Friday, 14 March 2014

Creepy Leapy

Whenever I’ve asked you what your favourite (or, more likely, least favourite) bad record is, one title rears its ugly head again and again and again, and it is that record I bring to you today, complete with its seldom-heard B-side.

An appalling ditty with nonsense lyrics, this particular monstrosity - Little Arrows by Leapy Lee - was a huge hit: Number 2 in the UK and Australia, Number 11 in America, Top 10 in Canada and a Number One smash in several European countries. It’s still horrible though, and it’s no surprise that it regularly turns up on bad record lists. Luckily this was denied the top spot by the first two releases from the Beatles’ Apple records - Hey Jude and Those Were the Days.

Little Arrows was co-written by Albert Hammond, whose song writing credits include The Air That I Breathe, Don’t Turn Around, When I Need You, One Moment in Time, Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – and Gimmie Dat Ding. Hammond – who knew Lee through their mutual friendship with Dave Davis of the Kinks – gave him the song “because,” he told DJ and writer Jon Kutner, “He said he was a singer and I couldn’t get anyone else to record it.” Lee, Hammond states, “was a jack of all trades; he’d been a comedian, an antique dealer, a fruit seller and even a bingo caller in Shepherd’s Bush!” Perhaps what is surprising is that this was not Lee’s first recording: three years earlier he released the self-penned It’s All Happening on Pye. Nor, unfortunately, would it be his last. It would, though, be his only major hit. Later covered by Little Jimmy Osmond, Leapy Lee re-recorded and re-issued the song in 2010.

Lee is a funny old character. Still performing today at the grand old age of (almost) 75 – mostly around Mallorca, where he has lived since the early 1980s – he’s perhaps better known locally as a rather reactionary columnist for the ex-pat English-language newspaper the Euro Weekly News...although I suspect the irony of his being rabidly against immigration whilst being an immigrant himself is no doubt lost on him. Born Graham Pulleybank in 1939 (he would later change his name to Lee Graham); he’s also very down on criminals – odd when you consider his own brush with the law. His chart career was nobbled shortly after his second US hit when, in July 1970, Leapy found himself in the Chequers Pub in London's West End with actor Alan Lake (who, at that time, was married to WWR alumnus Diana Dors). A fight broke out and the pub’s relief manager was stabbed - allegedly by Lee, who was sentenced to three years in prison. Lake got 18 months.

Little Arrows is bad enough, but you’ve yet to hear the dreadful B-side, Time Will Tell. Co-written and produced by Gordon Mills, the legendary manager of Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdinck and Gilbert O'Sullivan, it’s an absolute shocker. Mills, who also wrote or co-wrote hits for Cliff Richard, the Searchers and others, really dropped the ball with this piece of rubbish, but even if the song had been world class it would have been ruined by Lee’s ridiculous performance. I quite like the Joe Meek-esque compression, but the song itself is totally unsuited to his mediocre voice, and Lee’s constant straining to hit the right notes (and failing miserably) makes for rather uncomfortable listening. You’d have to hope that he was aiming for something comedic - but it doesn’t make me laugh.



  1. 3/16/14 Wrote:
    Thanks for putting this wretched gem up. I have the original 1968 album by Lee on U.S. Decca (a division of UK MCA, now part of Universal Music Group),and while it does not contain the abysmal "Time Will Tell" song on it, it does have bewildering covers of "Little Green Apples" (which too many artists covered at the time),and an unbelievably cover of a reverse-gendered version of Tom T. Hall's "Harper Valley P.T.A. ( I think Hall wanted a woman to sing it, which is why Jeannie C .Reiley made a hit out of it. Not too long after the hit, Reiley became embarrassed by the "sinful" conduct of the song, and became a born-again Christian in 1972.) One good song does pop up on Lee's album: a cover of a then-rejected Monkees' song, "If I Ever Get To Saginaw Again". The Monkees' version didn't officialy get released until 1989 on the 3-volume "Missing Links" set. Lee may not be much of a steady singer, but I feel that MCA should've put out "Saginaw" instead of "Arrows". It's a more accessible pop song. Too Bad Lee had to get locked up in 1970. Last time U.S. ears heard anything from him in their Top100 was a flop 1970 single, "My Little Yellow Airplane", probably recorded before his lock-up. Despite instant obscurity in the U.S. after the one-shot success of "Arrows", the cheap TV mail order knock-off label K-Tel Records did allow Lee to re-record "Arrows" for their "Dumb Ditties" novelty song collection in 1980. It was his last notable recording in the U.S..

  2. I have a soft spot for that A-side. The B-side is simply ridiculous. By the way, have you ever heard Astrology Songs by Harvey Sid Fisher?

  3. Although it's forgettable, I remember Little Arrows well, but I've never heard that B-Side before. It's quite something. Sometimes he sounds like he's trying to do Boris Karloff impressions, then he gives up completely. I don't suppose you'd have his Ode to a Friendly Toad?

  4. Agreed, Little Arrows might candidate for worst song of the 60s, and it's flip sure is genuine schlock. I never would have thought Little Leapy would deliver something valid, until I found....King Of The Whole Wide World, penned by his good mate Ray Davies (don't miss it at in the comments, one Davd Bycroft explains: "This record was released on 18th March 1966. It had been recorded around 20th March 1966 at IBC Studios Central London. The backing musicians are Dave Davies on guitar and Pete Quaife on bass.The drummer was a unknown session man as was the organist.Backing Vocals are provided by Margo Crocitto and Carole MacDonald of the American girl-group Goldie & The Gingerbreads."


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