THE IDLE RACE-Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree/My Father's Son U.S. Liberty 55997 1967
Here we have what should have been the U.K. debut single by The Idle Race, a band comprised of ex-Nightriders (Dave Pritchard-rhythm guitar,Greg Masters-bass and Roger Spencer-drums) and new member Jeff Lynne (lead vocals/lead guitar). The Nightriders had previously backed Mike Sheridan and morphed into Sheridan's Lot . You can see one of our earliest posts at on them at:
Lead singer Mike Sheridan moved on and lead guitarist Roy Wood joined The Move and the band (plus new lead guitarist Lynne) reverted back to their Nightriders moniker for one last single in the U.K., a cover of the Kingsmen's "It's Only The Dog" b/w "Your Friend" (a Marty Wilde composition previously cut back in 1964 on Piccadilly by Mal Ryder and the Spirits) on Polydor 56116 in November 1966. The band soon changed their name and rang in 1967 as The Idle Race (after a spell as The Idyll Race).
The newly christened Idle Race were signed to Liberty records in the U.K. and their ex-band mate Roy Wood duly supplied them with one of his compositions "Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree" to be their debut single and hooked them up with producers Eddie Offord and Gerald Chevin. However with The Move's "Flowers In The Rain" (which was backed with their version of "Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree" ) gaining national attention because of a promotional postcard for the single which featured then Prime Minister Harold Wilson (who successfully sued the band and their manager for libel with all proceeds of the record going to charity) Liberty felt it would be best to distance their new signings from The Move controversy and the single was shelved in favor of Lynne's "Imposter's Of Life's Magazine" which became their U.K. debut (Liberty LBF 15206 October 1967). The label's U.S. parent company however decided to give it an airing in America which ultimately did not attract any attention and it would not be until the 70's and the advent of E.L.O. that Jeff Lynne would be a household name in the States. Strangely enough U.K. 60's psych-pop legends Jason Crest issued a version in the U.K. on Phillips (BF 1687) after the furor had died down in August 1968 with zero chart response.
The Idle Race's version of "Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree" bears little resemblance to The Move's mild string quartet backed pop psych ditty. It's tempo is doubled and though it still retains a trace of whimsy with it's nursery rhyme-ish keyboard bits its the heavy bass and crack delivery by the band that drives the number and makes it a mid 60's British pop-psych classic. It features an ending with an abrupt run off where the number stops as if someone had unplugged the turntable! "My Father's Son" displays the eclectic whimsy the band are known for. It sounds almost like a '67 Kinks ditty with some bursts of bluesy guitar thrown in amongst the almost Moody Blues '67 pop choral backing vocals.
Both sides can be found on the essential Idle Race double CD compilation "Back To the Story".
Hear "Here We Go Round the Lemon Tree":
Hear "My Father's Son":