Casey Jones and the Governors


Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1957-59) (as Cass and the Casanovas)

- Adrian Barber -- lead guitar

- Casey Jones (aka Brian Casser) -- rhythm guitar,

  keyboards

- Johnny Hutchinson -- drums, vocals

 

  line up 2 (1959-62) as Cass and the Casanovas)

- Adrian Barber -- lead guitar

- Casey Jones (aka Brian Casser) -- rhythm guitar, 

  keyboards

NEW - Johnny Gustafson -- bass

- Johnny Hutchinson -- drums, backing vocals

  line up 3 (1963) (as Casey and His Engineers)

NEW - Eric Clapton -- lead guitar

- Casey Jones (aka Brian Casser) -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Tom McGuinness -- bass

-NEW  Ray Stock -- drums, percussion

 

  line up 4 (1963-66) (as Casey and the Governors)

NEW - David Coleman -- lead guitar (replaced Eric Clapton)

- Casey Jones (aka Brian Casser) -- vocals, keyboards

NEW - Roger Cook -- rhythm guitar

NEW - Peter Richards -- drums, percussion (replaced 

  Ray Stock)

- Jim Rodford-- bass (replaced Tom McGuinness)

 

 

 

- The Big Three (Adrian Barber, Johnny Gustafson, and

  Johnny Hutchinson)

- Casey Jones (solo efforts)

- Casey Jones and His Engineers

- Cass and the Casanovas

- The Merseybeats (Johnny Gustafson)

- Quartermass (Johnny Gustafson)

 

 

 


 

Genre: rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Don;t Ha Ha

Company: Golden 12

Catalog: G 12/LP 106
Year: 1964

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG

Comments: German pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5936

Price: $100.00

 

Ah, Casey Jones ...  For a guy who was a founding father in the Mersybeat movement; worked with the likes of Eric Clapton (briefly), and enjoyed a recording career that's spanned some four generations, he isn't particularly well known in either the UK, or the States.

 

Born Brian Casser in Liverpool, England after a brief career in the merchant Navy by the late 1950s he'd supplemented his income as a cook by adopting the stage name Casey Jones and formed one of Liverpool's earliest rock bands - Cass and the Casanovas.  Casser quickly discovered there was money to be made in rock and roll and by 1959 he was running one of Liverpool's first rock clubs - The Casanova Club which began booking local groups, including an early gig by the newly formed Beatles.  Unfortunately, personality issues and differences in musical approaches saw The Casanovas fall apart.  With Jones interested in handling lead vocals, the other three members fired him, subsequently reappearing as The Big Three. The trio quickly picked up a manager in the form of Brian Epstein, signed with Decca and began a brief recording career that included stints working as Cilla Black's backing band. 

 

For his part Jones split for London where after about a year he scored a contract with Columbia.  Credited to Casey Jones & the Engineers, he made his debut with the release of 1963's 'One Way Ticket' b/w 'I'm Gonna Love You' (Columbia catalog number DB 7083).  Anxious to support the single, he ended up recruiting former Roosters lead guitarist Eric Clapton and bass player Tom McGuinness, with backing from drummer Ray Stack.  The band's pop orientation didn't particularly suit Clapton or McGuinness and within a matter of months they'd both tendered their notices; Clapton reappearing in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers.   With a new line up consisting of lead guitarist David Coleman, rhythm guitar player Roger Cook, drummer Peter Richards, and bassist Jim Rodford Casey Jones and the Engineers soldiered on, releasing a pair of German singles on the Bellaphon label:

 

 

- 'Tall Girl' b/w 'Blue Train' (Bellaphon catalog number BL 1006)

- 'Don't Ha Ha' b/w 'Long Gone Train' (Bellaphon catalog number BL 1013)

 

Aware of the immense pool of musical talent in the UK and cutthroat nature of the business, Jones decided to relocate the band to West Germany where there was considerable demand for the talents of English bands.  The band also opted for a modest name change - becoming Casey Jones and the Governors.  The name was apparently chosen to underscore their British roots.  That move proved quite shrewd with Bellaphone repackaging the two earlier singles under an EP credited to Casey Jones and the Governors.

 

  

Bellaphon catalog number B-EP-151

 

"Casey Jones and the Governors"

(side 1)

1.) Don't Ha Ha   (Huey Smith - Vincent) - 

2.) Tall Girl

 

(side 2)

1.) Long Gone Train

2.) Blue Tears

 

While the EP did little commercially, it attracted the attention of the Golden 12 label which signed the band and agreed to finance an album.  

 

 

Musically "Casey Jones and the Governors" wasn't going to change your world outlook.  None of the 14 performances was bad, but without a single original composition the album found Jones and company forced to plow through a pedestrian mixture of R&B and soul chestnut covers.  Showcasing Jones' somewhat goofy demeanor and mediocre voice, it was obvious these guys simply would not have been able to compete with the majority of their English competitors.  That left them in an awkward position of having to try to make it on the basis of personality - not a strength that translated to vinyl particularly well.  So here's the funny thing about the set ...  even though there wasn't an ounce of originality in these grooves, the results were surprisingly enjoyable.  Who knows why this one struck such a chord with me. Perhaps because these guys were such underdogs?  Maybe because they actually showed some in-studio enthusiasm?  Who knows.

