Saturday, February 07, 2015

The Poets - Wooden Spoon The Singles Anthology 1964-1967

The Poets were one of Scotland’s top live attractions during 1963-1968. The Glasgow-based group, celebrated for their originality early on, were soon sharing the same manager and producer as The Rolling Stones, Andrew ‘Loog’ Oldham. It was Oldham who signed them up, and would help them to realise their potential on some fabulous singles the group made for Decca, then Immediate, between 1964-67. Their first effort, ‘Now We’re Thru’, gained them a top thirty placing in the national charts helped along by television exposure thru the likes of Top Of The Pops and Ready Steady Go. Early in 1965 they followed-up with the truly mesmerising ‘That’s The Way It’s Got To Be’, now rightly regarded as a pioneering and stunning example of what is known to fans and collectors world-wide as the ‘freak beat’ sound. Though the original group splintered throughout ’65 and ’66 the name of The Poets was valiantly carried forward until the dawn of the new decade.

The Poets never attempted any reunions throughout the ensuing years and now from the late 1990s the passage of time has begun to claim the lives of some of the group’s original members. First bassist John Dawson died, then drummer Alan Weir, and most recently 12-string lead guitarist Hume Paton. However, throughout 2010-2011 original singer George Gallacher and 1965-67 guitarist Fraser Watson teamed up with Edinburgh beat-garage stalwarts The Thanes, friends and resolute Poets fans, to see if some of the melancholy beat magic captured on The Poets’ vintage records could still be felt today. Rehearsals and a couple of short, low-key appearances in Edinburgh and Glasgow proved positive and have given way to this new line-up of The Poets who are revisiting much of the repertoire that so captivated many audiences throughout Britain more than forty five years ago.

Also, for the first time ever in UK a new official CD collection ‘Wooden Spoon – The Poets Singles Anthology 1964-1967′ has been recently issued by the Grapefruit label, via Cherry Red and has been garnering favourable radio plays and media reviews. Full line up of The Poets is: George Gallacher – vocals, Fraser Watson – guitar / vocals, Angus McPake – 12-string lead guitar, Mike Goodwin – drums / percussion, Mark Hunter – bass, and Lenny Helsing – guitar / vocals. As part of Eyes Wide Open club’s seventh anniversary celebrations The Poets played a sold out gig at Glasgow’s Stereo venue on Friday December 2nd, receiving a rapturous reception from all who attended. This occasion marked the group’s first live date since the heady days of the 1960s. As a special taster BBC Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway had the group in for a spectacular live session on his November 21st show. The group were also featured in a two-page article published in The Scottish Daily Mail.nsidered one of the most creative beat groups to have come out of Scotland. The group started life playing rock’n’roll and blues covers, but also wrote some original compositions, all around the dawn of the British beat group boom, throughout 1962 and into 1963.

One of the earliest Poets publicity shots. (l-r John Dawson, bass, Hume Paton, 12 string lead guitar, George Gallacher, vocals, Tony Myles, rhythm guitar, Alan Weir, drums.)
The group was founded by George Gallacher (vocals) and John Dawson (bass) who then drafted in Alan Weir on drums, and early guitar playing friend Stafford Hamilton. It was Stafford who introduced them to school friend Hume Paton who came in to play 12-string lead guitar. When, reluctantly, Hamilton was let go of, drummer Alan suggested Tony Myles for the rhythm guitar slot.With their remarkable take on the earthy rhythm and blues and soul sounds of the day, The Poets were soon a very popular live draw all over Glasgow and its environs; their earliest gigs being in the various Orange halls, and Masonic halls that peppered the city.

 Gallacher, centre, with the Poets in 1965; the band had limited chart success and broke up after his departure in 1966

2011 collection, the first-ever official anthology from this under-rated '60s outfit featuring their entire released output during 1964-67. Managed and produced by Rolling Stones svengali Andrew Loog Oldham, between October 1964 and January 1966, the group released a quintet of classic singles, ranging from the aggressive mod pop of 'That's The Way It's Got To Be' and 'Baby Don't You Do It' to the Top Forty hit 'Now We're Thru''.

Mean, moody and utterly magnificent, in 1964 the Poets were the best thing to come out of Scotland since Denis Law. Managed and produced by Rolling Stones svengali Andrew Loog Oldham, between October 1964 and January 1966 the group released a quintet of classic singles, ranging from the aggressive mod pop of That s The Way It’s Got To Be and Baby Don t You Do It to the Top Forty hit Now We re Thru , whose haunting minor key melody, edgy lead vocal, eerie Celtic drone, clanging acoustic twelve-string guitar, keening backing vocals and general air of quiet menace encapsulated the Poets unique, spellbinding appeal.

Without the massive hit single that their excellence deserved, the Poets fragmented in early 1966 after the departure of lead singer and chief songwriter George Gallacher. However, a revised line-up bounced back in fine style the following year with Wooden Spoon b / w In Your Tower another unaccountable flop, but now widely acknowledged as a seminal British freakbeat / psychedelic record.

Taken from the Decca and Immediate archives, this first ever official Poets anthology features the group’s entire released output during their 1964-67 glory days, proving beyond any shadow of doubt that, despite their relative lack of commercial success, the Poets were one of the most vital bands to emerge from the British beat boom.

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