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

Estimated reading time is 8 minutes.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!


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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 . . .


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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.


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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!

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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