Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Rokes - Let's Live for Today :The Rokes in English 1966-1968

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The Rokes were one of the more unusual British Invasion-era groups to come out of England, if only for the pattern and locale of their success. They never sold many records in England, or any in America, but they were a major act in Italy and also managed to make an extraordinary, albeit indirect, impact on the 1960s with a song that they originally premiered in Italian. 

London-born Shel Shapiro (b. 1943) had broken into music as a guitarist and singer with Rob Storm & the Whispers (later the Rob Storme Group) and subsequently backed Gene Vincent during a tour of England. He played in Hamburg as a member of the Shel Carson Combo and then became a member of the band backing ... Read More...

The Rokes - Discografia
Let's Live for Today
Formed in 1962, the Rokes were a better than average English pop group who found the competition for gigs was rather tough at home, so in 1963 they set their sights on Hamburg, where the Beatles had gotten their first break a few years earlier. While the German gigs didn't do much for their career, they did lead to an offer to tour Italy backing up U.K. vocalist Colin Hicks, and the Rokes became a major draw in Italy, scoring a number of hits with both original material and covers of popular American and British rock tunes translated into the native tongue. Rokes leader Norm Shapiro also wrote a number called "Passing Thru Grey" that became a major hit for the Grass Roots when the lyrics were changed to "Let's Live for Today." However, the Rokes' European success and Shapiro's talent as a songwriter didn't translate into any chart success in America or Great Britain, even though the band recorded plenty of English-language material during their long stay in Italy. Let's Live for Today: The Rokes in English 1966-1968 collects 16 rare sides from the group, and the happy irony is how veddy British this stuff sounds, even though it was recorded in Rome and was barely heard outside of Italy. "No No No," "Put the Pen Down," and "Ride On" are classic British Invasion-era pop, "Regency Sue" and "The Works of Bartholomew" suggest the characteristically English whimsy of the Kinks (though Shapiro's melodic sense recalls Dave Davies rather than his brother Ray), "I Would Give the World" and "When You Are Gone" are fine exercises in Baroque pop, and "When the Wind Arises" is a splendid example of early psychedelic pop. The set also includes the Rokes' recording of "Let's Live for Today" as well as the unreleased original version, "Passing Thru Grey"; overall, this disc might seem like barrel-scraping to less educated fans of British beat-era stuff, but despite their obscurity, this collection shows the Rokes earned their success in Italy on their very real merits as musicians and songwriters, even if they didn't get the same respect at home. ~ Mark Deming, All Music Guide


1. Let's Live For Today 
2. No No No 
3. Telegram For Miss Marigold 
4. Ride On 
5. Put The Pen Down 
6. The Works Of Bartholomew 
7. Regency Sue 
8. I Would Give The World 
9. When The Wind Arises 
10. Hold My Hand 
11. A Thing Like That 
12. Ripe Apples 
13. Stop And Watch The Children Play 
14. When You Are Gone 
15. Somewhere 
16. Passing Through Grey 

Product Description
The Rokes were Brits who went to Italy in 1963 and became one of the biggest bands in the land for the rest of the decade. They chalked up numerous Italian language hits and recorded four albums as well as becoming an enormous live draw and TV favorites. However, scattered across those albums were a number of English language songs that somehow came off sounding like a Euro-tinged blend of The Beatles, Hollies, Kinks and Pretty Things. In '67, The Rokes released the first English language version of 'Let's Live For Today', a song they'd already cut in Italian. It went on to become a huge US hit in the hands of The Grass Roots and was covered by scores of bands. Here, for the first time on CD, are virtually all of The Rokes' English language recordings from 1966 to 1968. 16 tracks. Rev-Ola.
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