The Second Disc

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Groovy Kind of Reissue: Bear Family Expands Early Mindbenders Album

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By the time Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob was released by Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders in 1965, the band was essentially a defunct unit.  Wayne Fontana (the former Glyn Geoffrey Ellis) had dreamed of solo stardom from the start, and he wasn’t shy about those aspirations.  Eric Stewart, later of Hotlegs and 10cc, recalled in 1994 that Fontana “just walked off stage [during an October 1965 show] one night.  I remember he said, ‘It’s all yours.’  And we actually carried on and did the regular show without him…He had been hinting that he wanted to go out on his own for some time.”  Stewart, Ric Rothwell and Bob Lang soldiered on without Fontana, both that night and as an ongoing recording concern.  They even eclipsed their early successes like “The Game of Love” with a Carole Bayer (pre-Sager)/Toni Wine composition by the name of “A Groovy Kind of Love.”  But Bear Family is now taking listeners back to those waning days of 1965 for an expanded reissue of the band’s second and final album with Fontana, Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob.  Scheduled for release on March 12, the deluxe edition adds nine bonus tracks to the original album including rare single B-sides and the rare Walking on Air EP.

A product of the lively Manchester music scene, Fontana and the Mindbenders scored a minor British Top 50 hit with their very first single in 1963 (a cover of Fats Domino’s “My Girl Josephine,” retitled “Hello, Josephine”) but didn’t break stateside until 1965 with a cover of Clint Ballard’s “The Game of Love.”  The catchy ditty went all the way to the top in the U.S. and back home in England climbed to No. 2.  The band’s initial album had arrived in Britain in December 1964, with the U.S. edition on the Fontana label arriving just three months later with a typically altered line-up for American buyers. 

What’s on Bear Family’s expanded reissue?  Hit the jump for more on the story of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders!

A mid-1965 tour of America was quickly set up by manager Ric Dixon to capitalize on the success of “The Game of Love,” but the tour was a tumultuous – and delayed – one.  The band had been beset by visa problems, and promoters threatened lawsuits due to cancelled appearances as a result of the delay.  When another Ballard song, “It’s Just A Little Bit Too Late” (co-written with Les Ledo) was released as the band’s follow-up, it went Top 20 in Britain but only made it to No. 45 in the United States, a clear disappointment for all concerned.  A third Ballard number, “She Needs Love,” did even worse in the U.S., failing to chart.  (It did hit No. 32 in England.)  Fontana was primed for his departure, but Fontana Records persevered, planning to relaunch The Mindbenders. The label felt that a demo of “A Groovy Kind of Love” would have been ill-suited for Fontana’s voice, but that Eric Stewart might like to take a go at it.  The gamble paid off, with the song hitting No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 2 abroad.  Fontana had less success with his solo career, and recorded one lone album (Wayne One) that never saw a follow-up, despite its title.

Bear Family’s CD reissue captures the final days of the Fontana-led group.  The original LP includes songs by top-tier American songwriters like Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard (“(Don’t Go) Please Stay”), Carole King and Gerry Goffin (“Honey and Wine”), Gene Pitney (“She’s a Rebel”), Chuck Berry (“Memphis, Tennessee”) and even Willie Dixon (“I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man”).  The LP also includes the hit “It’s Just a Little Bit Too Late.”  All four tracks from the EP Walking on Air have been added as well as five more non-LP sides including “Too Much Monkey Business” and both sides of “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um” b/w “First Taste of Love” (a hard-to-find Phil Spector/Doc Pomus collaboration) and “Stop, Look and Listen” b/w “Duke of Earl.”

The  digipak edition will include a 24-page booklet including rare photographs, notes and a singles/EP discography of this period of the band’s career.  The “adequately enhanced” Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob (in Bear Family’s customarily understated words!) arrives on March 12, and you can pre-order below!   And don’t hesitate to view Bear Family’s EPK for a sneak peek!

Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob…Plus (Fontana LP 1965 – reissued Bear Family BCD 17233 AH, 2012)

  1. Some Other Guy
  2. She’s a Rebel
  3. Like I Did
  4. Memphis, Tennessee
  5. It’s Just a Little Bit Too Late
  6. The Shadow Knows
  7. I Remember Love
  8. Skinnie Minnie
  9. Honey and Wine
  10. I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
  11. Please Stay
  12. Long Time Comin’
  13. Stop, Look and Listen
  14. Duke of Earl
  15. Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um
  16. First Taste of Love
  17. She Needs Love
  18. Too Much Monkey Business
  19. Walking on Air
  20. Remind My Baby of Me
  21. I’m Qualified

Tracks 1-12 from Eric, Rick, Wayne, Bob (Fontana LP STL-5257, 1965)
Tracks 13-14 from Fontana single TF-451, 1964
Tracks 15-16 from Fontana single TF-497, 1964
Tracks 17, 19-21 from Walking on Air (Fontana EP TE 17453, 1966)
Track 18 from Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um (Fontana EP TE 17435, 1965)

Written by Joe Marchese

February 22, 2012 at 13:05

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