BY CHRIS ELEY
|Billy Fury's untimely death in 1983 cut short what many people believed would have been a major comeback. Certainly his stage performances were still riveting, rivalled only by the young Gene Vincent or the best of Elvis and his appearance on the Russell Harty Show in 1982, for example, saw him looking better than ever.|
Billy's stage act was always his biggest draw, but his recordings shouldn't be overlooked, as from his earliest sides for Decca through to his final releases on Polydor, they were consistently excellent. No other artist of that period recorded so many consistently good B-sides, EPs and album tracks.
In this feature, I want to look in detail at the songs that Billy recorded for Decca, and the tracks that remain unreleased from the peak of his recording career.
Early in 1958 Billy (still Ron Wycherley at the time) had entered the Percy Philips recording studio in Liverpool and cut six tracks totalling a little over seven minutes. The strong Elvis influence which would prevail during his live appearances up until about 1963 was evident in I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone, Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Playing For Keeps and Paralysed supplemented by Baby and Love's A-Callin' (Yodelling Song) which was a self-penned composition based on Slim Whitman's Indian Love Call.
I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone and Have I Told You Lately That I Love You were subsequently released on Ozit CD0052 Wondrous Place Live and the others on Ozit CD 0056 Billy Fury Sings A Buddy Holly Song..
Billy is documented in the Decca archive as having made his first official recording in November 1958. The song in question, of course, was his own composition Maybe Tomorrow (Decca matrix no DR 25282). This was released in the USA on the London label. Subsequently, when the Sound Of Fury fan club were compiling the Anthology CD, a stereo take was located.
The track also featured on Billy's first EP. All copies of the EP are hard to find, especially the later issues which, it has been reported, possessed mauve, green and blue covers. No one has produced hard evidence at this time of the existence of these issues.
The first two issues in 1959 and 1960 were orange and yellow respectively. The orange one had a triangular centre.
The following month, Billy returned to cut a Fury/Robinson number, Gonna Type A Letter (DR 25283) which became the B-side to Maybe Tomorrow.
Between April and December 1959, Billy taped six more tracks, starting with the self-penned Margo and ending with the much sought-after single, My Christmas Prayer. This great, under-rated but immensely popular track, equivalent to Maybe Tomorrow in terms of being plaintive and evocative, failed to chart, presumably because of lack of general interest by the public.
The fans loved it and a petition started in 1964 by fan club leader Roz Fleetwood for the re-release of this deleted single raised 65,000 signatures by May, 1964. Eventually, in November, 1983, the track appeared on vinyl once more on EP DFE 8686 My Christmas Prayer.
Mint copies, indeed any copies, of the original 45 are hard to find and change hands at astonishing prices. Triangular centres and demonstration records (Billy's first four Decca demos were all single-sided, ie A and B sides on different discs) are especially hard to find. It saw an EP release in France in the early 60s.
All of the first seven 45 releases had single-sided demos circulated and the first five releases had both triangle and round centres. The first four singles were released on 78rpm and Collette is also rumoured to have been on 78rpm.
The first year as a recording artist was surprisingly unprolific, but this was because of the success of Billy's stage performances, which kept him touring extensively.
According to the files, the first six Decca tracks, Maybe Tomorrow, Gonna Type A Letter, Margo, Don't Knock Upon My Door, Time Has Come and Angel Face were also cut in stereo, but not released in the UK at the time. They still have to be located, which is a pity because their inclusion on the Sound Of Fury + 10 CD (London 820 627-2), Deram 820 672-2 (second issue) or the Sound Of Fury CD (2000 issue) would have been the icing on the Billy Fury rock 'n' roll cake.
In the early months of 1960, Billy cut no fewer than 15 songs in the studio. He began the sessions with Collette (DR 26693) and Baby How I Cried (DR26694) and then went on to record the ten tracks for the classic Sound Of Fury album, starting with DR 26695 Turn My Back On You, arguably the finest slice of British rock 'n' roll.
The song was possibly recorded twice during these sessions, although the same matrix number is featured against both dates shown, so it is likely that only one was cut during the January session. According to John Tracy of Decca, Colette and Baby How I Cried were also cut during the January session. The other tracks were cut in April. To confuse the issue, a member of the Four Jays backing group (contrary to popular belief, the group did not become the Four Most) recalls that the album tracks were recorded in Manchester, and not London, as Decca claim.
Stereo versions of all but Turn My Back On You were located in the USA in time for the 1988 CD release, but the more familiar mono versions of the other songs on the album still require a CD release (Polygram please note!) It's sad that the finest track on the Sound Of Fury 10-inch LP couldn't be located in stereo, because the other stereo cuts give a whole new, fresh dimension to some of the best British rock 'n' roll tracks ever. Seven tracks from the album were released on two French EPs.
