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Liza Jane hits half century today

Total Blam Blam's picture
on June 05, 2014

 

“Well, this little girl is so good to me”

 

They say it’s not polite to mention a lady’s age, but we’re sure you’ll forgive us in this particular instance.

Congratulations to David Bowie as he celebrates fifty years as a professional recording artist today. For it was on this day, Friday, June 5th 1964, that Vocalion Pop released a 45 with the catalogue number: V.9221.

That record was Bowie’s first ever release: Liza Jane/Louie, Louie Go Home, issued as Davie Jones with The King-Bees. But, despite a handful of positive reviews, the world was not yet ready to embrace the charms of either Davie Jones or Liza Jane.

The single ended up in the bargain bins in 1964, and Bowie’s first manager, Leslie Conn (controversially credited with writing Liza Jane) binned several hundred copies of the 45 to clear a bit of space in his garage!

These days the disc is one of the most sought after Bowie 45s by serious collectors. A couple of demo copies sold on eBay in March of this year for a bit over £2,150 GBP each (approx. $3,600USD).

On that very same day that Liza Jane was issued, an equally valuable creation emerged blinking into a scary, bright new world. One Andrew Barding (occasional contributor to these pages), has kindly written two pieces for us regarding the release of Liza Jane and his relationship with the record. So pull up a comfy chair, stick the track on repeat (http://smarturl.it/LizaJaneSpotify50th) and have a read.

 

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Liza Jane and the Fourth Estate by Andrew Barding

 

It might not have matched the global media frenzy that heralded The Next Day – but even for his first humble single release, David was already on top of the press game.

 

“Liza Jane” by Davie Jones and the King Bees was released fifty years ago today. And while it failed to bother the charts (even a little bit) our 17-year-old hero’s first dip into the world of recorded music caused a minor ripple in the press… if not a full-on splash.

 

Music weeklies NME, Record Mirror and Record Retailer each ran encouraging reviews of the disc, it was aired by DJs on Radio Luxembourg, and the band got to appear on TV shows such as Ready! Steady! Go! and The Beat Room. David appeared on Juke Box Jury too (the record was a ‘miss’).

 

David got his picture into local paper The Bromley Times as well, and there was a prestigious slot in the London Evening News for which the budding star has his press-savvy father to thank.

 

Leslie Thomas (later to achieve fame as the ‘Virgin Soldiers’ author) included a short article about David and group in his column, following an approach from proud but pragmatic dad, John Jones.

 

Leslie, who sadly passed away last month, recalled how Mr Jones had told him: “My son David is a pop singer. I think he sounds terrible but he must be some good because he’s made a record. Do you think you could give it a mention?”

He did.

 

So what did the critics of 1964 make of it?

 

Record Mirror praised the “pounding beat” of a very commercial side indeed. “It’s a good slice of R&B and could make the charts.”

 

NME were more impressed by the newie from London duo Don and Dewey in their singles round-up for June 5, complaining that both the “shouting-type R&B” of B-side Louie, Louie Go Home and the “forceful shaker” that is Liza Jane “lack melody… but compensate with a terrific beat.”

 

Anne Nightingale, later a BBC broadcaster but back then cutting her teeth as a journo for the Brighton Evening Argus, described David’s debut as “straight R&B with a strong Cockney inflection.”

 

And the Record Retailer and Music Industry News gave three stars to the “hard-hitting R&B-styled” recording by a new British group.” The same reviewer confidently predicted that the “excellent sound, surprisingly good for a home-grown group” could easily lead to heavy sales.

 

Of course, in spite of all this support from the Fourth Estate, those sales never came through. The record was a resounding commercial flop and within a couple of months David had moved onto the next stage of his career, fronting Maidstone outfit The Manish Boys.

 

Nonetheless, this first release represents a huge milestone for David. It’s also a very good record – even to today’s ears. Connoisseurs of the beat period continually cite it as a cracking example of what we have since come to recognise as the British freakbeat mini-movement.

 

David had become a member of the recorded artists club. Within five years (and after another five false starts) his diligence would be rewarded with a bona fide hit in ‘Space Oddity’. In another three, he would become a household name. Or, at least, Ziggy Stardust would.

 

So let’s raise a slice of cake to Lil’ Liza Jane today. As quinquagenary anniversaries go (and yes I DID have to google that) this is one of the very best.

 

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

 

Liza and I by Andrew Barding

 

I was a relative latecomer to the Bowie party and my entry point won't please David's record company one bit. It was a live bootleg, the "Thin White Duke" double LP recorded live in 1976 (since officially released), that first pricked up my ears when I heard it in the late 1970s.

 

That unofficial record had been brought home by my brother-in-law. Listening in, I was quickly captivated by the vocal performance and the powerful sound of that band (yes, even THAT drum solo). It was a dazzling introduction to the music of David Bowie, and it set me off on a mission to seek out the back catalogue.

 

I was soon snapping up all the secondhand David Bowie albums I could find or afford, racing home on the bus from Exeter's Catapilla Records to spin them on my father's stereo. For the record, dad didn't seem to mind Hunky Dory too much... but he hated Diamond Dogs!

