Sunday, December 29, 2019

More Obscure U.K. 45's On U.S. Labels: Gerry Does Simon & Garfunkel

GERRY AND THE PACEMAKERS-The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine/Looking For My Life US Laurie LR 3370 1966

With Merseybeat long since dead and buried the likes of Gerry and The Pacemakers had seen better days and by 1966 the band had been absent from the higher reaches of the US and UK hit parade for some time. Then something interesting happened. In August of 1966 their single "Girl On A Swing" broke into the US Top 40 raising to #28. Back in the U.K. it failed to register and subsequently became their last British single as Columbia DB 8044 (and it was not actually released there until November). In December another US 45 was issued (and only released in Canada and Australia, not the U.K.). "Looking For My Life" backed with a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" (culled from their October LP "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme"). It was released in the United States in December 1966 where it failed to repeat the hat trick of "Girl On A Swing" and sadly sank without a trace.

Gerry & Co.'s version of "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine" is actually quite entertaining. It takes the heavier back beat of the original and softens it by using a busker's banjo on top of some kitschy ivory tinkling that recalls the Kink's '66-'67 sound or David Bowie's "Did you Ever Have A Dream". Where the original has an almost cynical delivery this version is cheery and perfect for Gerry's "cheeky chappie" persona (that would no doubt aid him in his soon to be discovered cabaret circuit career).

"Looking For My Life" is an absolutely awful track. There's nothing remotely positive that I can say about it despite its sweeping strings and odd sitar lick bursts. Gerry would return with a solo single in June 1967 for the CBS label ("Please Let Them Be") followed by an unsuccessful crack at the Bee Gee's "Gilbert Green" in August.

Both tracks appeared on Gerry and the Pacemaker's final US LP "Girl On A Swing" released in late 1966 (Laurie LLP/SLP 2037) and have appeared on various EMI CD Gerry and the Pacemaker's compilations.

Hear "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine":

Here "Looking For My Life":

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