Sunday, 16 March 2014

Johnny Burton (1972-1973)

Johnny Burton's recording career was short and sweet, releasing two single on the Philips record label in between 1972 and 1973. His first solo effort "Polevault Man" will be familiar to psych heads, via the Circus Days compilation. A stone cold psychedelic pop classic and is as close to 1967 era John Lennon as anyone ever got. This could easily pass as a Sgt Pepper out-take without scrutiny. Produced by Bite It Deep favourite, Eddy Adamberry (who likes to spell his name differently in every instance!) and written by K. Hornby and E. Nicholson (spelt Nicholas on the next single). I've tried googling these guys and returned with very little information. The b-side is a fab piano pop stomper called "The Polythene Doll" which contains some very seventies lyrics..."I hug her and squeeze her and she doesn't know, I use her, abuse her but she'll never go".

For his second single, a banjo driven cover of Hurricane Smith's "Aunty Vi's", Burton decides to drop the scouse Lennon-esque snarl in favour of his own Blackpool accent, coming across like The Hollies post Graham Nash. The flipside "Run Mary Run", another Hornby/Nicholson composition is a decent enough tune but suffers from over production for which, I presume Arthur Greenslade is to blame.

If anyone has any information on Burton, Hornby or Nicholson then please let me know. I've got a feeling there's more good music out there connected to these guys.

For now dig this...

Lyrics
Polevault Man
(Hornby/Nicholson)

I am the Polevault Man
I will jump wherever I can
Jump much higher than the high jump man
Go for longer than the long jump can
All the girls will quiver and sigh when I jump into the sky
Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na

Colourless Cyril in his office routine
Nine to five on his seven day scene
Working for a garden and a mowing machine
For when he marries his girl Christine
But he don't know that she's giving the eye
to a man with a pole up in the sky
Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na

Alec the mechanic with another oil leak
Making lots of money for his wedding next week
Saving very hard for a house and a drive
and for the children when they arrive
But his bride had other ideas
when on the television athletics appears

I am the Polevault Man, I will jump wherever I can
Go much higher than the high jump man
Go for longer than the long jump can
All the girls will quiver and sigh
when I jump into the sky
Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na

One day tried to better my best
Gave an exhibition for the public and press
All my admirers had the house on fire
To see me jump a telegraph wire
But I found I was not able
Hanging by ankle from a telephone cable

I am the Polevault Man, I will jump wherever I can
Go much higher than the high jump man
Go for longer than the long jump can
All the girls will quiver and sigh
when I jump into the sky
Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na


6 comments:

  1. he is my dad, what do you want to know? he sang with the Hollies for a while and performed at the marine hall in Fleetwood alongside the Beatles in their very early days. Nicholas is his real surname, he is 73 now and currently living in Fleetwood, Lancashire. His real name is James Edward Nicholas although during his recording career there were several name changes including the names mentioned and Mark Nicholas. Burton is the name of the one of the co writers, that is also the same person, my father but under a different name.

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  2. Hi Rebecca. A million thanks for your comment. You can see how difficult it is to gather information with all the name changes and that. Would be great if I could send you a few questions and I could post the answers on the blog. Here's my email address (pgough80@gmail.com).
    I played the Polevault Man 7" the other week when I was DJing. Everyone seemed to be digging it and two people came up and asked what it was!

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  3. Hi, Rebecca...Man, tell your dad how much I love his song! And is it true, as I surmise, that the "polevaulting" is really a metaphor for a playboy, and that the protagonist is ultimately tripped up ("hanging by my ankle from a telephone wire") by his philandering ways? --- Andru J. Reeve, author of TURN ME ON, DEAD MAN.

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  4. Lyric correction. "All my admirers had THEIR EYES on fire / To see me jump a telegraph wire"

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  5. Keith Hornby is my granddad :D Hornby on my mothers side. He sadly died but always was playing guitar with us and taught us to play piano.

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  6. I would be very interested in talking to you Rebecca :D

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