May 1, 2010
The record label “Stiff” issued some very odd records in the 1970s and early 1980s. Although Punk Rock was the big thing at the time most of Stiff’s output could really just be classified as “pop music”. Catchy songs like Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” and Lene Lovitch’s “Lucky Number”. Stiff was where you’d find the early output of Ian Dury and Elvis Costello not to mention Tracey Ullman and Jona Lewie. There was a fascinating documentary recently on BBC TV about Stiff and the legendary tours where the whole label’s roster got on a bus or a train to tour.
One of my favourite records released on the Stiff label has an odd back history/mystery that to the best of my knowledge has never fully been explained.
“Maybe” attributed to Jill Read first appeared on the compilation LP “A Bunch of Stiffs” in 1977. I found this picture of a 45rpm record sleeve on the Interweb. I wasn’t aware that the LP track was ever issued as a single. Perhaps it was re-issued later or in another country ?? Anyway, the rumours at the time were that Jill Read didn’t exist and the track had been recorded years earlier by Dave Edmunds at his Rockfield studio in Wales. Certainly Mr Edmunds had spent much time earlier working on cover versions of classic songs..often giving them a Phil Spectoresque sheen. Perhaps there really was a Jill Read who went missing after singing this dramatic power-ballad (that had previously been an hit for The Chantels in 1957) without ever getting her (no doubt meagre) royalties. Perhaps it really was Dave Edmunds singing and then fiddling with the pitch/speed controls. (He does sing on the “b” side apparently). Either way it is one fabulous tune and well worth the 69p I’ve just paid for it.
This picture (of Dave Edmunds?) and enigmatic message to Jill Read appeared on the LP sleeve.