Friday, 29 November 2013

John Winfields (1971-1972)

Like most record nerds, whenever I hear a good record, a really good record, I immediately have to know as much information about the artist as I can. Mainly I want to know if they've made any other good records. A bit of googling and a search around YouTube is usually enough to satisfy my curiosity. Occasionally I find out absolutely zilch about the artist and this is one of those occasions.

John Winfields - "Dave's not here, man"
Psych collectors might recognise the name John Winfields from his French only 1971 single, a killer double sider on Decca Records, "You Know, You Go" b/w "Whisper Who Dares", both absolute belters which you'd be forgiven for thinking they were from 1967 and British. It's always reminded me of the style of songs that George Harrison was writing around 66/67, very bendy, orchestrated pop with unusual melodies and mysterious lyrics. Neither sides were written by Winfields, instead by someone called Al Martin (zilch again!). I had a little theory that Winfields may have been from the UK due to the spelling of his forename (John not Jean) but you can pick up a little accent in "Whisper Who Dares" so for now we'll just assume he was French.

Recently, I found out that John Winfields released a follow up single for Decca in 1972. The much harder to come by "Look At Nature" b/w "Vera" found its way into my letterbox via some French website selling run of the mill singles (for very cheap). I know it sounds sad but I get genuinely excited when the postman delivers me such goodies. I think it's the possibility that you're entering unknown territory and that your expectations may be choked within five seconds of the needle touching the groove! Luckily for me, I'm quite open minded with music and where most people wouldn't give a Gilbert O'Sullivan-esque record more than a couple seconds on their turntable, I'll give it ten plays in a row and stick it on my pile of records to write about on this blog! That's what happened with this record. It's not a record that will be setting any mod/psych dancefloors alight but it will definitely please the fans of obscure Beatlesque pop

The a-side "Look At Nature" is a successful attempt at a solo John Lennon style piano/orchestrated pop tune. "Look at nature, look at the sky, look at the sun, how old is the wonderful world?" not quite as thought provoking as "Imagine" but with a nice tune carrying it along you can forgive such hippy dippy lyrics. On the flip side is "Vera", written again by Al Martin, an upbeat piano pop song, sounding very much like "Doubleback Alley" by the Rutles and a perfect example of the kind of music on this blog. The single also comes in a picture sleeve, showing Winfields to be about 19 years old and clearly intoxicated. Who was John Winfields? Where did he come from? Where did he go? Answers please...

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