The album itself, LF 1329, is extremely collectable, with release dates listed on the back of the sleeve at the bottom right eg McN4.60 (1960 issue). It was re-issued in 1980 with a darker cover (without pianist's shadow) and new number, LFT 1329. Double-sided test pressings (which were not issued with sleeves) now change hands at around £300 and around £120 for the original album (near mint or mint condition). The LP saw a further classy re-issue in 2000, a limited run of 1,000 copies (not numbered) complete with inner sleeve notes and pictures.
At some stage prior to cutting the album, Billy was recorded rehearsing not only the released tracks but also others such as Cheat With Love which he was not actually to cut until 1963. The rehearsal tape was returned in error by Decca to a band in Ireland instead of their own demo tape. It appears that no one really took much notice of it until the mid-1980s. The tape apparently now resides in a private collection. The sound quality is apparently quite good and Polygram was made aware of its existence in the hope they would purchase and release the tracks. They believe that the copyright resides with them because of the circumstances of the recording. Subsequently it seems that Billy Fury Ltd (a limited company formed by Ozit Records and Billy's mother and brother) have located some of these tracks.
As part of a Sound Of Fury double CD or miniature boxed set its release would overshadow just about every other archive release of the past 30 years. It is hoped that an accommodation can be reached between the present "owner" and Polygram. Anything less would be quite criminal, given the scarcity of unreleased Billy Fury gems.
Also cut around the same time was the epic Wondrous Place, as well as the first of the known unreleased tracks, the self-penned I Got Someone (DR 27244). This was finally released on the double LP They Called It Rock 'N' Roll in March 1980 and has also since been included on the Sound Of Fury CD mentioned above.
No other unreleased songs are documented from these sessions, but some sources claim that raw recordings dating from this period do exist in private collections. Maybe one day they could be offered to Polygram for release.
Once again, because of Billy's growing TV and live commitments, there was a long gap in his recording career, and he does not seem to have entered the studios again until December, 1960, when he cut four tracks subsequently issued on the Halfway To Paradise album. That track, classed by one music paper during the a980s as being the best British record of all time, and definitely Billy's best-known performance, was recorded on April 9th 1961, along with six other numbers. Its success changed the direction of Billy's career.
It was in this month that the first true unissued Fury track was cut. It Was You, two minutes and 20 seconds long, and written by Westlake/Becaud is not documented anywhere in the Polygram archive so, presumably, it's lost unless an individual holds an acetate.
In July, 1961, around the same time as he cut Don't jump and Jealousy, Billy apparently recorded a song called In Real Life (DR 28275). No other information is available, however, and no such track is listed in the archives.
The next batch of sessions, in 1961 - which produced the single I'd Never Find Another You - also saw the recording of Begin The Beguine (DR 28672). The song was recut the following year, and one version - it is not certain which - has now been released on the Once Upon A Dream CD. An enjoyable performance, given the comparative inexperience of the singer, but thankfully Billy was not to fall into the trap of becoming a standards singer, despite some apparent aspirations in that direction.
During 1962 we see the first evidence of Billy cutting remakes of earlier material, which was presumably not considered good enough for release. Don't Walk Away and Begin The Beguine were both rerecorded (DR 28920/1) as well as Last Night Was Made For Love (DR 29099) and Once Upon A Dream (DR 29300).
At the beginning of that year, Billy laid down all the tracks for his first movie, Play It Cool, starting with the title track and ending with the original version of Once Upon A Dream (DR 29300). The title track was released in Germany on 45rpm. The EP was released in South Africa with a different cover.
As so often happened with 50s and 60s movies, the final studio recordings were different from the film versions, with the film company having the rights to the latter rather than Decca. This is a great pity, as Billy adding a snarling vocal to the middle of Shane Fenton's It's Gonna Take Magic and the bluesy start to the closing version of the title track are unavailable on record.
On January 8, 1963, Billy cut four tracks with the Tornados: Lovesick Blues (DR 30378), Keep Away (DR 30379), What Did I Do? (DR 30380) and Cheat With Love (DR30381). The first and last tracks failed to surface until their release on the Once Upon A Dream CD in 1990.
Twelve further tracks were taped on January 11 1963 - eight for inclusion on the excellent Billy LP, which was released on the London label in the USA, but copies rarely surface. The first CD issue (in 1989) is now deleted and therefore collectable, but the BGO double CD is an excellent buy (We Want Billy/Billy BGO CD 258 issued in 1995).
Three tracks accompanied by the Tornados were also recorded at the session. These tracks were the familiar I Can't Help Loving You, Candy Kisses (DR 30383) and the truly beautiful ballad I'm Hurting All Over (DR 30384). Candy Kisses was eventually released in February 1977 on The Billy Fury Story (Decca DPA 3033/34). This deleted album is now collectable in its own right, especially the white label test pressings and the Belgian double album release with Tommy Steele (Decca DA 207/208).
I Can't Help Loving You is not an especial favourite of many fans, being perhaps overlong and a little slow. It saw its digital release on the Once Upon A Dream CD.
The original Billy Fury And The Tornados EP which featured the track is, as with all of Billy's EPs, much sought-after. I'm Hurting All Over on the Once Upon A Dream CD is a real gem. It features Billy at his plaintive best, and for part of the song he hums along in Elvis style. It was originally planned for issue on They Called It Rock 'N' Roll but was replaced by I Got Someone.
April 30 1963 saw the recording of the live LP We Want Billy. This was mixed in both mono and stereo, and the stereo original is very much a collector's item, despite the later Decca re-issue. This LP saw a release on the London label in the USA and in the Philippines and on the PAX label in Israel. The New Zealand Decca release featured blue instead of the usual dark background on the classic front cover. Presumably other foreign issues also exist.
At the same time, the Tornados also apparently recorded a version of Telstar, their chart-topping instrumental hit of the previous year. Clem Cattini, drummer and leader of the group, could not recall the session.
An article in Record Collector several years ago mentioned the discovery of the rehearsal tapes for the live LP, but to date no other information has been forthcoming. Certainly the prospect of alternative takes, and perhaps more live tracks, is an exciting one. Rumour has it that a London milkman has them in his garage.
The album saw a general stereo release with its re-issue in 1983. Collectable today is the test pressing, a white label with the figure 1 on one side and 2 on the other. Tracks are the same as on the general release.
On June 6, 1963, Billy recorded the hit In Summer, a remake of Somebody Else's Girl (DR 31071) and the unissued I Will Always Be With You (DR 31072, 2.45 long). Decca do not appear to have this track.
In Summer enjoyed an Italian release on a white Decca label Juke Box Special.
Three as-yet unreleased tracks were cut at a session on July 12, 1963 - all marked "R" in the files, presumably to show they had been rejected for release.
Please Love Me (DR 31491) written by long-time road manager and friend Hal Carter, is a typical Fury flip side or EP song in the Don't Walk Away mode, quite well handled and suitable for release. It saw a release eventually on the Anthology CD. It exists as an acetate in a private collection and it is believed that Polygram now hold a copy of the tape, though this apparently wasn't the case prior to 1983, when the company were offered the loan of the acetate. The known acetate track (bearing in mind there could be up to five others) is a sparse demo cut. According to Hal Carter a full string backing was added and when played to Hal sounded sensational. Larry Parnes didn't want it to be released and it seems Dick Rowe wiped the tape. File under "probable Top 10 hit" if released at the time. That was a regrettable loss for Billy, Hal and the music-buying public of 1963.
Two other songs cut at that session were Take Me (DR 31493) written by "Sweet" and Straight To Your Arms, credited to M. and J. Negar/Hawkshaw. Sadly, these can be added to the long list of tracks that Polygram have not yet traced in the vaults. A remake of Somebody Else's Girl also dates from this session.
Two further unissued tracks were both cut on July 19, 1963. The bluesy I'll Be So Glad (DR 31513) and the faster, typically Fury-styled From The Bottom Of My Heart (DR 31514). Billy handled these Chuck Willis R&B classics in fine style. It's a pity they weren't in stereo, as are the original cuts by the turban-wearing-one - yet another apparent Fury influence,
September 3, 1963 saw a further remake of Somebody Else's Girl, a song that obviously posed problems for Billy. Exactly a fortnight later, he recorded remakes of Please Love Me, Take Me and Straight To Your Arms (DR 31875).
To complete the rare recordings from 1963, on November 13 Billy taped the unissued Nobody Else Will Do (DR 32214, just 93 seconds long). Polygram don't appear to have this brief track in their archives, but it's likely that it is, in fact, a misnomer for What Am I Living For.
On the same day, he cut the single Do You Really Love Me Too (Fool's Errand). This saw a Japanese release. It seems there were other 45 release in Japan, although these are very difficult to obtain and expensive to collect.
1964 proved to be the second most prolific year of Billy Fury's recording career, producing 35 songs. On January 14 Hippy Hippy Shake and Glad All Over were cut for Scandinavian release. This most sought-after 45 could be purchased on the standard dark blue Decca label and in the standard Decca sleeve, by UK fans who knew of its release, but it was not a widely-known or advertised release for home consumption. In truth, it was a weak effort, competent rather than striking, but it is quite popular with fans. It could and should have been much more powerful. Two different picture sleeves are known to exist and a third is rumoured.
One sleeve featured musical instruments and had a light blue label; the other was the standard Decca label placed in a picture cover. Both known picture sleeve releases were for the Scandinavian market. The coupling was released in other parts of the globe, notably the USA and Canada (blue London labels) and in New Zealand. In addition, it saw a French EP release.
Another unissued track dates from this same session - Break Up (DR 32640) which may be the Del Shannon song, the Jerry Lee Lewis hit written by Charlie Rich or something quite different. As Billy used to feature the Jerry Lee version in live shows it was probably that version he cut. If only that could be found!
(***Harry writes. The track has been found. I acquired it on 8 November 2003, and it can now be heard on the Rare And Unreleased section of this site.)
On the same date, Love Don't Let Me Down (DR 32641) was cut, but rejected for release. (See below for news of the LDLMD project.) It was remade on March 9, 1964 (DR 32923) along with the finished version of the rocker Nothin' Shakin' (DR 32927) which at 2:15 was ten seconds longer than the rejected first attempt.
Another unreleased track, More (DR 32971) was cut on March 18. Once again, Polygram don't seem to have this tape on file, so we can only assume that Billy cut the standard song of this name, which was originally a hit for Perry Como and Jimmy Young in 1956.
Unissued tracks seemed to pile up during 1964, as two more emerged from that March 18 session.
The first was Suspicion (DR 32972, 2:30 long). This was presumably the great song also recorded by Elvis and Terry Stafford. To beat either version would have been some achievement, even for Billy, but his unique voice would have been wonderful to hear on this number. Bobby Vee also cut a reasonable version of this song. Subsequently Ronnie McDowell (a great Elvis soundalike and country artist) and Robert Gordon cut fine versions.
The second mystery song from this session was called A Thousand Clowns (DR 32943, 2:03 long). All sorts of ideas are conjured up by the title, which perhaps could have been an Orbison-style ballad. But once again, we will probably never know, as Polygram don't appear to hold the tapes for either song. This seems strange when you realise the hit single I Will was cut at the same session.
Why there were no stereo releases during 1964, other than the I've Gotta Horse soundtrack, is a mystery and acutely disappointing. They must exist somewhere.
Billy's biggest chart session of 1964 was a remake of Conway Twitty's It's Only Make-Believe. The version issued as a single (2:27 long) was cut on June 21, but a few weeks earlier, on May 29, Billy had made a first attempt at the song. It went to No 1 in Singapore.
During that same May session, Billy cut his classic version of Jimmy Reed's Baby What You Want Me To Do, along with two more unissued numbers. For Your Love (DR 33383 2:35) would probably have been too early to be the Yardbirds hit, so it must be another, less familiar song. The other song left over - but not in the vaults, apparently - was Like A Child (DR 33389).
After the success of the film Play It Cool, Billy's fans were eager for him to make another movie, but when he did, the results, for me, were rather disappointing.
Billy began work on the soundtrack for I've Gotta Horse on August 16 and he seems to have continued cutting material for the film for some time after that. The film was retitled Wonderful Day in South Africa and appeared with a film booklet and a plethora of merchandising stills, posters, etc. The critics loved the film and so did many fans, who perhaps appreciated that it reflected Billy rather than Fury for once.
The LP release, whether UK or foreign, is still one of the most sought-after. Recently a near-mint copy of the UK release changed hands for £60.
The first stereo release was on the Nothin' Shakin' CD release in 1994. There was a London release (red label) in the Philippines, and presumably elsewhere abroad.
On November 18, 1964, he recorded I'm Lost Without You (DR 34581) one of his own favourite recordings, a song that was a stand-out in his 1982 concerts - and which, sadly, was also the number arranged and sung at his funeral service. In many ways, the single was a landmark recording, as it lacked the familiar Billy Fury trademarks, but retained all of his warmth and conviction as a performer, looking ahead to the artistically successful but otherwise unprofitable Parlophone recordings of later years.
Remakes of Like A Child and My Friend were also cut during this session, as were two unissued tracks, How Can You Tell (DR 35696) and I Must Be Dreaming (DR 35698). Both may have been cut for I've Gptta Horse, but then not used in that movie. Frank Bull recalls seeing Billy singing I Must Be Dreaming on TV. He can even remember parts of the song, but once again, it hasn't been located at Polygram. Fury Monthly reported Billy as featuring the song in the Aladdin pantomime. How many fans remember that, I wonder.
(I Must Be Dreaming can now be heard by all, as both studio and live recordings have been supplied to this site. - HW)
Also cut at this time was one of Billy's finest tracks This Diamond Ring. A cover of the Gary Lewis hit, it was far superior and cried out for a 45 release, having "hit" written all over it. It was released on a UK compilation - 14 Great Artists - Lords Taverners - Decca LK 4695. There was a red London label issue, LL 3430, and a blue London issue PS 430 in the USA. (England's Greatest Hitmakers). The label on the latter said "stereo", but it wasn't.
Moving into 1965, session details become harder to track down. In Thoughts Of You, Billy's last top 10 single, dates from May of that year, while Run To My LovingArms comes from August, when Billy also presumably also cut the equally professional Where Do You Run (DR 36461) and the four R&B tracks for the Billy Fury And The Gamblers EP.
It's sad that this experiment wasn't repeated to enable an album of such material to be released, using either unissued songs and numbers like You Better Believe It Baby.
In Thoughts Of You was featured on the collectable Decca compilation album Bumper Bundle - 16 Hits (LK 4734).
Of equal disappointment to the non-release of a Billy Fury And The Gamblers LP is that around this time Billy starred in his own TV special. Even back then I was acutely disappointed at the attempt to portray Billy without the Fury. Singing standards such as Hey Look Me Over did Billy no favours at a time when the beat boom was at its height. The show did feature a slower, more bluesy version of You Got Me Dizzy with The Gamblers.
An In Concert special with the great driving rhythm and blues sound of The Gamblers coupled with an album release, with such tracks as My Baby Left Me (later recorded n a BBC radio programme) would have enhanced Billy's credibility no end, and been a lasting, living visual and aural enhancement to his ability as Britain's best beat singer, bar none. Instead, Decca stablemate Dave Berry followed that direction and scored highly.
Although the quality of the material on I've Gotta Horse was largely disappointing, the rest of the music Billy recorded during his last three years with Decca showed that, if anything, he was more polished and professional than ever.
He finished his Decca career - and effectively, his time as a chart artist, until 1982 - with three songs recorded in April 1966. These were:
1966 was also the year when Billy allegedly recorded a song called How's The World Treating You for the stage play of the same name. There is always the possibility that a tape of the song does exist, either in a recording from the play or on acetate, but it doesn't seem to have been taped during an official Decca session. The Wyndham Theatre in London (where the play was performed) presumably have no knowledge of the existence of the tape.
During the last week of December, 1966, Billy sat down with his manager Larry Parnes, and Rex Oldfield of EMI, to sign a five-year contract. The new deal offered him the chance to make albums again (which hadn't happened at Decca since 1964) besides a good financial incentive. Sadly, no Parlophone albums were released (although three albums, one EP and one CD containing "Missing Years" material have since been released) and none of the singles from that period made the charts.
It's difficult to know exactly why the EMI deal fell so flat - except that Billy joined his new label at a time when musical tastes were changing faster than ever before. Also, Billy wasn't the only top-flight artist of the late 1950s and 1960s who had problems with his career in 1966-8. Roy Orbison, Del Shannon and even to some extent, Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard spring to mind, while most other British contemporaries had long since fallen by the wayside.
His achievements at Decca are beyond reproach, however. He issued 29 UK singles for the label, and 26 charted - the exceptions being Angel Face, My Christmas Prayer and Don't Let A Little Pride.
Two silver discs, Halfway To Paradise and I'd Never Find Another You, three especially successful EPs, Billy Fury Hits (no 8 in the EP charts) Play It Cool (no 2) and Billy Fury And The Tornados (no 2) plus five successful albums of Decca material (including the Hit Parade album) further testify to the success of his golden years at Decca. No wonder he was nicknamed My Consistency.
The subsequent fall and chart decline with the signing to EMI is therefore even more poignant considering his evident talent and ardent fan-following. It appears that the Parlophone singles sold relatively well, particularly the first ones, despite not actually charting.
When it comes to collecting Billy's singles, fans should note that 11 of the Decca 45s were issued in the USA by London, including atleast one on the subsidiary Parrot (one of which, It's Only Make-Believe, was credited to Bill Fury!) on both the orange promo and black label standard release.
In addition, there was an issue with the correct credit of Billy Fury but the promo of this release omitted the actual parrot from the label.
Many singles were also issued on London's sister label in Canada.
Two Decca releases came out on United Artists UAQ-968 In Thoughts Of You/Away From You and UA-50-061 Give Me Your Word/She's So Far Out She's In. Standard issues had a red label and promos were white.
