Sunday, 3 November 2013

Neil Harrison - All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Go (1974)

Since finding out about this album about three years ago, I have been totally obsessed with getting my hands on a copy. Valued at £12 in the Record Collector Price Guide (good luck finding one for this price!) but regularly selling for three figures on eBay it is not a record that turns up very often and when it does, everyone it seems are fighting over it. After many disappointments being outbid over the last few years I finally got my very own copy. I literally jumped up and punched the air (very sad, I know), then I got a little nervous that it may not live up the expectations I had been building up for so long.

Neil Harrison if you didn't know, played John Lennon for 32 years in the Bootleg Beatles whom he now manages and are said by many to be the greatest Beatles tribute act. What is less know about Neil is that he released an album of his own material, years before in 1974 on Deram records. Here's the blurb from the LP insert, which sheds a lot of light on to what he was doing up to the point of the album's release...

"Neil Harrison is a talented singer/songwriter, he writes simple and unpretentious songs and sings them in an equally honest manner.

Neil Harrison circa 1974
Neil was born in December 1950 in West Kirby, Cheshire. His mother is a pianist at a dancing school, his father an accountant.

His educational years were spent at St. Bede's Boarding School, Cumberland where he obtained ten 'O' Levels, three 'A' Levels and a place at Liverpool University to read zoology. University life lasted two days for Neil, he realised very quickly he was not a zoologist.

His musical talents which had become his main interest, had been born during his school days. During holiday periods he taught himself to play acoustic guitar with Bert Wheedon's "Play In A Day" guitar tutor. He began to become frustrated by trying to express himself through the only medium he knew and loved - music.

After leaving university he worked at odd jobs and at the same time developed a songwriting relationship with Neil Alford. They wrote and sang songs together in and around Liverpool. Known as Driftwood they produced some demo tapes which they sent round to all the major record companies. Decca
stepped in and sent producer Pete Swetenham to Liverpool to see Driftwood, they were subsequently brought to London to make an album make an album which, unfortunately passed completely unnoticed by the public. Neil Harrison's frustration continued.

Neil remained in London, living and working as a van driver. The failure of his album had dampened his confidence considerably. He began to examine himself and the people around him, wanting to know how and why they behaved in certain ways and patterns.

He became interested in social interactions and relationships between people and what these things are based upon. Neil recorded his questions, answers and observations in his songs. His luck changed and once again after making a series of demo tapes Neil was signed to a publishing contract with Southern Music, who financed an album which, although not made available to the general public did bring Neil back to the attention of Decca, via producer Keith Whiting.

Neil's confidence has been restored, his honest unpretentious songs are to be released on the Deram label, on an album called 'ALL DRESSED UP AND NOWHERE TO GO' His view of the world and what he's learnt about people whilst living, struggling and growing up has been recorded as a sincere down to earth expression.

He is still extremely interested in sociology and is in fact taking an external degree in the subject at London University. If Neil's album is anything to go on, he should pass his finals with flying colours."

Neil as John Lennon
The album is didn't sell well, hence it's rarity and hence the fact that hardly anyone has heard of it. It would have made a nice addition to the recent edition of Shindig! magazine which highlights Beatleisms (how the fab four cast a shadow over the 1970's), a theme which runs throughout this blog.

The album sleeve sees Harrison already looking like Lennon circa 1967 with his little round spectacles and moustache. Musically, it sounds closer to Paul McCartney's mellower moments his first two solo albums and the Wings Wild Life LP than Lennon and vocally resembles George Harrison especially on "This Is London" which is a dead ringer for "Savoy Truffle". Lucky for Neil nobody heard it otherwise he'd have ended up in court with his namesake.

On the whole the album is a grand affair with plenty of orchestration and epic Beatlesque moments, some killer pedal steel provided by the dependable B.J. Cole and some tasteful splashes of Moog throughout the forty minutes of sophisticated singer/songwriter pop. For me, the stand out songs on the album are "I Need A Friend Like You", the most obvious Beatles-y, "Crisis Point", the most Abbey Road-y and "Sad Eyes", the most McCartney-y and the one that Decca fancied Harrison's chances with, releasing it as a single backed with "Bicycle Driver" in 1974. I've got another single from 1974 on Deram records "Eyes In The Back Of My Head" b/w "The Busker" which is pretty good also but not on par with the LP. Another single exists from 1972 on Spark records "Maybe I'm Lost Without You" b/w "I Get This Feeling With You", which I've not heard.

