Saturday, 31 August 2013

Phil Cordell - Laughter In The Rain (1974)

I first heard Phil Cordell on the first volume of the Fading Yellow compilation series. "Red Lady", for me, was the stand out track on the CD and I proceeded to play it to death. Around that time I remember being disappointed that there was no accompanying LP from this era. I've been digging a little deeper into the musical career of Phil Cordell and recently discovered the Dan The Banjo Man album, which has some really great tunes and a couple of weeks ago took a chance on a single which he recorded in 1974 for Motown's Californian sub-label, Mowest. I knew I'd be happy with my purchase because I already loved the Neil Sedaka version of "Laughter In The Rain", but the Cordell version, despite a cheesy saxophone solo (not a fave instrument of mine!) absolutely pisses all over the original. The b-side is also a winner. "If I Don't Get All The Luck" a pure pop masterpiece, reminiscent of Honeybus, in particular Colin Hare whom Cordell's vocals uncannily resemble. There's even some of that trademark slide guitar on here too.

By 1974, Phil Cordell had been in the music business for over a decade. He cut his teeth playing guitar in Enfield band Steve Douglas & The Challengers around 1963 who allegedly made some recordings in Joe Meek's legendary studio as The Prophets, although none of these are known to exist. The band would evolve into Tuesday's Children and released three singles with five of the six sides written by Cordell, the most interesting being "Strange Light From The East", a song favoured by UK psych collectors which shows an early glimpse at his unique song-writing style. Cordell split from Tuesday's Children before they turned into heavy rock act Czar and released his first solo single, the aforementioned "Red Lady" in 1969. The single failed to chart and was followed by another flop record under the pseudonym of Beachcomber. "Surfin' Soul" was Cordell's first foray into guitar instrumental territory. 

1971 saw another name change, this time as Springwater and the release of "I Will Return" on Polydor records, a surprising and unlikely hit record, which caught the attention of the radio stations and record buying public who sent the multi tracked slide guitar instrumental into the the UK Charts for twelve weeks, peaking at number five. The record was also a hit in Europe and made number one spot in Switzerland. A Springwater album followed, consisting of similar instrumental tracks, which I have heard and have to admit doesn't do much for me, really. A couple more singles followed on Polydor, trying but failing to repeat the success of "I Will Return".

In July 1973, a single under his own name appeared on the Mowest label. "Close To You" b/w "Londonderry", both great pop ballads also featuring the welcome return of Cordell's pleasing vocals. Shortly after in August 1973 came another surprise hit "Dan The Banjo Man", as Dan The Banjo Man for Rare Earth records, a number one hit in the German charts thanks to it being used in an advert for orange juice! It was around this time that Cordell seemed to be leading a schizophrenic music career, releasing records, successfully, in a novelty instrumental style and in another, less successful more serious singer-songwriter style and I'm sure his heart would have been in the latter, but you've got to do what you've got to do to pay the bills.

An album of songs with vocals under the name of Phil Cordell entitled "Born Again" eventually hit the record stores sometime in 1977. A very polished production and consistently good all the way through and sounding like a cross between Pilot and ELO with a hint of West Coast AOR, well worth checking out. The album can be found tagged on the end of a CD reissue of the Springwater album on the Angel Air label.

Sadly Phil Cordell passed away in 2007. His legacy lays in these ace recordings from the 1960's & 1970's. It was nice to read the comments on the YouTube videos and see how people are fond of his songs.

...Anyway, that's enough of me yakking. Enjoy...

I've added a discography of solo Phil Cordell releases taken from various websites but put together as a complete list here for the first time. If you see any errors or anything I might have missed off, please let me know and I'll correct it. Thanks.

Phil Cordell
A: Pumping The Water
B: Red Lady
 (26 Aug 1969)

A: Surfin' Soul
B: Nothing To Say
 (19 Jun 1970)

A: I Will Return
B: Stone Cross
(Sep 1971)

Springwater S/T

A: Listen Everybody
B: Guiding Light
(14 Apr 1972)

A: Jerusalem
B: Amazing Grace
(11 Aug 1972)

Phil Cordell
A: Close To You
B: Londonderry
(20 Jul 1973)

Dan The Banjo Man
A: Dan The Banjo Man
B: Everything Will Rhyme
(3 Aug 1973)

Phil Cordell
A: Roadie For The Band
B: Twistin' And Jivin'
(28 Sep 1973)

Dan The Banjo Man - S/T 

Dan The Banjo Man
A: Black Magic
B: Londonderry
(31 May 1974)

Phil Cordell
A: Laughter In The Rain
B: If I Don't Get All The Luck
(31 May 1974)

A: I Can't Let Maggie Go
B: This Time Around
(2 Aug 1974)

Phil Cordell
A: Cool Clear Water
B: Everywhere I Go
(27 Sep 1974)

Phil Cordell
A: Chevy Van
B: Stay With Me Baby
(9 May 1975)

Dan The Banjo Man
A: Red River Valley
B: Theme Of Love
(4 Jul 1975)

Phil Cordell - Born Again

Phil Cordell
A: Back In Your Arms Again
B: One Man Show
(12 Aug 1977)

Phil Cordell
A: Doin' The Best I Can
B: Cheatin' In The Dark
(7 Oct 1977)

Phil Cordell
A: Hearts On Fire
B: Ginny Was A Rock 'n' Roller
(27 Apr 1979)

Phil Cordell
A: Movie Star
B: Lying Down By The River
(Sep 1979)

A: Move A Little Closer
B: Rescue Me

Phil Cordell
A: Love How You Love Me
B: Tonight Tonight
(Jun 1981)

1 comment:

  1. hello! do you know where can i get Springwater's 72' record.. by any chance can you send it to me or something (via wetransfer dunno).. thanks so much.. and a question, do you know if the guy plays every instrument on that album? cheers