Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Does anyone have any articles on Proby?

I am drafting liner notes at the moment for my CD project...

As you all know the CD is focusing on Proby's signing to Liberty Records (1961-71). Does anyone out there in cyber space have any articles about Proby from this era? What I am looking for are any reviews of his albums, articles that discuss his music...really anything about this time of his singing career.

If you can help I would be grateful if you can scan and email me anything you think would be of interest. Please do get in touch if you can assist.

Monday, 18 February 2008

A superb song by Jim Ford

Songwriter Jim Ford wrote Proby's US hit "Niki Hoeky". As mentioned in my "Lost Recordings" post Proby was said to have also recorded a few more songs penned by Ford...

You can currently hear another version of one of these songs sung by Brinsley Schwarz. Click the link and have a listen to it. Sounds like a great track and something reminiscent of the classic sounds of The Eagles: I'm Ahead If I Can Quit While I'm Behind

A reply from EMI

EMI kindly responded to my email containing the finished CD proposal: "This is great Stephen, thanks..."

It looks like my efforts have not been in vein. I feel so positive about my choice of songs. They give any newbie fan a wonderful insight into Proby and his versatility as a singer. Next job is for me to start writing the liner notes. I have until the end of March 2008 to finish those.

I just finished revising my CD proposal...

Well after a week or so of playing and playing Proby's music I have now finished making some amendments to my original CD proposal. These are what I consider to be improvements that really strengthen the overall appeal and the diverse sound of the collection.

I just this minute emailed EMI the finished 25-track CD proposal which I tentatively call "The Best of the EMI Years (1961-72)". I now anxiously await to hear if they like the changes - fingers crossed!

Before I go can anyone help confirm who the producer and arranger is for the B-side singles "Quando Tornera" and "I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore"?

Friday, 8 February 2008

Proby's LOST recordings (1964-1972)

During my research into Proby's music career there have been a lot of talk about recordings that for whatever reason just missed out on a release. Let us call them the LOST and forgotten songs...

The most famous of these would have to be the 1968 power-ballad "Delilah" which was penned by Les Reed and Barry Mason. Legend has it that Proby was the first to be given this song but he fell out of love with the tune after recording it. "Delilah" was subsequently dropped by Proby's request from his 1968 album "Believe it or Not". It later found its way to pop star Tom Jones who had a massive hit with it!

Below is a list of other recordings rumoured to exist from Proby's signing to Liberty/EMI. Please do get in touch if you can help confirm any of this.

Fact or fiction?

  • This Flower (Part 1&2) & Polly's Ballad (circa 1965)
    [These songs may have been out-takes from the "P.J. Proby...In Town" album - likely produced by Ron Richards and arranged by Johnny Scott.]

  • Liberty & I’m Going Home (circa 1965)
    [Possibly recorded at a similar time to Proby's Top 20 hit “I Apologise”.]

  • Waiting time (circa 1965)
    [Another song said to have been produced by Ron Richards and arranged by Johnny Scott.]

  • The Chase (circa 1966)
    [It was likely recorded during the sessions for Proby's San Remo single "Quando Tornera" and produced by Ron Richards.]

  • Delilah & Melody of Love (circa 1968)
    [We all know the story behind "Delilah" and in recent years songwriter Les Reed has confirmed he even has an acetate of it - so we know it exists! The other mentioned tune is yet another believed out-take from the "Believe it or Not" sessions.]

  • Run Run Run (circa 1969)
    [Likely produced by Steve Rowland and featuring Amory Kane - possibly an out-take from the "Three Week Hero" sessions??]

  • The Gift of Love (circa 1970)
    [A track cut during the sessions for "It's Goodbye" which was Proby's final single for Liberty Records.]

  • Ju Ju Man, You You You & I'll Be A Head If I Can Quit While I'm Behind (likely "I’m Ahead if I Can Quit...") (circa 1971)
    [From what I understand these songs were written by the late songwriter Jim Ford who penned Proby's biggest American hit "Niki Hoeky". These recordings were produced during the singer's final sessions for the Liberty label and were intended for single release (this was not to be). The press of the time also reported that the sessions featured Brinsley Schwarz. ]

  • One Life, Now I Live Again & Birth Life Death (circa 1971)
    [Proby switched to the Columbia label in 1971/2. Only two songs were ever released by them which appeared on the 1972 single "We'll Meet Again". The Texan is however rumoured to have cut these three additional songs at the same time as the single.]

  • I Believe / Jezabel (date unknown)
    [These are two 1950s songs that were made popular by American singer Frankie Laine. Proby is believed to have been cut these tunes during his years at Liberty Records. For now, you can enjoy a mighty fine 1960s performance of "I Believe" on youtube and a new re-recording of it on his 2002 album "His Hand In Mine".]

  • Misty Roses (date unknown)
    [American folk musician/composer Tim Hardin wrote this beautiful song in the mid-1960s. Proby is said to have recorded it.]

  • Les Bicyclettes de Belsize (date unknown)
    [This was the title song from a 1968 short first. Engelbert Humperdinck had a hit with it and Proby is said to have also recorded a version.]

