Thursday, 24 November 2011

Say May-Vin

A quick, slightly early post to round off November. From next week I'll be bringing you the usual annual debauchery known as the World's Worst records' Christmas Countdown. Until then, let me introduce you to  Mavin James.

I know very little about Mavin (Say May-Vin) James apart from the fact that this middle-aged crooner released at least three 45s on his own Havasong label, based in Rochester, Kent, in 1986/87.

The following info is almost entirely gleaned from the sleeve of this particular single, the third in the series, My Dad/Together in Iceland (complete with any errors in punctuation, spelling and/or syntax):

Mavin was born in King’s Cross and lived in Bloomsbury, London until the age of 10, when he moved with his family to Greenford, Middlesex. There he lived until the age of 22 thereafter moving to Rochester in Kent and becoming by adoption a “MAN OF KENT”.

Whilst living in Greenford he began Playing Piano at Parties and soon found, that in addition to enjoying himself he was also being paid. His enthusiasm knew no bounds and soon he was known to one-and-all as HE WHO NEVER STOPS, himself considering no party a success, unless all were exhausted.

Moving to Rochester, by now lucky enough to have a lovely Wife, fortune smiled and life was able to be lived to it’s full, Piano playing becoming but a distant memory. INEXPLICABLY MANY YEARS LATER whilst working, Mavin began to sing. Two Hours later his first Song was complete, Words and Music.

Thus was born, Mavin the Songwriter.

Single 3, written by Mavin some time ago, relates to most everybody in varying degrees and Side B, is for those who enjoy a Lively beat.

I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a ‘Lively beat’? Clearly Mavin himself was a bit of a fan: his first single – He-Be-Har-Be/Me-Me and You – is described on the sleeve as a ‘Disco Dance’, and you don’t get a more lively beat than that. Incidentally there was a second Havasong Music, which existed at the same time as Mavin’s company, which published songs by Billy Childish (for acts including the Milkshakes and Thee Headcoatees) and the Prisoners. By strange coincidence Childish (real name Steven John Hamper) originally hailed from Kent, but he had already been living in London for some time when the two Havasongs were in business.

There's something utterly beguiling about Mavin's delivery of the a-side; it's a sweet, naive little ditty which you could easily imagine being performed by Clive Dunn. However nothing can prepare you for the b-side. Together in Iceland, drenched in reverb and with its blippy organ sounds more like a lost Joe Meek masterpiece than the late 80s electropop you'd assume Mavin was going for.

I'll guarantee after a listen or two you'll be humming this one, or suddenly catch yourself singing snatches of the infectious lyrics: "I'll come with you to Iceland, I'll be there to keep you warm," or "In Iceland together, together we'll be."

So, enjoy both sides of Mavin James' third - and seemingly last - single: My Dad/Together in Iceland.


  1. Duh, I think der bofe d' same song...

  2. poo! I double checked it too! Check back soon and I'll make sure its sorted

  3. This is probably the best record ever made. Pure genius. I actually thought I was listening to Mozart when I heard 'My Dad'. When I heard the other side I realised we were dealing with a new kind of genius. incredible. Simon Cowell should be informed straight away. Here is the act he's been looking for all these years.

  4. Iceland is truly a majestic, magical place drenched in cheap vocal echo effects!

    Blimey, i thought i was listening to Gary Numan's smash followup to Cars after hearing that b-side!

  5. please please repair the b-side!

  6. They should both be working now; let me know if there are any other broken links and I'll fix those too!

  7. Ahem... actually that was/is the same Havasong Music that 'published' the songs of Billy Childish (& me) et al.

    "Mavin James" was the nom de plume of one Jim Hurst-Amos, a television tube repair man by trade, of Rochester, Kent, who set up Havasong to publish his own records, most of which were kept securely locked in his garage to prevent copyright theft. Talk about belt & braces.

    He claimed (on numerous occasions) that he once wrote a song for Georgie Fame, whose name "isn't really Georgie. No, it's Clive". This is indeed true, but we believed him the first three or four times.

    Apparently, he lost a finger in a bizarre [insert amusing/ironic cause of your choice here] accident, and thereafter appended his manuscripts with the legends 'B.L.F.' (Before Losing Finger) and 'A.L.F.' (an animated TV puppet from the time).

    We lost touch with Jim sometime in the 1980s, when we realised that maybe his publishing deal wasn't the best thing since powdered egg, like he had originally led us to believe. But we heard that somewhere along the line he managed to lose an entire leg and later his life (R.I.P. Jim), leaving his musical legacy in the delighfully manicured mitts of his lovely missus (whose name escapes me), who has since, we understand, put it in the (presumably unmanicured) paws of their son and heir (whose name I don't even know).

    Subsequent attempts to acquire the rights of our old tunes from Havasong Music have resulted in requests for a camel-train of gold and the blood of 70 virgins in diamond-encrusted vessels. Obviously we are "thinking about it."

    Hope that helps.

    Kind regards,
    B G Brand esq.

    1. I think his lovely wife was called Rhia, as in "a rhia-james production." In my memory, she looks like Rula Lenska, but my memory is notoriously untrustworthy.

  8. Thanks to the mighty Bruce Brand (drummer and vocalist with a number of Billy Childish's outfits) for that info - it's really helped to flesh out the Mavin James story. I feel an update coming on....

  9. You're welcome. It's about time someone exhumed the unspeakable talent that was Thee Mighty Mavin James.

  10. I served Mavin his breakfast in a B&B in Moffat once and he tipped me with this record. He drove the most amazing Ford Cortina with a Civil War battle scene painted on the bonnet.

    1. Thanks for the info Eilidh - he certainly was a character!


WWR Most Popular Posts