Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Now you cats, Dig the Beat

Song Poem pioneer Sandy Stanton may have introduced the world to the talents of Rodd Keith, but he's also responsible, via his Film City imprint, for discovering Frank Perry (not to be confused with the man who had a few minor hits in the States in the early 60s on labels such as Epic, nor with the New Age musician of the same name), bringing him in to understudy and then take over from Rodd once he had moved on to pastures new with Preview.

Although nowhere near as gifted a composer, arranger and instrumentalist, Frank had a long and varied career in the Song Poem trade, often employing that other Stanton stock-in-trade (also a favourite of Rodd Keith) a pre-digital sampling keyboard called the Chamberlin, which used short strips of pre-recorded tape to replicate the sound of other instruments, voices and sound effects in much the same way as the Mellotron did (used to great effect by The Beatles on Strawberry Fields Forever and the Sgt Pepper album), although the instrument's eight-second strips of tape limited it to rather unnatural distortions of the instruments it attempted to sample and to some peculiar time signatures: listen to the odd bossa-nova rhythm used on this particular recording if you don't believe me, paying close attention to the number of times Frank drops the beat altogether. Fans of the Song Poem will have heard these anomalies a number of times before.

Frank himself recorded for over a dozen Song Poem imprints - most of them under the aegis of Sandy Stanton - including Action, Vandalia, Spin-Out (another couple of tracks by W L Horning), Mayhams Collegiate, Thoughtwave, Dolly-O and Endeavor. This particular gem was released on Wesley Records sometime in the mid-60s, a vanity label used by Stanton for the songs of one Wesley Louis Horning of Denver, Colorado.

Wesley, it appears, also released two EPs of his own compositions on Spin-Out, singing and playing in what can be best (and kindest) described as a haunting, laid-back, low-fi style (less generous reviewers would class him out of tune and tone deaf, perhaps). His compositions only seem to come alive once they've been subjected to the Frank Perry treatment, although the titles of some of these self-performed ditties (Arms Ten Feet Long, You're Just Naturally Sweet and Rock-A-Billy, for example) do betray a charming innocence. Sadly he passed away in 1985, at the age of 74. Drop by where you can hear some of Wesley's own recordings, including the brilliant Kiss Me, Kiss Me Baby.

Enjoy Frank Perry and the Big Sound's Dig That Beat


  1. Thank you. I've been collecting song poems and didn't have this one.

  2. Wow he used a Chamberlin,he's got my respect.Thanks for the song poems.


WWR Most Popular Posts