Monday, 11 August 2014

The Californians - Congratulations (1968)

Fans of British psychedelia will know The Californians thanks to many appearances on compilations such as Rubble, Fading Yellow, The British Psychedelic Trip and many more. Between the years of 1967 and 1969 the band put out eight singles on four different labels (CBS, Decca, Fontana and Chapter One) with the focus on Four Seasons/Beach Boys inspired harmony pop. Sadly, there is no album.

Like the similarly minded Harmony Grass, The Californians don't quite reach the heights of their influences but it would be unfair to compare them. You don't get a lot of sun and surf in Wolverhampton! The band's legacy is a string of ace singles, some bona fide psych, some popsike and the rest pure pop with no real duffers to mention.

The Californians
(photo courtesy
One song that really stands out among the Californians discography is their version of Cliff Richard's Eurovision Song Contest classic, "Congratulations", which was written specifically for the event by songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter who had penned the winning entry the previous year with "Puppet On A String" for Sandie Shaw. Both versions were released on the same day (22nd March 1968), but the Californians much superior, Hollies-esque version was over shadowed (pun intended) by Cliff's Eurovision success which saw it top the UK chart as well as many other countries around the world. George Harrison was clearly a fan of the song having lifted the melody for "It's Johnny's Birthday" on his All Things Must Pass album.

According to the Brumbeat website the band line up at this time was Peter Abberley (bass/vocals), Mick Brooks (guitar), Robert Trevis (drums/vocals), Adrian Ingram (guitar) and Geoff Parks (vocals). The single was produced by Irving Martin (Finders Keepers, Lord Sutch, Sight and Sound) and arranged by Des Champ (Vanity Fare, Chicory Tip).

Some psych heads may sneer, but the proper pop people will dig this...

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