Odd Records

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.

5 Responses to “Odd Records”

  1. Dirigible Says:

    From the record number, that’s the Dutch stiff release. A quick net check shows it was released on Barclay in France also (with a different b side – ah, I remember b sides). Barclay were Stiff’s distributor in France for at least the first couple of years.
    As for the rest of the answer – see http://www.barneybubbles.com/blog/archives/tag/jill-read
    It’s Dave Edmunds. Coolly, the haircut is v similar to Dave Edmunds during the 70’s.,

    Great album – thanks for reminding me. “Jo Jo Gunne” is simply astounding, and it’s ages since I’ve heard anything by the maestro Martin Stone; especially Mighty Baby and the sadly near-forgotten and under-rated Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers – streets ahead of their time both, the Willi’s mainly live though.

    • Dirigible Says:

      apologies – pressed send before finishing. Below is the proper message

  2. Dirigible Says:

    From the record number, that’s the Dutch stiff release. A quick net check shows it was released on Barclay in France also (with a different b side – ah, I remember b sides). Barclay were Stiff’s distributor in France for at least the first couple of years.
    As for the rest of the answer – see http://www.barneybubbles.com/blog/archives/tag/jill-read
    It’s Dave Edmunds singing; and coolly, the haircut in the photo is v similar to Dave Edmunds during the 70’s. Would have fooled me.

    Great album – thanks for reminding me. “Jo Jo Gunne” is simply astounding, and it’s ages since I’ve heard anything by the maestro Martin Stone; especially Mighty Baby and the sadly near-forgotten and under-rated Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers – streets ahead of their time both, the Willi’s mainly live though.


  3. Thanks for the info and the feedback. Perhaps I ought to research things first. This blog tends to consist of random thoughts that pop into my head…..

    I’ve just spent 20 minutes messing with this “Jill Read” song and the Audacity software but I still can’t get the “female” vocal to sound male !!

    In the 1970s compilation LPs were an important showcase where I first heard any number of groups. I’ve still got the CBS “Rock Machine Turns You On” and many others of that ilk somewhere.

    “b” sides on singles were great. When I bought a single I always played the “b” side first because I already KNEW what the other side sounded like !! As I’ve mentioned before, “b” sides on Reggae labels (or even on Jonathan King singles) were always interesting.

  4. H4ck3r Says:

    Great album – thanks for reminding me. “Jo Jo Gunne” is simply astounding, and it’s ages since I’ve heard anything by the maestro Martin Stone; especially Mighty Baby and the sadly near-forgotten and under-rated Chilli Willi and the Red Hot Peppers – streets ahead of their time both, the Willi’s mainly live though.
    +1


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