The Silkie

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1963-66)

- Ivor Aylesbury (aka Ivor Silkie) -- vocals, guitar

- Kevin Cunningham (aka Kev Silkie)  -- bass

- Mike Ramsden (aka Mike Silkie) (RIP 2004) -- vocals, guitar

- Sylvia Tatler (aka Silvie Silkie) -- vocals, tambourine


  line up 2 (1966-2004)

- Mike Ramsden (aka Mike Silkie (RIP 2004) -- vocals, guitar

- Sylvia Tatler (aka Silvie Silkie) -- vocals, tambourine




- none known





Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  You've Go To Hide Your Love Away

Company: Fontana

Catalog: MGF 27540

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: mono pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 2248

Price: $20.00


Ivor Aylesbury, Kevin Cunningham, Mike Ramsden, and Sylvia Tatler met in 1963 while attending Hull University.  Like half the university, the four discovered a shared interest in folk music, performing around the school as The Silkies.   They debuted with a four track flexi-disc issued by the school's student union:

"The Silkies" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Blood Red River   (Kevin Cunningham - Sylvia Tatler - Ivor Aylesbury - Mike Ramsden) -

2.) Blue (traditional(


(side 2)

2.) John Henry (traditional)

2.) All My Sorrows


Graduating from the school in 1964 they spent a summer performing at a British holiday summer camp (The Devon Coast Country Club).  Graduating, by 1965 they were playing the UK club circuit, including a appearance at Liverpool's Cavern Club, where they attracted the attention of Brian Epstein.  Epstein subsequently signed them to a recording contract and helped them score a deal with Fontana.


The group made their formal debut with a 1965 single:

- 1965's 'Blood Red River' b/w 'Close The Door Gently' (Fontana catalog number TF 556)


While it sold well locally, the 45 did nothing nationally and never saw a US release.  



Epstein wasted no time on the group's follow-on, enlisting The Beatles for source material.  Originally written for the "Help" soundtrack, The Silkie recorded their cover of 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' with help from three of the Fab Four.   Produced by John Lennon, Paul McCartney provided acoustic guitar, while George Harrison played tambourine.   


- 1965's 'You've Got To Hide Your Love Away' b/w 'City Winds' (Fontana catalog F 1525)  #10 US


Given prevailing Beatlemania, it shouldn't have come as a surprise the single sold well throughout the world, including going top ten in the States and top 40 in the UK.  


Fontana wasted no time following-up the single with a supporting album.  Clearly recorded in a rush,"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" included the hit, the earlier Blood Red River' single and eight Bob Dylan covers.  Yeah, that was a lot of Dylan, but the band's live repertoire was apparently heavy on Dylan material so it made sense.  Why waste time and effort learning new material when you already knew those Dylan tunes and Dylan was pretty hot at that time ...   One of the ironies was the group had written several of their own tunes.  While two originals were included on the album, Fontana passed on the opportunity to include several other efforts including the Dylan-inspired 'Keys To My Soul'.   The group also apparently said no to an offer to include a second Paul McCartney composition entitled '1 + 1 Is 2'.   I'd love to tell you this was a great set, but other than the hit, it was pretty pedestrian.  With the exception of the title track, if you liked Peter, Paul, and Mary-styled folk this was probably up your alley.  The four certainly had talent, but there wasn't anything particularly interesting on the Dylan covers and their two originals were equally inoffensive.


"You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) You've Got To Hide Your Love Away   (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 2:20

Probably one of the best ever Beatles covers, though having John Lennon producing, Paul McCartney on guitar, and George Harrison on tambourine certainly didn't hurt.  With Mike Ramsden handling lead vocals the arrangement was wonderful; the group's harmonies even better.  Lots of folks draw comparisons to an English Peter, Paul, and Mary, and while true elsewhere on the album, to my ears the sound on this one was much more contemporary and far better.   For anyone curious, YouTube has a performance of the song ion the German BeatClub television show.  Yeah Tatler sounded a bit tentative.   rating: **** stars

2.) The Times They Are a-Changin'   (Bob Dylan) - 3:58

The first of nine Dylan covers, hearing their version of 'The Times They Are a-Changin'' made it easier to understand the Peter, Paul and Mary comparison.   Basically what you'd expect to hear on a Saturday in your local Irish pub ...   YouTube has another clip from their 1966 Beat Club appearance:   rating: *** stars

3.) Mr. Tambourine Man   (Bob Dylan) - 4:21

Featuring Tatler on lead vocals, if you ever wanted to hear this Dylan classic reduced to a toothpaste advert, here's you chance.  The performance was about as bland as you could make it without being comatose.   rating: ** stars

4.) Close the Door Gently - 3:00

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz   rating: ** stars

5.) Dylan's Dream   (Bob Dylan) - 3:51

Tatler may have been easier on the eyes, but Ramsden clearly had the better voice.   Imagine a female Paul Simon doing a Dylan cover and you'll get a feel for what this one sounded like.   rating: ** stars

6.) Girl of the North Country   (Bob Dylan) - 2:44

Nice acoustic guitars and this one had Ramsden on vocals; Tatler in the backing role.   Probably the best of their Dylan covers.   rating: *** stars


(side 2)
1.) Blowin' In the Wind
   (Bob Dylan) - 2:57

Bland, second-rate Peter, Paul and Mary-styled cover of the tune.  rating: ** stars

2.) Blood Red River   (Kevin Cunningham - Sylvia Tatler - Ivor Aylesbury - Mike Ramsden) - 2:02

The first of two band originals and giving credit where due, it was as good as any folk-rock tune their better known contemporaries could have written.   rating: *** stars

3.) Love Minus Zero/No Limit   (Bob Dylan) - 3:05

The Flamenco sounded made for a nice change of pace.  Pleasant with Ramsden and Tatler showing their voices really could blend well given the right material.   rating: *** stars

4.) It AIn't Me Babe   (Bob Dylan) - 3:05

If you can get this far into the album you'll discover your attention starting to wander.   rating: ** stars

5.) Tomorrow Is a Long Road   (Bob Dylan) - 2:18

Okay, okay I'll admit they did a nice version of this one.   rating: *** stars

6.) City Winds   (Kevin Cunningham - Sylvia Tatler - Ivor Aylesbury - Mike Ramsden) - 2:58

One of two group originals, 'Blood Red River' served as their Fontana debut and wasn't bad in a straightforward folk format.  Not exactly my taste, but Ramsden had a nice voice, in the studio their voices blended nicely, and there were some nice acoustic guitar moments.   rating: *** stars





Fontana catalog number TL 5256

Credit to UK marketers where the album was released with the title "The Silkie Sing the Songs of Bob Dylan".  The track listing was slightly different, as was the cover art.


"The Silkie Sing the Songs of Bob Dylan" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) The Times They Are a-Changin'   (Bob Dylan) - 3:58

2.) Dylan's Dream   (Bob Dylan) - 3:51

3.) When the Ship Comes In

4.) Boots of Spanish Leather

5.) Blowin' In the Wind   (Bob Dylan) - 2:57

6.) Long Time Gone


(side 2

1.)  It Me Babe   (Bob Dylan) - 3:05

2.) Tomorrow Is a Long Road   (Bob Dylan) - 2:18

3.) Black Cow Blues

4.) Love Minus Zero/No Limit   (Bob Dylan) - 3:05

5.) Girl of the North Country   (Bob Dylan) - 2:44

6.) Mr. Tambourine Man   (Bob Dylan) - 4:21


Unfortunately the group couldn't follow-up on their chart success.  An American tour, including appearances on American Bandstand and The Ed Sullivan Show, had to be cancelled when they group were unable to obtain American work visas prior to the tour - those English folk groups were clearly a potential threat to American security. 


Fontana released two non-LP 45s before dropping the group:

- 1966's 'Keys To My Soul' b/w 'Leave Me To Cry' (Fontana catalog number F-1536)

Probably the best thing they ever wrote, the 'A' side was a Dylan-styled folk-rocker that showcased Ramsden excellent voice and plenty of jangle guitar.  Could have been a hit had it come out earlier.


- 1966's 'Born To Be With You' b/w 'So Sorry Now' (Fontana catalog number F-1551)

Sounding like Phil Spector had produced it, the 'A' side found the group working in a more pop direction with a nice version of the old Chordettes hit.


The original group then split up.   Ramsden and Tatler married in 1966 and continued the Silkie nameplate (frequently playing at their local Devon pub - The Colt Inn), until Ramsden's death from kidney disease in 2004.