Recording / Stardom

Their 2nd single was not released until 31st May. ‘Faraway Places’ did not do as well in the charts, peaking at No.36. ‘Whispering’ followed in August, returning the trio to the top twenty and ensuring that they would not be regarded as ‘one hit wonders.’ This success formed a platform to boost sales for their first EP and LP releases the same year.

The EP had, of course, ‘Charmaine’ and three other tracks, one of which ‘Bashanova’ illustrated their vocal versatility. Interestingly, that song was intended as a single for Steve Perry, but he, apparently, wasn’t comfortable with it! The album ‘The Bachelors’ contained a cover of ‘Bachelor Boy’ and among the remainder, the two unreleased tracks from their first session. Worthy of special note are, ‘Jailer bring me Water’ and ‘Erie Canal.

The Bachelors first album - Decca LK4519
The Bachelors first album – Decca LK4519
First EP - Decca DFE 8529.
First EPDecca DFE 8529.

In November 1963, Decca released the first and only direct stab The Bachelors ever made at the Christmas record market. ‘Long Time Ago,’ fell victim to a BBC boycott on Xmas records! Without the required airplay it flopped in the UK, making it one of the harder to find examples of the group’s early work with Decca. It’s worth noting however that the disc soared into the charts in their native Ireland where it peaked at No.9.

Whilst 1963 had been a good year for the three young Irishmen, no one could have predicted what lay in store for them in 1964. Their first single of the year ‘Diane’ was released on January 3rd and had reached No.1. by mid – February. Penned by the same writers as ‘Charmaine’ this was an altogether superior recording. When originally cut it didn’t sound quite right, so Musical Director Johnny Keating was asked to look over the arrangement.

Decca promo ad in the music press
Decca promo ad in the music press

His simple addition of strings made a huge difference to the overall sound and the record went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone, staying in the top twenty for three months. The ‘B’ side ‘The Stars will remember’ was a Talmy/Stone production and used for The Bachelors appearance in the Frankie Vaughan film ‘It’s All Over town.’ The track can also be found on the Philips film track album of the same name.

Scarcely had ‘Diane’ begun to lose its footing in the top five, when ‘I Believe’ came rushing in to join it. The first of The Bachelors ‘big belt ballads’ it hovered at No.3. for a whole month, before peaking at No.2. This record eventually outsold ‘Diane’ and is generally regarded as the group’s most successful single.

Ramona’ was their next offering and had a good run in the charts during June and July, peaking at No.6. This was followed by a new song that the group turned into a standard. ‘I Wouldn’t Trade you for the World’ was originally recorded in 1963 as an up tempo number with Talmy and Stone, but rejected as unsuitable.

The recording was re-worked and became a massive summer hit peaking at No.4 in the UK and No.1 in Ireland! It also gave them their ‘play off’ music for stage performances for two decades.

Whilst the singles charts were alive with their music, the group also enjoyed huge sales on the EP and LP fronts. ‘The Bachelors + 16 Great Songs’ reached No.2 and went on a 44 week run in the album charts.

The version of ‘I Believe’ on this album was different to the hit single and should not really have made it onto a commercial release. When I asked Dec about this he said:

‘We were furious when we found out. It was a ‘run through,’ sung without the emotion associated with the mainstream release.

…How it made it onto the LP is beyond me!”

Decca LK 4614
Decca LK 4614

The EP ’The Bachelors Volume 2’ had three runs in the chart, peaking at No.2. The 1963 EP ‘The Bachelors’ followed in its wake having two runs and reaching No.4! ‘Bachelors Hit’s’ was issued in November, reached No.1 over Christmas and went on to spend seven months in the EP chart. 1964 was rounded off by yet another hit single: ‘No Arms Can Ever Hold You.’ It was nicely timed for the festive season, reaching No.7.

Although widely reported elsewhere, the story behind the recording of ‘No Arms’ is worth repeating. Con Cluskey tells it best!

“Immediately after performing in the ‘Royal Variety Show’ at the London Palladium, we had recording commitments with Decca and ‘No Arms’ was to be an important number. The day before the recording I damaged a vocal cord and was packed off to see a specialist in Harley Street to see if anything could be done.

He gave me a pill to take just before the recording and then said, “after singing do not speak for two weeks!” We recorded the number in one take with the orchestra in the studio and it’s probably my favourite of the 30 singles we did on the Decca label.”

During the spring of 1964 the boys had two songs in the British Lion pop compilation film ‘Just For You,’ for which Decca released a film track album; LK 4620. The tracks ‘Low The Valley and High the Mountain’ and the self-penned ‘The Fox’ were not released anywhere else and are, as such, Bachelors rarities.

Just For You - Decca LK 4620
Just For You – Decca LK 4620

Against the rest of the charting acts The Bachelors were often described as ‘square’ or ‘boring.’ The general view was that no self-respecting young music lover would ever buy a ‘Bachelors’ record and that their appeal was limited to the older generation. The sheer volume of their record sales bears witness to the fact that there must have been thousands of ‘closet’ Bachelors fans!

At the end of the day, there is one historical fact that cannot be disputed, ignored or changed. In 1964, The Bachelors put more 45rpm records into the UK top ten than The Beatles!

Continue reading this section – Recording / Highs & Lows