Listen – Shadows and Reflections – MP3
The weekend is irretrievably behind us, the work week has commenced and so I have returned, with some more 60’s pop goodness, this time of the ever more obscure variety.
Back in my garage/mod days in the mid-80’s, amongst my ilk the Edsel records Action comp was among the must haves of the day.
The Action was among the finest of the UK Mod bands of the mid-60’s. Produced by none other than George Martin, they would record some great originals, but were best remembered then (and now) for their cover material, including ‘I’ll Keep On Holding On’ (Marvelettes) and ‘Harlem Shuffle’ (Bob & Earl).
At the time I had no idea that my favorite Action record ‘Shadows and Reflections’ was also a cover.
Some years later I was out at some record show or another, flipping through probably my fiftieth crate of 45s when I happened upon a label that caught my eye. The disc (that you see above) was by a group I’d never heard of (the Byzantine Empire) playing a song with a very familiar title (‘Shadows and Reflections’). As this was during the period we know as PP (pre-portable) I had no idea if this was in fact the same song the Action did, but since the disc was less than 5USD, I grabbed it and took a chance.
Oddly enough, my initial thought was that it was probably a different song. Though I couldn’t recall who had written ‘Shadows and Reflections’, the name Tandyn Almer* was familiar via ‘Along Comes Mary’ by the Association, and as I thought the tune was an Action original (mistakenly, of course) I figured a West Coast name like Almer’s ruled out a connection.
Well, I got home, slapped the 45 on the turntable and it was immediately obvious that this was in fact the same tune that the Action recorded, and the doorway opened to yet another mistaken assumption, that being that the record I was holding was the “original” ‘Shadows and Reflections” (wrong again).
Apparently the original recording of the song (which I’ve never heard) was by a singer named Eddie Hodges on the Sunburst label. Then – if the dates I’ve seen are correct – the Action, then (and I’m not sure who came first) either the Lownly Crowde on MGM or the Byzantine Empire on Amy/Dunwich.
The Dunwich logo on the Byzantine Empire 45 should have been a tip-off, Dunwich having been Chicago-based.
Both Tandyn Almer and Larry Marks (the other composer of ‘Shadows and Reflections’) were LA-based, Marks having worked with Emmit Rhodes and the Merry Go Round among others.
The Byzantine Empire – who recorded three 45s for Amy/Mala – split their time between Chicago and Ann Arbor, Michigan (where they were students at U of M).
I have no idea if the Byzantine Empire (or any of the other artists that recorded the song) had any awareness of the other recordings, all (including the Action) suitably obscure.
The Byzantine Empire version is a little more ‘sunshine pop’ than the Action, and of course lacks the outstanding vocals of Reg King.
That said, hearing any other recording of such an obscure song is a treat.
See you later in the week.
*Almer went on to write for Sagittarius, as well as several obscure psyche pop 45s, including ‘Alice Designs’ by Mr. Lucky & the Gamblers on Panorama (which coincidentally got a namecheck in this space last week, which means I really ought to dig out and digi-ma-tize that 45)