THE GRAHAM GOULDMAN THING

 

Year of release: 1968 RCA

Re-release: 1992 Demon Records/Edsel Records EDCD 346

Tracklist: The impossible years + Bus stop + Behind the door + Pawnbroker + Who are they + My father + No milk today + Upstairs downstairs + For your love + Pamela Pamela + Chestnut

Composer: Graham Gouldman

Recorded at: Olympic Studios, London, England

Recording engineer: Eddie Kramer

Produced by: Graham Gouldman, Peter Noone (if you believe the credits), John Paul Jones (if you believe Graham Gouldman, and we do)

Sleeve: Bill Inglot

Liner notes: 'From behind the counter of a gents' oufitters shop in a grimy Manchester suburb to a place in the front rank of the worlds's leading songwriters in three years. This is the achievement of Graham Gouldman - six feet, rangu and dreamy-eyed. Discovered in 1965 by Harvey Lisberg, manager of Herman's Hermits, Graham entered the pop scene with For your love, which was described by Larry Williams as 'the biggest breakthrough in R&B' - it rocketed to the top of the charts. A stream of hits then followed. Two of them, Listen people and No milk today, were recorded by Herman's Hermits, and they tinkled the tills from Tokyo to Tallahassee to the tune of five million records - sweet music in any language!'

This superb artistic association continues, as Herman (Peter Noone) co-produces Graham's first album, which consists of Graham's own songs and in which he plays lead guitar. It includes past hits and new songs, presented with the expertise of professionals and the joyfulness of kindred spirits. There are many great artists who have paid tribute to Gouldman by recording his music. Some of them are Herman's Hermits, the Yardbirds, P.J. Proby, Bert Kaempfert, The Mindbenders, Gary Lewis, The Hollies, Cher, Gene Pitney, Larry Williams, Wayne Fontana and The Shadows. Citations and reviews also pay tribute to the melodic invention and distinctive style of what has become known as the Graham Gouldman Thing.

From where did this Thing come? Perhaps from the Russian great-grandfather who emigrated with a pack on his back, tuning fork in his pocket and composed an operetta for his family; or the grandmother who could transpose a song into conic sol-fa with the speed of a computer; or maybe his father, who writes prize-winning plays and who is always consulted when mature thought or philosophic touch is needed. Who knows? Wherever it comes from, it's here! Enjoy, enjoy...'

Alan Betrock (extract from an article originally printed in 'The Rock Marketplace'): 'The Graham Gouldman Thing was originally intended to be produced by Peter Noone. Graham: 'It was supposed to be something like the artist produces the writer, but he wasn't there on any of the sessions - though he is credited as producer. I did the whole thing with John Paul Jones, who arranged the tracks, played on it and also helped produce it. It was an important project for me at the time; I put a lot of work into it.' This concern is shown by listening to the album, which exudes tasteful arrangements and thoughtful production. Favourites are the hits like Bus Stop and For your love, but all the tracks have something interesting to offer. The orchestral arrangement on No milk today and Upstairs downstairs are particulary refreshing. Strangely enough, the album was not released in the UK, and despite a heavy US promo campaign, didn't sell much to Americans...'

Personal comment: A must for the fans, the Graham Gouldman Things in fact shows that Graham Gouldman was, at this point in his career, at his best as a songwriter and not as a singer. The interpretions of the tracks on this records done by other artists are far more memorable than Graham Gouldman's own versions, to be honest. Although there are some tasteful different arrangements to hear. And one can still take notice of the strenght of the material brought together here by its creator. One of my personal favorites on Graham Gouldman Things is 'My father', which has a nice melody and great lyrics. Surprisingly good is the last track of the album, 'Chestnut', almost completely instrumental. This is how a 'sixties-party must have sound. It makes me think of the Michelangelo Antonioni-movie 'Blowup', although I can not tell you why exactly, to be honest. All in all, fact is there are not that many albums that contain such a great amont of top-10-hits from one hand (John Bruinsma, March 2001).