A search instigated some time ago by Billy fan (and because of his unflagging efforts in releasing Billy products) friend to us all, John Tracy (sadly no longer with Polygram) resulted in locating a stereo cut of Away From You, which is now available on the Anthology CD..
Hopefully, more gems will be released and in due course perhaps a CD entitled Billy Fury - Rare And Unreleased will be forthcoming. The fan club have already requested sich and other future releases from Polygram.
Perhaps among the famous Joe Meek tea chest tapes, apparently to be finally released, the tracks that Billy allegedly cut in 1966 will be located. Also perhaps the lucky owner of the auctioned Sound Of Fury radio show acetate will do the right thing and release it for the benefit of us all. This is now pending on the Ozit label.
With luck, Decca music may not be completely over for Billy fans and lovers of good 1950s and 1960s music.
Earlier, I referred briefly to the very first tracks that Billy recorded, as Ron Wycherley, at Percy Philips' recording studio in Liverpool, probably early in 1958. As I recall from a drawing done at the time, the label on the original 78rpm disc lists those songs as follows:
The spelling is reproduced as on the label (presumably Ronnie's writing.).
When played, there is a prominent crackle on the tracks which have surfaced, which is not surprising given the brittle nature of this precious slice of history, and the fact that it's now over 40 years old. Wouldn't we all like to be the proud owner of this?
The tracks which have been aired on local radio in Liverpool and circulated on tape have so far only turned out to be:
I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone (the Elvis number) 1 min.
If Playin' For Keeps was added, probably another short version, I would suppose the total time to be 7:30 to 8:00 at the outside.
It's possible that I'm Left etc (version 2) is just version 1 re-recorded on the reference cassette tape by someone. Certainly, there's no mention on the label of the song being redone on the disc itself. If this is the case then the overall time, if Playin' For Keeps surfaces, would be under 7:00.
Presumably Playin' For Keeps (another early Elvis number) has been too badly damaged to play and record.
Come Go With Me has been widely reported to have also been cut, but I can't recall it being written on the label and I'm not sure where the information regarding its existence came from. I have a feeling that it may be misinformation, and should refer to Baby. If not, let's hope it surfaces.
Baby was also re-attempted by Billy in 1982, as an acoustic workout and it's evident from further recordings referred to shortly, that Billy had a tendency in 1982 to resurrect songs from over 20 years before. We knew this when The Missing Years brought the original version of Driving Nicely (No Trespassers).
Moving on to 1960 and the recording of the classic Sound Of Fury album, as I mentioned , acetate out-takes from the session are rumoured to exist but whether these are stand-alone different recordings, or the ones circulkated among the fans on cassette tape is not clear at the moment.
The Decca session sheets have the recording date for the album as January 1960, but no doubt Decca's John Tracy had more correct or specific information when he said that, although Turn My Back On You was cut onJanuary 8 (Elvis's birthday) the rest of the album was cut on April 14. The rehearsal tape which Billy had evidently put together, just 12 songs by Billy, accompanied by just his guitar, is a unique document in the history of rock 'n' roll. The songs which are known to exist are:
Running time about 19:00.
The beautiful You Don't Know and one of the finest rocking tracks from the session, Don't Leave Me This Way, may well have been also either put onto a rehearsal tape or ended up as rough demo version, on acetate, but presently I have no information on this. Quite why the unreleased numbers were not included, making it a 12-inch album, I have no idea, certainly Cheat With Love or the lovely I Wonder Why could have fitted in. Perhaps, like I Got Someone, they would have spoilt the perfect balance of the album if they had been included.
To hear the young Billy introducing the numbers for the session is a wonderful moment. To give a breakdown of the dialogue and each number would be to spoil the forthcoming pleasure so a brief resumé will suffice for now.
Most of the numbers are abbreviated in comparison to the released versions.
Well Alright is taken at the same pace as the released version. Cheatin' With Love is much the same as the 1963 version, except that it's obviously lacking in the power of the released version. It's You I Need is the same pace as the full version and My Advice much the same, but without the bite and drive of the full version. What Did I Do is much the same as the EP release, but the rerecording suffered, in my view, from a feeble backing. Tackled a little differently, later with the Gamblers, perhaps, this would have been a far stronger number. Certainly Billy's snarling vocal is great.
Anyway, next up, Phone Call appears to be a little slower than the full version and Don't Say It's Over, like the released version, really rocks. Billy's reputation as Britain's premier rock 'n' roller is fully justified by this track. Great stuff.
Since You've Been Gone has a lovely hard-edged vocal just like the final version. Don't Tell Me Lies is a little faster here than The One And Only album version, but still plaintive and beautiful.
Love Love Love is a faster version, with slightly different lyrics from the 1982 incarnation as Love Sweet Love. It's great to hear this version but disappointing in a way to realise that the 1982 release was not a late return to the rockabilly style of songwriting, more a revisit of an early song.
You Wonder Why is a gem, a ballad that could so easily have been resurrected, perhaps even in 1961, and fitted onto the Halfway To Paradise album, even perhaps the second album. It's a great pity that this was allowed to fade away.
To close the session, unless other tracks have been brought to light recently, is the country-styled That's Love, taken at the recognised pace, and sounding little different, apart from the backing obviously. I don't know exactly what's going to surface, but I do know that the fans deserve every track that can be found.
Moving on to other unreleased numbers that are known about, there was an article in Record Collector magazine that many fans might not have seen.
It appears that Billy had at least two shows on Radio Luxembourg. During 1961 it was reported that the programme would be called Make A Date With Billy Fury.
If anyone knows if this programme was broadcast, please let us know, but it's likely that the title was changed to Billy Fury's Pad. The theme of the programme was that it was taking place in Billy's flat (it was, according to Hal Carter, really a studio) and guests would just pop in.
It seems that Billy's guests on the show were mainly acts managed by Larry Parnes, who was instrumental in setting up the programme. Guests apparently included Joe Brown, Rory Storm and Marty Wilde.
Because it was a condition of contract that each programme tape recorded in London would be erased after broadcast, there was little chance of good quality recordings surviving. When you consider, or even remember, how Radio Luxembourg used to fade in and out (I personally remember Billy's Sound Of Fury 1962 shows) anyone who taped the shows from the radio would have, for the most part, variable sound levels. If there is anyone out there with such recordings, please contact us.
It seems that the engineer for one session was Alan Bailey, a Billy Fury fan, who decided to cut a show onto an acetate for his personal listening pleasure. The acetate, recorded on the little-known Magnegraph label, in a small studio in London's Hanway Place, off Oxford Street, has survived in fine condition and is now owned by a Billy Fury fan, who is also a serious collector of other British rock history rarities. Another fan allegedly has an open reel rerecording of the same recordings. Due to the considerable value of the acetate, it is perfectly understandable why tape recordings, even half versions, are not being circulated, even to those of us at the Sound Of Fury. However, if we are all lucky, some enterprising CD company may be able to bring out either the entire disc, or at least the seven Billy numbers, thereby giving us the sheer listening joy, and benefiting the present owner and other relevant parties.
Titled Billy Fury - Radio Lux Sessions, the disc contains ten fill tracks. The show, therefore, would seem to have been of about 30 minutes' duration.
Side One: Peggy Sue (Billy Fury), C Jam Blues (instrumental), Halfway To Paradise (Billy Fury), Wheels (instrumental), When I Fall In Love (Billy Fury). Side Two: Last Date (instrumental), I May Be Wrong (Billy Fury), Am I Blue (Billy Fury), Like Young (instrumental), Speech (presumably by Billy), Slow Boat To China (Billy Fury).
The original Record Collector article had Billy down as being backed by the Tornados, but they were not formed until 1962. Clem Cattini is on drums, Joe Brown on guitar for Wheels, Reg Guest (from the Sound Of Fury session) on piano and Colin Green on guitar. Colin was a member of the Blue Flames so this particular session would seem to be a bit of an anomaly. At this time Billy was most certainly backed by the Blue Flames on BBC radio broadcasts etc, comprising Colin Green (lead), Clive Powell (Georgie Fame) piano, Red Reece on drums and Peter Oakman (presumably bass).
Sessions from the Sound Of Fury Radio Luxembourg shows from 1962 do exist. I am informed that people are trying to get them released and that they are of variable quality, probably open reel taped from the radio. Let's hope they see the light of day. I have been informed that they are in the form of 15 minute shows. However, Titbits magazine dated January 6 1962 indicates that the programme on January 3, a Wednesday night, lasted for 30 minutes. That's another anomaly to be sorted out.
Interestingly, the Cliff Richard show of 15 minutes' duration returned for a 13 week run on Sunday January 7.
He tells me that the programme, called Billy's Pad, was broadcast. In fact, as visitors to this site will know, we have since established that point ourselves, as some of the broadcasts were recorded by Ingar Knudtsen, and can be heard in Real Audio.
Alan writes: "Luxy didn't have the disc-cutting facilities, so I had a company called Magnagraph cut it (an acetate) for me. It was actually recorded in Studio A, Hertford Street. The acetate was the only surviving quality recording."
Alan confirms that the speech to which Chris refers was, in fact, Billy.
