Saturday, February 11, 2012


For years, I thought The Merseybeats were the WORST example of the Merseybeat sound (whatever that is). But then again, I only knew them for three songs - "Mister Moonlight", "I Think Of You", and "Sorrow" (which was credited to The Merseys - I'll explain later). "Mister Moonlight" is one of those songs that NOBODY does well, in my opinion. "I Think Of You", their biggest hit, is one of those treacly Brit-ballads that simply bore me. As for "Sorrow", well, I like the McCoys' original MUCH better.

Then one night my buddy John called. He's a renowned girl-group authority (and has even written a popular book on the subject). We get together about once a month to hang, go out for coffee, then go back to one of our houses to spin records. John comes up with amazing stuff, but he's not exactly the biggest British Invasion fan, so it surprised me when he pulled out this 45 by The Merseybeats. "Ugh", I said, "I don't understand what the big deal is about these guys." "Well, I don't know much about them, but I LIKE this song" said John.

Well, once he put the needle in the groove, I was pleasantly surprised. THIS is what a British beat group is supposed to sound like! Great backbeat, cool guitar, killer bass and it's got groove!

It was a B-side, of course. It came out as the flip of their third single (their second released in the US), "Don't Turn Around". While the A-side was written by Peter Lee Stirling (same guy responsible for "I Think Of You"), this side was a group original, written by lead singer/guitarist Tony Crane and bassist Johnny Gustafson. Apparently these guys ROCKED in live performance, but when it came to their records, their management pushed the group's ballad sides.

Well, after hearing "Really Mystified", I HAD to have it. I ended up buying every Merseybeats 45 I could get my hands on until I finally tracked down "Really Mystified", and discovered that these guys weren't so bad after all. I still don't like the three songs I mentioned at the beginning of this post, but some of their other songs are great - they do a KILLER Brit-beat-ballad version of Bull Moose Jackson's "I Love You, Yes I Do", and "Last Night (I Made A Little Girl Cry)" is also a fave for the Sibello record machine.

Unfortunately for the group, their sound simply didn't translate to American ears - none of their five singles released in the States charted. Also, by early 1965, Tony Crane began a concurrent solo career, further undercutting the group's appeal in the UK. Their singles began charting lower and lower, and by the end of '65 they were finished as a group. Tony Crane then formed a duo with Billy Kinsley (who was the original bass player in The Merseybeats before Gustafson joined) and called themselves The Merseys, scoring a top 5 British hit in early 1966 with "Sorrow". However, that was their only hit, and after releasing a few more singles (including the original version of Pete Townshend's song "So Sad About Us") they split up in early 1968.

The moral of the story? Keep your ears open. There's a lot of good stuff out there, and almost every group has at least one song you'll like!

The Merseybeats - Really Mystified (Fontana 1905) - 1964

1 comment:

  1. Right you are, Rich! Actually, I was turned on to this song in the early 80s, hearing a kick-ass version of "Really Mystified" by Elvis Costello on an LP called "Sometimes A Great Notion" which had other odd items and alternate versions of popular songs by Robert Fripp, Dire Straits, Eddy Grant, and others. I don't own the LP anymore, so I can't tell you the label, but it's a British import.