3rd July 1976
YOU CAN’T ARGUE WITH DEREK’S MIGHTY MITES
By Robin Katz of Record Mirror
Judging by the success of Liverpool Express’ sleeper ‘You Are My Love’, Warner Brothers Records have latched onto a revolutionary means of picking hit singles. From what data can be gathered, arners does not use this system to schedule all 45 releases, nor do the special consultants involved receive monetary payment for their opinions. It’s not even known how long the company has engaged such a programme.
What is know is that the process of selecting ‘Warner Winners’ takes place outside the office and is done either on weekday evenings or weekends.
The system is based on the old Juke Box Jury/American Bandstand folly of playing an unannounced piece of music to unbiased ears. Listeners are asked to seek out the best song out of several. ‘You Are My Love’ was the unchallenged favourite in this case. And the listeners’ panel can pride themselves for having golden ears.
But more about them later. For Liverpool Express things have been breaking dast and furious. First to break was the van, then the p.a. system, then a borrowed van, then a new set of £300 speakers and finally one of the group’s guitars. Plagued by bad luck, the sole reason Liverpool Express are still on the rails is due to manager, Hal Carter’s commitment and Warner’s financial aid. The hit single arrived at a time when Liverpool express might seriously have thought they had missed the last train.
Not that this would have been a first for bass guitarist Billy Kinsley. The good natured blonde is already the veteran of Liverpool’s Merseybeats and Merseys. Born and raised in the ‘Pool, Kinsley first watched the Beatles in the Cavern as a teenager. Quick to pick up rock fever he acquired the essentials for 1963 hipness – being able to play ‘Red River Rock’, owning a homemade bass cabinet, drooling over the unaffordable Vox models, decking out in leather and denim and feeling very anti-Cliff Richard.
Along with Tony Crane, John Banks and Aaron Williams, Kinsley became one of the Merseybeats. The group signed with Philips and released Bacharach and David’s ‘It’s Love That Really Counts’ in late 1963.
Ripped off by a succession of managers and agents both the Merseybeats and later Kinsley with Crane as the Merseys were left penniless. (The Merseys made a hit of ‘Sorrow’, the McCoys B side of ‘Fever’, also a hit for Bowie). Kinsley joined Jackie Lomax’s band and did a lot of session work for Apple. When Allen Klein’s arrival cleaned out most of the Apple populous, Kinsley went to work on cheap Pickwick albums.
In the meantime a Shadows fan named Tony Coates, an outrageous Irishman named Roger Craig and a mysterious drummer named Derek Cashin were playing around under the name Paper Chase. The trio met Kinsley at the weekly musician’s football game in Skelmersdale. Between news of record deals, who’s broken up, and who’s working where, the local musicians get some fresh air out of the basement studios and keep somewhat fit.
Once the four completed their separate obligations, they teamed up. It was their manager who dubbed them Liverpool Express for lack of a better name. The group insist they bear no relation to British rail’s sluggish Express train.
The band started working on the road last summer and released their debut single for Warners in the Autumn. Titled ‘Smile’, it was a flop. But the group cut several tracks for the company to demonstrate their diversity and songwriting talents. ‘You Are My Love’ was a collaboration between Kinsley and the fidgety Roger Craig.
“The song wrote itself” explained Kinsley. “I was home alone for a couple of days, feeling really low. I tend to write everything in A minor. I brought it into the next session then Roger took it from there and we tossed it on to the end of the tape. No more was thought about it, really. It certainly wouldn’t have been my idea of a single.”
The Express’ tape was brought home by Warner’s bustling president Derek Taylor. Taylor is also the father of six children. And as the story goes, it was two of his younger tykes who “singled out” the single.
Comparisons to the Beatles or Badfinger are impossible when the selection committee is too young to write their own names.
This past week marked the tenth anniversary that Kinsley had appeared on Top of the Pops with the Merseybeats. Providence provided a celebration in the form of Liverpool Express’ first appearance on the show. Was Kinsley pleased to be back at the B.B.C. studios again? “Oh, sure” he smiled.
“But I’m even happier for the rest of the band. This is their first time.”
As for Derek Taylor’s pint-size children, we await their next thumbs-up with enthusiasm. They’ve inherited their feel for Beatleish music from their daddy, who used to run himself ragged working for the fab four. But then when you get down to feeling, don’t all roads, rather tracks, lead back to Liverpool?