Has anybody out there got a copy of the Driftwood LP they would like to sell or share? I'd love to hear it!

17 comments:

  1. I searched Soulseek for anything Neil Harrison or Driftwood related, but so far no go. Robin Wills' blog Purepop lists another group that Harrison was a part of - Jabberwock. Unfortunately the sound samples are no longer functional (fr 2007) but the post with details remain.

    http://purepop1uk.blogspot.com/2007/08/jabberwock-disturbance-sneakin-snaky.html

    BTW, The Junipers' Cut Your Key is my co-favorite lp of the past 10 years, along with another 2008 issue Friendly Fires. Tho if I went back 11 years Art Garfunkel's 2002 collaborative lp Everything Waits to Be Noticed would take the cake :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Popville. Thanks for the comment, the Jabberwock tune sounds interesting. Glad you like the Junipers too. We have a new EP coming out next month. I'll most probably give it a cheeky mention on this blog!
      I've never heard the Art Garfunkel lp from 2002. I'll have to track it down.

      Delete
    2. The Garfunkel lp was done with 2 Nashville singer/songwriters - Maia Sharp & Buddy Mondlock and produced by big-shot Billy Mann. The love of my life (& wife) Christy & I were very fortunate to see them perform the record & selected Garfunkel greats at a rare sit-down show at the Fillmore in San Francisco around that time (early 2003). One of those once-in-a-lifetime things. Interestingly about a year later we took my wife's parents to see the Simon & Garfunkel reunion concert, with the Everly Brothers (they played when S&G took a break - heh). That 1st Everly Brothers lp on Cadence was likely the most influential record of my 61 years (grew up in North Carolina - not terribly far from Nashville). Anyway, loving your blog and wonderful music knowledge. Thanks for sharing & keep on keepin on.

      You might know an old friend of mine David Bash, who does International Pop Overthrow (IPO) traveling pop fest. I used to run a mailing list called Audities, that was sorta related.

      Delete
    3. BTW, have you heard this year's lp from the Welsh duo Zervas & Pepper - Lifebringer? Easily the most wonderful record I've heard this year.

      https://soundcloud.com/zervas-and-pepper

      Cheers!

      - mIchael aka popville

      Delete
  2. thanks for this site you may also visit my site @ http://zitronemusicsource.webstarttoday.com/
    .. Thank you and God Bless ! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi there! Loving the site and this latest post. Finding more stuff by Neil Harrison is proving difficult. Any chance you might post some more tracks from this record? Thanks for all the great music you've posted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi. Thanks for the message. I'll be putting some more of the Neil Harrison songs on the Bite It Deep mixes in the near future.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great news! I keep finding goodies on this site. Keep up the good work

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have the Driftwood LP. I would like to share MP3 of it in exchange for Neil Harrison. Are you interested? B/W Rocco

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rocco. Yes I would be interested in a trade. If you send me the Driftwood mp3s to pgough80@gmail.com I will return the favour. Thanks. Pete

      Delete
    2. Rocco, I would really like to listen to the album Driftwood - Driftwood (1970 LP).Can I ask you to share this album in MP3 format.Just invite you to my blog - grapher-music.blogspot.comThank you.

      Delete
  7. Hi, I'm in SLSK and this Harrison album is still not available !!! Man, I need it !!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good day! I like to sing Neil Harrison. I even found six tracks from the album in 1974. If possible, please share this album, or tracks:
    A3. This Is London;  A5. Melancholia;  B1. This Is The Life For A Woman;  B2. Joanna;  B5. Till I Get Back To You;  B6. The Following Breeze.

    My email address is: grapher59@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. I scored this LP as a BIN in October of 2013. When it came up on my "saved search," I literally jumped for joy. Great record. Neil's also a super nice guy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have an album Neil Harrison 1974 ???
      Please share.

      Thanks.

      Delete
    2. Yeah I have the record.

      Delete
    3. Hi Dave!
      Please share album Neil Harrison - All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go (1974) on www.zippyshare.com.
      Or send me an email - grapher59@gmail.com

      Delete