Now The Casuals faced a dilemma. What were they supposed to do with a hit like Jesamine? Follow it up with another of course.
Groups get criticised for selecting a replica of their biggest success in the hope of simply repeating the formula. The Casuals, or rather the band’s management, cannot be accused of this ploy.
The song chosen was Chris Andrews’ ‘Toy’. ‘Toy’ is everything that ‘Jesamine’ is not – bouncy, uptempo, effervescent, not dissimilar to Andrews’ hits for Sandie Shaw with a faint oom-pah and some toy/boy type rhymes.
For what is a straightforward pop song, ‘Toy’ is given a fab arrangement courtesy of Reg Guest, culminating in the contrast between a tiny music box and a huge carnivalesque band lead off. There’s even an odd ‘mew’ thrown in on the music box bit as if the whole shebang are out in force.
Perhaps the single was chosen to show that the band had appeal as teenybop popsters but it must have come as a bit of a disappointment for lovers of ‘Jesamine’. The moment had passed and so had Jesamine.
Toy was released in November 1968, entering the charts in December at No 40 when Jesamine was still at No 46 and peaking at No 30 in January 1969. It was to be The Casuals’ last chart entry and probably deserved better. We can only speculate on whether a song like Fool’s Paradise might have fared more favourably as an immediate follow-up single, maintaining the romantic ballad connection with ‘Jesamine’ but showcasing a maturer song. In the UK, the B-side of ‘Toy’ was Touched, a buoyant piece which, unlike ‘Toy’, made it onto Hour World, whereas in mainland Europe, ‘Toy’ was accompanied by John Tebb’s throwaway Hey, Hey, Hey – more on that in my next Casuals’ post.
In the wake of ‘Jesamine’s’ success, the group embarked on their first major British tour as support for Scott Walker along with The Paper Dolls, The Love Affair and Terry Reid, with The Casuals, Cupid’s Inspiration and The Searchers appearing at alternate venues.
In the States, ‘Toy’ and subsequent releases were credited to The British Casuals to prevent confusion with a home grown act of the same name.
The 1969 singles
Despite the relative failure of ‘Toy’, Decca maintained faith in the band and three UK singles were released in 1969, whose A and B sides maintained a fairly even balance between ballads (legacy of their Italian days) and a faster-paced, groovy pop sound. Of the three A-sides, Fool’s Paradise and Sunflower Eyes made it onto Hour World whilst Caroline, anticipating a slight change in sound, did not.
Fool’s Paradise, released in April, (written by Chris Arnold, David Martin and Geoff Morrow, soon to form Butterscotch) was a solidly written romantic ballad but is overshadowed for me by its B-side, the heady Seven Times Seven. The band really sound as if they are giving it their all here. John Tebb’s vocal veers somewhere between pop, rock and, at times, bubblegum (that opening Kasenatz Katz ‘Yeah!’), there are some lively drum fills from Bob O’Brien and Howard Newcomb’s latter day electric guitar is rarely as foregrounded. ‘Seven Times Seven’ was an A-side in Italy, recognition of its inclusion as theme and part soundtrack for the film Sette Volte Sette – more on that a little later.
1969’s second single, released in June, was Sunflower Eyes by the Manston, Gellar duo that had brought the band such success with ‘Jesamine’. Although pleasant, the imploring ‘Sunflower Eyes’ is not in the same league as its predecessor whereas B-side, Never My Love, despite being a somewhat predictable choice, remains for me the best cover of that much covered song I have heard. ‘Never My Love’ is eminently suited to John Tebb’s soaring voice and dreamy harmony vocals light up its heavenly chambers. The Italian (and possibly pan-European) release of ‘Sunflower Eyes’ has John Tebb’s Weather Vane as B-side.
October brought the band’s third and final single of 1969, Roy Wood’s ‘Caroline’. It isn’t at all hard to imagine The Move having covered this. ‘Caroline’ was also produced by Wood and marked a slight change of direction for the band as orchestration is absent for the first time. The flute introduction is presumably provided by Casuals’ bassist and sometime flautist Alan Taylor. John Tebb has a very particular, deliciously mannered, rather courtly way of singing ‘Oh’ which can be heard here (‘Oh! Waiting for ‘Caroline’) and on previous single ‘Sunflower Eyes’ (‘Oh! You’d be surprised’).
‘Caroline’ was well partnered by John Tebb’s mischievous Naughty Boy. Roy Wood often shows a predelicition for unusual instruments and it is possibly a bassoon adding a steady off-beat rhythmic element throughout ‘Naughty Boy’. Both sides (especially ‘Naughty Boy) prefigure the rock-‘n’-roll-lite of 1971’s Someday Rock ‘n’ Roll Lady.
