Friday, 21 October 2011

The Lions Roar

Today’s audio abomination was found in Booty, a second hand store in Bristol, just a couple of doors away from my office. I was browsing the shelves there yesterday and came across this horror, resplendent in its dreadful sleeve (left), and knew right away I had to have it. There’s no date anywhere on the disc or sleeve, but I’d date this at around 1979/1980, and it’s release was prompted by the wish to raise money for the Lions Club International Foundation, the charitable arm of Lions Club International, the world's largest service club organisation which currently boasts 1.35 million members in more than 46,000 clubs worldwide.

Recorded at Kaley Studios in Rotherham (where Pulp would later record) and released on the Doncaster-based Future Earth Records, this is a terrible record. The insipid lyrics - “what’s the matter with the world? Why can’t we live together? What’s the matter with the world? Let’s love one another” - are enough to set my teeth on edge (the lyrics of the B side – What A Beautiful Dream – are even more vomit-inducing) but there are a few other things about this particular disc that make it a must for the World’s Worst Records. The sappy, maudlin, sub-McCartney lyrics and de rigueur key change present on both sides would normally be enough, but the discovery that the man behind this bland bucket of hippy-dippy clichés, Lion John Pickles (as he’s credited on both label and sleeve), went on to help create Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers elevates it above its all-pervasive mediocrity.

DJ and producer Les Hemstock (also from Doncaster) created and mixed the first Jive Bunny track for the 22nd monthly Mastermix, a specialist DJ-only release from the company owned by John Pickles. John, his son Andy and Hemstock – along with DJs Ian Morgan and (later) John Smith - went on to create something of a global phenomenon with Jive Bunny, enjoying 11 UK chart singles (including three number ones) in a little over two years and a number of hits worldwide. John Pickles is now the Chairman of the Music Factory Entertainment Group (son Andy is Deputy Chairman), owners of Mastermix and Jive Bunny. To date Jive Bunny has released close on 20 albums, all of which are available from the Mastermix website.

I realise that should be ashamed, taking the Mickey out of a record released with the sole aim of raising funds for good causes, but the fact that its composer and performer was instrumental in the creation of one of the all-time musical criminals just meant that I had to share it with you. Oh, and the letter on the back of the sleeve, from the Vice President of the International Association of Lions Clubs, is so self-congratulatory (‘we have provided a ray of hope and comfort to those with little to live for’)  makes me want to go out and kill someone.

So, enjoy both sides of Lion John Pickles’ single What’s the Matter With The World/What a Beautiful Dream.


  1. I vaguely recall this record from my extreme youth, because my father was a Lion here in the States. I think he had a copy of it--the cover looks really familiar, even though (fortunately) I've never heard the music before today. Thank the gods I didn't, because if I had, I'd be an even bigger mutant today than I am!

  2. 2/17/12 wrote:
    Funny thing about John Pickles and his "Jive Bunny" series of recordings: only one single (1990's 'Swing the Mood" ever became a hit here in the U.S.. It's strange he continued to have hit after hit as "Jive Bunny & The Master-Mixers" in Europe & Australia some ten years later. Of course, "Swing The Mood" is infamous to me for one reason: Unable to get permission from RCA/BMG (now BMG/Sony)records to use the Elvis Presley recordings ("Hound Dog", "Jailhouse Rock" & "All Shook Up")for their song cycle dance mix, they had to bring in a phony Elvis impersonator to mouth the words of Elvis' old hits for a few seconds opf snippets in a 4-minute song. Interesting, if infuriating.

  3. Hi,

    any chance to reup these ones?

    Many thanks and keep up the good work!



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