer Song and Yes­ter­day’s Gone—limp ex­er­cises in string-laden folky wist­ful­ness. OF CABBAGES AND KINGS ven­tured into psy­che­delia. Every­thing else they did was (even) worse.”

I don’t know how many times this “re­view” has been reis­sued by Rolling Stone, but I found it in The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983), Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992), and the Rolling Stone Album Guide – The Com­panion Volume (1992).

The third edi­tion of the All Music Guide doesn’t even men­tion the two psych-pop al­bums, it merely re­views three com­pi­la­tion: YESTERDAY’S GONE (Drive Archive), PAINTED DAYGLOW SMILE (Co­lumbia Legacy), and THE BEST OF CHAD & JEREMY (One Way). To its credit, AMG awards each col­lec­tions at least three stars, a far cry from the Rolling Stone as­sess­ment.

Yesterday may be gone but today’s still here

David Stuart Chad­wick, better known as Chad Stuart, and Thomas Je­remy Clyde recorded and per­formed as Chad & Je­remy. As such, they were a very minor part of the British In­va­sion of the Amer­ican pop charts in 1964.

They had been “dis­cov­ered” by British com­poser John Barry in 1963. Barry was riding high as the com­poser of the James Bond Theme for the first Bond movie, Dr. No, an in­ter­na­tional hit movie the pre­vious year. That theme would prove to be one of the most ef­fec­tive and best known movie themes of all time, still used in each Bond film fifty years later!

The two singers must have thought them­selves on the road to fame and for­tune. Barry signed them to Ember Records, then Eng­land’s only truly small in­de­pen­dent record com­pany. Barry had sur­prised the British recording in­dustry by signing with Ember and spent al­most three years waxing sides for them.

Their first single, Yes­ter­day’s Gone, reached the UK Top 40 in the summer of 1963, hope­fully a herald of things to come. Of course, being an Eng­lish act, they could not find an Amer­ican com­pany in­ter­ested in man­u­fac­turing and dis­trib­uting a UK hit record in 1963.

Alas, this would prove to be Chad & Je­re­my’s only British hit in their career—a fact that should sur­prise most Amer­i­cans with an aware­ness of the pair’s modest suc­cess in the US.

The duo’s record­ings were even­tu­ally picked up in 1964 by an equally tiny and ob­scure com­pany in the US called World Artists. As that im­print had no other artists of note, they made Chad & Je­remy their standard-bearers and put what little money and muscle they had in pro­moting their “hot” new British act.

This netted them one Top Ten hit, A Summer Song, and three more Top 30 hits: Yes­ter­day’s Gone, Willow Weep For Me (1964) and If I Loved You (1965). Each was a gentle ballad with a slight folkie in­flec­tion and the wispiest of shared vo­cals.

Reaching the Top 40 four times in little over a year was some­what amazing for so small a com­pany. And given the fact that C&J made music that is best de­scribed as folk-flavored, easy-listening pop, it was hardly the type of music that one as­so­ciates with the British In­va­sion.


Before and after distant shores

Trying to play catch-up after decades of al­lowing com­pany head of Artists & Reper­toire to NOT allow them to sign any of them there rock roll “artists” (they did have Paul Re­vere & the Raiders and the Dave Clark 5) in 1965, Co­lumbia signed the Byrds, Donovan, and Chad & Je­remy.

They were given nearly full reign in the studio. Their sound blos­somed: it be­came fuller and pep­pier, lusher and edgier—if Chad & Je­re­my’s music can said to be “edgy.” It quickly mor­phed into a form of straight pop-rock, rather gentle yes, but also in­tel­li­gent and en­gaging. Chad was es­pe­cially thrilled, as his skills as an arranger were fi­nally being uti­lized and he began learning the tricks of the pro­duc­er’s trade.

De­spite such ex­cel­lent sin­gles as Be­fore And After (their last Top 20 hit in the US), I Have Dreamed, and Dis­tant Shores, nothing gelled with ei­ther radio pro­gram­mers or record buyers in a way that pro­duced a major hit. My per­sonal fave from these Co­lumbia sides was I Don’t Want To Lose You Baby. With four pre­vious hits and the clout of Co­lumbia Records be­hind them, they should have hit BIG with this ex­cel­lent piece of post-Invasion British pop!

Chad & Je­remy I Don’t Wanna Lose You Baby 7 8 1965

Yet this is a record that most people my age never even heard on AM radio in the ’60s! With hind­sight, I can sug­gest that I Don’t Want To Lose You Baby would have been an ideal single for the Walker Brothers a couple of years down the road. Oddly, while lis­tening to it for this essay, I no­ticed that their phrasing (Chad’s? Je­re­my’s?) sounds more than a bit like Hugh Grant’s (anemic) vo­cals as Alex Fletcher in Music & Lyrics (2007), an en­joy­able send-up of the music biz co-starring Drew Bar­ry­more. (See it . . )

Take a trip with Chad & Jeremy

Chad & Je­remy re­leased three al­bums for Co­lumbia in this lusher vein: BEFORE AND AFTER and I DON’T WANT TO LOSE YOU BABY (1965) and DISTANT SHORES (1966). None sold well enough to jus­tify Columbia’s ex­pec­ta­tions, which given the fact that it was one of the largest com­pa­nies in the country, one is left to wonder how they could have failed with these record­ings. Oh, well.

The May 1967 issue of Teen Scoop mag­a­zine had a one-sided in­ter­view flex­i­disc bound into it. “Teen Scoop takes you to an­other ex­clu­sive behind-the-scenes in­ter­view. This time it’s with Chad and Je­remy, two of our all-time fa­vorites. The pop­ular British duo was so in­ter­ested in tell you—our readers—the straight scoop about them­selves, they took off time from their latest recording ses­sion just to talk to you. Watch for the next great issue of Teen Scoop for a visit with an­other of your fa­vorites.” 

While this flex­i­disc is pop­u­larly re­ferred to as Take A Trip With C&J, that title is nowhere to be found on the record. It is simply ti­tled Chad And Je­remy with “They tell their story on our ex­clu­sive record. Listen!” in the upper right corner.

“It catches C&J at the top of their game, with the two Capitol reis­sues still in the charts, and on the heels of the very suc­cessful, both ar­tis­ti­cally and mu­si­cally, Dis­tant Shores. The com­mer­cial dis­aster and cre­ative tri­umph that is the second half of their ca­reer is still on the horizon, though by this point they have al­ready grown tired of their fame. This in­ter­view is ac­tu­ally a hi­lar­ious piece as well, since the ‘in­ter­view’ is ac­tu­ally con­ducted mainly by Je­remy, to Chad. The two clown around for nearly five min­utes on this disc, which is well worth seeking out.” (Now and For­ever)

Little did anyone at Teen Scoop or Ember or Co­lumbia or any­where else know what was about to happen to this pair of soft-singing crooners as 1967 turned into the Summer of Love in San Fran­cisco and spread around the world, seeming to af­fect al­most every cul­ture of every country in the in­dus­tri­al­ized world and many Third World na­tions …


 
 
 

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