"Joe Brown was to have played Wheels but had problems with it, so Colin Green played it, but Joe took the credit," writes Alan.
Alan has written a book (not yet published) on the Luxembourg days. I have asked Alan to let me know when it becomes available, so that I can publicise it.
This feature has been updated by Chris from work that originally appeared in three parts in the Sound Of Fury fan club magazine.
Don't Let Me Down project - Harry writes.
Update 1 August 2010: Sorry that this issue has been neglected. Johnny Storme recorded Geoff Howlett's words and melody line, and this was issued first as a single, then on the Christmas Day Again charity CD in late 2009.
Original feature: In November 2003, I acquired a collection of material including a tape of the backing by The Gamblers for Love Don't Let Me Down.
A completed recording of this song - probably laid down on January 14, 1964 - has never been found, and I have not managed to trace anyone who knew either the melody line or the lyrics.
At my invitation, Geoff Howlett has written a melody line to accompany The Gamblers' backing.
Visitors to this site are invited to write words for Geoff's tune.
The intention is that the finished product will be recorded, using The Gamblers' original backing, during 2005 on a charity EP led by singers associated with billyfury.com.
I have since been asked by several people to make available a copy without the melody line. As many will be aware, when I once provided clean copies of two new songs on this site, they were pirated by someone unconnected with the site. I have therefore altered the dynamics of the backing track and saved it in very low-fi, so that it can be used as a guide, but would be useless to any outsider who wanted to misuse it. Here it is.
Marguerite Holloway has written:
Back in the past
Love's faded fast
Don't want to make
Those same mistakes.
I don't want to wake & find
I've fooled myself,been running blind
Don't want to fall & then
See love lie to me again.
I don't want my trust to be
Lost in lonely misery
We could make it you & I
Love cold make us fly.
I don't want to give my heart
Let myself be torn apart
Feel a loser from the start
Love don't let me down
Make my dreaming all come true
You with me & me with you
When all your hopes are tossed about
Don't let the love die out.
Don't be the one to tear
Into a heart that really cares
A love to you that now declares
Love don't let me down.................
Mike Ford has produced these lyrics:
When I first met you girl
I know we could be, so happy you and me now
I hope it will be, If love donít let me down
Come on Iíll show you how
How Iím gonna make you mine
We should be together girl
Just give me a sign
I know we could be, so happy you and me now
I know you will see, If love donít let me down
Youíre the only one for me
I hope you feel the same way too
I will love you always girl
Iíll promise to be true
I know we could be, so happy you and me now
I hope youíll marry me, If love donít let me down
Oh love donít let me down
Oh love donít let me down
Come on love donít let me down
Please love donít let me down
Oh love donít let me down
Rob Dee suggests:
I'VE BEEN UP AND I'VE BEEN DOWN
LEFT ALONE AND PUSHED AROUND
NOW I'M BACK TO WEAR MY CROWN
AND I'M GONNA PAINT THAT TOWN
THE GIRLS I MEET THEY DON'T WANNA KNOW
THEY SAY I'M CHEAP AND THAT I SHOULD GROW
UP, AND LET MY OLD SELF GO
LOVE DON'T LET ME DOWN
GIRLS LIKE YOU AND BOYS LIKE ME
TOO FAR APART WE JUST DON'T SEE
EYE TO EYE OR FACE TO FACE
THE WORLD'S TOO SMALL WE NEED A BIGGER PLACE
I'LL HAVE TO TAKE MY TIME WITH LOVE
I CANT HURRY PUSH OR SHOVE
IT'S NOT THE TIME TO FOOL AROUND
LOVE DON'T LET ME DOWN
I'VE BEEN IN AND I'VE BEEN OUT
NO TIME TO WASTE I HAVE NO DOUBT
I'LL HAVE TO RUN TO CATCH MYSELF
DON'T WANT NO MORE TIME ON THAT SHELF
SO LOOK OUT NOW CAUSE HERE I COME
DON'T STOP ME NOW I'M ON THE RUN
I'LL WEAR A SMILE AND NOT A FROWN
LOVE DON'T LET ME DOWN
NO LOVE DON'T LET ME DOWN
NO LOVE DON'T LET ME DOMN
NO LOVE DON'T LET ME DOWN.
Dave Michael's words:
Dave has also sent me an audio tape - nice one, Dave! - is this the first time that words to Love Don't Let Me Down have been recorded since Billy's session? Could be! I'm not sure if he intended me to make it public yet.
I hope at least one version will be performed by someone at the Sunnyside. I know that Johnny Storme is going to do I Must Be Dreaming, so that would be a pretty good double of discovered songs.
- Harry Whitehouse.