Peter Allen and Chris Bell
I have something very groovy and interesting for you this fine day.
But first, allow me to point you in the direction of the Funky16Corners 2016 Allnighter/Pledge Drive, in which we offer up a series of very groovy mixes in order to entice you to donate to the operating budget, which keeps Funky16Corners and Iron Leg, their associated podcasts and mix archives up and running.
If you dig what you see here (or there, or everywhere) stop by, click on the Paypal link and toss a little something into the hat!
Years ago – and I forget exactly where – someone hepped me to the fact that Peter Allen (yes, Mr ‘I Go to Rio’ and ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’) had an earlier chapter in his career, in which he was part of the duo ‘Chris & Peter Allen’.
Word was that they had an album released in the US in 1968 and it was worth picking up if you were a fan of sunshine/lite pop stuff.
I am, so I started looking for it and found it quickly (and cheaply).
As it turns out, Chris and Peter Allen were neither brothers, nor ‘Allens’, since Chris was Chris Bell and Peter Allen got his start as Peter Woolnough. They got together in the mid-60s, working as a cabaret act in Australia and Southeast Asia.
They eventually recorded some 45s for ABC/Paramount and then moving on to Mercury.
Their sole album, ‘Album #1’ was released in 1968. The feel of the album is more supper club/cabaret than sunshine pop, though a few of the cuts fall under sunshine pop/popsike. There’s even a ‘Wizard of Oz’ medley (with sitar), a take on ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and a very groovy sunshiney remake of the old standard ‘Just Friends’.
The best of them is the track I bring you today, ‘My Silent Symphony’.
The only track on the album written by the B. Rogona and Billy Barberis (who cowrote Teddy Randazzo’s ‘Let the Sunshine In’, later covered by Georgie Fame), ‘My Silent Symphony’ has all the hallmarks of the kind of dreamy popsike being crafted in the UK around the same time, mixing harpsichord and fuzz guitar with harp, flutes and strings. The Allens’ harmonies often drift into reverb, and the track would fit nicely on any comp of the lighter side of psychedelic pop.
The album appears to have been recorded in the US (likely Philadelphia) with Jimmy Wisner doing the arrangements and production.
The duo split up soon after Allen’s divorce from Liza Minelli (she even recorded their song ‘Middle of the Street’ in 1966), and Allen wouldn’t resurface on record until his first solo album in 1971.
As far as I can tell, Chris Allen never recorded again.
I hope you dig the track, and I’ll see you all next week.