The Idle Race
Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1966) as The Nightriders
- Johnny Mann -- guitar
- Jeff Lynne -- vocals, guitar (replaced Johnny Mann)
line up 3 (1969-71)
- Greg Masters - bass
line up 4 (1971-72)
- Mike Hopkins -
vocals, guitar (replaced Jeff Lynne)
- Balls (Steve Gibbons, Trevor Burton)
- Bandylegs (Mike Hopkins)
- Black Sabbath (Dave Walker)
- Cooperfield (Mike Hopkins)
- Electric Light
Orchestra (Jeff Lynne)
- Lemon Tree (Mike Hopkins)
- Greg Levene and the Avengers (Mike Hopkins)
- Nicky James
Movement (Mike Hopkins)
- The Magic Christians (Trevor Burton)
- Mistress (Dave
- Quartz (Mike Hopkins)
- Raven (Dave Walker)
- The Red Caps
Dave Pritchard, and Roger Spencer)
- Sheridan's Lot ( Greg Masters, Dave Pritchard, and
- The Uglys (Steve Gibbons)
- The Wages of Sin (Mike Hopkins)
- Dave Walker
and the Ambulators (Dave Walker)
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Country/State: Birmingham, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: original inner sleeve
Catalog ID: 4
The mid and late-'60s saw a literal torrent of talented English bands trying
to make the big time. Naturally, popular tastes catapulted plenty of
marginal acts into the spotlight, in the process overlooking many outfits
which had just as much, or even more talent. The Birmingham-based Idle Race
were certainly one of those groups in the latter category.
The group found a major supporter in the form of The Move's Roy Wood. Having previously worked with engineers Eddie Offord and Gerald Chevin, Wood convinced the pair to check out The Idle Race at a local concert and to subsequently sign on to produce the group's debut. Wood went on to donate what was planned as their debut single - 1967's 'Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree'. The story's a little convoluted, but The Move had already released the song as the 'B' side to their 'Flowers In The Rain' single. The Move single was supported by the release of a promotional postcard featuring a photo of a naked British Prima Minister Harold Wilson lying in bed with his secretary Marcia Williams. Wilson successfully sued the band and The Move manager Tony Secunda for liable. Apparently gun shy over the whole episode, Liberty management decided to distance themselves from the episode dropping plans to release the 45 in the UK, though Liberty went ahead and issued it in the US and Germany. The Lynne-penned 'he Imposters of Life's Magazine' was subsequently released as the UK debut.
- 1967's 'Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree' b/w 'My Father's Son' (Liberty catalog number 55997)
- 1967's 'Here We Go Round The Lemon Tree' b/w 'My Father's Son' (Liberty catalog number 15 010A)
- 1967's 'The Imposters of Life's Magazine' b/w 'Sitting In My Tree' (Liberty catalog number LBF 15026)
- 1968's 'The Skeleton and the Roundabout' b/w 'Knocking Nails Into My House' Liberty catalog number LBF 15054)
- 1968's 'The Skeleton and the Roundabout' b/w 'Knocking Nails Into My House' Liberty catalog number LIF 523F)
- 1968's 'The End of the Road' b/w 'Morning Sunshine' Liberty catalog number LBF 15101)
In spite of the absence of
sales, in an uncharacteristic show of corporate faith, the lack of sales
didn't disheartening Liberty executives who readily agreed to finance an
For you trivia hounds, the UK release featured
a far more elaborate gatefold sleeve (Liberty catalog LBL 83132 mono;
LBS 83132 stereo).
1.) Skeleton and the Roundabout (Jeff Lynne) - 2:16 rating: *** stars
lyrics are lost on my American ears, but I'm guessing back in the day 'Skeleton and the Roundabout'
might have sounded daring and cutting edge. It was certainly catchy
and fun, but today it sounds like something Eric Idle and Monty Python crew
might have come up with. Cute, but hardly essential toytown
psych. As mentioned above, the track was previously released as
a single in the UK and France.
was nothing more than a brief instrumental introduction to the title track
How would you describe the title track ? How about a seriously stoned 'Eleanor Rigby' meets early Electric Light Orchestra ... Okay it may have been extremely derivative, but I've always loved the melody and orchestration and the lack of originality didn't detract from what a great performance this one was.
4.) I Like My Toys (Jeff Lynne) - 1:45 rating: **** stars
? Stoned ? Catchy in a goofy fashion, but probably
too cute and too eclectic for anyone other than fans of toytown psych.
Always loved the guitar effects on this one.
was one of the album's prettiest
melodies. Kicked along Lynne's instantly recognizable voice,
George Harrison-styled slide guitar, and Roger Spencer's
tribal drums, this one
had a distinctive ELO-esque flavor.
slightly wobbly vocals has always reminded me a bit of a Bee Gees
song. That wasn't necessarily a good thing, but I will admit this had
a dandy chorus.
Bit of The Fab Four's ''Ob-la-di Ob-la-da' rhythm here ? Interesting given this came out before the other tune. The song was almost more interesting for the opportunity to hear Lynne's unadulterated Birmingham accent.
1.) On With the Show (Jeff Lynne) - 2:20 rating: **** stars
opening 20 seconds were wasted on what sounded like a collage of cartoon and
commercial snippets, but when the main melody kicked in 'On with the Show'
stood as one of Lynne's sweetest melodies.
tune that was just kind of ... well strange with an Eric Idle flavor to
it. Not hard to picture some psycho killer singing this as he
slaughters a line of innocents. I'm guessing much of the song's charm
was simply lost to American ears.
you certainly couldn't argue with the anti-war sentiments, but 'Don't Put Your Boys in the Army, Mrs. Ward'
was another song that was simply too cutesy; too English for my plebian
guitarist Prichard's only contribution, 'Pie In the Sky' was a surprisingly
mainstream pop tune. I quite liked Pritchard's voice, the bouncy
melody, and the harmonies, but it also sounded very out of place surrounded
by the rest of the album.
orchestrated ballad that had that distinctive ELO feel. If you
don't like ELO, you'd probably want to avoid this one.
Simply too Vaudevillian and cutesy for my tastes, but that clearly wasn't an issue for the thousands of folks who bought the UK single.
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