Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Farewell To The Kidd: Johnny Kidd's Posthumous U.K. 45

JOHNNY KIDD AND THE PIRATES-Send For That Girl/The Fool U.K.  HMV POP 1559 1966

Johnny Kidd will forever be remembered for perhaps the first classic British rock n' roll record, 1960's "Shakin' All Over". But by 1966 Johnny Kidd was, by all accounts a has been. The hits were gone and life was a revolving door of 45's that went nowhere, backing band members that came and went and incessant spotty gigs up and down Great Britain for chump change.  Today's subject is his final 45, released posthumously on November 11, 1966 following his death in an accident in the group's van on October 7th on the way back from a gig in Lancashire. It also marks a milestone in my record hunting as I recently secured a copy of this 45 thanks to the eagle eye of one Sean Cavanaugh who spotted it on E-bay and gave me a bell.  I'd been seeking this single ever since I first heard it back in 1985 on See For Mile's Johnny Kidd LP comp "Rarities".

The Pirates saw many a person in their line up (the most famous being Mick Green who left to go back Billy J. Kramer as one of The Dakotas).  I think Kramer and Kidd have some interesting career parallels.  Both saw their glory days eclipsed by 1966 and both issued their final 45's with them and their backing band sharing label credits on one side and being billed as a solo performer on the other (you can read about Billy's final single with The Dakotas here) and both of their 45's attempted "new" sounds.

Johnny Kidd 1966

By the time this single was recorded (August 1966 according to the meticulous liner notes of "The Complete Johnny Kidd" CD set) The Pirates were Mick Stewart (guitar), future Deep Purple member Nicky Simper (bass) and Roger Pinner aka Roger Truth (drums). "Send For That Girl" was nothing like anything Kidd had ever recorded.  At some moments the backing brass at times sounds almost phased like the horns on The Byrd's "Artificial Energy"  meets Brian Jones "Pipes Of Pan At Joujouka" on others (during the chorus for instance ) they're playing in almost Stax style.  Kidd's voice is strong as ever and beneath it all The Pirates hold down an almost folk rock feel with a nice twangy guitar solo from Stewart.  "The Fool" is the complete opposite.  Though credited to just Johnny Kidd on the label  he's backed by The Pirates.  It starts out with a "Smokestack Lightning" style lick and is far more slower and subdued than it's top side. In fact it's pretty pedesterian, Kidd sounds boozy or bored or both and Stewart plucks along in an almost Mick Green style which is about the only thing of interest in this number.   Presumably the band's former keyboardist (who left prior to their fateful final gig) Ray Soaper supplies the organ.

Both tracks can be found on the essential EMI double CD compilation "The complete..." which contains every track ever recorded (including an alternate take of "Send For That Girl" minus the horn overdubs).

Possibly the last Johnny Kidd and The Pirates photo. Taken at Kidd's home 1966.
Left to right: Nicky Simper, Roger Truth, Mick Stewart and Johnny Kidd.

Hear "Send For That Girl":


Hear "The Fool":


1 comment:

Tombeatster said...

"Always and ever" a favorite early British Rocker. Kidd was one of a handful of UK rockers, pre-Beatles, that is worthy of seeking out and listening seriously to. Nice write-up Bill!