 

These were great days. And as my interest in 'all things Bowie' grew, so I would pick up other bits and pieces of memorabilia as I came across them - magazines, books and so forth.

 

One such find, a nondescript and cheaply-thrown together paperback biography, had a BIG surprise waiting for me in its pages. This was the first I had heard of Davie Jones and the King Bees, and the first I had heard of Liza Jane. And then I saw that release date...

 

Oh man! This was amazing new information! Incredibly, I discovered, David Bowie's very first single was released to the world at the same time as me. We were astral twins, David's record career and me: both born on Friday June 5, 1964!

 

Reaction from mates was divided, as expected. Some were impressed. Most seemed baffled. I was chuffed to bits. Among fellow Bowie fans this information became my top trump card: "Oh, so Labyrinth was released on VHS in France on your birthday? Brilliant! What's that? Bowie played Utrecht on your birthday in 1997, did he?

 

"Well, I have an anniversary too. Get this..."

 

Of course, I tried to hunt down an original copy of that rare, rare record and I have seen (and handled) a few original Vocalion pressings over the years. But circumstances and bank balances have sadly never aligned in my favour and I do not own one. At one record fair in Brighton, many years ago, I saw one lucky shopper dig a copy of the super-scarce sheet music out of a crate and gleefully hand over the £1 being asked for it. If only I'd looked a minute or too earlier, that bargain could have been mine...

 

So as Liza Jane (and I) turn 50, we remain separated from each other. But I'm OK with that. Really, I am.

 

A collector friend who was lucky enough to snap up a copy before prices soared skyward allows me to visit. It's only a record, of course, realistically not that different from any of the others in his Bowie UK singles box. But I still derive a strange joy from handling it - something like the pleasure all collectors get out of their prized rarities, but rather more personalised in my case.

 

I particularly enjoy being able to look over the tiny marks, scratches and little scrapes that these seven inches of plastic have accrued over five decades. Then I think quietly to myself: "We might be exactly the same vintage, old bean... but I think I'm in slightly better nick."

 

Andy Barding - Fifty Years Old today - June 5th 2014

 

+ - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

 

FOOTNOTE: Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed the poster bottom right which was designed by David and alludes to another King Bees gigging around the same time, by listing his own band as THE ORIGINAL KING BEES. Scroll the montage to see the original sheet music and a demo copy of the single.

blog image: 
    5 June 2014
    Liza Jane hits half century today

     

    “Well, this little girl is so good to me”

     

    They say it’s not polite to mention a lady’s age, but we’re sure you’ll forgive us in this particular instance.

    Congratulations to David Bowie as he celebrates fifty years as a professional recording artist today. For it was on this day, Friday, June 5th 1964, that Vocalion Pop released a 45 with the catalogue number: V.9221.

    That record was Bowie’s first ever release: Liza Jane/Louie, Louie Go Home, issued as Davie Jones with The King-Bees. But, despite a handful of positive reviews, the world was not yet ready to embrace the charms of either Davie Jones or Liza Jane.

    The single ended up in the bargain bins in 1964, and Bowie’s first manager, Leslie Conn (controversially credited with writing Liza Jane) binned several hundred copies of the 45 to clear a bit of space in his garage!

    These days the disc is one of the most sought after Bowie 45s by serious collectors. A couple of demo copies sold on eBay in March of this year for a bit over £2,150 GBP each (approx. $3,600USD).

    On that very same day that Liza Jane was issued, an equally valuable creation emerged blinking into a scary, bright new world. One Andrew Barding (occasional contributor to these pages), has kindly written two pieces for us regarding the release of Liza Jane and his relationship with the record. So pull up a comfy chair, stick the track on repeat (http://smarturl.it/LizaJaneSpotify50th) and have a read.

     

    + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

     

    Liza Jane and the Fourth Estate by Andrew Barding

     

    It might not have matched the global media frenzy that heralded The Next Day – but even for his first humble single release, David was already on top of the press game.

     

    “Liza Jane” by Davie Jones and the King Bees was released fifty years ago today. And while it failed to bother the charts (even a little bit) our 17-year-old hero’s first dip into the world of recorded music caused a minor ripple in the press… if not a full-on splash.

     

    Music weeklies NME, Record Mirror and Record Retailer each ran encouraging reviews of the disc, it was aired by DJs on Radio Luxembourg, and the band got to appear on TV shows such as Ready! Steady! Go! and The Beat Room. David appeared on Juke Box Jury too (the record was a ‘miss’).

     

    David got his picture into local paper The Bromley Times as well, and there was a prestigious slot in the London Evening News for which the budding star has his press-savvy father to thank.

     

    Leslie Thomas (later to achieve fame as the ‘Virgin Soldiers’ author) included a short article about David and group in his column, following an approach from proud but pragmatic dad, John Jones.