  • Pay the Piper /In Ever Dream A Heartache (date unknown)
    [Two final songs that I know very little about but are rumoured to have been recorded.]

Thanks to the following people who advised me when compiling this listing: Ron Tennant, Mikael Ekström (author), Tommy Barrett and Jenny Lesser.

Your all-time TOP 5 songs? (1961-72)

What is your all-time favourite Top 5 recordings from Mr. Proby's years at Liberty Records? Post your views here. This can be made up of hit singles, B-sides, album songs whatever you consider to be his finest moments released between 1961 and 1972.

Here's mine...
  1. Maria
  2. Give Me Time
  3. Just Like Him
  4. My Prayer
  5. And The Sun Will Shine

Thursday, 7 February 2008

No need to take a stand just yet....

I know many of you have been wanting to contact EMI to express how much you want this CD. Can I just say this really isn't necessary and may have a negative impact on things.

If you do want to help what you can do is spread the word about this blog. The most important thing for now is to get people talking about the new CD and Mr. Proby's years at Liberty Records. What better place to make comments and show your support than right here! :)

More updates hopefully due Friday, so stay tuned and feel free to email me direct.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Previously released recordings waiting a digital makeover

Between 1989 and 1996, many of Proby's previously released recordings made for Liberty Records were given a digital makeover. We were treated to an abundance of CD releases that included a lavish 2CD boxset from EMI Records "Rough Velvet" (1992) plus various original album re-issues and compilations from the now defunct labels C5 Records & See-For-Miles.

You may be asking yourself though "are there many single or album recordings now waiting for their CD debut?". Well below is the list as it stands when I post this blog. Touch wood some of these may form part of my "70th Birthday" CD project.


  • There Stands The One
    (Dick Glasser)
    [This was the
    B-side for the 1961 single "Try To Forget Her" which was Proby's US debut for Liberty Records. There is a real country twang to Proby's voice here. The backing also sounding very reminiscent of what you'd expect from a Jim Reeves record. Both sides of this single were accompanied by the Johnny Mann singers (who later went on to host the popular US TV series Stand Up and Cheer) with Glen Campbell on guitar, Leon Russell on keyboards, David Gates on bass and Hal Blane on drums/string section. This track was later used by the UK as the B-side to 1964 single "Try to Forget Her".]

  • Watch Me Walk Away
    (Dick Glasser)
    [An upbeat pop song (very Gene Pitney-esque) which Proby defiantly belts out to great effect! It's got passion and lots of gusto, quite surprising therefore it only featured as a B-side to the 1962 US single "The Other Side of Town". ]

  • So Do I
    (Donna Kohler)
    ["So Do I" could easily have been penned for the late and great country star Johnny Cash. Proby adopts a very gritty Cash sound to his voice. The song was the A-side to a 1963 US only single.]

  • I Can't Take It Like You Can
    (Justin Tubb/Teddy Wilburn)
    [B-side to 1963 US only single "So Do I". It is a very mellow song and performance that runs in parallel to the Jim Reeves' hit "He'll Have To Go". At times Proby's voice even exudes a velvet smooth tone often found in Marty Robbins' voice.]

  • Darlin'
    (James Marcus Smith aka P.J. Proby)
    [This rock 'n' roll number was released by Proby under the alias of "Orville Woods" and issued as an A-side to a 1963 US only single. It's only a 2-minite affair but doesn't fail to grab your attention as Proby screeches out the chorus line on a par with Little Richard.]

  • Wicked Woman (Alternate Take)
    (James Marcus Smith aka P.J. Proby)
    [Flip side to the 1963 US only single "Darlin'". It's another Proby-penned Rock 'n' Roll number but the take which has eluded a CD release is the alternate "slower" version.]

  • Sweet and Tender Romance (Alternate Take)
    (John Carter/Ken Lewis/Johnny Powell)
    [It's amazing to think this song went under the radar of sixties pop pundits as it is a good beat-pop song. Proby's rendition is also a mighty fine one at that. However, the only act to have a real hit with it was the Australian vocal duo Bobby & Laurie who charted it downunder. Although the standard version of this song was released on CD a more obscure take exists that was an exclusive B-side to Proby's 1964 Dutch single of "Together".]

  • Just Like Him
    (Jackie DeShannon)
    [If ever there was a song that has taken on a genuine "cult" status then it is this one which was written specially for Proby by his long-time friend Jackie DeShannon. This beautiful ballad truly deserved more than to be demoted to just a B-side on his 1964 single "Somewhere". It is one of Proby's finest recording moments from the 1960s. There are NO gimmicks just Proby doing what Proby does best and that is being himself! ]

  • What's On Your Mind
    (Nick de Carro)
    [This B-side to the 1965 single "I Apologise" was the yin to this single's yang. The lead song was a firey, passionate ballad and this was laid back and intimately sung with rich full-on vocals. A classic!]

