Merseymania by Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots is an album I rescued from a bargain bin on the strength of the cover and the sleeve notes. It is also rumoured to be a Lou Reed and John Cale effort from their days producing crud budget music for Pickwick during the earlier part of the sixties. Can anyone substantiate this rumour? Cale and Reed worked at Pickwick, but I’ve never seen any documentary evidence that convinced me they are actually responsible for this particular abomination. The black and white cover photo of screaming Beatles fans is an absolute classic, with some lovely period lettering above it. The sleeve notes are equally cool:
“It burst on to the British music scene unannounced one day in October 1962. ‘It’, of course, refers to ‘Mersey Mania’, an expression that has been coined to describe the new form of music that has injected an air of freshness into our hit parade at a time when it was looking decidedly jaded. What is ‘Mersey Mania’ ? This is a question that although frequently asked is very difficult to define. Whatever one’s own definition is, there can be no getting away from the fact that this new form of music has livened up our pop music scene considerably and has brought forth an era of excitement and enthusiasm that has been acclaimed by young and old alike…”
To me it looks like Roger Easterby was half-asleep when he wrote these notes. The fourth sentence quoted here would have read better if he’d ended it with the word ‘answer’. Oh well, since the session musicians on this release sound like they were on auto-pilot when they recorded it, the notes on the sleeve and those in the grooves match! And don’t believe the hype when the copywriter tells us:
“In this album you will hear all aspects of the ‘Mersey Mania’ from the out and out rhythm and blues number to the more sedate ballad, and whichever particular number takes your fancy, be it one of the well-known songs or one of the seven original numbers, you will agree that the latest Liverpool find – Billy Pepper and The Pepperpots – certainly do justice to the Beat City on this really sensational album. I specially recommend that you take a listen to the boys’ brilliant revival of Jericho, for this Spiritual, given the Mersey treatment, just about sums up what this music is all about. Finally, if you are ever asked by your friends, ‘what is the Mersey Sound?”, lend them this album… for THIS IS THE MERSEY MANIA !”
And if you believe that then you might also believe The Pleasers should have been bigger than the Beatles. See my blog of a few days ago – and in particular some of the comments – for more on The Pleasers. Aside from the alleged Velvet Underground connection, Merseymania is also a historical curiosity because some of those who believe the rumours about Paul McCartney dying back in the sixties also contend that since then Billy Pepper has stood in as his double! And if you are of the opinion that ‘Paul is dead’ then it probably won’t be hard to convince you that JFK was my father (possibly true) and Britney Spears is my ‘secret’ daughter (unlikely).
To sum up, Mersymania by Billy Pepper and the Pepperpots sucks, but it was worth 80p of my money for the front cover and sleeve notes. Record collector scum please note: if you’re a Lou Reed or John Cale fanatic, I’m open to offers of three figures and more for my copy of this platter. The tracks on this release run as follow:
1. I Want To Hold Your Hand.
2. This Is What I Mean.
3. Tell Me I’m The One.
5. Maybe I Will
1. I Saw Her Standing There.
2. Seems To Me.
3. I’ll Have To Get Another Girl.
4. Your Kind Of Love.
5. There I Go.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!