Friday, 7 November 2014

Liverpool Express - Tracks (1976)

After the breakup of  Rockin' Horse in 1972, Billy Kinsley spent a couple of years making his money recording soundalikes for the Top Of The Pops budget compilation albums (as heard on Bite It Deep Mix Vol.5).  He attempted a solo career, releasing two singles on the Epic record label, Annabella b/w Blue Movies in 1973 and You Make My Day b/w Make My Bed in 1974. Both were outstanding but failed to chart. Kinsley needed to get another band together.

In 1974, Kinsley started playing five-a-side soccer as a means of keeping fit. It was on the pitch that he met Roger Craig, keyboard player in a local band called Paper Chase along with Tony Coats (guitar) and Derek Cashin (drums). Craig was a fan of the Annabella single and asked Kinsley if he would like to join Paper Chase, to which he agreed.

Kinsley rechristened his new band Rockin' Horse, knowing that they would get more gigs with a familiar name. He also hoped that original Rockin' Horse, Jimmy Campbell would join him, but Campbell returned to his engineering job. Rockin' Horse Mark II was getting plenty of bookings on the club scene but their crowd pleasing set list comprised of cover versions. After six months of gigging, Kinsley had learned how to play the piano via Craig and armed with a Mellotron each, the pair started to write songs together. The band was renamed Liverpool Express by their manager, Hal Carter. Their first gig under this name was at the Huyton Labour Club in June 1975. Shortly after, Carter had landed the band a recording contract with Warner Btothers.

Liverpool Express (Coats, Craig, Kinsley & Cashin)
Their first single, the Pilot-alike "Smile (My Smiler's) Smile" came backed with the reggae-lite "Lae Mei"and failed to dent the charts. It was after the release of their second single in May 1976 that the Liverpool Express started moving. "You Are My Love" a McCartney-esque ballad (Macca is apparently a fan of this song), backed with the equally Wings-by-numbers, "Never The Same Boy" cracked the UK pop charts peaking at number 11 and would go on to be a hit in many countries around the world.

An album called "Tracks", recorded at both Zodiac and DJM Studios in London and produced by Hal Carter and Peter Swettenham was released in June 1976 following the success of "You Are My Love" and  included the hit and the previous single, now shortened to "Smile". Three more songs from the album were punted as singles; "Hold Tight" in September 1976, "Every Man Must Have A Dream" in December 1976 and "Doing It All Again" in March 1977. The overall sound of the album is 10cc meets Wings, harmony pop with a very typical 1976 'over production' which might put some people off, but the strength and quality of the songs helps you overcome the cheese factor. Also included on the album is a remake of the old Rockin' Horse classic, now titled "(I Remember) Julian The Hooligan" where Kinsley sings "Julian, plugging your smokes again, telling dirty jokes again, trouble for his folks again!".

Tracks is a great album which can be found for cheap and although it's not as raw or power poppy as the Rockin' Horse album, it is crammed with pure pop class. If you're still not convinced you better listen to this....enjoy....

To find out more about Liverpool Express and Billy Kinsley, I recommend the excellent Spencer Leigh book "It's Love That Really Counts" (The Billy Kinsley Story).

1 comment:

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