Tapestry of Delights: The Nashville Teens were formed in Weybridge, Surrey in 1962. The founding members Arthur Sharp and Ramon Phillips had been lead singers in two rival groups which had joined forces in 1962. The group bit their teeth in the Hamburg clubs during 1963-64. This era saw a few personnel changes with Dunsford and Groom being replaced by John Allen, a guitarist from Woking, and drummer Pete Lace, who was in turn replaced by Barry Jenkins. They also added a third vocalist, Terry Crow, for a while although he decided to remain in Germany when their residency at the Star Club ended. During their time in Germany they backed Jerry Lee Lewis on a live album (Live At The Star Club, Hamburg (Philips BL 7646) 1965.
Returning to the UK in 1964, they were managed by Don Arden and Mickie Most became their producer after seeing them back Chuck Berry, who was over here on tour. Most was vocalist with The Minutemen at the time. For their debut 45, they chose a barnstorming R&B rendition of North Carolinan John D. Loudermilk's Tobacco Road. The song, which was notable for its strident piano, pulsating beat and twin vocals, climbed to No 6 here and No 14 in the US. In fact it was a smash hit in several other countries too. Sharp had come across the song whilst working in a record shop but this proved the start of a close relationship between the group and composer.
They followed it up with another Loudermilk composition, Goggle Eye, a folksy song about an unfortunate trout, which just made the Top Ten over here. Despite the promo film which had been made to help promote it, the song made far less impact internationally than its predecessor.
Their opportunity to enhance their standing in the States was frustrated by visa restrictions which meant a US tour with The Zombies couldn't go outside New York State. This deprived them of the publicity a trip to Nashville might have created. Whilst in New York, though, they recorded a third 45, Find My Way Back Home, which was a minor hit back in the UK. The fact they recorded it without producer Mickie Most soured their relationship with him.
Decca, their record label, did little to help their cause. They failed to grasp what a good R&B band they were, as evidenced by tracks like Parchment Farm and I Need You Baby on their 1965 EP. Then in April 1965 they released both the group's and Marianne Faithfull's versions of John D. Loudermilk's This Little Bird when amazingly both had used the same producer, Andrew Loog Oldham. Here in the UK, Marianne Faithfull's version won the sales war (The Nashville Teens' version just scrapped into the Top 40) but it was a different story in Japan and Australia in particular.
The band's appearance in the 1965 movie 'Pop Gear' with The Animals was also significant for forging a friendship between the two groups. Indeed in 1966 Barry Jenkins joined The Animals with Roger Groom rejoining the band as his replacement. Later John Hawken departed for Keith Relf's Renaissance. Their final UK hit was The Hard Way in February 1966.
Later producers they worked with included Shel Talmy, Mike Leander and Roy Wood but in their later years they could never really come up with the right record at the right time. They failed to make much impact with a cover of Randy Newman's Biggest Night Of Her Life; their competent rendition of Dylan's All Along The Watchtower was upstaged by the Jimi Hendrix one and their good attempt at Indian Reservation was overshadowed by Don Fardon's one.
01 - Tobacco Road 2:28
02 - Mona 4:39
03 - Need You 2:57
04 - Bread and Butter Man 2:37
05 - Hurtin' Inside 2:04
06 - (I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man 3:38
07 - Google Eye 2:21
08 - Too Much 2:48
09 - Parchment Farm 2:16
10 - I Like It Like That 2:03
11 - How Deep Is the Ocean? 2:43
12 - TNT 2:54
13 - Devil-In-Law 3:00
14 - Find My Way Back Home 2:24
15 - What'cha Gonna Do 1:47
16 - I Know How It Feels To Be Loved 2:46
17 - Upside Down 2:23
18 - Forbidden Fruit 3:02
19 - Revived 45 Time 1:46
20 - That's My Woman 2:04
21 - I'm Coming Home 3:05
22 - The Biggest Night Of Her Life 2:24
23 - Last Minute 1:58
24 - All Along The Watchtower 2:41
25 - Sun Dog 3:10
26 - Poor Boy 2:32
27 - Ella James 2:52
28 - Tennessee Woman 3:01
line-ups incl.: MICHAEL DUNFORD gtr JOHN HAWKENS piano ROGER GROOM drms PETE SHANNON bs ARTHUR SHARP vcls RAY PHILLIPS bs, vcls JOHN ALLEN gtr PETE LACE drms BARRY JENKINS drms TERRY CROW vcls
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