Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Don Fardon - I'm Alive 68/69 Hip Pop and Swinging Beat


Donald Maughn, 19 August 1943, Coventry, West Midlands, England. As the vocalist with the Sorrows, Maughn was featured on this cult act’s most durable release, the pulsating ‘Take A Heart’. A number 21 hit in September 1965, its hypnotic, throbbing beat was maintained on subsequent releases, several of which the singer co-composed. Here, however, he preferred to use an alternative surname, Fardon, which was then retained for the artist’s solo career. His cover version of John D. Loudermilk’ s ‘(The Lament Of The Cherokee) Indian Reservation’ gave him his first and only US hit single in 1968, reaching the Top 20. He broke into the UK Top 40 in 1970 with ‘Belfast Boy’, a homage to the talented, but troubled Northern Irish footballer, George Best. This success paved the way for the re-issue of ‘Indian Reservation’ which, when resurrected, climbed to a respectable number 3 and became one of that year’s most distinctive chart entries. Yet despite several further releases in the early 70s, some of which were remakes of former Sorrows material, Fardon was unable to secure consistent success. He went into the licensing trade, running pubs in Coventry and Eathorpe, while continuing to work on the cabaret and country circuits. He later helped run a security firm looking after pop stars. Fardon re-released ‘Belfast Boy’ in December 2005 in honour of the recently deceased Best.



[2:38] 01. Don Fardon - I Get So Excited
[2:40] 02. Don Fardon - Back In The Ussr
[2:19] 03. Don Fardon - Coming On Strong
[3:37] 04. Don Fardon - I Need Somebody
[2:29] 05. Don Fardon - On The Beach
[2:58] 06. Don Fardon - Ruby's Picture On My Wall
[2:14] 07. Don Fardon - Keep On Loving Me
[3:05] 08. Don Fardon - It's Been Nice Loving You
[2:34] 09. Don Fardon - I'm Alive
[3:01] 10. Don Fardon - Riverboat
[3:08] 11. Don Fardon - We Can Make It Together
[2:46] 12. Don Fardon - Do You Know What I Mean
[2:34] 13. Don Fardon - Baby Let Me Take You Home
[2:46] 14. Don Fardon - Mr Sation Master
[2:55] 15. Don Fardon - 6.10 Phoenix Gone
[2:04] 16. Don Fardon - Let The Live Live
[4:14] 17. Don Fardon - Captain Man
[1:59] 18. Don Fardon - The Dreaming Room

As this compilation doesn't have either of Don Fardon's chart hits ("Indian Reservation" and "Belfast Boy"), it can't be considered a best-of, though its 18 tracks do span the 1967-1969 period during which he made his most notable solo recordings. Combining seven tracks from his rare 1968 German LP Love Story of Don Fardon, a few late-'60s singles, and a few previously unissued songs, the intention seems to be to emphasize the singer's most credible work (the two absent chart singles are referred to as "novelty pop hits" on the back cover). If this is his best stuff, it certainly doesn't make a very compelling argument for Fardon as an artist worthy of much attention. It has that odd blend of brassy pop, soul, and showbizzy belting found in many British late-'60s pop recordings that have largely escaped critical respect or scrutinization, though they're not as well-produced or full of commercial hooks as, say, what Tom Jones was doing. Fardon was a good singer, but the material is simply not that memorable, and the arrangements on much of the up-tempo soul stuff are burdened with stiff rhythms falling somewhere twixt ska and oompah, layered with enough fuzz guitar and burbling organ to sound trendy. There are some fair songs here and there, like "I'm Alive," where Fardon sounds like he's reaching for something more authentic, and the waltzing "Dreaming Room," which could have fit onto the soundtrack of a late-'60s spy flick. For the best work of both Fardon and his producer (and occasional songwriter) Miki Dallon, however, his prior recordings with British Invasion band the Sorrows tower over this motley lot.

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