Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wimple Winch - Tales From The Sinking Ship (1964-68)

Despite the silly name and their near-total lack of commercial success, Wimple Winch was an interesting British '60s group, weaving soul, intricate harmonies, and unusual whimsical lyrics into their original material. Starting out as Just Four Men, the Liverpool-area outfit was initially just one of the dozens of Merseybeat groups riding the Beatles' coattails, although they cut a couple of fair singles. Changing their name to Wimple Winch, they released three much more progressive singles that were popular locally, including the explosive raver "Save My Soul" and the dramatic story-song "Rumble on Mersey Square South." Arguably the most creative group to work from Liverpool after the Merseybeat boom dried up, they broke up in the late '60s, leaving a wealth of unreleased material. Much of that material, as well as their rare singles, eventually appeared on compilations of British Invasion and British psychedelic rarities in the '80s.
1. Ad-Ventures (Theme For Friday Night) 2. Half Past Five 3. Aggravatin’ 4. Colours 5. The Four Just Men Theme (Laura Norder) 6. Sorry Girl 7. Don’t Come Any Closer (Vsn.) 8. I Just Can’t Make Up My Mind 9. Woman Needs A Man 10. I Still Care 11. Thinking About Your Love 12. Tomorrow 13. In The Shelter Of You Arms 14. Trains & Boats & Planes 15. What’s Been Done 16. I Really Love You 17. Save My Soul 18. Everybody’s Worried ‘Bout Tomorrow 19. Rumble On Mersey Square South 20. Atmospheres 21. Typical British Workmanship 22. Bluebell Wood 23. Lollipop Minds 24. Marmalade Hair 25. Coloured Glass 26. Those Who Wait 27. Three Little Teddy Bears 28. Sagittarius 29. The Last Hooray
NOTE:1- 12: Four Just Men / Demos and TV recordings13-14: Just Four Men / Session15-21: Wimple Winch / Fontana Singles22-30: Wimple Winch / Demos
Liverpool's Wimple Winch are best known to obsessive collectors of U.K. freakbeat for a handful of rare but potent singles, such as the malevolent "Save My Soul" and "Rumble on Mersey Square South," a mini-rock opera that feels like a more compact contemporary to the Who's "A Quick One While He's Away." But Tales from the Sinking Ship, which collects Wimple Winch's singles for Fontana along with recordings that came from earlier and later incarnations of the band, serves best as an object lesson in how radically the British music scene would change between 1964 and 1968. The set opens with a dozen sides recorded when Dee Christopholus (vocals and guitar), John Kelman (lead guitar), and Larry King (aka Lawrence Arendes, drums) were members of the beat combo the Four Just Men (who briefly became the Just Four Men), who start out playing pleasant but unremarkable instrumentals not unlike what the Shadows were doing and eventually moved on to pop vocal sides that make them sound like competent but unremarkable also-rans on the Merseybeat scene. They improved as they went along, and the last of the Four Just Men sides here are the best, the moody but dramatic "In the Shelter of Your Arms" and a solid cover of the Bacharach/David classic "Trains and Boats and Planes." However, when bassist Stuart Sirret left at the end of 1965 and Barry Ashall took over in early 1966, something kicked in with this band, which adopted the new name Wimple Winch and embraced a far more aggressive and compelling sound, with a crispness that suggested the mod sound that was coming into vogue, along with shades of psychedelia creeping into "Atmospheres" and a dash of Ray Davis-style wit informing "Typical British Workmanship." None of the Wimple Winch singles were hits, and this collection closes out with eight demos that confirm the group was continuing to evolve and innovate even after it was dropped by Fontana, with the psychedelic influences moving comfortably to the forefront and pop-minded pastoral accents coloring the melodies. Phil Smee's richly detailed liner notes tell more about Wimple Winch's story than most fans will ever need to know, and a family tree makes it easy to follow the many personnel shifts in the group; this is fascinating stuff for those enamored of the point where beat music fell under the lysergic influence, and reveals just how weird a seemingly ordinary, clean-cut band could get during the first era of acid.
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