The Liverpool Five

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1963) As the Boasters

- Dave Burgess (aka Dave McCumiskey) -- bass  
- Ken Cox -- lead guitar  
- Ron Henley -- keyboards 
- Steve Laine -- vocals 
- Jimmy May -- drums, backing vocals


  line up 2 (1963-67) As The Liverpool Five

- Dave Burgess (aka Dave McCumiskey) -- bass  
- Ken Cox -- lead guitar  
- Ron Henley -- keyboards 
- Steve Laine -- vocals 
- Jimmy May -- drums, backing vocals  

  line up 3 (1967-69)

- Ken Cox -- lead guitar  

NEW - Fred Dennis -- bass (replaced Dave Burgess)
NEW - Mark Gage -- keyboards (replaced Ron Henley) 
- Steve Laine -- vocals  
- Jimmy May -- drums, backing vocals  

line up 3 (1969-70)

- Ken Cox -- lead guitar 
- Fred Dennis -- bass

- Steve Laine -- vocals 
- Jimmy May -- drums, backing vocals
NEW - Gary Milkie -- keyboards (replaced Mark Gage)





- The Boasters (Jimmy May, Ken Cox, Ron Hensley, Steve Laine,

  and Dave McCumiskey)

- The 5 Liverpools

- Common Market

- The V.I.P.s (Dave Burgess)





Genre: rock

Rating: *** (3 stars)

Title:  The Liverpool Five Arrive

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: LPS-3583

Year: 1966

Country/State: UK / US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: stereo pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5141

Price: $25.00


I bought this one without knowing anything about the band and with relatively low expectations - perhaps they'll be semi-competent Mersybeaters ...   Turns out these guys were quite good and made for one of the more interesting stories in early-to-mid 1960s rock.


Forget the name.  None of the original lineup had any connection with the city of Liverpool.  Bassist Dave Burgess was Cumbrian, while guitarist Dave Cox, keyboard player Ron Henley, singer Steve Laine and drummer Jimmy May were all from London.  As The Boasters they'd recorded a single and an EP for the German International label.  



By1963 they'd decided to cash-in on Merseybeat, changing their name to The Liverpool 5, scoring a contract with Pye Records' budget Piccadilly subsidiary.  The band made their recorded debut the following year with the single 'Good Golly Miss Molly' b/w 'Lum D' Lum D' High'  (Piccadilly catalog number 1255  A/B).  While the single did little commercially, it generated enough attention for them to find work throughout Europe. 






With help from their German-born manager, credited to The 5 Liverpools, they even managed to recorda sophomore single for CBS Germany:





- 1964's 'Tokio' b/w 'Skinny Minny' (CBS catalog number 1623)







The group also won an opportunity to tour Southeast Asia and performed at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics where they were billed as the 'Official Rock and Roll Representatives'.  The resulting publicity saw the record a 1965 album for CBS "Tokio International" (CBS catalog number 62460).





And here's where it starts to get weird.  Returning to the UK from their Tokyo shows, the band stopped in the Philippines where they played a concert for the US Embassy in Manila.  The American ambassador was so impressed with the group that he arranged for them to tour US military bases throughout South Asia and eventually acquire American work visas.


By 1965 the band had relocated to Spokane, Washington where they hired Paul Handler as their manager and subsequently signed with RCA Victor.  Working with producer Al Schmitt the band spent the next two years releasing a surprisingly impressive and diverse (if commercially disappointing) series of 45s:

- 1965's 'Heart' b/w 'I Just Can't Believe It' (RCA catalog number 47-8725) 

- 1966's 'She's Mine' b/w 'Sister Love' (RCA catalog number 47-8816) 


In spite of the lack of national success, 1966 saw RCA Victor release a Liverpool Five LP - the Al Schmitt produced "Liverpool Five Arrive".  While you could hardly be blamed for expecting to hear a lame set of Merseybeat exploitation numbers, the truth was anything but that ...  Compiling the group's earlier singles and new studio material, the album served to spotlight the band's considerable talent.  Laine was an excellent and adaptable lead singer, while the rest of the band could pound it out with the best of the competition.  Sure they wore the requisite mop top haircuts and narrow ties, while tracks like 'A Shot of Rhythm and Blues' could have easily been mistaken for the Fab Four, but the rest of the album offered up a mixture of popular pop and soul covers that were far more distinguished making it clear these guys were far more than mere Beatles imitators.  Tracks like the opening rocker 'She's Mine', a cover of Petula Clark's 'Heart' and a fuzz guitar propelled 'I'm Not Your Stepping Stone' (far tougher than The Monkees version) showcased their garage rock credentials, while covers of Curtis Mayfield's 'Sister Love' and 'Let the Sun Shine In' offered up first-rate blue-eyed soul.  In fact the only real disappointment here was the lame Cockney-esque 'What a Crazy World (We're Living In)'.


