Monday, September 1, 2008

tony burrows: funny how love can be

photograph by joe rainaldi.

Tony Burrows is one of the great British session vocalists in the history of bubblegum pop.

Starting out in skiffle groups in the 1950s, he is better known as the voice behind the Flower Pot Men; Edison Lighthouse; White Plains; Pipkins; The First Class; and the abysmal Brotherhood Of Man, one-time winners of the Eurovision Song Contest.

And this group, The Ivy League, which would evolve into the Flower Pot Men by 1967 to cash-in on the Haight Ashbury experience with their global hit, "Let's Go To San Francisco".

Written by Birmingham friends, John Carter and Ken Lewis, this song has it all in spades. Genuine Working Men's Club talent from the days when there actually was such a thing.

THE IVY LEAGUE: FUNNY HOW LOVE CAN BE from "Funny How Love Can Be b/w Lonely Room" 45 (Piccadilly) 1965 (UK)



Mick said...

I'm sure you're aware of this, Ib, but Tony Burrows famously appeared on TOTP three times in one night with three different acts (Brotherhood of Man, Edison Lighthouse and White Plains I think) or is that an urban myth?

Back in the 70s they used to play his/Brotherhood of Mans 'United We Stand' after every home match at Yeovil Town FC. Just a little childhood memory I decided to throw in for no particular reason.

ib said...

Hey, Mick! I've heard this one before, but I don't remember it myself. I do recall seeing Tony Burrows on TOTP more than once on the one night. Three times seems perfectly feasable...

It was allegedly in 1970, and while he performed three times with three different bands on the same night, he actually was singing on FOUR singles on the Top 40 that week!: Brotherhood Of Mine ('United we Stand'); Edison Lighthouse ('Love Grows'); White Plains ('My Baby Needs Loving'); and The Pipkins ('Gimme Dat Ding').

The bands he appeared with were those three you mention, and apparently BBC executives were livid that TOTP was turned into 'The Tony Burrows Show' on the broadcast. It would have been live in these days, too.

Thanks for the Yeovil Town FC detail. For some unaccountably embarrassing reason, whenever I hear White Plains' 1971 hit "When You Are A King" - which, admittedly, isn't that often - I get choked up. No idea why. I'd probably have to go into therapy to find out for sure!

Brilliant comment.

Mick said...

I know exactly what you mean about "When You Are A King". I don't remember particularly liking or disliking it as a kid but I heard it on the radio about five years ago and had to have it. I downloaded it and rarely listen to it but it's a comfort knowing it's there.

ib said...

It is one of those records, definitely. One of those songs. It seems to sum up that era perfectly.