Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Merseybeats - Discography

The Merseybeats

The Merseybeats were one of the better quartets to come out of the British Invasion without ever making a dent on the charts in the United States -- along with the Roulettes, the Chants, and the Undertakers, they represent an undeservedly lost chapter in early-'60s British rock & roll. Although they enjoyed a little less than a year of serious chart success, the Merseybeats were unable to pull together the various facets of their sound into a cohesive, coherent whole in the manner of the Beatles or the Hollies, and into something lasting, in part because of a lack of original songwriting ability in their ranks. The group's roots go back to the early '60s in Liverpool, and a band originally known as "the Mavericks," comprised of Tony Crane (lead guitar, vocals), Billy Kinsley (bass, vocals), David Elias (rhythm guitar, vocals), and Frank Sloane (drums). They were doing well but soon found the name to be a drag on their success, making people think that they were a country & western band. They briefly used the name "the Pacifics," and then became the Merseybeats -- evidently their timing was such that they grabbed the name, previously a local music reference, ahead of anyone else in a city boiling over with musical activity.

By the end of 1962, the Merseybeats lineup had solidified around Crane and Kinsley, with Aaron Williams joining on rhythm guitar in place of Elias and John Banks succeeding Sloane. The group made their recording debut around this time as part of the Oriole label's Liverpool showcase, This Is Merseybeat. With the help of the manager of the Cavern Club, they were formally signed to Fontana Records in mid-1963, and made their debut in August of that year with a single of "It's Love That Really Counts" b/w "Fortune Teller" -- the A-side, a Bacharach/David tune, was a solid piece of British Invasion pop/rock in the best Beatles/Hollies/Searchers mode, with memorable guitar hooks and a memorable chorus, and it reached number 24 on the U.K. charts. They were later signed up by the Beatles' legendary manager, Brian Epstein, but the fit was an awkward one, owing to differences in musical sensibility -- the group was a fairly hard rock & roll outfit, but their singles tended much more to the pop side of rock & roll, and the A-sides never represented their real sound very well. In early 1964, the Merseybeats released a second single, "I Think of You" backed with the pop/rock standard "Mister Moonlight," which reached number five in England. In both of these instances, the B-side was closer to the band's sound than the A-side and, in both instances, the band had latched onto the material first -- but was eclipsed by rival versions by the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.