Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Sounds Of The Tornados

The Tornados burst onto the record scene in 1962 with their massive instrumental hit Telstar. But their story began a little earlier, before the world was aware of the Telstar telecommunications satellite, and before that distinctive keyboard sound had been conceived by their maverick producer Joe Meek. Joe had brought the band together the previous year to provide backing for the numerous artists recording at his independent studio in North London. The core of this group were drummer Clem Cattini, bass player Heinz Burt and guitarists Alan Caddy and George Bellamy who were joined by two sax players, Pete Newman and Pete Corton, for some of the sessions and live Work. It wasn't long before The Tornados were recruited for the prestigious role of Billy Fury's live band, where the saxophones were replaced by keyboards. Norman Hale was first to fill this slot but Roger LaVern soon established himself as the fifth Tornado after the release of their first single.

The live album "We Want Billy" introduced the group's name to the record-buying public as it was credited to Billy Fury and The Tornados, a link that was emphasised by the title of the group's own first release. Their single "Love And Fury" btw "Popeye Twist" was issued on Decca in the spring of 1962 but failed to find chart success despite having many of what were to become trademark Tornados sounds. With an insistent, galloping rhythm and biting guitar break, the whole piece was characterised by its surreal keyboard lead played on a clavioline. Their second single was to have been "The Breeze And I" but UK guitar group The Fentones beat them to it. Read on +/-

Fortunately, this turned out to be a cloud with silver lining. The first television pictures broadcast across the Atlantic on July 11th, 1963, had inspired Joe Meek to create, his greatest work as a tribute to the Telstaf satellite and The Tornados were on hand to record it. However, with their commitment to a summer show in Great Yarmouth, they did not have time to complete their recording of "Telstar" before dashing back for an evening appearance. Hence the clavioline lead was played by Meek's collaborator, classically trained pianist Geoft Goddard. With a little more studio tweaking, including the crucial addition of introductory sound effects, a genuine pop classic was in the can.

"Telstar" b/w "Jungle Fever" crashed into the UK charts at the end of August 1962 and stayed there for no less than 25 weeks, five of them at number one. It was also a major international success, most notably in America where The Tornadoes (as they were known there) became the first British group to top the Billboard charts - a whole year before the much heralded triumph of The Beatles. Their American record company quickly called for an album to capitalise on this success and one track started getting a lot of airplay. Thus it was that "Ridin' The Wind" (with additional thunderclap effects) became their second American hit single, reaching a respectable number 63.

In the UK, "Globetrotter" was the follow-up whilst "Ridin' The Wind" featured on the EP Sounds Of The Tornados. "Globetrotter" b/w "Locomotion With You" reached the charts in January of 1963, peaking at number five during its 12-week stay. Drawing comment at the time for its similarity to the Jimmy Clanton/Mark Wynter hit "Venus In Blue Jeans", it was a more straightforward melodic piece than its predecessor. Robot was closer in style to their first hit with its sound effects integrated into a punchy arrangement, although the lead featured a more conventional organ sound. Coupled with "Life On Venus" it enjoyed a full 12 weeks in the charts during the second quarter of 1963, peaking at number 17.

The final single from the Telstar lineup of The Tornados was "The Ice Cream Man" btw "Theme From The Scales Of Justice" which reached number 18 during its nine week chart run in the summer of '63. It was after this that blond bassist Heinz Burt left to concentrate on his vocal career as a series of replacements joined and departed in rapid succession. Brian Gregg joined fellow former Johnny Kidd's Pirates Clem Cattini and Alan Caddy for the "Dragonfly/Hymn For Teenagers" single which was The Tornados last chart entry, reaching number 41 in a two-week spell during October 1963. "Hot Pot" took its inspiration from "Jungle Fever", the popular flip of "Telstar", but failed to chart. Coupled with Joystick, it was released in February of 1964 on Decca.

"Monte Carlo", theme from the BBC television programme "Know Your Car", was backed with "Blue, Blue, Blue Beat" (April 1964) but suffe red the same fate whilst the line-up of the band underwent further changes. George Bellamy and Roger LaVern had left following Dragonfly, and then finally Alan Caddy departed to leave drummer Clem Cattini as the only original member to stick it out to the release of their final Decca single. "Exodus" was recorded "live" during their summer season at Blackpool's South Pier; supported by "Blackpool Rock" was released in August 1964. Subsequent releases on the Columbia record label were recorded by various different line-ups employed by Joe Meek to benefit from the remaining popularity of The Tornados' name. Although they were also successful in the EP charts and eventually had an LP released in the UK in the summer of 1963, The Tornados were essentially a singles band who enjoyed all their hits on the Decca label.

1963 LP The Sound Of The Tornados (UK Decca DFE-8510) [See tracklist US LP]

1963 Lp The Sound Of The Tornados (US London LL-3279)

01. The Tornados- Telstar
02. The Tornados- Red Roses And A Sky Of Blue
03. The Tornados- Chasing Moonbeams
04. The Tornados- Earthy
05. The Tornados- Swinging Beefeater
06. The Tornados- Love And Fury
06. The Tornados- Theme From A Summer Place
07. The Tornados- Dreamin' On A Cloud
08. The Tornados- Ridin' The Wind
09. The Tornados- The Breeze And I
10. The Tornados- Jungle Fever
11. The Tornados- Popeye Twist

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1963 LP Away From It All (UK Decca LK-4552)

01. The Tornados- Indian Brave
02. The Tornados- Flycatcher Listen
03. The Tornados- Dreams Do Come True
04. The Tornados- Lullaby For Gulia
05. The Tornados- Costa Monger
06. The Tornados- Lonely Paradise
07. The Tornados- Cattanoga Choo Choo
08. The Tornados- Rip It Up [vocal]
09. The Tornados- Alan's Tune
10. The Tornados- Cootenanny
11. The Tornados- Night Rider

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