|Ready Steady||Clockwork Oranges||Ember EMB S227|
Austin Powell wrote in June 2011:
"Last year I was given the entire library of file copies from the Ember record label. Not only the UK releases but international releases and other material. Amongst that material are Greek, American and German releases by The Clockwork Oranges. Also in the library were a couple of Italian releases by 'I Pooh' and on one of those labels is also written "The Clockwork Oranges" and as the record in question is Vieni Fuori (the Italian version of Spencer Davis's Keep On Running), it's unlikely this was a note that the Clockwork Oranges should record an 'English version'. Maybe someone at Ember was noting that 'I Pooh' were, in fact, The Clockwork Oranges?
These Italian I Pooh releases are also in picture sleeves which I believe show that the German release carries a photo of the Italian group whereas the Greek picture sleeve is most definitely a different group."
The Italian group I Pooh
German sleeve – looks like the same guys as those on the left
Italian release bears an enigmatic handwritten annotation
possibly intended as a cross-reference.
Note the mis-spelling of composer Jackie Edwards' name
Greek picture sleeve – the photo bears little resemblance
to the band above
In July 2011, Rob Parish wrote:
"There seems to be some confusion about the Clockwork Oranges. The band actually came from Erith, Kent with a line-up of Roger Cotton (guitar, vocals), Bobby Valentine (guitar vocals), Rick ? (bass, vocals), and my brother John Parish on drums and vocals. He still has their 45s on vinyl. John lives in St Ives, Cornwall. Coincidentally, so does Rick, while Roger Cotton has stayed in Kent, runs a successful studio and is still prolific in the british blues scene. No sign of Bobby's whereabouts as yet.
John does have some pics but no scanner, so cannot scan them at present. I have also spoken to Roger, who said he would do some scans. From what I remember, Roger left the Oranges and went on to join Johnny Johnson's Bandwagon.
I've looked at the pics that you sent that came from Austin, (as above) and the Oranges are none of them. It's weird that several groups around Europe are all claiming to be the Oranges."
It seems more likely that there was confusion on the part of overseas record companies rather than that anyone else was actually claiming to be the Oranges.
Roger Cotton is a keyboard player of renown and runs the Roundel Studios, so-called because they sited are in a former Kent oasthouse. According to the Roundel website , "The studios are a working base for musician, composer and producer Roger Cotton, who plays piano, Hammond organ and guitar. Roger played for many years with the Peter Green Splinter Group touring with artists like B B King, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Ray Vaughan, Louisana bluesman Larry Garner, the late great James Carr and many more. His latest tours have been with Buddy Whittington from the Bluesbreakers."
We look forward to hearing more from the former Clockwork Oranges. However, 'once on the net, always on the net', and I suspect that the myth that this single was an incognito work by I Pooh will always exist somewhere.
Everything below consists of earlier conclusions (and confusions) reached in 2007.
Internet searches indicated that the Clockwork Oranges were in reality Italian supergroup I Pooh, incognito. Research by Michel Bands from Grenoble, France, initially suggested that this was a fallacy. However, in October 2007, Michel wrote again, from a different perspective.With no apparent prospect of confirming or otherwise the real identity of the Clockwork Oranges, I have decided to leave Michel's original comments as they first appeared on the website, followed by Michel's new conclusions on the matter. Viewers are then at liberty to conduct their own research and make up their own minds.
My dear and beloved Big L Fab Forty,
So you have finally caught on with this strange rumour assimilating the Clockwork Oranges and the Italian group I Pooh. One should not believe everything found on the internet, on the contrary one should always be very doubtful about most of the theories spreading through the world-wide-web. In fact I am happy, because you give me an opportunity to contest this recurrent idea, and you are opening a forum which might help us all to find the truth about it.
The facts as I understood them are that the Clockwork Oranges were formed in Great Britain by Terry Clarke, former vocalist/guitarist with the Herd. The bassist was Brian Curtis. They issued the single Ready Steady/After Tonight on Ember S 227. It was subsequently made available in the USA (Liberty 55.887) and in Germany with a picture sleeve (Columbia 23.226). Now this picture is depicting a different group, which some wise Italian fan recognized as being an early shot of the then newly-formed I Pooh. I suppose one way or another, this is the origin of the rumour. That is what is written in Italian on the poohforfans web-page. However, that is no proof that I Pooh did effectively sing on the vinyl contained inside the German picture sleeve. (But more of that later.) Furthermore, I also found reference to a Greek copy of the Clockwork Oranges single, labelled as 'The Clock Work Oranges', but with the picture sleeve showing a completely different group!
The Clockwork Oranges did exist, and played some concerts in Britain. I
found a mention of them in the Kinks' diary, playing the Rag Ball at Leeds
University on Thursday 26th October 1967, with Brian Auger and the Trinity.
This proves that Clockwork Oranges was not merely a name on a record label,
even less a fancy name for a foreign artist.
As far as I know, the Clockwork Oranges made no more recordings, but the two original members later joined the Birds in 1968 after Ron Wood and Kim Gardner had left to join a late version of the Creation, then much in demand in Germany with a few hits. These ex-Herd, ex-Clockwork Oranges, ex-Birds members then emigrated to Australia in 1969, where they resurrected a new version of the Birds in Perth. Recruiting local drummer John Goldsmith, they made three singles there during 1969/70. (Check these facts in the fanzine Zabadak #19 from October 2002 (pages 28-29). The mag is edited by Ron Cooper (Domaine des Palmiers, 124 av. Maurice Chevalier, Apt 103 Bat. B3, 06150 Cannes La Bocca, France). Ron admits that the voice of the singer is indeed the same. Especially the cockney accent, which is very pronounced. Check the voice singing After Tonight against the two first Herd singles, on which Clarke is named as the vocalist. I find it particularly evident when compared to the Herds 'She Was Really Saying Something'.
Now for the picture sleeves. These were not common in Britain in the 60s, but 'We Europeans' found them everywhere. In France, we even had the pleasure to see only first class glossy cardboard sleeves for our EPs. When we bought a British record, we had 2 hits for the price of one most of the time! Ninety-nine percent of the time, the pictures matched the inside. Sometimes there were photos of the group, sometimes mere drawings, or even pictures that had nothing to do with the artist. Now you would never find anything wrong with Beatles or Rolling Stones records. But mistakes might happen with unknown groups. I own a German single by German group 'The Image', covering 'Hideaway'. This has a picture of an early 60s French group on the front El Toro et les Cyclones, featuring a young Jacques Dutronc with sunglasses! I can also cite a Spanish Dave Clark Five LP which I have, adorned with a beautiful shot of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. And then there is the famous French EP of Gary Farr and the T-Bones sporting a picture of the Yardbirds! These errors are rare, but they do happen.
As far as the Clockwork Oranges tracks are concerned, both titles are covers of Italian Hits. The English translation was made by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who wrote all the hits by the Honeycombs, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, the Herd and later Flaming Youth. They told Ron Cooper that they were not directly involved with this record, merely putting English lyrics to the songs. 'After Tonight' was subsequently featured on the first (eponymous) Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich LP (which became Album of the Week on Big L two weeks running! 26/06/66 and 03/07/66).
The original versions of the songs were both recorded by the same Italian group, Equipe 84, which was one of the best bands at the time, being twice #2 in Italy in 1966 with covers of 'Bang Bang' and 'You Were On My Mind', and a mega-hit called 'Auschwitz'. 'Ready Steady' is the English version of 'Primo di cominciare' (Spring 1965); 'After Tonight' was 'Notte senza fine', their entry in the Naples Festival in Summer 65.
Now why would I Pooh choose to translate the hits of their worst enemies into English? Can you imagine the Beatles singing 'As Tears Go By' in Italian? Or the Rolling Stones singing 'She Loves You' in German? Besides, the first I Pooh single had only just been issued at the start of 1966. It was a cover of 'Keep On Running' ('Vieni fuori') and it was not a hit. Why should this then totally unknown group be able to release an English-language single in several foreign countries, but not in their own?
Of course Im not 100% sure of all this, these are mere considerations. But there is no evidence that I Pooh is the group featured on this record. Ron Cooper wisely added that we cannot even be sure that the sleeve picture is indeed I Pooh. The portrait is taken from far away, and the faces are difficult to recognize.
One more point: Clockwork Oranges singles are much sought after and fetch very high prices on eBay - maybe for the wrong reasons. Its too bad if these buyers are misled.
Thank you Mary and Alan Field, and please help us find the truth about the Clockwork Oranges, and maybe who the other members were?
Michel Bands, Grenoble, France
(May I advise anybody to visit the www.davedeedozybeakymickandtich.nl site where you will also find all these record sleeves (see heading 'Record Cover Blunder' - Mary) and if you have anything to add, all contributions are welcome.)
Michel adds a PS that both sides of the Clockwork Oranges single are on the unpleasantly-titled CD-compilation Turds on a Bum Ride Vol 4 which occasionally comes up in auctions. The CD also contains a third Clockwork Orange track, Help Me. He says:
I wonder if it is really by the same group, and where it does come from? (DDDBMT also sang a track with that title on their second LP.)
Svenn Martinsen in Norway also has infomation on his website that Ready Steady was Mike Lennox's climber for March 6th. Svenn (then aged 15) edited his own publication 'Anaheim Times'. He kindly sent the advertisement on the left and says:
"I usually have a very good memory, but of course might have mixed-up things there. On the other hand, it was written off old notes in the "Anaheim Times" written shortly after it was heard in the radio, usually on a Sunday after the Fab40. (And after "Cash Box Top 100 on RC South Sunday mornings which was the greatest inspiration until the Mi Amigo grounding in January the same year.)
I enclose some bits from "AT" 12/1966, (March 6th) I think the ad came from the New Musical Express and I think I cut it out and kept it because the record had a driving beat resembling my favourite, the "surf sound". The group was British, as far as I can remember."
Svenn liked the 'surfing sound' single so much that he placed it at number 16 in his personal 'Anaheim Times' Hot Hundred!
Left: Svenn has written 'One of UK's best surfing groups', 'Going to the Top' and 'Mike Lennox Climber on Big L'.
Hello Big L!
Following my letter about The Clockwork Oranges, from a long while ago, I have come to some conclusions, so I thought I should let you know.
I have been corresponding with an Italian Beat collector, who gave me some clues. He has a blog, to share his collection of rare Italian Beat.
The arguments I developed the first time I think were valid and logical, but life (and music) doesn't always work that way... Lately I have been able to listen to the first i Pooh LP, from 1966. And truly its sound is very close to the Clockwork Oranges' single, and different from any production made in London, 1966, where recordings were of much better quality.
I Pooh have the same guitar sound, the singer's voice is similar, and the group's background vocals, prominent on 'Ready Steady' are indeed very good, as they dare to sing covers of the 4 Seasons.
Probably in the beginning, the group had no say about the material they
had to record, and disowned this single. Even today, their whole sixties
output with their first record company is not included in their official
discography, and these records are not officially re-released on CD. That
could explain the group's muteness. Also, there is only one original member
left, after many tribulations, and as they are still active, they put the
emphasis on their current career.
On the other hand, I found one website dedicated to Mick Underwood which shows an early shot of the Herd with Terry Clarke and Louis Cennamo, and states that after leaving the Herd: "He started jamming with Harvey Hinsley and Terry Clark". But in the complete discography listing all Mick's records from 1962 onwards, there's no Clockwork Oranges single. So the group certainly existed, but seems to have no connection with the disc.
That's the end of the investigation for me. Please feel free to add these
thoughts to the previous letter.
Thank you again. Greetings, Michel
I agree entirely with Michel's statement, "One should not believe everything found on the internet". The worst example of this is the often appallingly-inaccurate Wikipedia, where Radio London's mystery DJ Richard Warner was purported to have founded a heavy-metal band! In the course of researching Fab 40 artists, I have frequently come across conflicting stories, and I am always pleased to hear from band members and anyone else who may have conducted their own research and is able to set the record straight. This is why my original feature asked the question, 'Have we identified the mystery group Clockwork Oranges?' and said 'internet research indicated' that the band was really I Pooh. I was certain that someone would give me an answer and Michel did - very quickly! His initial research concluded that the Clockwork Oranges were almost certainly nothing to do with I Pooh even if both songs on the single were Italian. Also, Svenn Martinson had independently drawn the conclusion that the band was British. However, Michel has since concluded that perhaps he was wrong and the band really was I Pooh.
Michel's comments about the wrong photos appearing on record sleeves demonstrates how easily a simple error by the record company or at the printer's can cause confusion. If the envelopes labelled as containing pictures of the Dave Clark Five with the one for Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich accidentally became transposed, how would the person making the printing plate tell if he had the right band photo? Confronted by two photos of five-man bands, how would he be able to tell which was which? This would ring true especially in the case of relatively unknown newcomers.
According to a review of the Australian-released CD, Clarion singles collection The Birds, Clockwork Orange were Terry Clarke, Brian Curtis, Mick Underwood and Harvey Hinsley (later of Hot Chocolate). After name changes to The Dove, then World War III, the group disbanded. Terry then emigrated to Perth to be joined a year later by Brian.With the addition of local musician John Goldsmith, the band then became The Birds.
One thing I cannot understand is why former members of I Pooh would have allowed what appears to be little but a myth, to perpetrate for so long. Whatever the reason for I Pooh's silence, I invited Andy Bown to review this feature and give me his own answers. Andy took over as lead singer of the Herd when Terry Clarke left and has compiled his own Herd Family Tree. Andy says:
"I THINK I took over from Terry Clarke as lead singer in the Herd and the name Clockwork Oranges rings a very faint bell, but that's about it. After all – it WAS the sixties.."
Perhaps Terry will get in touch and set the record straight.I Pooh are still performing and their official website is here.