Something about Tim Andrews

Tim Andrews Something About Suburbia: The Sixties Sounds of Tim Andrews, RPM 2013

Tim Andrews CD cover

Chris Andrews made three singles for EMI 1967-70 under the name Tim Andrews and a further three with Paul Korda which together form the core of this compilation.

From the start, Chris cut an interesting swathe through swinging London.  Battersea born and bred, he was both London Savoy Hotel page boy and a mod with an eye to a career in show business.  He played the Artful Dodger in the West End and touring casts of Lionel Bart’s ‘Oliver’, taking over the role from friend David Jones (a pre-Monkees Davy Jones) before returning to London in 1965.

The sounds on offer here are, indeed, very ‘60s.  Chronological sequencing captures the rapidly changing pop scene of the decade’s latter half, beginning with the raw RnB of The Gremlins’ 1966 High Time Baby and Small Faces organ crunch of Rupert’s People’s ‘Hold On’.   The early highlight is Mud in Your Eye, a pre-Sharon Tandy Fleur de Lys slice of moody freakbeat with a chunky guitar solo where a verse should be.  No film appears to survive demonstrating Andrews’ live appeal but you have to guess by the energy of these early tracks and his background in musical theatre that he would have put on a good show.

Reflections of Charles Brown is a coolly pleasant, Whiter Shade-like slice of life which was disowned by Rupert’s People (actually Fleur de Lys again).

A name change to Tim (so as to avoid confusion with Sandie Shaw’s writer and sometime singer, Chris Andrews) marks the start of Andrews’ peak period.   Sad Simon Lives Again boasts a catchy singalong chorus whilst the wintry semi-acoustic B-side You Won’t Be Seeing Me Anymore shows an attractive, gentler side.

By now we’ve reached 1968 and what should have been the breakthrough single – (Something About) Suburbia.  According to the CD’s booklet, incredibly, this highly commercial number started out as the B-side to Your Tea is Strong – a faintly embarrassing, slyly humorous piece with mannered vocal and background chatter which wears its cod-Jamaican influences a little too, err, strongly.   Not surprisingly, DJs flipped the single but still Suburbia never made it into the charts though it’s enjoyed something of an afterlife.  The full story is here.

Follow-up, Smile If You Want To (now with Paul Korda) is also a strong contender.  Cy Payne’s arrangement takes us into Keith Mansfield bold brass territory along with dramatic Four Seasons vocal flourishes, I think from Paul.  There is plenty of drama to be had in this Britpop song which would surely have felt at home in a ‘68 home grown flick.  B-side, Making Love to Him, is confident pop with vaguely wayward episodes of pounding drums and vocal echo.

From this point on, I think the CD loses a little momentum, suggesting maybe that Tim’s star was already on the descendant though How Many More Hearts Must Be Broken just won’t let the pace slacken, coming on like a Barry Ryan/Love Affair hybrid on speed.

As 1969 drew to a close, Parlophone gave Tim one last stab at the big time.  Probably Tiny Goddess – Tim’s enjoyable cover of the elegant Nirvana song – was too low key to do it.  The self-penned B-side, Josephine, with its lyric ‘Try to live without sorrow, See what’s coming tomorrow’ points the way to Andrews’ future as  a songwriter at Decca before returning as Kris Ryder in the mid ‘70s.  Josephine sounds like a fine Casuals song in the making and indeed Andrews wrote for the Lincoln group along with David Essex, Roger Daltry, Silk and others.

Kris Ryder’s  We’re Alive and Zoom in On Me shows the London mod ten years down the line in power pop mode, alive, well and sporting a Paul Weller/Sting haircut.

But perhaps what really brings the ‘60s segment of our story full circle is that Tim gets to play in pantomime with his old friend Davy Jones.

1. The Gremlins – High Time Baby [1966]
2. Fleur de Lys – Mud In Your Eye [1966]
3. Rupert’s People – Hold On [1967]
4. Rupert’s People – Reflections of Charles Brown [1967]
5. Tim Andrews – Sad Simon Lives Again [1967]
6. Tim Andrews – You Won’t Be Seeing Me Anymore [1967]
7. Tim Andrews – (Something About) Suburbia [1968]
8. Tim Andrews – Your Tea is Strong [1968]
9. Tim Andrews & Paul Korda – Smile If You Want To [1968]
10. Tim Andrews & Paul Korda – Makin’ Love To Him [1968]
11. Tim Andrews & Paul Korda – Angel Face [1968]
12. Tim Andrews & Paul Korda – Waiter Get Me a Drink [1968]
13. Tim Andrews & Paul Korda – How Many More Hearts Must Be Broken [1969]
14. Tim Andrews & Paul Korda – Discovery [1969]
15. Tim Andrews – Tiny Goddess [1970]
16. Tim Andrews – Josephine [1970]