By Ralph Ellis(2)
January 2 1965
First, let me say that I hope you all had a Happy Christmas. As usual I spent Christmas in Liverpool, relaxing at home with my family. I always enjoy taking it easy over the holiday period, though I found this a bit difficult 12 months ago. All of us in the SBJ were a bit tense waiting for chart news of ‘Hippy Hippy Shake.’ Then late on Christmas Eve we got a phone call from London telling us that it was EMI’s best-selling disc. You can imagine the celebration we had with our manager, JIM IRELAND.
We enjoyed Jim Ireland’s hospitality this Boxing night when we played at the Mardi Gras Club. This is the only engagement that we took during Christmas, and it was a session we really enjoyed doing. It gave us a chance to meet many of our old friends. We greatly respect the opinions of these fans who’ve closely followed our progress since the early days. I’m happy to say that they all like our new single, ‘It Isn’t There,’ and though it may sound like ‘sales talk,’ I’m genuinely delighted with the record. I think it’s our best disc since ‘Hippy.’
We don’t expect it to go rocketing up the charts, usually slow tunes seem to have a less rapid Hit Parade climb than fast numbers, but we are confident about ‘It Isn’t There.’
I suppose the most striking thing about the beat scene in 1964 was the tremendous number of new groups to gain recording contracts. Some great new talent has emerged but there’s also been an awful lot of rubbish issued.
Too many new groups have thought that the important thing is to see their name on a record label, without giving a second thought to the two important ingredients of a good hit record – performance and material.
Some of them have managed to find good material and were lucky enough to have a solitary chart success, but their general performance and musicianship were so often limited that their follow-up discs failed.
Unfortunately, a sudden entry into the high spots of the charts can permanently affect an inexperienced group. Very often they contract ‘cerebral chartitis’ – and become permanently known as ‘big heads.’
I don’t suggest that the recording studios should be used only by a select few, deserving talent should always be given a showcase. But I do feel that if standards are going to improve in 1965 then a closer sifting of talent by the major recording companies is needed.
Before we became one of the first beat groups to gain a recording contract, we had to undergo a stringent audition. We learnt a lot at that audition, and the advice given has proved useful on many occasions.
Don’t get the idea that I think a group should only concentrate on making good records. Being musically experienced enough to hold the audience’s attention for an entire ballroom session is a very valuable asset.
This is how our good friends THE ESCORTS have built up their large fan following. As yet they haven’t had a big hit record, but their new release, ‘I Don’t Want To Go On Without You’ may change that situation.
Let’s hope so: nothing would please the SWINGING BLUEJEANS more than to share a double celebration party with the Escorts early in 1965.