mon 22/07/2024

Music Reissues Weekly: The Cryin’ Shames - Please Stay, Do The Strum! - Joe Meek's Girl Groups and Pop Chanteuses | reviews, news & interviews

Music Reissues Weekly: The Cryin’ Shames - Please Stay, Do The Strum! - Joe Meek's Girl Groups and Pop Chanteuses

Music Reissues Weekly: The Cryin’ Shames - Please Stay, Do The Strum! - Joe Meek's Girl Groups and Pop Chanteuses

The fabled Tea Chest Tapes yield more bounty

The Cryin’ Shames, c. September 1966 in their final incarnation as Paul & Ritchie & The Crying Shames

Liverpool’s The Cryin’ Shames were responsible for two of mid-Sixties Britain’s most striking single’s tracks. The February 1966 top side “Please Stay” was so eerie, so wraithlike it came across as an attempt to channel the experience of making successful contact with a spirit presence. “Come on Back,” an unpolished September 1966 B-side, could pass for US garage punk at its most paint-peeling.

The Cryin’ Shames only issued three singles, so that’s a pretty high batting average in terms of quality. Add in the crunching Bob Dylan re-write “What’s News Pussycat” (sic), “Please Stay’s” flip, and it’s evident they had the goods. Chart-wise, “Please Stay” was it though. A minor hit, it was their only brush with the Top 40.

The Cryin’ Shames Please StayIt began when the band, then called The Bumblies, auditioned for independent producer Joe Meek in October or November 1965. At the try-out, he taped their run through of “Please Stay” – modelled on a recent version by Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band. Meek liked what he heard, signed them, oversaw a renaming and placed them with Decca Records. And after a reasonably selling first single, two flops.

Thanks to the on-going going-over of what’s dubbed the Tea Chest Tapes – tape reels stored in boxes which were bought at auction after Meek’s death: he murdered his landlady, then took his own life – there is now a Cryin’ Shames double CD titled Please Stay. On it: their three singles, their audition tape, tracks recorded for a shelved album, alternate versions, backing tracks and overdub sessions, a couple of radio and TV appearances, and two tracks by Friendly Persuasion, the band formed by former Shame Derek Cleary after the band fell apart. Overall, there are 51 tracks – 45 more than they originally issued.

The Tea Chest Tapes are also the source for Do The Strum! - Joe Meek’s Girl Groups and Pop Chanteuses (1960-1966), an 88-track three-CD clamshell set collecting exactly what its title says. In this case, around half the tracks are previously unreleased (including alternate versions of tracks which were issued). A highlight is the five tracks Billie Davis recorded at Meek’s Holloway Road studio, an audition session which failed to persuade him to release anything by her – yet there she would soon be, without his production and in the charts in February 1963 with “Tell Him.” Meek missed out. But the reason he did so is now lost.

o The Strum! -  Joe Meek’s Girl Groups and Pop Chanteuses (1960-1966)Do The Strum! is arranged coherently. Disc One is master-tape quality tracks which were released, sequenced chronologically. Discs Two and Three collect recordings which didn’t make it into the shops, also in (as far as can be determined – studio diaries or logs are lacking, and the tape boxes have no dates) chronological order. Effectively, the first disc is a form of Joe Meek girl-pop best of. When it comes to what was never issued, the groovy Flip and the Dateliners (pictured below right) tracks are solid and sound releasable. As do some of the Kim Roberts and Gunilla Thorn cuts. But no one will ever know why labels went for some and rejected others – or if the reason for the lack of release was Meek’s personal dissatisfaction with the results.

With The Cryin’ Shames, it’s obvious Meek was satisfied with the music despite the limited chart action. Although it is stuffed with cover versions, the Spring 1966 unreleased album he took the trouble to finish with the band is patchy, but it does include some fantastic moments: a mondo freakbeat run through of “Take me For a Little While,” an agressive “No Good Without You Baby” amongst them. Fans of Sixties mod-beat need to hear these. If these two tracks had been a single, copies would now fetch at least £300. “Only You,” a “Please Stay” sound-alike, is less essential but nonetheless intrigues. Not from the album, “Feels Like Loving,” which could have been their third single had the band not been falling apart is an amazing Meek take on the Walker Brothers-style aural drama: fitting as the band settled with the same management as the Walkers, and as Walkers arranger Ivor Raymonde had worked with Meek on their first two Shames singles. Here, Meek seemed to be thinking of The Cryin’ Shames as a Walker Brothers analogue.

flip and the datelinersThe band’s short yet tortuous story is gone into thoroughly in the booklet, which reveals the constant churn in membership. There is also an extraordinary tale of how they failed to secure a management contract with Brian Epstein’s NEMS organisation in the immediate wake of “Please Stay’s” entry into the charts. The business side of the band was as messy as their level of cohesiveness. At the end of their nine or so months as a recording band, when the dreadful third and final single “September in the Rain” was issued in September 1966, they only had two original members left and were billed as Paul & Ritchie & The Crying Shames.

Ultimately, what’s revealed by the all-encompassing Please Stay is that The Cryin' Shames were a hard-edged R&B band with mod inclinations which couldn’t quite land on a single style – a tendency Meek didn’t help with as he would not let them issue their own compositions as single A-sides.

Do The Strum! - Joe Meek’s Girl Groups and Pop Chanteuses (1960-1966) and The Cryin’ Shames’ Please Stay are a lot of Joe Meek and his protégés, raising the question of whether it all requires ploughing through. The answer of course is yes. These are the latest full-scale releases drawing from those fabled tea chests. Keep them coming.



Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters