Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fred Nightingale

>>> SUGAR AND SPICE has already celebrated its 50th anniversary, but DOWNTOWN is the special one.   (Tony Hatch)  
Congrats to FRED NIGHTINGALE on your 50th anniversary of Sugar & Spice from a guy who has loved the Cryan Shames' version so much, but also calls his "Searchers' Greatest Hits" CD the best CD top to bottom in songs that he owns!  Here's a tune you might find similar, but probably no credit went to you.  Maybe it went to your alter-ego Tony Hatch??  This was a local ad in Omaha on KOIL radio in 1967!  Thanks for all the GREAT music over the years.  I have SOOO many Pet Clark songs in my MP3 player in my car and they always bring a smile!!    
Clark Besch,   
Lincoln, Nebraska 

Several years ago (2007 maybe???) we asked Tony Hatch to fill us in on the story behind "Sugar And Spice", a song he wrote for The Searchers under the pseudonym "Fred Nightingale". 

Here is what he told us:    

Hello Kent,
Here's the full story regarding SUGAR AND SPICE:
SWEETS FOR MY SWEET had been a big hit for THE SEARCHERS but I was having difficulty getting them into the studio again because of the work generated for them by the hit. A familiar story. Their manager could only see the instant money and the boys needed it. They didn't write songs and although they had some other American R&B songs in their repertoire I was reluctant to release another cover. Whilst waiting for them to confirm a recording date I wrote SUGAR AND SPICE as a reserve title although I did think it would make a good follow-up to 'SWEETS' if only they would record it. The session was finally arranged and I fully expected them to arrive with at least a couple of good ideas. They had nothing so I played them SUGAR AND SPICE and, fearing they might not like it or be influenced against it because I, their producer, had written it, I told them it was a song I'd picked up from a young UK writer called FRED NIGHTINGALE. I was thinking, 'Well, if they say it's crap, it's not my song.' Happily, and somewhat to my surprise, they liked it immediately and set about arranging and rehearsing it. This was fortunate for me because we were in an expensive recording studio and not a cheap rehearsal room. By then I couldn't risk telling them the truth and kept saying inane things like, 'I wish Fred had been here.' It was recorded 'live'. It felt good. The record company (PYE) thought it was the perfect follow-up to SWEETS and the rest, as they say, is history.
THE SEARCHERS have said for many years that they always knew it was my song but preferred to let me play my game. It isn't true that I had a proven track record in 1963 but it was building. I'd had a US & UK hit with LOOK FOR A STAR in 1959, some more near misses, a couple of hits with comedian BENNY HILL plus Bobby Rydell's FORGET HIM in early 1963 but that was about it. DOWNTOWN and the real hits started late in 1964.
I haven't heard the CRYAN' SHAMES record for years so can't really remember it but would have been very pleased to have them cover it.
Best wishes.

By the way, after this piece originally ran, I sent a copy of THE CRYAN' SHAMES' version so that TONY could hear it again, figuring that, at the VERY least, it deserves a listen every thirty years or so!!! LOL After listening to it again after all this time, here is what TONY HATCH had to say:

Thanks, Kent.
Pretty good for a 43-year-old record but the lyrics are the most basic (or do I mean banal?) ever written. I think that resolves the issue of the songwriting credit. I wrote the tune. Fred wrote the lyrics.

LOL!!! TOO funny!!! 

He also told us the story behind "Downtown" ...

Dear Kent, 
I don't know how DOWNTOWN relates to FORGOTTEN HITS but that's an editorial matter. The song has just been a huge hit all over again in the UK. Sung by EMMA BUNTON (former SPICE GIRL, BABY SPICE), her record reached #2 or #3 in early December depending on which chart you trust. Here is the story of how DOWNTOWN was written and presented to Petula Clark (PC) ... 
I had assumed A&R responsibility for PC in 1963 under the Executive stewardship of Alan Freeman who had been her recording manager since the middle 50's. (In fact, Pye Records was originally formed by Pye acquiring Polygon, Alan Freeman's independent 'pop' label, and Nixa, Sir John Barbirolli's classical label.) 
I wrote songs for and produced PC in '62 and '63 without much UK success. During this time she had found a huge following in France, married Frenchman Claude Woolf and was living in Paris. I also produced her French records. One of them, YA YA TWIST, was a hit in the UK in June '62. 
By September, 1964, with only one small UK hit in '63 and none (so far) in '64, PC decided not to record anything more for the UK unless an obvious hit song turned up. 
I made my first visit to New York in October, 1964, with the primary intention of visiting US writers and publishers in search of that 'obvious hit'. On my first night I walked alone (and somewhat a stranger) down Broadway from Central Park to Times Square. Naively, I thought Times Square was 'downtown' and as I absorbed the atmosphere of lights, noise, crowds of people and the general buzz I mumbled the first line of what was to become a classic song: "When you're alone and life is making you lonely you can always go ... DOWNTOWN".  
After three days visiting major and minor publishers I returned to London with a briefcase full of leadsheets and demos. (DOWNTOWN was still only an idea.)  
A few days later I was in Pye's No 1 studio following a recording session whilst waiting for my balance engineer to repatch the desk for a mix-down. (In those days one had to do that.) With time to spare I 'doodled' on the piano and thought about DOWNTOWN. In a few moments I had written the tune and knew roughly what I needed to say in the words.   
A week later I visited PC at her home in Paris to plan further recording sessions in London where she always preferred to record. There would be something in French, of course and, as her popularity grew around Europe, perhaps a track in Italian or German. Hoping for something for the UK market I also took several songs acquired on my New York visit. 
It was obvious she didn't think much of them and asked me if I was working on anything new myself. Well ... I only had DOWNTOWN and I was quite reluctant to play a melody with only a title and no lyric. In truth, I hadn't even thought of her singing it even when finished as it then seemed such an 'American' idea needing a USA artiste.  
Her reaction was instant. "With a good lyric that could be marvellous", she said. We agreed not to copy anyone else or follow any trends. We would try to do something totally original. 
The session was fixed, the lyric written, the song arranged and recorded and we all knew we had something quite special. Pye Records wasn't so sure but when Joe Smith, visiting London from Warner Records, signed it up for a US release on first hearing, the team at Pye knew they had to give it massive promotion.  
Petula said, "I hope it's a hit, of course, but, if it isn't, I'll always be immensely proud of this record". 
The rest, as they say, is history. There was never a demo and I can't even find a scrap of paper from 1964 with notes either musical or lyrical.  

He later elaborated:   

"Downtown" was certainly recorded totally 'live' - everyone in the studio together and there weren't 'millions of takes' or scads of out-takes and versions. When recording vocals with orchestras, my system was always the same. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse ... then record. Nothing is more demoralizing to a studio full of great musicians than to hear words like "OK. TAKE 47!" 
I would first run the chart once or twice to check notes, get the 'feel' right (tempo is critical) and make any changes necessary. Then we would isolate sections of the orchestra and sections of the chart and play them through whilst tweaking mike positions, etc. Then we'd run the whole thing again. When I thought everything was ready, we would put the red light on and go for it. "Downtown" would have been made in a maximum of three takes. The first one we'd play back. We'd do a second take ... then I would ask for just one more for luck. Take 2 (as with "Downtown") was invariably the Master. Getting the definitive take is like a mass orgasm. Everyone involved in the process, from the artiste to the musicians to the balance engineer (no automation in those days) must 'climax' together.  
I'm not saying that Petula never came back to the studio to re-do something or never stayed after the session to double-track a chorus or fix some lines she felt she could improve on but it would be very rare because she absolutely loves working with musos in the studio and it inspires her.  TONY HATCH

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Tony Hatch for drinks at The Palmer House Hotel downtown a couple of years ago.  We spent a couple of very enjoyable hours sitting at the bar, talking music and the excitement of these times.  (He was in town doing some benefit work for The Variety Club, a children's charity he has been involved with for over thirty years.)  Give me a call next time you're in town, Tony ... the first round is on me!

He later confided in me that "Downtown", in fact, was based and inspired by the recored Drifters' Hit "On Broadway".

Listen to it again in that context and see if you pick up on what he's referring to ...

The Tony Hatch Hit List:
Much like Dionne Warwick and the music of Hal David and Burt Bacharach in the 1960's, Petula Clark became "the voice" of many of Tony Hatch's early hits.  In all, Petula charted a dozen times here in The States with material provided to her by Tony Hatch.  Even a couple of other hits by other artists ("Call Me" by Chris Montez ... "You're The One" by The Vogues) first saw life as an album cut on a Petula Clark LP.

The catalog of work is nothing short of extraordinary ... Tony was DEFINITELY "in the zone" during this era.

Top 40 Hits include:

PETULA CLARK:  Downtown, I Know A Place, My Love, I Couldn't Live Without Your Love, Colour My World, A Sign Of The Times, Round Every Corner, Don't Sleep In The Subway, Who Am I, You'd Better Come Home, Don't Give Up, The Other Man's Grass Is Always Greener, American Boys


THE VOGUES:  You're The One 

THE SEARCHERS:  Sugar and Spice



View the complete list here: Click here: ::.. Welcome to the OFFICIAL Tony Hatch Website ..::