Recording / Highs and lows

Their first single release of 1965 was disappointing from a sales point of view. ‘True Love for Evermore’ was a powerful ballad but only managed to find its way to No.36. Dick Rowe later wrote

“It was a great song. We recorded it in a rush, as the boys were working in pantomime in Bristol at the time. We had to do the whole thing in one take with the musicians in the studio. Had we had more time, I’m certain it would have been a smash.”

The group’s critics seized the opportunity to write them off as a charting act, but were silenced when ’Marie’ stormed to No.9 in May and stayed for the summer! Such were their record sales in Germany that they also recorded ‘Marie’ in German with a re-working of ‘Charmaine’ in the same language on the ‘B’ side. This single, released in October 1965 (with a picture sleeve) must rate as one of their rarest European releases and copies are very hard to find.

More Great Song Hits - Decca LK / SKL 4721
More Great Song Hits – Decca LK / SKL 4721

Decca issued one LP during the year. ’More Great song Hits’ sold well having two good runs in the album charts. Fifteen of the sixteen tracks were new material. The highlights are a haunting version of ’Danny Boy’ and a tremendous jazzy rendering of ‘The Saints;’ the bridge section of which has to be heard to be believed! This album was issued as mono only…until 1968, when it was also pressed in stereo. The cover picture was taken with ‘The Three Fates’ statue in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

Decca also issued an LP during 1965 to raise funds for ‘The Lord Taverners (a youth cricketers charity).’ Titled ‘14’ (mono only) The Bachelors contributedMaureen’ alongside Decca’s other major stars such as The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and Lulu.

This track has never appeared anywhere else and is on the ‘want list’ of many Bachelors fans. As a matter of interest, the album was also released in the USA as ‘England’s Greatest Hit makers’ where it was also pressed in ‘electronically created stereo.’

Two further singles were issued in the last quarter. ‘In the Chapel in the Moonlight’ reached No.27 and even the over exposed ‘Hello Dolly’ enjoyed a brief run in the top fifty over Christmas/New Year.

14 - Decca LK 4695
14 – Decca LK 4695

According to the Decca publicity machine, by the end of 1965 The Bachelors had sold 12 million records !

1966 started and finished well for the group. As a result of their strong following and healthy record sales in the USA, their first recording commitment was to cut an album for the American market titled ‘Hits of the 60’s.’

Hits Of The 60's - Decca TXL/S 102
Hits Of The 60’s – Decca TXL/S 102

One of the songs chosen for the album gave the group their most unlikely hit single. Dorothy Solomon was convinced that their cover of ‘Sounds of Silence’ had great potential and she persuaded Decca to release it as a single in the UK. The song was actually issued as a ‘double A side’ along with ‘Love Me With All Of Your Heart.

Dec Cluskey explains;

“We realised that ‘The Sound of Silence’ was a risk, so if there was an outcry of it not being right for us, we could claim it was the ’B’ side!”

Ask anyone today who put ‘Sounds of Silence’ into the UK chart and the answer will usually be ‘Simon and Garfunkel.’ They’d had a US No.1 with the song, which is why it was chosen as a track for ‘Hits of the 60’s.’ Their version was only released on an EP in the UK, but The Bachelors cover enjoyed a nine-week run in the top twenty, peaking at No.3.

A contemporary report described Paul Simon’s reaction as “it’s disgusting,” but Dec Cluskey is quick to point out; “I’m sure he enjoyed the royalties!

The ‘Hits of the 60’s’ album was also released in the UK. Presented in an 8-page gatefold sleeve, it is packed with colour and black and white photographs, many shot during the recording sessions. Among others there are cover versions of ‘Well Respected Man,’ ‘Homeward Bound’ ‘Elusive Butterfly’ and the only Beatles song the original trio ever recorded ‘Michelle’ (which was also released as a Bachelors single in the Philippines). The highlights for me are the beautifully arranged and sung ‘Invisible tears’ ‘Ain’t it true’ and ‘Portrait of My Love.’ The ‘luxury’ presentation of this album came at a price however, retailing at 37 shillings and sixpence (37/6), instead of the normal 32 shillings and sixpence (32/6)! The price hike meant I had to save four weeks paper round money in order to buy it!

Bachelors' Girls - Decca LK/SKL 4827
Bachelors’ Girls – Decca LK/SKL 4827

The year produced two further singles; ‘Can I Trust You’ and ‘Walk with Faith in your Heart.’ The latter was the more successful; peaking at No.20, as well as ‘wowing’ the audience in the group’s second Royal Variety Performance in the presence of HM The Queen Mother at the London Palladium. The ‘B’ side to this disc saw the boys returning to their harmonica roots with the instrumental ‘Molly Malone.’ The Decca pressing plant queried this, as they thought it may have been a mistake, but all was well!

Decca released a second album in November, ‘Bachelors Girls.’ It contained, predictably, most of their ’girl’s names’ hits, the remainder being recorded for the LP. The highlight of this album is an amazing cover of the Gracie Fields classic ‘Sally.’

Why this recording was never issued as a single is beyond me… it was the best No.1. hit they never had. Interestingly, Jimmy Page (then a session musician) is credited on the sleeve notes.

Continue reading this section: Recording / San Remo Song Festival