     

    Leslie, who sadly passed away last month, recalled how Mr Jones had told him: “My son David is a pop singer. I think he sounds terrible but he must be some good because he’s made a record. Do you think you could give it a mention?”

    He did.

     

    So what did the critics of 1964 make of it?

     

    Record Mirror praised the “pounding beat” of a very commercial side indeed. “It’s a good slice of R&B and could make the charts.”

     

    NME were more impressed by the newie from London duo Don and Dewey in their singles round-up for June 5, complaining that both the “shouting-type R&B” of B-side Louie, Louie Go Home and the “forceful shaker” that is Liza Jane “lack melody… but compensate with a terrific beat.”

     

    Anne Nightingale, later a BBC broadcaster but back then cutting her teeth as a journo for the Brighton Evening Argus, described David’s debut as “straight R&B with a strong Cockney inflection.”

     

    And the Record Retailer and Music Industry News gave three stars to the “hard-hitting R&B-styled” recording by a new British group.” The same reviewer confidently predicted that the “excellent sound, surprisingly good for a home-grown group” could easily lead to heavy sales.

     

    Of course, in spite of all this support from the Fourth Estate, those sales never came through. The record was a resounding commercial flop and within a couple of months David had moved onto the next stage of his career, fronting Maidstone outfit The Manish Boys.

     

    Nonetheless, this first release represents a huge milestone for David. It’s also a very good record – even to today’s ears. Connoisseurs of the beat period continually cite it as a cracking example of what we have since come to recognise as the British freakbeat mini-movement.

     

    David had become a member of the recorded artists club. Within five years (and after another five false starts) his diligence would be rewarded with a bona fide hit in ‘Space Oddity’. In another three, he would become a household name. Or, at least, Ziggy Stardust would.

     

    So let’s raise a slice of cake to Lil’ Liza Jane today. As quinquagenary anniversaries go (and yes I DID have to google that) this is one of the very best.

     

    + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

     

    Liza and I by Andrew Barding

     

    I was a relative latecomer to the Bowie party and my entry point won't please David's record company one bit. It was a live bootleg, the "Thin White Duke" double LP recorded live in 1976 (since officially released), that first pricked up my ears when I heard it in the late 1970s.

     

    That unofficial record had been brought home by my brother-in-law. Listening in, I was quickly captivated by the vocal performance and the powerful sound of that band (yes, even THAT drum solo). It was a dazzling introduction to the music of David Bowie, and it set me off on a mission to seek out the back catalogue.

     

    I was soon snapping up all the secondhand David Bowie albums I could find or afford, racing home on the bus from Exeter's Catapilla Records to spin them on my father's stereo. For the record, dad didn't seem to mind Hunky Dory too much... but he hated Diamond Dogs!

     

    These were great days. And as my interest in 'all things Bowie' grew, so I would pick up other bits and pieces of memorabilia as I came across them - magazines, books and so forth.

     

    One such find, a nondescript and cheaply-thrown together paperback biography, had a BIG surprise waiting for me in its pages. This was the first I had heard of Davie Jones and the King Bees, and the first I had heard of Liza Jane. And then I saw that release date...

     

    Oh man! This was amazing new information! Incredibly, I discovered, David Bowie's very first single was released to the world at the same time as me. We were astral twins, David's record career and me: both born on Friday June 5, 1964!

     

    Reaction from mates was divided, as expected. Some were impressed. Most seemed baffled. I was chuffed to bits. Among fellow Bowie fans this information became my top trump card: "Oh, so Labyrinth was released on VHS in France on your birthday? Brilliant! What's that? Bowie played Utrecht on your birthday in 1997, did he?

     

    "Well, I have an anniversary too. Get this..."

     

    Of course, I tried to hunt down an original copy of that rare, rare record and I have seen (and handled) a few original Vocalion pressings over the years. But circumstances and bank balances have sadly never aligned in my favour and I do not own one. At one record fair in Brighton, many years ago, I saw one lucky shopper dig a copy of the super-scarce sheet music out of a crate and gleefully hand over the £1 being asked for it. If only I'd looked a minute or too earlier, that bargain could have been mine...

     

    So as Liza Jane (and I) turn 50, we remain separated from each other. But I'm OK with that. Really, I am.

     

    A collector friend who was lucky enough to snap up a copy before prices soared skyward allows me to visit. It's only a record, of course, realistically not that different from any of the others in his Bowie UK singles box. But I still derive a strange joy from handling it - something like the pleasure all collectors get out of their prized rarities, but rather more personalised in my case.

     

    I particularly enjoy being able to look over the tiny marks, scratches and little scrapes that these seven inches of plastic have accrued over five decades. Then I think quietly to myself: "We might be exactly the same vintage, old bean... but I think I'm in slightly better nick."

     

    Andy Barding - Fifty Years Old today - June 5th 2014

     

    + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - +

     

    FOOTNOTE: Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed the poster bottom right which was designed by David and alludes to another King Bees gigging around the same time, by listing his own band as THE ORIGINAL KING BEES. Scroll the montage to see the original sheet music and a demo copy of the single.