"Liverpool Five Arrive" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) She's Mine   (Dave Burgess - Ken Cox - Ron Henley - Steve Laine - Jimmy May)  - 2:20  rating: **** stars

Wow !!!   Kicked along by some proto-heavy metal Ken Cox guitar, this group original simply simply slayed most of the competition.  Garage rock seldom sounded as taunt while retaining a highly commercial edge.   The refrain on this one still pops into my head at unexpected times.  Wish the tune were loner.   As mentioned, it was tapped as a single:

- 1966's 'She's Mine' b/w 'Sister Love' (RCA catalog number 47-8816) 

2.) Sister Love   (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:40  rating: *** stars

So it wasn't nearly as good as The Impressions' version, but for a couple of thin, pale English guys, their cover wasn't half bad.

3.) I'm Not Your Stepping Stone   (Tommy Boyce - Bobby Heart) - 2:35  rating: *** stars

If you group up with The Monkees, or Paul Revere and the Raiders versions, this one will sound familiar.  The basic song structure remained unchanged, but the LP5 version was definitely rawer and more garage-sounding.  Nice Yardbirs-styled lead guitar.   It probably would have benefited from improved production.  To my ears the song sounds tinny and full of echo.   

4.) A Shot of Rhythm and Blues   (T. Thompson) - 2:04   rating: **** stars

In spite of the title, 'A Shot of Rhythm and Blues' offered up a nice Merseybeat-styled track.  Steve Laine trotted out his best faux Beatles voice for this one.

5.) Let the Sunshine In   (Barberis - Teddy Randazzo - Weinstein) - 3:28   rating: **** stars

Nice jazzy vibe on this one.  It also served to showcase their first rate harmony vocals.

6.) What a Crazy World (We're Living In)   (Alan Klein) - 2:14    rating: ** stars

I think Joe Brown did the original (it was featured in the film "What a Crazy World"). Brown's version was very English music hall-flavored.   To be honest, the LP5 version sounded like something Peter Noone and Herman's hermits might have done.  Not exactly the highlight of their recording career.


(side 2)
1.) That's What Love Will Do (To You)   (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:10
   rating: **** stars

So if you were going to do a cover then it made sense to at least have good taste in your choices.  Kudo to these guys for going with Curtis Mayfield.  You read it before, while it wasn't nearly as good as The Impressions' version, but coming from a couple of thin, pale English guys, their cover wasn't half bad.  Extra star for their lovely, breezy arrangement.

2.) Just a Little Bit   (D. Gordon) - 2:13   rating: *** stars

Nice garage-tinged update of the standard ...

3.) Hey Little Girl   (Curtis Mayfield) - 2:16   rating: *** stars

Again, nice enough, but their third Impressions cover wasn't going to make you forget the Mayfield original.  

4.) I Just Can't Believe It   (Barry DeVorzon - Bodie Chandler) - 2:10  rating: **** stars

Draped in some excellent fuzz guitar, this rollicking tune was another album highlight..  Little bit of Righteous Brothers vibe in the vocals.  

5.) Sticks and Stones   (T. Turner) - 2:11   rating: *** stars

I knew Ray Charles' version of this one and interestingly Laine seemed to be trying to turn in a Charles influenced vocal.  Nice Ken Cox lead guitar.   

6.) Heart   (Petula Clark - Aber - Tony Hatch) - 3:28  rating: **** stars

The closest thing to an outright rocker Petula Clarke ever wrote and recorded.  That said, you'll be hard pressed to recognize this as the song Clark scored a hit with.  Easily the best rocker on the album; it should have been a massive hit for the band.  As mentioned, the song had previously served as the RCA Victor debut:

- 1965's 'Heart' b/w 'I Just Can't Believe It' (RCA catalog number 47-8725) 





