|Recorded at Fedora Street
Studios, Liverpool in November 1997. This album was released to
celebrate 30 years of local broadcasting at Radio Merseyside.
to samples from this CD
Original Sleeve notes
(courtesy of Spencer
I'm writing this as
Liverpool and the world are celebrating the 40th anniversary of John
Lennon meeting Paul McCartney. Thinking about it, I realise that
every successful group depends on somebody meeting somebody else - and
this is true of the Class of 64.
The backbone of Class
of 64 is the friendship between three Liverpool musicians. In 1964
Frankie Connor of the Hideaways met Alan Crowley of the Tuxedos and Billy
Kinsley of the Merseybeats for the first time, hence the use of their
initials, FAB, for the prefix of the record's catalogue number. The
label is called Holly because of their shared love for the Lubbock
singer-songwriter. In the album, Frankie and Alan duet on
"Do It Right Now" in which a friend at this session described as
the song Buddy Holly never wrote. It could also be a nod to the
Liverpool entrepreneur Sir John Moores as the title reflects his
philosophy of life.
The first album by Class of 64, was
released on vinyl in 1989 and made its way on to CD, under the title of
"Cavern Days" and with bonus tracks, in 1995. Frankie
Connor and Alan Crowley wrote the songs while Billy Kinsley
produced. They sang and played together but they also recruited
seven guest vocalists on the 18 tracks. The album sold well on
Merseyside and beyond -"Poor Boy From Liverpool" has become a
key song in the Merseybeats act, while "Give A Child A Chance"
was an official record for a children's charity.
Following a popular album is difficult
but the Class of 64 has succeeded with "Many Happy
Returns". The quality of the material is all-important and I
like all 18 of Frank and Alan's new songs, many of which are
excellent. They haven't objected when their guests have wanted to
reshape the songs and hence, some guest vocalists become guest
songwriters. They wanted material that their performers can sing
comfortably and Frankie, for example, is full of praise for the way Richie
Routledge of the Cryin' Shames has adapted "Aint Life A Bitch"
for his own, groove-laden style.
I have watched this project grow with
the year. I have seen their enthusiasm as one musician after another
agrees to take part, and their happiness when another contribution has
been added to the digital databank. Billy J. Kramer has cut his best
track in years with "I'm The One Who Loves You" (great guitar
from Billy Kinsley) and Beryl Marsden can match any Motown singer with her
breathy phrasing in "Frankie's In Love". (Incidentally, Alan
wrote the lyric after he heard Frankie eulogising over his new cat).
There are enough trainspotting
elements to make this album a mainline station. First, there is the
pleasure in recognising old friends. Some return from the previuos
album - Tony Crane of the Merseybeats, Dave Kerrigan of the Richmond
Group, Kenny Parry of Liverpool Express and Albie Wycherley, Billy Fury's
brother. Last time we had the song, "Faron Was Here Too",
this time we have the new-styled, whispering Faron, plus the gravel-voiced
Ray Scragg from the Dennisons, the romantic side of Mike Byrne, and a
gutsy vocal from the hardest-working musician on Merseyside, Geoff Nugent
of the Undertakers. I'd never heard Colin Manley sing lead before -
he's very good, rather like George Harrison in places. Billy Kinsley
always has shades of Paul McCartney in his voice and he combines Macca
with Rod Stewart in the anthemic "Little Bit Of Heaven".
Kenny Johnson has control of the Sonny
Webb-site and when I hear "Don't Be Afraid Of Love" and
"Rock 'n' Roll Wreck", I wonder why this man hasn't had hit
records. I love his little laugh during "Rock 'n' Roll
Wreck" - touches like that are hard to pull off.
The second trainspotting element
relates to the songs themselves. Frank and Alan are fond of writing
songs as homages for their heroes. "29 Derby Lane", the address
of the Ethel Austin warehouse where Frank and Dave Kerrigan worked, is
reminiscent of the Kinks. The warmth of the sun is conveyed in
"I'll Keep You Safe And Warm", a glorious homage to the Beach
Boys featuring Frankie Townsend in a swelter of high-voiced
harmonies. I noted references to Dr Hook, Albert Lee, Richie Jones
and Eddie Cochrane, and I'll leave you to find them and spot others for
yourself. Just as the controversial mural of Liverpool personalities
at Radio Merseyside omits the Beatles, I didn't hear shades of the Fabs in
anything, but "Call Me Tonight" is reminiscent of their
middle-of-the-road cover, "Till There Was You".
I've heard tributes to many late
performers, but I've never heard one about Bobby Darin until now.
"Borrowed Time" conveys the problems of his short, tortured life
and I love the snatches of "Dream Lover" included in the
Then there's the excellent
musicians. Judd Lander of the Hideaways plays harmonica on hit
records by Culture Club and the Spice Girls but here he adds his
mouth-organ, gob-iron, harp, harpoon, what you will to "Think I'm
Comin Down With You" and "That's What I Call Love".
Beryl Marsden supplies backing vocals for "Little Bit Of Heaven"
and the instrumental highlights include Andy Bournes sax break in
"We're On The Right Road Now", the funky guitar of Gary Murphy
in "Aint Life A Bitch", the ultra-fast picking in "Raisin
Hell" by Len Whitehead and Colin Manley's own lead playing.
Plus the talented Kenny Parry's distinctive guitar in "Rock 'n' Roll
Wreck"- "Don't Be Afraid Of Love". The Class Of 64
meets the Class of 97 when Tony Crane is supported by his son, Adrian's
lead guitar on "Chained To You".
No doubt about it. In terms of
Liverpool music, the Class of 64 have graduated with honours.