“In 1959, Jeffrey Kruger launched Ember Records as an independent, one of very few in the UK, where the majors held sway in that era. Straight away, the label set about trying to break into the charts with many fine pop releases. This CD series The Ember Sixties Pop series will collect the best of those records on to several volumes, starting with this compilation, which covers up to 1961. Michael Cox had appeared on Jack Good’s television show “Boy Meets Girl”. Jack introduced him to Joe Meek who produced ‘Angela Jones’. Initially released on Meek’s own Triumph label, and then on Ember. Grant Tracy & The Sunsets were signed up in early 1961. The Sunsets tried their luck first with ‘Cry Of The Wild Goose’, flipped by ‘Manhunt’, written by their guitarist, the young Pete “Honeybus” Dello. Their debut vocal sides ‘Say When’ and ‘Please Baby Please’ were written by Pomus-Shuman.
Grant sounds a little like Elvis on the follow-up, ‘Pretend’ backed with the King’s own ‘Love Me’. The songs on Ray Merrell‘s Ember release were written by Ray together with Don Black and Cyril Stapleton under various pseudonyms. ‘Why Did You Leave Me’ and ‘Teenage Love’ are infectious teen items with pizzicato strings and strong lead guitar. Roy Young was on another Jack Good television show “Oh Boy!”. Roy recorded the storming ‘Four An’ Twenty Thousand Kisses’ before going to Hamburg to appear with The Beatles when they were still called The Beat Brothers. Cuddly Duddly was probably the best known black British singer in 1961 thanks to many TV appearances, also on “Oh Boy!”.
He is backed on the rocking ‘Sitting On A Train’ and ‘One That I Like’ by The Redcaps. The Larry Lawrence tracks have a strong Bill Black Combo influence, especially on the chugging ‘Jug-A-Roo’. Ray Ellington had the benefit of backing by Tony Crombie’s band, and everybody was swinging nicely on ‘Jump Over’ and ‘The Madison’. Julie, Hazel and Betty Dunderdale shortened their name to The Dale Sisters for their Ember debut, the bright and breezy ‘My Sunday Baby’. Pianist Tommy Sanderson was amongst the elite of London session players, frequently joined on dates by Bert Weedon on guitar and Ronnie Verrell on drums, who may have been The Sandmen on ‘Deadline’.
Many of these original singles are highly collectable (mint copies of Michael Cox are valued at £45 and both the Grant Tracy & The Sunsets releases at £20). Subsequent volumes will carry the story through to the end of the sixties, with sought after tracks by Carter, Lewis & The Southerners and Mark Douglas amongst those included. The series is complemented by compilations devoted to Beat and rock from the Ember vaults. Recordings are mastered from tape, where available, and booklets illustrated with sleeve and label shots.
- Angela Jones (Michael Cox)
- Don't Want To Know (Michael Cox)
- Say When (Grant Tracy & The Sunsets)
- Please Baby Please (Grant Tracy & The Sunsets)
- Why Did You Leave Me (Ray Merrell)
- Teenage Love (Ray Merrell)
- Four An' Twenty Thousand Kisses (24 Mila Baci) (Roy Young)
- Late Last Evening (Roy Young)
- Pretend (Grant Tracy & The Sunsets)
- Love Me (Grant Tracy & The Sunsets)
- Cry Of The Wild Goose (The Sunsets)
- Manhunt (The Sunsets)
- Sitting On A Train (Cuddly Duddly & The Redcaps)
- One That I Like (Cuddly Duddly & The Redcaps)
- Jug-A-Roo (Larry Lawrence & The Beatniks)
- Squad Car Theme (Larry Lawrence & The Beatniks)
- Jump Over (Ray Ellington)
- The Madison (Ray Ellington)
- My Sunday Baby (Un Telegrama) (The Dale Sisters)
- All My Life (The Dale Sisters)
- Deadline (Tommy Sanderson & The Sandmen)
- Candleglow (Tommy Sanderson & The Sandmen)