  • I Don't Want To Hear it Anymore
    (Randy Newman)
    [This dramatic story ballad was one of the earliest songs penned by American tunesmith Randy Newman. Newman was in fact just starting out as a songwriter at the time of writing this song having signed his very first publishing deal with Metric (the L.A-based publishing company of Liberty Records). Although critics rank Dusty Springfield's 1969 interpretation in poll position no one should overlook the mighty fine performance given by the great Texan. Proby's version deserved more respectful treatment than being used as just a B-side to his 1965 single "Let The Water Run Down". Yet another gem!]

  • I Can't Make It Alone (Alternate "Double-Vocal" Take)
    (Gerry Goffin/Carole King)
    [An alternate take of a song featured on Proby's album "Enigma". This particular version has a unique dramatic "double-vocal" harmony by Proby that is inspired by the Righteous Brothers' #1 hit "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'". It's a top notch tune with or without the added effect. This particular take was only used as an A-side to Proby's 1966 single and also on his 1967 E.P "Proby Again".]

  • Quando Tornera
    (Gentile / Lentini)
    [During the 1960s, the international pop charts were awash with Italian power-ballads, such as Cilla Black's "You're My World" and Dusty Springfield's "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me". Of norm, these tunes were translated for English artists into their native tongue but in this case the Texan delivered a convincing performance sung in Italian! This 1966 single was released in Italy and Germany for the prestigious European music festival "San Remo". It was the B-side to "Per Questo Voglio Te".]

  • And The Sun Will Shine
    (Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb & Robin Gibb)
    [There is no doubt that the Gibb brothers have penned some pretty standout pop tunes during their career. This one originates from the Bee Gees' 1968 album "Horizontal". On this occasion I actually think Proby has the edge on the group's original. This song was an exclusive track for the US edition of his "Believe it or Not" album (released stateside as "What's Wrong With My World" #LST-7561)]

  • It's Goodbye
    [Think Eurovision pop and you won't be far off the mark. This dud of a song was Proby's last single for Liberty Records. It is pale in contrast to the recordings that came before it. In my eyes the disappointing 1970 A-side single should remain a vinyl-only release. Sorry Mr. Proby!]

  • We'll Meet Again
    (Hughie Charles / Ross Parker)
    [Everyone will know this wartime tearjerker as it was the million-selling signature tune for British songbird Vera Lynn. Never in a millions years though would I have expected P.J. Proby to sing it. Give the man his dues he really does give the 1930s song a new lease of life with a very slick Las Vegas showman style makeover. The 1972 A-side single is big, bold and yet another belter!]

  • Clown Shoes
    (James Marcus Smith aka P.J. Proby)
    [Just after Proby departed EMI's "Liberty" label there was a short-lived switch to their "Columbia" label. This is the B-side to Columbia's 1972 single "We'll Meet Again" which was Proby's last release during this acclaimed era details on my site (1961-72). Ths song is a re-recording of one of Proby's own compositions which he had first cut in the early 1960s. I personally prefer the arrangement of Proby's original version which was also taken up in the hit rendition by Johnny Burnette. For me, this 1970s reprisal is overly orchestrated - too much for such a pretty ditty!]

[ Footnote: I don't believe EMI (UK) hold any of Proby's pre-1964 American A&B-sides with exception of those that made it onto a UK single. Also I have not come across the alternate takes of "Wicked Woman" and "Sweet and Tender Romance". It is not to say the original tapes don't exist somewhere around the world but I again do not believe the UK holds them. Thus, any project I am working on is unlikely to be able to include these unique versions! ]

My sincere thanks to the following Probyans who helped me compile this list: Jan Sonesson, Björn Lund, Joep Kilkens and Steve Bailey.

Can anyone help solve the STEREO mystery?

It was in 1958, that the first vinyl albums were pressed in STEREO format. The American music market jumped on the STEREO bandwagon much quicker than its UK counterparts. Thus, there were some initial differences to what UK fans could get of Proby's music in STEREO.

This is now where I seek some clarification from the Probyans out there in cyber space as I am not 100% certain about what recordings (if any) still require a release on CD in STEREO format.

The STEREO album releases which I am concerned about are:

  1. The unique 1964 American album "Somewhere" (LP #LST-7406). This featured songs that were only released as MONO in the UK. Some of these recordings became hit singles (e.g. "Somewhere", "Hold Me" and "Together") and others were spread between Proby's debut UK LP "I Am P.J. Proby" and E.P "P.J. Proby". As I don't own this LP I'd like to confirm of ALL the tracks on it genuinely were in STEREO? Perhaps, someone can kindly play their copy and confirm this for me;

  2. Proby's stunning 1965 eponymous album (LP #LST-7421). Some of the recordings from this I know for sure have been released in STEREO by EMI (UK) on their 1992 2CD set "Rough Velvet". That now leaves "Mission Bell", "The Nearness of You", "Lonely Weekends", "She Cried", "Secret Love", "Lonely Teardrops" and "With These Hands".

    What I don't know however is whether any STEREO versions for these remaining tracks crept into EMI's recent 2on1 CD re-issue or any other compilation CD. Can anyone answer that???