Genre: rock

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  Out of Sight

Company: RCA Victor

Catalog: LPS-3682

Year: 1967

Country/State: UK / US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4534

Price: $40.00



Reunited with producer Al Schmitt, 1967's "Out of Sight" is an overlooked genre classic.  Like their debut, it offered up a mixture of covers and group-penned originals   The mixture of material showcased the group's almost chameleon-like ability to mix different musical genres and US and UK influences ranging from Merseybeat to snotty garage rockers. Propelled by Steve Laine's first-rate voice, the band exhibited the flexibility and enthusiasm necessary to handle everything from blue-eyed soul ('Any Way That You Want It'), Merseybeat ('Baby, Out of Sight') and tough-as-nails garage rockers ('I Can Only Give You Everything').   Featuring drummer Jimmy May on vocals, there was also a tentative step towards psych with the original 'Do You Believe'.  While the whole album was worth hearing, the group were at their best on harder rocking numbers such as 'Piccadilly Line', 'Gotta Get a Move On' and the closer 'Get Away''.  Elsewhere, they showed their awesome  taste in outside material turning in an impressive cover of The Who's 'My Generation'.  The band also enjoyed their lone brush with American commercial success via the single 'Anyway That You Want Me'.  Perhaps a bit short on originality (there really was no need for another cover of Willie Dixon's 'I'm Your Hootchie Coochie Man'), it's still an album that grows on me more every time I play it.

"Out of Sight" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Any Way That You Want It   (Chip Taylor) - 2:35   rating: **** stars

Taylor's song has been covered by a host of acts including The American Breed, Evie Sands and The Troggs.  I'd argue Steve Laine's blue-eyed soul delivery made for the standout performance.  RCA tapped it as a single:






- 1967's 'Anyway That You Want Me' b/w 'The Snake' (RCA Victor catalog number 47-8968)








2.) My Generation   (Pete Townsend) - 2:58   rating: **** stars

The Who are such an eclectic band it's easy to see why most band's didn't want to waste any time doing covers.  Kudos to The Liverpool Five for having such good taste in cover material and the chops to cut what has to be one of the best Who covers ever waxed.  John Entwistle would have approved of Fred Dennis' bass work.  I suspect Keith Moon would have been equally pleased with Jimmy May's drums.

3.) Piccadilly Line  (Steve Laine - Ron Henley - Jimmy May - Dave McCumiskey - Ken Cox) - 2:49  rating; *** stars

I'll readily admit the band original 'Piccadilly Line' rocked ( I was particularly enamored with Mark Gage's organ touches), but blues-rock feel has always reminded me of a second-rate Eric Burdon and the Animals performance.

4.) I Can Only Give You Everything   (Tommy Scott -  Phil Coulter) - 2:39   rating: **** stars

Another mid-'60s garage staple ...  The Troggs released it first, but Van Morrison and Them's version was better known.  That said, I'd argue that Steve Laine and company did ht best cover.

5.) Baby, Out of Sight  (Steve Laine - Ron Henley - Jimmy May - Dave McCumiskey - Ken Cox) - 2:14   rating; *** stars

Another band original, 'Baby, Out of Sight' showcased their softer, more commercial pop side.  Nice harmonies and one of those lyrics that should have made them regulars on top-40 radio.

6.) Gotta Get a Move On    (J.S. Jones) - 2:31   rating: **** stars

Recalling something The Standells might have records, 'Gotta Get a Move On' was back to taunt garage-rock with some awesome Ken Cox fuzz guitar and Fred Dennis' crunching bass work.  One of the album highlights.


(side 2)
1.) She's Got Plenty of Love   (Stephen Jones) - 2:35 
   rating: **** stars

One of the prettiest tracks they every recorded, 'She's Got Plenty of Love' put the band in the middle of Merseybeat influences.  Sweet melody, nice harmony vocals, it made for another track that would have made a dandy single.

2.) Do You Believe  (Steve Laine - Ron Henley - Jimmy May - Dave McCumiskey - Ken Cox) - 3:21    rating: **** stars

Quite different than the rest of their repertoire, 'Do You Believe' found band dipping their collective toes in a psych direction.  Dark and ominous, the tune was full of slinky sound effects and was also interesting for showcasing drummer Jimmy May on lead vocals.

3.) The Snake   (Oscar Brown Jr.)  - 2:40   rating; *** stars

If you've heard this one, chances are it was either Al Wilson's version, or Johnny Rivers' cover.  This version ditches the folky aspects and ups the rock quotient.

4.) I'm Your Hootchie Coochie Man   (Willie Dixon) - 5:07   rating; *** stars

Gawd only knows how many bands have covered this blues classic.  Their version isn't the best, nor is it the worst.  

5.) Get Away   (M. Portz - C. Portz) - 2:04    rating: **** stars

Nice Alex Chilton gravelly edge to the vocals on this rocker.



While I've never heard them, there were at least two non-LP singles:

- 1966's 'New Directions' b/w 'What A Crazy World (We're Living In)' (RCA catalog number 47-8906) 

- 1967's 'Cloudy' b/w 'She's Got Plenty Of Love' '(RCA catalog number 47-9158).