Monday, September 17, 2018

More U.K. Obscurities On U.S. Labels: The Eyes Of Blue

EYES OF BLUE-Up And Down/Heart Trouble US Deram 45-85001 1966

Future Welsh prog rockers The Eyes Of Blue made their debut in the UK in November 1966 (DM 106). It's US issue came a month later. The band were a suited and booted, razor sharp mod/r&b/blue eyed soul sextet who cut just two 45's for Deram before morphing into a heavier act and switching to Mercury.

Sadly the A-side of their debut "Up And Down" is dreadful, it sounds NOTHING like anything else the band did. The vibes at first lead you to believe it might be an uptempo soul number (in fact there's a hint of "Ain't No Soul..." to it) but then the vocals come in and it sounds like a football terrace chant doing a Freddie and The Dreamers tune. Next!

Luckily there is absolute redemption on the B-side. Props to the band for obscurity on their choice of material. They could have went the usual route and just covered a Stax or Motown number but in true mod style they dug deeper and went with "Heart Trouble" originally cut by The Parliament's on the flip of "That Was My Girl" (Golden World GW-46). The Eyes of Blue managed a hat trick by getting it released the same month as the original (November 1966). I'm not sure how that happened so we are indeed open to any information. Regardless The Eyes Of Blue's version was issued in the UK as Deram DM 106 on November 11, 1966.   With all of that out of the way I am going to commit mod sacrilege here by proffering the theory that this version surpasses the original. It's stronger, the vocals are more gutsy, the musical backing is fuller, the production is better and it's slightly more uptempo. The E.O.B. version eschews the falsetto backing vocals and strings of Ivory Joe Hunter's production and goes for goes with backing vocals slightly at a lower octave (giving it a feel not unlike The Action) and going heavy on the bass/drums/percussion with some tasty organ bits.   Curiously the Eyes Of Blue version omits a verse ("I'm draggin' water all through the house, I called the plumber to see if he could fix the leak...etc"). "Heart Trouble" become somewhat popular on the Northern Soul scene but the band's crowning glory in that genre would come with their next and final Deram 45 in February 1967 "Supermarket Full Of Cans".

"Up And Down" thankfully has not been reissued but "Heart Trouble" has seen a placing on a variety of compilations, among them Decca/Deram's "Northern Soul Scene" CD and Psychic Circle's "Fairtyales Can Come True Vol 4: We All Love The Human Race".

Avoid  "Up And Down":

Hear "Heart Trouble":

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