Thursday, April 15, 2021

Songs that Rubble Taught Us: Gordon Waller's Solo Debut


GORDON WALLER-Rosecrans Boulevard/Red Cream And Velvet U.K. Columbia DB 8337 1968

Everyone knows the story of U.K. duo Peter & Gordon and everyone knows that Peter Asher went on to become an A&R man for the Beatle's Apple label (rejecting lot's of submissions, David Bowie among them). But what of his band mate Gordon Waller? Gordon launched his solo career with this release in January 1968 with today's subject (interestingly the duo made more records together for Columbia issuing three more singles following this release). "Rosecrans Boulevard" first came to my ears via a 1986 Bam Caruso "Rubble" compilation LP "Pop Sike Dreams" (Rubble 2), truth be told I frequently skipped the track and spent a better part of a decade (or two and a half) half ignoring it!

"Rosecrans Boulevard", a homage to love lost and a Los Angeles by-way, was penned by Oklahoman wunderkid songwriter Jim Webb and first recorded by The 5th Dimension and released in April 1967 on the flip of their "Another Day, Another Heartache" (Soul City 755) and covered by Johnny Rivers on his 1967 LP "Rewind". Waller's subsequent recording is vastly different from the original. It has far more orchestration that adds an almost Walker Brothers/Scott Walker feel to it and the vocals are delivered faster during the bridge adding an almost edginess to it. And with Waller's somber moodiness in it's vocal delivery and the lush musical backing Scott Walker comparisons cannot be ignored.

"Red Cream And Velvet", a Waller original, brings up the flip side. To my ears it's a sub par Lee Hazlewood pastiche with it's pseudo C&W lilt and orchestration. Next! Unfortunately for Gordon the single sank without a trace (and was released in Denmark and the Netherlands, both in picture sleeves). He issued two more singles for Columbia before moving on to Bell, but none, in my opinion, shone as bright as "Rosecrans Boulevard". 

"Rosecrans Boulevard" has been reissued on a variety of variations of the various artists comp "Pop Sike Dreams" (Rubble Two). The flipside, thankfully has not. 

Hear "Rosecrans Boulevard":

Hear "Red Cream And Velvet":

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