 

- Originally recorded by Huey Smith and the Clowns and known as 'Don't You Just Know It', gawd only knows why Jones and company's version was awkwardly re- titled 'Don't Ha Ha'.  In spite of the weird title, this was easily one of their better performances offering up a nice mix between rock and goofiness.   rating: **** stars

- While there wasn't anything wrong with their cover of 'Love Potion No. 9', these guys didn't add anything to what was essentially a rote cover of the tune.  Hearing it live after a couple of beers probably wouldn't have hurt.   rating: ** stars

- Yeah, Jones' vocals were a bit on the shrill side, but I'll give them an extra star for an enthusiastic performance of 'Mickey's Monkey'.  It wasn't enough th make you forget Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' version, but lead guitarist David Coleman deserved special notice for his contribution to this one.   rating: *** stars

- Similarly, I'll give them a nod for an interesting choice in covers with Moses Allison's 'Parchment Farm'.  Coleman turned in another tasty solo and Jones voice proved surprisingly well suited for the tunes R&B base.   rating: *** stars

- Their cover of Larry Williams' 'Slow Down' was a complete surprise to me.  The original was a decent 12 bar blues piece, but kicked along by some nice twang guitar and a killer Jones harmonica solo, they turned this one into one of the album's standout performances.   rating: **** stars

- The first of two Chuck Berry tunes, with the exception of another Coleman solo, their version of 'Too Much Monkey Business' was thoroughly forgettable.    rating: ** stars 

- Their cover of the Sounds Limited instrumental 'Sounds Like Locomotion' was easily my favorite performance. Kicked along by Peter Richards frantic drums, this was the one track where the band simply cut lose, showing that they could play conventional rock and roll.  Shame it was so short and they didn't pursue the direction with more vigor.   rating: ***** stars

- Their second Larry Williams cover, their version of 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy' was  competent, but totally forgettable.   rating: ** stars

- To my ears their second Chuck Berry cover 'Talking 'Bout You' was interesting due to the fact it sounded like an early Beatles cover ...  The performance sounded quite unlike the rest of the album making me wonder if Jones handled lead vocals on this one ...    rating: *** stars

- You can't really go wrong with a Rufus Thomas song and that was the case with the rousing cover of 'Do the Dog'.  Again, it wasn't enough to make you forget Thomas' original, but they turned in an energetic cover with another tasty Coleman lead.    rating: **** stars 

- Funny that a bunch of sun starved, skinny English guys would be able to turn in a halfway decent cover of a blues number like 'Can't Judge a Book'.  Don't ask me how they did it, but they did.    rating: **** stars 

- Spotlighting Jones on keyboards (echoes of Alan Price), 'So Long Baby' found the band pounding out a rough hewn slice of Animals-styled blues.  Coleman turned in some tasty slide and jazzy moves.  Eric Burden and company would have been hard pressed to match this one.    rating: *** stars 

- Shades of Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt Kickers.  There wasn't much to say about their cover of Lord Sutch's 'Jack the Ripper'.  Complete with madman sound effects, this was one of the performance that underscored their goofball credentials.  It was also tapped as a single.   rating: *** stars  

- The album ended on with a brief instrumental rave-up in the form of 'Nashville Special'.  Nice Jones harmonica solo, but other than that the country-flavored number didn't make much of an impression ...   rating: *** stars 

 

Golden 12 wasted little time releasing singles of the LP:

 

 

- 1965's 'Slow Down' b/w 'Mickey's Monkey' (Golden 12 catalog number 12-G 12 / 01)

- 1965's 'Don't Ha Ha' b/w 'Nashville Special' (Golden 12 catalog number 12-G 12 / 27)

- 1965's 'Jack the Ripper' b/w 'So Long Baby' (Golden 12 catalog number 12-G 12 / 35)

 

There was also a non-LP single released during the year:

 

- 1965's 'Candy Man' b/w 'Tallahassee Lassie'  Golden 12 catalog number 12-G 12 / 32)

 

"Don't Ha Ha" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Don't Ha Ha   (Huey Smith - Vincent) - 

2.) Love Potion No. 9   (Leiber - Stoller) 

3.) Mickey's Monkey  (Brian Holland - Lamont Dozier - Eddie Holland)

4.) Parchman Farm   (Moses Allison) - 

5.) Slow Down   (Larry Williams) - 

6.) Too Much Monkey Business   (Check Berry) - 

7.) Sounds Like Locomotion (instrumental)   (John St. John) - 

 

(side 2)
1.) Dizzy Miss Lizzy   (Larry Williams) -

2.) Talking 'Bout You   (Chuck Berry) - 

3.) Do the Dog   (Rufus Thomas) - 

4.) Can't Judge a Book   (McDaniels) - 

5.) So Long Baby   (James) 

6.) Jack the Ripper    (Lord Sutch) - 

7.) Nashville Special (instrumental)   (Larson) - 

 

 

YouTube has a series of 'live' performance clips from a 1966 show the band did at the Offenbach, Germany  town hall.  Interestingly none of the instrumentals appear to be plugged in.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd8jsBwkRYs

'Don't Ha Ha'

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxMJUYJbUCA

'Dizzy Miss Lizzy'

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZ3CnGsV6GU

'Yesterday Man'

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atCXJqOWhpQ

'Don't You Know Yokomo'

 

Here's another take on 'Don't Ha Ha' from the mid-1970s ...  it's pretty funny to see Jones solo on a disco show.  His dance moves in front of the stunned audience are priceless and enough to make you pray you don't ever have to embarrass yourself to such an extent in order to pay your bills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxQfTHLmXsQ&NR=1

'Don't Ha Ha'

 

 

Jones and the Engineers only last through 1966, but there are scores of band and Jones solo 45s.

 

 

I've never bothered to track them down, but there's a follow-on LP - 1965's "Casey Jones and the Governors" (Golden 12 catalog number 12 LP 108),  a 1965 'best of'" compilation which was actually a split effort with The Vanguards "Beat Hits Vol. 2" (Bellaphon catalog number BWS 305) and a mid 1970s Jones solo album - "Casey's Rock 'n' Roll Show" (Bellaphon catalog number BI 15202).

 

 

 

 

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