By the end of the sixties Jeffrey Kruger’s Ember label had come a long way since its debut with Jan & Kjeld’s Banjo Boy in 1960. The British indie’s original EMB series of singles, EPs and albums, had been expanded to include imprints devoted to a range of genres (including jazz and country) and prices.
In 1967 the ever-astute Kruger licensed in Glen Campbell just in time to benefit from a massive surge of interest in the artist, resulting in top 10 hits with Wichita Lineman and Galveston. Of course, Capitol retrieved the rights to Campbell at the earliest opportunity, but Kruger’s and Ember’s profiles were at a new high, with resources to exploit the burgeoning interest in pop music, which was coming to be viewed as a distinct market sector following the growth of album-orientated rock. Rainy Day Mind is the first of two volumes surveying Ember’s pop repertoire from 1969 until the label’s demise at the end of the seventies. It comprises 21 tracks by 13 artists ranging from obscure American singer Polly Niles to the internationally famous P J Proby, as well as ill-fated actor Alan Lake, Irish vocalist Lee Lynch, French pop star Black Swan and fuzz guitar-toting soul band Milt Matthews Inc.
A clutch of projects including The Good Vibrations, The Good Ship Lollipop and Rusty Harness came to Ember courtesy of producer Mike Berry. The founding of US outlet Paramount-Ember in 1974, headed by music business veteran John Madara, brought albums by Denny Doherty (formerly of The Mamas And The Papas) and British all-girl glam rockers Mother Trucker into the fold. What these disparate sources all offer are fine performances of strong songs, courtesy of the likes of Kenny Lynch (A Walk In The Sunshine, A Bad Time To Stop Loving Me), Harry Nilsson (Good Times), Lennon & McCartney (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Hard Day’s Night), Pete Townshend (Call Me Lightning), John Barry (The Milk Of The Tree), Les Reed & Hal Shaper (Momma Married A Preacher), and Ken Howard, Alan Blaikley & Geoff Stephens (They’ve Taken Our Childhood Away). Nor is there any shortage of collectables, topped by Davey Payne & The Medium Wave’s A Walk In The Sunshine, which commands £50, and Blue Beard’s eponymous album, which only reached test pressing stage (£200), from which we have salvaged Baby I Need You. Rainy Day Mind’s sequel will serve up further performances by Rusty Harness, Polly Niles, Mother Trucker, P J Proby and Denny Doherty, as well as new faces, as the story of Ember pop continues to 1978.
These collections will be complemented by a compilation of Ember rock 1969-1974, while the Ember archives are also being mined for soul (Good To The Last Drop, FVCD020), sixties beat (Tell Me, FVCD014, plus two further volumes) and British jazz.
- A Walk In The Sunshine (Davey Payne & The Medium Wave)
- Maxwell's Silver Hammer (The Good Ship Lollipop)
- A Bad Time To Stop Loving Me (Lee Lynch)
- Call Me Lightning (The Good Vibrations)
- Hard Day's Night (Milt Matthews Inc)
- Good Times (Alan Lake)
- Bad Girls (Davey Payne )
- Ain't Gonna Get Married (Rusty Harness)
- Sunshine In My Rainy Day Mind (Polly Niles)
- Belong Belong (Black Swan)
- Come Into My Heart (Rusty Harness)
- Baby I Need You (Blue Beard)
- The Milk Of The Tree (Polly Niles)
- They've Taken Our Childhood Away (Lee Lynch)
- Momma Married A Preacher (P J Proby)
- Tonight (Mother Trucker)
- Southern Comfort (Denny Doherty)
- Echoes And Rainbows (Black Swan)
- Sunday Goodbye (P J Proby)
- Propeller Love (Mother Trucker)
- Together (Denny Doherty)