The Casuals began work on what was to be their sole album, Hour World, on 27th November 1968. Hour World was issued by Decca in both mono and stereo versions in June 1969 but was not released in US.
As you can see from the track listing, much of its content also surfaced as single A and B sides:
1. Jesamine – 4.13 (Manston, Gellar) A-side
2. Toyland – 2.59 (Roden, Catchpole)
3. Never My Love – 2.28 (D. & D. Addrisi) B-side
4. Fool’s Paradise – 2.27 (Arnold, Martin, Morrow) A-side
5. Picnic – (Pardo, Smith, Guest)
6. Now You Can Be – 2.20 (Lynton)
7. Daddy’s Song – 3.05 (Nilsson) B-side *
1. Hello It’s Me – 2.35 (Hazzard)
2. Love Me Tonight – 2.57 (Mason, Pace, Pilat, Panzeri) A-side **
3. Someday Man – 2.35 (Williams, Nichols)
4. Touched – 3.17 (Murphy) A-side
5. See! – (Newcomb)
6. Sunflower Eyes – 2.26 (Manston, Gellar) A-side
7. Hey-Hey-Hey – 2.10 (Tebb) Italy B-side
8. Weather Vane – (Tebb) Italy B-side
* as ‘Non E Il Violino’, Italy/Germany
** as ‘Alla Fine Della Strada’, Italy/Germany
Time and The Casuals
Toy is notable for its absence though would have fitted in quite well thematically with fare such as Now You Can Be, Daddy’s Song and Toyland, thus consolidating a common thread of childhood and juvenilia (so there is a concept to Hour World, apart from the rather tacked-on ‘clock’ one – the album is bookended with the sound of a ticking clock, tying in with the grandfather clock image on the reverse sleeve and on some single picture sleeves).
‘Jesamine’, of course, leads the album, its extended timing of 4.13 here accounted for by some opening sound effects which produce a lingering rumble over the start of John Tebb’s delicate vocal, disconcerting if you hear the album version in isolation.
Of the tracks not already discussed under 1968/69 singles Picnic and See! are fairly basic exercises in soundscapes, brought in to create an overall album feel which at least hints at psychedelia. The band turn in a worthy cover of Paul Williams’ Someday Man though not eclipsing the composer’s original.
Hour World ends with two Tebb compositions, the embarrassing and probably best forgotten Hey-Hey-Hey (which includes the line – ‘Watch out for me cos im so happy, You can wrap me in a baby’s nappy’ – that juvenile theme again) and his credible, gentle ballad Weather Vane.
The slight music hall feel of Now You Can Be and the brass band on Daddy’s Song have the unfortunate effect of reminding me of contemporaneous ghastly kids’ TV talent contest Junior Showtime which first aired in 1969. Both songs have their virtues though, Now You Can Be eventually alluding to a fabgear toytown vibe and Nilsson’s ‘Daddy’s Song‘ conjuring an affectionate portrait. Meanwhile, Toyland avoids any familial saccharine quality by pursuing head-on that peculiarly late 60s conflation of childhood with mind expansion.
Five tracks from the Hour World sessions remain unissued: Love Can Fly, Take Me For a Little While, Tomorrow Tomorrow (the Bee Gees song – I’m not certain whether this was recorded with English lyrics or only in Italian as ‘Domani Domani’), Can’t Take My Eyes Off You and Go plus, in the UK, Barcelona b/w Tomorrow’s Dream which was a single on the continent only.
Decca in-house artist David Anstey (perhaps best known for his wonderful Days of Future Passed album cover) provides the line drawing cover art, depicting our fantastic foursome and a cherub clambering over a hefty Greek God-like figure seated on a pile of ancient tomes. Versions in Germany and possibly elsewhere in Europe show the artwork against a defining blue background.
Hour World is an enjoyable album for which I have an enduring fondness. It captures something of that ‘pop band on an adventure’ vibe which was perfected by The Monkees. The album’s potentially disconcerting blend of mature ballads and blatant appeals to a younger/family audience is united by a solid overall sound thanks to the distinctiveness of John Tebb’s vocals and the talents of arrangers Cy Payne, Reg Guest, Ken Woodman and Arthur Greenslade.
Due to the success of Jesamine, The Casuals remained busy with concerts, TV appearances and publicity meaning that Hour World was not completed until Spring 1969 by which time the afterglow of their ’68 single success had faded. Hour World did not trouble the album charts.
Still, the band persevered into the next decade producing a range of material, none of it commercially successful but some matching the quality of their late 60s output and leaving a legacy of rare demos.
That’s the story I’ll take up next time.
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