Friday, April 9, 2010

Bern Elliot & the Fenmen - The Beat Years

"Money" was a staple of the set of most British Invasion bands. Oddly, the only group to have a U.K. hit single with the song was the obscure one-shot outfit Bern Elliot & the Fenmen.

Elliot's version entered the British Top Twenty near the end of 1963; it wasn't a patch on the Beatles' rendition (which had been released at about the same time on their second LP), but it was actually a pretty decent, soulful interpretation. Elliot and his backup group played in a sort of tough Merseybeat style (although they weren't from the Mersey), and Bern was a pretty decent R&B-influenced singer, somewhat along the lines of the Dave Clark Five's Mike Smith. Elliot & the Fenmen made a few singles and an EP without any more notable success; their reliance upon old R&B/rock tunes for the entirety of their repertoire made them almost instantly passe, although the songs were executed pretty well. Elliot fell out with the Fenmen in 1964, and briefly teamed up with the Klan, as well as putting out some orchestrated pop solo singles in 1965. The Fenmen went on their own and made a few singles for Decca and CBS in a harmony pop/rock style, highlighted by the original minor-keyed tune "Rejected." After the demise of the Fenmen, members Wally Allen and John Povey joined the Pretty Things, in time for that group's psychedelic recordings.

1. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Money (2:32)

2. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Nobody But Me (2:28)

3. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - New Orleans (2:43)

4. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Chills (2:11)

5. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - I Can Tell (2:30)

6. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - (Do The) Mashed Potatoes (2:42)

7. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Please Mr. Postman (2:17)

8. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Shake Sherry Shake (2:18)

9. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Talking About You (Live) (2:06)

10. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Everybody Needs A Little Love (1:59)

11. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Shop Around (2:27)

12. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Little Egypt (Live) (3:02)

13. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Good Times (2:39)

14. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - What Do You Want With My Baby (2:45)

15. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Guess Who (3:12)

16. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Make It Easy On Yourself (2:33)

17. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Forget Her (2:10)

18. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Voodoo Woman (2:13)

19. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Lipstick Traces (2:41)

20. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - Be My Girl (2:18)

21. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - 21 - Rag Doll

22. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - 22 - I've Got Everything You Need Babe

23. Bern Elliot & The Fenmen - 23 - Every Little Day Now
Twenty-three songs from 1963-65, including everything Elliot and the Fenmen recorded for Decca, together or separately: the Bern Elliot & the Fenmen singles, their EP and compilation tracks, the sole Bern Elliot & the Klan single, the Elliot solo efforts from 1965, and the first two singles the Fenmen recorded without Elliot. It's quite impressive that See For Miles went to all the trouble to tie up the loose ends for a band that was so marginal, even in the eyes of British Invasion specialists. Elliot & the Fenmen were a good rockin' combo, but one without any songwriting ambitions whatsoever, which limits the interest of the material here considerably, as it consists entirely of well-worn R&B/rock covers. Mildly unusual in this context are Elliot & the Klan's "Good Times," awith a more-poppy-Animals feel, and the Fenmen's "I've Got Everything You Need Babe," an obscure number that Al Kooper co-wrote. Unfortunately this disc doesn't have the Fenmen's 1966 CBS single "Rejected," the best thing they did, either with Elliot or on their own.
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