Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Roulettes Fini

THE ROULETTES-Help Me To Help Myself/To A Taxi Driver U.K. Fontana TF 876 1967

The Roulettes were one of those bands who sadly never had the hits they deserved.  When the changing tide on the British music scene occurred in '66 or so even the beat groups with hits  weren't able to adapt (exceptions being of course, The Beatles and The Hollies).  They sadly wasted away on the panto circuit with Adam Faith (with whom they had a dual career backing on recordings until late '65 and still accompanying him onstage after). Members Russ Ballad (guitar) and Bob Henrit (drums) were part time members of Unit 4 + 2 (becoming full time members after this single's failure). By the end of 1966 The Roulettes ended their 8 single stretch on EMI's Parlophone without a hit to their credit.  They signed with Fontana in early '67 and released "Rhyme Boy Rhyme" b/w "Airport People" (TF 822) in April of 1967.  It sank without a notice.

In October they released what would be their last 45. Unlike the un-spectacular, innocuous pop sounds of their preceding Fontana 45 this one actually sounded "with it". "Help Me To Help Myself" sounds very much like the Unit 4 + 2 and their penchant for harmonies on their '66-'68 material. The number starts with some trippy period phlanged piano and is carried by some subtle muted trumpet (straight out of some mid 60's U.K. TV show and culminating with a solo accompanied by some guys impersonating a trumpet by humming)) and the band's precise poppy harmony vocals.  It's a great departure from their beat sounds and an improvement on their M.O.R. pop of the preceding Fontana 45.

"To A Taxi Driver" is sadly not as exciting, it's okay but more of a mid tempo mundane exercise. Written by Unit 4 + 2's Tommy Moeller and Brian Parker (interestingly their previous single had a B-side called "Airport People" as mentioned earlier, were they on a "public transport" song kick?).  It's got these muted trumpets that sound like something you'd hear on a Les Reed score and has this lazy Ray Davies '67 B-side feel punctuated by these backing vocals that periodically chant "Taxi driver!" multiple times.

"Help Me to Help Myself" was comped on Psychic Circle's "Fairytales Can Come True Volume 1" (the best of the series on my book), whilst "To A Taxi Driver" is still unreissued to my knowledge.

Hear "Help Me To Help Myself":

No comments: