Stamford Bridge


Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1970)

- Brian Alquist -- backing vocals

- Peter Barnfather -- vocals, guitar 

- John Carter (aka John Nicholas Shakespeare) -- vocals, guitar 

- John Ford -- bass 

- Richard Hudson -- drums, percussion, sitar 

- Mickey Keen -- lead guitar 

- Barry Kingston -- keyboards 

- Ken Lewis  (aka Ken Hawker) -- vocals, guitar 

- Gillian Shakespeare -- backing vocals 

 

  line up 2 (1971)

- Peter Barnfather -- vocals, guitar 

- John Carter (aka John Nicholas Shakespeare) -- vocals, guitar 

- Ken Lewis  (aka Ken Hawker)  -- vocals, guitar 

 

 

 

 

- John Carter (solo efforts)

- Carter-Lewis and the Southerners (John Carter and Ken Lewis)

- Dawn Chorus (John Carter)

- The First Class

- The Flowerpot Men (John Carter)

- Friends (John Carter)

- The Ivy League (John Carter)

- Kincade (John Carter)

- The Ministry of Sound (John Carter)

- The Ohio Express (John Carter)

- Scarecrow (John Carter)

- Starbreaker (John Carter)

- Stormy Petrel (John Carter)

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Come Up and See Us Sometime

Company: Penny Farthing

Catalog: PELS-507

Year: 1970

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1022

Price: $90.00

 

 

Yeah, had this been released in the States it would have been categorized as bubblegum ... though that shouldn't detract one iota from it's creative worth.

 

Quite an obscurity even in the UK, if anyone's heard of this album it's a result of it's soccer roots (yes soccer), or the fact you've heard some of John Carter's earlier work including stints with First Class, The Flowerpot Men, The Ivy League, etc. Like those other bands, Stamford Bridge was a studio entity and the brainchild of singer/songwriter Carter and songwriting partner Ken Lewis.  

 

As a recording act, the group's debut came with the release of the UK single 'Chelsea' b/w 'Ossie' (Penny Fathing catalog number PEN 715).  Dedicated to the British soccer team which made it to the 1970 World Cup, the single sold well in the UL (# 47 pop), with Penny Farthing subsequently electing to cash in on the 45's success with the  release an album.

 

Co-produced by Carter, Lewis, and Peter Barnfather, "Come Up and See Me Sometime" made no attempt to hide the fact it was out-and-out top-40 pop product.   With Carter, Lewis, Barnfather, and Brian Alquist sharing song-writing credits in various pairings, every one of these thirteen tunes was clearly written as commercial product, rather than as an artistic statement.   That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since Carter and company were clearly gifted pop writers.  Besides, you clearly didn't buy this album expecting to hear a thought provoking concept album.  The problem was these guys simply didn't have enough quality material to fill up an album.  There were some wonderful pop numbers here - 'Little Boy Blue', the ballad 'Face In the Crowd' and 'Vicar's Daughter' were all excellent, but those tunes were outweighed by throwaways like 'Happiness and Rainy Days', 'the hideous hillbilly-ish 'Come Up and See Me Sometime' and 'Wonder Lady'.  Spotty at best and probably not the best place to start checking out Carter's extensive recording catalog.

 

"Come Up and See Us Sometime" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Little Boy Blue  (John Carter - Brian Alquist) - 

A catchy, slightly country-tinged pop tune, this song simply screamed early-'70s pop. The fact it was built on an inanely catchy melody and even boasted a nice guitar solo made it one of those tracks you couldn't help but label a guilty pleasure.    rating: **** stars

2.) Roly Poly  (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

Exemplified by the music hall-ish 'Roly Poly', musically and lyrically nobody would ever accuse Carter and Lewis of stretching musical boundaries.   Catchy with an unexpectedly nice guitar solo, but totally innocuous.  The nod to Mama Cass was probably uncalled for.   The track was released as a European single and even saw a US release courtesy of the Monument label - 'Little Boy Blue' b/w 'Roly Poly' catalog number Mn 45-1217.    rating: *** stars

3.) Johnny Rebel   (John Carter - Brian Alquist - Peter Barnfather) - 

I've always wondered why '70s European audiences seemed to be engrossed by schmaltzy thematic pop tunes - lyrics that presented heartbreaking circumstances in three minute increments seemed all the rage.   In this case Carter and company framed a modestly engaging pop tune with an American Civil War plotline.  It was pretty bland to my ears.   rating: *** stars

4.) Happiness and Rainy Days  (John Carter - Brian Alquist - Ken Lewis) - 

I'll readily admit I'm a sucker for a good pop tune, but 'Happiness and Rain Days' proved just as lame as the title would have you believe.  Complete with way too many la-la-las, imagine a bad Cowsills tune and you'd know what to expect here.  rating: ** stars

5.) Come Up and See Me Sometime  (John Carter - Brian Alquist) - 

Another country-tinged tune, 'Come and Up and See Me Sometime' was sunk by Carter's fake hillbilly vocal.   Simply horrible and I hate to tell them adding occasional shouts, a drunken chorus, and pedal steel guitar touches really doesn't do anything to underscore one's country credentials.   rating: ** stars

6.) Face In the Crowd  (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

So every album has to have a big, power ballad and 'Face In the Crowd' apparently served that role.  Nice performance from Carter and probably should have been the single.   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Falling In and Out of Love
   (John Carter - Peter Barnfather) - 

Not sure who sang the bubbly 'Falling In and Out of Love' (don't think it was Carter), but it made a nice change of pace.  One of the album's highlights and extremely radio-friendly.  Should have been a single.   rating: **** stars

2.) Chelsea   (John Carter - Brian Alquist) - 

I'm guessing a song dedicated to the Chelsea football club (as in soccer), probably wasn't going to have a gigantic appeal for American audiences.  Musically the song wasn't bad with kind of a Vaudevillian-meets-pop melody and what sounded like a big crowd of drunken fans screaming the title chorus.  It was cute if taken in small doses.   As mentioned, it was the group's debut single.   rating: **** stars

3.) Molly Perkins   (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

So why not throw in what sounded like an Irish folk tune ?   I've heard worse and the horn section was unexpected and actually kind of cool.   rating: *** stars

4.) Wonder Lady   (John Carter - Peter Barnfather) - 
Ouch, a painful pseudo waltz, it's hard to image soccer fans found this one listenable.   rating: ** stars

5.) Yours Sincerely  (John Carter - Brian Alquist - Peter Barnfather) - 

A return to more conventional pop, though the lyrics were pretty vapid.   Taken in small doses this one wasn't half bad.   rating: *** stars

6.) Vicar's Daughter  (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

To my ears 'Vicar's Daughter' has always reminded me of something Gilbert O'Sullivan might have recorded.  In fact, the vocal actually sounded a bit like an O'Sullivan song.   This will be way too cute for many folks, but it did have a decent melody and one of the album's few guitar solos.  rating: **** stars

7.) What Do I Care  (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

Geez, were Carter and company trying to pull out a Righteous Brothers impersonation on 'What Do I Care' ?   If so, someone should have told them they'd managed to cross the line into lounge act schmaltz.  By the time the song's hook kicked in, it was simply too late to rescue the tune.   rating: *** stars

 

As mentioned, in addition to 'Chelsea' the album spun off a second single:

 

- 1970's 'Roly Poly' b/w 'Little Boy Blue' (Penny Farthing catalog number PEN 731)

 

 

 


Genre: pop

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  The First Day of Your Life

Company: Penny Farthing

Catalog: PELS 515

Year: 1971

Country/State: UK

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1023

Price: $100.00

 

Like their debut album, 1971's "The First Day of Your Life" was co-produced  by John Carter, Peter Barnfather, and Ken Lewis.  As on the debut, in various pairings the three principals also wrote most of the material.  As on the debut, the album showcased a straightforward collection of three minute power-pop tunes that were clearly intended to garner radio play (if critical scorn).  Sure, tracks like 'Goodbye Today, Hello Tomorrow', 'Who Knows What I Need?' (sporting a nifty anti-commercialism sentiment), and 'Move Out of Town' may have been little more than 'product', but you had to admire the way these guys turned top-40 pop songwriting into a science.  Insidiously catchy melodies (be forewarned many of these songs will plant themselves in your head and not leave you alone), coupled with great vocals and some nifty production twists made for a killer album.  Not a lot of folks have ever heard these songs, but take my word for it, material like the glistening 'Arizona Lost and Gone' was simply first rate.   Whereas the debut collection was spotty, this one found Carter and company in prime form.  It's simple one of those albums where virtually every one of the twelve tracks would have made a dandy single (okay, I'll admit 'Letter from America'  and the Vaudevillian ''Four Letter Word'  were as a modest clunkers).  Personal favorites included the vaguely world music-esque 'Mother of Nature', the killer Beach Boy-ishr 'Let's Go Back To San Francisco' and 'Chaquita Maria' (which seemingly beat ABBA at their own game).   Simply wonderful stuff for anyone into early-'70s pop and a great showcase for the criminally overlooked John Carter ...

 

"The First Day of Your Life" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Rise Sally Rise   (John Carter - Brian Alquist) - 

'Rise Sally Rise' started the album off with an upbeat, bouncy, radio-ready tune that was every bit as good as the stuff being churned out by their American counterparts (think along the lines of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz).  The track was tapped as the group's third single.  Epic even floated it as a US 45, though I've only seen promo copies of the 45 (Epic catalog number 5-10812)  rating: **** stars

2.) Mother of Nature   (John Carter - Brian Alquist) - 

'Mother of Nature' found the group adding a bit of rock edge to their patented pop sound.  Melodically there wasn't a great deal to this one - basically an extended, percussion heavy tune with the title track repeated time after time.   That said, it was catchy and a fun tune.   rating: **** stars

3.) Goodbye Today, Hello Tomorrow   (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

Back to conventional top-40 pop, 'Goodbye Today, Hello Tomorrow' combined come nice jangle guitar with one of the group's prettier melodies.    With a killer hook, this is probably one of the tracks I would have tapped as a single.   rating: **** stars

4.) Let's Go Back To San Francisco   (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

With a nod to mid-'60s flower power pop tunes and their earlier hit with The Ivy League, 'Let's Go Back To San Francisco' was a glistening slice  of pop with killer Beach Boys-styled vocals.   Brian Wilson would have been proud.  One of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars

5.) Who Knows What I Need?   (John Carter - Peter Barnfather) - 

Echoing a good Lobo tune, 'Who Knows What I Need' may have had the album's best overall hook.   Another one that would have made a dandy single (probably would have been easier to just point out the isolated ones that were radio-ready).   rating: **** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Move Out of Town   (John Carter - Gillian Shakespeare) - 

I've always been a sucker for pop songs with Coral sitars which immediately made 'Move out of Town' a personal favorite.  Nice driving melody with one of those uplifting, back--to-nature lyrics that were popular in the early-'70s.   rating: **** stars

2.) The First Day of Your Life   (John Carter - Peter Barnfather - Gillian Shakespeare) - 

Normally a sappy track like this one wouldn't do a great deal for me and while some folks might mistake it for a chewing gum commercial jingle, there was no denying how catchy the track was.   rating: *** stars

3.) Letter from America  (Ken Lewis - Brian Alquist) - 

Not sure who handled the lead vocals on 'Letter from America' (it didn't sound like Carter), but unlike most of the other tunes, 'Letter from America' sounded forced and clunky.  One of the few missteps on the collection.   rating: ** stars

4.) Chaquita Maria   (John Carter - Peter Barnfather) - 

I would be shocked if John Carter's pop stylings didn't have an impact on the almighty ABBA.   At least to my jaundiced ears, 'Chaquita Maria' seemed like a blueprint for the type of Euro-pop Benny Andersson and  Björn Ulvaeus, would start churning out in a couple of years.   Great tune and the faux Flamenco touches should have made it a major UK hit.   rating: ***** stars

5.) Tumbleweed Town   (John Carter - Brian Alquist) - 

Nice mid-tempo ballad with a catchy melancholy melody that ingrained itself in your head.   Another nice choice as a potential single.   rating: **** stars

6.) Arizona Lost and Gone   (John Carter - Gillian Shakespeare) - 

Co-written with his wife Gillian Shakespeare, 'Arizona Lost and Gone' was easily the album's standout performance - simply glistening pop with some mesmerizing harmonies towards the end of the song; made even more impressive by the fact Carter probably didn't have a clue where Arizona was.  A song I never get tired of hearing.    rating: ***** stars

7.) Four Letter Word   (John Carter - Ken Lewis) - 

Ever heard The New Vaudeville Band's 'WInchester Cathederal' ?    Well, if you have, Carter handled the lead vocals on the song and that'll give you a feel for what this English music hall styled closer sounded like (though nowhere near as catchy as the former).   rating: ** stars

 

As mentioned, the album spun off a single in the form of:

- 1971's  'Ride Sally Rise' b/w 'Chaquita Maria' was pulled as a single (Penny Farthing catalog number PEN-767). 

 

 

One final non-LP single and the group was history:

  

- 1971's 'World of Fantasy' b/w 'Vicar's Daughter' (Penny Farthing catalog number PEN-749) 

 

 

 

 

 

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