The Italian job
Seven Times Seven (B-side in UK, A-side in Italy), was written by Armando Trovajoli and Jack Fishman and was probably recorded by The Casuals in the early part of 1968 as it featured in that year’s Michel Lupo directed Italian crime comedy Sette Volte Sette. Although legend has it that every self-respecting modish 60s film has a ‘band scene’ sadly The Casuals do not appear.
Some jazzy, mainly instrumental music with wordless vocals also forms part of the soundtrack, provided by Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni according to the end credits. The Casuals get no credit at all, only the song’s composer is mentioned at the start: ‘music composed and directed by Armando Trovajoli.’
I can’t comment much on the actual film as the only subtitled or dubbed version available appears to be in Hungarian but it looks to be a stylishly enjoyable crime-caper period piece, perhaps a kind of Italian The Italian Job with locations shared between Italy and London.
It is not always clear which parts of the soundtrack are provided by The Casuals, apart from the straightforward theme itself of course, but my definite hunch is that the semi-improvisatory, instrumental versions of Seven Times Seven must be by the band. If so, this makes the soundtrack of particular interest to Casuals’ fans.
Here is a breakdown of the music in Sette Volte Sette with what I believe to be contributions from The Casuals highlighted:
9.40 -10.24 flute/brass based on the song
13.47 -14.40 instrumental, jazzy
17.02 -17.25 flute jazz based with brass
24.23 – 24.55 fast based ‘dubba-dubba’ jazz brass and bass
28.18 – 28.34 woodwind based instrumental
35.27 – 36.16 an instrumental, ‘Seven Times Seven,’ organ-based with wordless backing vocals
38.02 – 38.53 very 60s vocal passages based on earlier woodwind theme
39.30- 40.58 From ‘When you feel like running out…’ until the drums just before verse 2, ‘Seven Times Seven’, the song, debuts first as background to a slightly kinky ‘bedroom’ scene, then foregrounded from 40.11 as accompaniment to an exciting outdoor sequence.
47.44 – 48.58 the theme returns with the ‘Well when you feel like running out..’ vocal.
53.48 – 54.48 swinging, organ-based ‘background’ instrumental accompaning a woman-on-woman sex scene viewed by an older, male onlooker.
55.48 – 56.21 aah-ahh vocals
1.01.15 – 1.01.48 band/organ again with fast dee-dee vocals
1.17.42 – 1.19.01 a loping instrumental with dee-dee vocals
1.20.15 – 1.20.40 wordless vocals and very jazz flavoured instrumentals
1.32.03- 1.33.11 the song returns starting with the intro but fades out during the chorus
1.34.35 – 1.35.08 lolloping instrumental with wordless vocal
1.36.01 – 1.36.48 fast theme again with wordless ‘ba-dubba-dubba’ vocals
1.38.35 – 1.40.06 organ based music fading-in over dialogue becoming slower with organ drone for change of scene at 1.39.22 then gradually building with wordless vocals
1.43.30 – 1.45.13 theme in full from intro to verse 2
You can catch the film in full here – with no subtitles or dubbing though!
… and in Europe
A further three singles were released in some European countries, notably Italy and Germany.
Alla Fine Della Strada (‘At the End of the World’) is an Italian song by Lorenzo Pilat which became a UK Number 9 for Tom Jones as ‘Love Me Tonight’ also in 1969. It features as ‘Love Me Tonight’ in English on The Casuals’ album Hour World along with B-side, Non E Il Violino (‘Now You Can Be’, actually ‘Daddy’s Song’).
The band sang ‘Alla Fine Della Strada’ at the February 1969 San Remo Song Contest and this is the only surviving footage I know of in which the The Casuals perform live as ‘Jesamime’ on Beat Club would almost certainly have been mimed and anyway the psychedelic effects almost entirely overwhelm what we can see of the band.
The thoroughly enjoyable Toyland b/w (again) Never My Love appeared at least in Germany in July 1969 and both songs feature on Hour World. Alan Bown gave us the original ‘Toyland’ in 1967 with a home produced psychedelic style production; the busy cello is great but I miss The Casuals’ brass. Jeff Bannister’s vocal emphasises the blissed out feel of the lyric whereas John Tebb’s is more knowing and has the edge on phrasing. The Casuals win out overall.
But the most interesting of the three European singles from 1969 (not sure of the exact month of release) is the single Barcelona b/w Tomorrow’s Dream as neither songs have surfaced elsewhere. ‘Barcelona’ was written by Juan Pardo, no connection with The Casuals’ producer, David Pardo. ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ is of particular interest as it is written by John Tebb. Frustratingly, both sides remain unknown to me. Most European releases are on the Vogue or Joker record labels whereas ‘Barcelona’ is on Columbia.
I had intended to tackle The Casuals album, Hour World, as part of this post but having said a lot more on their 1968/69 singles than I’d anticipated, I’m going to save Hour World until next time and hope that you will join me then.
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