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21 May 2017

The Remo Four "Smile!“ 1967 UK Beat Mod Psych,Soul Jazz


















The Remo Four  "Smile!“ 1967 UK  Beat Mod Psych,Soul Jazz
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The Remo Four had started out at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, playing country music. It was originally called Johnny Sandon And the Remo Four. When Sandon left the group decided to recruit a keyboard player and the line up included Ashton (piano), Phil Rogers (bass), Colin Manley (vocals, guitar) and Roy Dyke (drums).

The Remo Four was sent to the Star Club in Hamburg to take over from The Beatles, which was as close as Tony got to join the Fab Four. “We were a completely different band. More jazz based” recalled Tony later. While they were in Hamburg they were approached by Polydor Records and they recorded their first album ‘Smile’ (1966) in just two days with Tony using the studio’s Hammond organ.

The Remo Four were such a hit in Hamburg they stayed there for two years appearing on TV and at clubs. On returning to the UK they were set to working backing Billy J.Kramer in cabaret. Rebelling against the pop tunes they had to play, Ashton and drummer Roy Dyke contrived to get the sack and set about forming their own group. Before the Remo Four split however, they backed George Harrison on his solo album ‘Wonderwall’.
by Chris Welch...........

Contemporaries of the Beatles, along with other Liverpudlian rockers like Gerry & the Pacemakers and Rory Storm & the Hurricanes, the Remo Four were lost to the darkest corners of Merseybeat history, with only See for Miles' 1992 compilation The Best of Tommy Quickly, Johnny Sandon, Gregory Phillips & the Remo Four -- a disc featuring singers the group backed, along with a handful of their tracks -- being the only reissue to surface until Bear Family's 2010 Smile!, Peter Gunn…And More. Only one of the songs on that 1992 disc -- a cover of “Peter Gunn” -- is on this 2010 CD, which contains the entirety of their 1967 LP Smile!, released only in Germany, and singles surrounding the album. The Remo Four were in something of a time warp in 1966 and 1967. While their contemporaries were enjoying the fruits of swinging London, the quartet were stuck in Hamburg playing the Star Club, working off an enormous debt to their management company NEMS along with a tax bill. They were working hard, playing upwards of four times a night, delivering Merseybeat with a hard, jazzy R&B edge. In a sense, they hadn’t moved forward from the glory days of Merseybeat, relying on driving, crowd-pleasing, floor-filling covers, but the constant playing gave the group a deep, muscular groove and jazz chops credible enough that they could play Oscar Brown, Jr. “Brother Where Are You” and Cannonball Adderly's “Jive Samba” as convincingly as they could pound out Chuck Berry's “No Money Down” or stomp along with Stevie Wonder's “Nothin’s Too Good for My Baby.” This makes Smile! and its accompanying singles rather unique: ostensibly, this is generic British R&B, but the Remo Four swing with an authority that no other British Invasion band had, probably because they never would have had the chance to stretch out in the studio the way the group did here, cutting the entire LP in an afternoon between one of those never-ending club gigs. Add to that a really nifty gender-bending original in “Live Like a Lady” -- its growling guitar sweetened by organ -- and this is an unexpected delight, one of the better undiscovered British rock artifacts of the ‘60s.... by Stephen Thomas Erlewine ....................

One of the greatest Star-Club groups! Managed by Brian Epstein and later backed George Harrison on his 'Wonderwall Music' album ! Includes two top musicians of the UK Pop History, Tony Ashton and
Colin Manley! British R&B par excellence. A sought after collectors' item! Rare bonus titles!

Many Star-Club bands were audience favourites without becoming as big as the Beatles, who also started there. But there was one group that towered above their competitors for their outstanding musical quality, and it was another band from Liverpool, The Remo Four. In the early and mid-sixties the Remo Four became backing musicians for solo singers - and were among the best bands to ever touch the hallowed stage of the legendary Hamburg club. By 1967, they were among the best bands from England.

Charismatic singer/organ player Tony Ashton (1944-2001) and guitarist Colin Manley (1942-1999) were brilliant instrumentalists, and their solos were solidly backed by the band's rhythm section: ace drummer
Roy Dyke and bass-player Phil Rogers. The Remo Four were the first among equals with an excellent fusion of rhythm, blues, brass-free soul and even gospel snippets - with Tony proving how such a mixture could be sung perfectly and soulfully alike.

Songs such as Sing Hallelujah, Brother Where Are You, the fantastic Jive Samba, to name but a few, are excellent examples of the quartet's outstanding groove. Their greatest success had come in 1966 with the Peter Gunn instrumental, which made them stars in Germany after a legendary live performance on the famous 'Beat-Club' TV show.

These days The Remo Four's only album 'Smile!' is insanely rare and expensive as an original, but even the CD edition - off the market for many years - has become a sought-after rarity. Now this outstanding slice of mid-Sixties music is available again with eight extra songs (A&B sides of two singles plus four tracks unreleased at the time). With this fabulous release, Bear Family finally fills in a missing link in the musical story of the 'Swinging Sixties'...............

