Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Crispian St. Peters - Follow Me (1966)



Crispian St. Peters (5 April 1939 – 8 June 2010) was an English pop singer and singer/songwriter best known for his work in the 1960s, particularly his 1966 hits, "The Pied Piper" and "You Were on My Mind."


He was born Robin Peter Smith in Swanley, Kent and attended Swanley Secondary Modern School. He learned guitar and left school in 1954 to become an assistant cinema projectionist. As a young man, he performed in several relatively unknown bands in England. In 1956, he gave his first live performance, as a member of The Hard Travellers. Through the late 1950s and early 1960s, as well as undertaking National Service, he was a member of The Country Gentlemen, Beat Formula Three, and Peter & The Wolves.

Decca label
While a member of Beat Formula Three in 1963, he was heard by David Nicolson, an EMI publicist who became his manager. Nicholson suggested he use a stage name, initially Crispin Blacke and subsequently Crispian St. Peters, and deducted five years from his client's age for publicity purposes. In 1964, as a member of Peter & The Wolves, St. Peters made his first commercial recording. He was persuaded to turn solo by Nicolson, and was signed to Decca Records in 1965. His first two singles on this record label, "No No No" and "At This Moment", proved unsuccessful on the charts.[1] He made two television UK appearances in February of that year, featuring in the shows Scene At 6.30 and Ready Steady Go!

In 1966, St. Peters' career finally yielded a Top 10 hit in the UK Singles Chart, with "You Were on My Mind," a song first recorded in 1964 by the Canadian folk duo, Ian & Sylvia, and a hit in the United States for We Five in 1965. St. Peters' single eventually hit #2 in the UK and was then released in the US on the Philadelphia-based Jamie Records label. It did not chart in the US until after his fourth release, "The Pied Piper", became forever known as his signature song and a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic.

Under manager David Nicolson's tutelage the shy star was momentarily transformed into arrogance incarnate and astonished the conservative music press of the period by his suggestion that he had written 80 songs of better quality than those of The Beatles. Other stars were also waved aside as St. Peters announced that he was better than Elvis Presley: "I'm going to make Presley look like the Statue of Liberty . . . I am sexier than Dave Berry and more exciting than Tom Jones . . . and the Beatles are past it". Outraged readers denounced him in letters columns. However, St. Peters' comments were meant to be tongue-in-cheek as he explained in an interview by Douglas Antreassian entitled "Then and Now - Britain's Pied Piper Sets The Record Straight." "The Pied Piper" had been recorded in 1965 by its writers, Steve Duboff and Artie Kornfeld, as The Changin' Times, but it was St. Peters' version in 1966 that was the hit, reaching #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #5 in the UK. No subsequent release would ever match the success of "The Pied Piper," although its success helped boost "You Were on My Mind" into the US Top 40. Thereafter St. Peters was remembered more for his idle boasts than his music.

Although his next single, a version of Phil Ochs' song "Changes," also reached the charts in both the UK and US, it was much less successful. In 1967, St. Peters released his first LP, Follow Me, which included several of his own songs. One of them, "I'll Give You Love," was recorded by Marty Kristian in a version produced by St. Peters, and became a big hit in Australia. St. Peters' album was followed by his first EP, Almost Persuaded, yet by 1970, he was dropped by Decca.

"You Were on My Mind" was featured in the 1996 German film Jenseits Der Stille.

Crispian St. Peters never seemed to really find a style of his own, and his rather low-key career has seen him release light rockabilly, pure pop, country-rock, and folk-rock singles, one of which, 1966's "The Pied Piper," was an international hit and anchored Follow Me when it was originally released that same year. That entire album is included here, along with six period bonus tracks, including an interesting attempt from 1967 to make Phil Ochs' "Changes" into a folk-rock anthem, an attempt that probably came a year or two too late to really click with the public. Follow Me is a pleasant enough folk-pop album, with a few standout tracks like the Byrds-ish "So Long," the Buddy Holly-like "Jilly Honey," and St. Peters' cover of Sylvia Tyson's "You Were on My Mind" (a much bigger hit in a version by the We Five) achieving gentle grooves that work pretty much in the vein of "The Pied Piper." Nothing to crow about here (even with guitarist Jimmy Page on board), but it was to be St. Peters' high point, and in retrospect, deserves to be. 



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