The 1963-4 Beatles’ sound has become its own distinctive musical oeuvre, influencing bands around the world and across time. In the Merseybeat era, one could hear it from English bands like Gerry and Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas or Americans like the Bobby Fuller Four, and many others. The late 1970s saw the sound revived by mocksters like The Rutles or in note-perfect tributes from Utopia on their Deface the Music. Then a host of new wave bands dug out their skinny ties and rediscovered the sound as the 1970s gave way to the eighties. Now it’s just a thing music-literate bands might do to show off their stylistic chops! Today’s post attends to that melodic Mersey sound, both old and new.
First up, a time trip back to 1981 for what appears to be the only single released by Rushden UK’s The Retreads – but what a single! “Would You Listen Girl” has the With the Beatles sound down pat, particularly on those killer background vocals that really nail the feel of those early Beatles’ records. The songwriting is pretty strong too, sounding so Mersey without being simply derivative. Another historic Mersey revival group was London’s The Pleasers. Emerging amidst the UK’s punk outbreak in the late 1970s the band’s polished Beatlesque sound didn’t quite fit in. That’s tragic. Check out the oh so pleasing fab quality of “Breaking My Heart” or the jangle-longing undergirding “Who Are You.” The band did eventually see the release of an album’s worth of their great 1970s songs in the 1990s with Thamesbeat.
The Retreads – Would You Listen GirlThe Pleasers – Breaking My HeartThe Pleasers – Who Are You
The Netherlands’ The Kryng are much more than Mersey, with a sound that ranges across a garage/psych 1960s sound to a 1980s indie vibe. But sometimes, they really get their Beatles on. It’s there in all sorts of places on their just released new album, So Many Girls 2 – on tracks like “Still I Know” and “Take You by the Hand.” They do push the limits of the sound (in a good way). “Be Your Guy” sounds like Ray Davies sat in on a Beatles writing session while “She’s Black” perhaps has the band pushing into Beatles for Sale territory. Another band that takes up the Beatles’ influences but doesn’t stop there is The Boolevards. The twenty tracks comprising their new compilation album Real Pop Remix have a distinctive stylistic stamp, combining the Beatles’ Mersey sound with early Beach Boys and late 1970s Mersey revival sound of bands like The Searchers. You want jangle? Check out the infectious riffs on “Again and Again,” “It’s Great” and “She Shines.” Or click on my personal faves, the should-be hit single “Take Me to the Top” or the raucus, jaunty “Find a Star Make a Wish.” But really, dip in anywhere on this fab collection and find something to love.