The Remo Four Quartet started out as a vocal harmony band from Liverpool. They formed in 1958 with a line up of Keith Stokes (Vocals, Guitar), Don Andrew (Vocals, Bass), Colin Manley (Guitar) and Harry Prytherch (Vocals, Drums). By 1960 they had shortened their name to the Remo Four and were gigging regularly around Liverpool, cultivating a large following including Manley's old school mate, Paul McCartney, who would often check them out at the Cavern Club. In early 1963 Prytherch left the group to get married and was replaced by Roy Dyke. A little later Tony Ashton joined the group on Keys and Philip Rogers replaced Andrews on Bass.

The band would release several singles on the Pye/Picadilly label between 1963-64 whilst occasionally serving as a backing group for the likes of Tommy Quickly, Johnny Sandon and Gregory Phillips. In 1965 the Remo Four (alongside Quickly) performed on Pop Gear (aka Go Go Mania), a British music review film directed by Frederic Goode and hosted by Jimmy Saville. By 1966 the band had left their beat group sound behind, now favouring a more mod approach of Jazz and R&B and relocated to Germany where they were more popular than in their native country. They were now playing a residency at the Star Club in Hamburg and had also became the unofficial house band for German music television show Beat Club and can be seen in many episodes.

While in Germany the Remo four signed to the Star Club's record label, releasing a few singles which sold well over there and eventually cut an album in 1967 called Smile! Recorded in just two days, the album is a collection of cover versions of mod standards and sounds along the lines of Brian Auger & The Trinity, Georgie Fame and Graham Bond. Following the album's release the band released one more single, the excellent "Live Like A Lady" (comped on Rubble 16) b/w "Sing Hallelujah" then returned to the UK for a brief stint of cabaret, backing Billy J. Kramer. It was around this time that they were approached by George Harrison who asked the band to back him on his first solo album.
In December 1967, London based American director, Joe Massot met George Harrison at the opening party of the Apple Boutique where he offered him the job of creating the soundtrack to a film he was making in the UK called Wonderwall. Harrison accepted the offer and recruited the Remo Four as his backing band for the recording sessions. The first recording sessions were held in EMI's Bombay studios during January 1968 where Harrison conducted several Indian session musicians over three days of recording (he also recorded the instrumental track for The Inner Light while he was there). The Remo Four did not attend the Bombay recordings but were required for the preceding recording sessions at Abbey Road studios. Joining the Remo Four on the sessions, it's rumoured that John Lennon plays some rhythm guitar, Richie Snare aka Ringo plays some drums (on "Party Seacombe"?), Harrison's best mate Eddie Clayton aka Eric Clapton plays guitar on "Ski-ing" and Peter Tork plays Macca's banjo on "On The Bed" (?). The album was released in December 1968 by which time the Remo Four had split up with Ashton and Dyke joining forces with Kim Gardner from the Birds/Creation to form Ashton, Gardner & Dyke. Neither movie nor soundtrack album were successful and were soon forgotten until thirty years later.

In 1998 Massot, now an established film director, decided restore Wonderwall for re-release. He contacted Harrison and asked for him to send the master tapes for the soundtrack. On the masters was a track that Massot had never heard. "In The First Place", written by Manley and Ashton, is a vocal recording, a heavily phased song, similar to "Blue Jay Way" with Harrsion on vocals and the Remo Four providing the backing. George hadn't submitted the song to Massot first time round as he was under the impression that he was only to provide instrumentals for inclusion on the soundtrack. Massot loved the track and added it to the newly restored film. The song was also released in conjunction with the movie as a single on cd and 7" vinyl credited to the Remo Four (produced by George Harrison).

A version of "In The First Place" was recorded for the first Ashton, Gardner & Dyke album released in 1969 on Polydor records. Retitled to "As It Was In The First Place", the re-recording, now clocking in at 6 minutes and 32 seconds, suffers from an annoying wailing vocal and a two minute lounge/jazz outro. ......

Remo Four
*Tony Ashton - Vocals, Piano, Hammond Organ
*Phil Rogers - Bass
*Colin Manley - Vocals, Guitar
*Roy Dyke - Drums

01:Heart Beat [John] (4:13)
02.The Skate [Parrish] (3:53)
03:No Money Down [Berry] (4:22)
04:Rock Candy [McDuff] (3:38)
05:The 7th Son [Allison] (2:43)
06:Roadrunner [Walker] (3:30)
07:Brother Where Are You [Brown] (4:33)
08:Jive Samba [Adderley] (6:56)
09:Nothin's Too Good For My Baby [Wonder] (2:41)

Bonustracks:
10:Peter Gunn [Mancini] (2:27)
11:Mickey's Monkey [Holland-Dozier-Holland] (2:12)
12:Live Like A Lady [Manley] (2:33)
13:Sing Hallelujah [Settle] (3:39)
14:Dancing And Singing [Remo Four] (2:13)
15:Sing Hallelujah (alternate take) [Settle] (4:07)
16:Live Like A Lady (alternate take) [Manley] (2:32)
17:Live Like A Lady (instrumental) [Manley] (2:26)

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