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(the albums not the tv show!!)
  Ken Gold became the voice of  Gilbert O’Sullivan and Elton John,  “and tonight Matthew, I’m going to be, ‘Gilbert O’Gold!!!!!” Maybe we were the first ‘tribute acts’????
No, I wouldn’t want that on my conscience.

John Perry always did a great job on the, Donny Osmond/ Osmonds / Stylistics and of course some of the Freddy Mercury lead vocals. I usually got the ‘naff’ covers like, Chicory Tip/ Sweet/ Mud/ Sex Pistols, although I did get to do the occasional 10.cc cover, and  some of the great Simon and Garfunkel stuff with John Perry, on the ‘Best Of  Simon and  Garfunkel’. This I enjoyed, because we sang it ‘live’, having rehearsed it to perfection.  If you hear this album, I think it’s clear which tracks we sing, because they also used some tracks which were laid down a couple of years earlier (before our time)!
Saving money again!

Stu Calver was on some of  the albums, although usually it was John, Ken and me. He did sing on the ‘Sweet’ tracks, such as ‘Little Willie’, ‘Blockbuster’, ‘Ballroom Blitz’ etc. He was the only one who could hit those top notes!


Tony Rivers with Ken Gold

John Perry and the late Stu Calver
All four of us sang on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’(vol. 49).
Stu Calver can be heard hitting the absolutely amazing high parts. This was recorded at De Lane Lea studios, right next to Wembley Stadium. We usually took a day to lay down lead and backing vocal tracks, and would be on our way home by 11pm. Not this time!
As usual, I had the job of sorting out the vocal arrangement. Normally this wouldn’t be too big a deal, but with this song, I had to sit for hours at home listening and making notes, and writing notes and memorising vocal lines, apart from the other tracks we had to do that day!!!
The time consuming job of, layering track after track of vocals, ‘til we got the sound, and the voicing right, seemed to take forever, but in the end, it had been a great opportunity to find out how that song was put together. What was quite amazing too, was the fact that, when this album came out, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was actually talked about on tv, by Michael Barratt (6 o’clock news-round programme) and ‘Kenny Everett’ played it on his radio show. He played our version and Queens’, cutting between the two, and asking “can you tell which one’s the ‘ten bob’ version, and which one cost 6 million squid to make?”
I have nothing but admiration for the man who created it--------! Freddy Mercury!!! WOW!!! What a record.
A bit different from ‘Little Willie’!

Apart from my ‘team’, some of the other singers were,

George Chandler and Jimmy Chambers (who were two of the singers Paul Young would use, many years later, on hits such as ‘Everything Must Change’) they would take care of the ‘soul’ tracks

Tina Charles did all the ‘girlie’ stuff like maybe, Donna Summer/the Nolans, until she got her own ‘hit’ with ‘I Love To Love’.

Ken Barry (is a great singer with a voice like Mel Torme. There wasn’t much call for that sort of voice on these albums, so he ended up doing ‘jokey’ things like ‘Convoy’ and ‘On The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine’!!!).  He also got some success, as the voice behind the kids tv show theme tune, ‘Postman Pat’.
I used to watch and listen to Ken singing, with the ‘Phil Tait Orchestra’, at the Ilford Palais, in the East End of London.
They used to do a great ‘Four Freshmen’ type arrangement of  ‘Moonlight In Vermont’, and every week I’d drive them mad, requesting it. This was before I had any idea I’d do this for a living.

Martha Smith A girl who had a great voice, from Manchester. She did a lot of the girl ‘soul covers’ for a while.

All in all, a great team. I think some of these singers were as good as, and in some cases maybe even better than the ‘original artists’ who they were covering.


continue

Photographs copyright Tony Rivers

Mojo article, September 2000


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