Jimmy Radcliffe

TrackSingle / Album
(There Goes) The Forgotten ManMusicor MU 1024
Through A Long And Sleepless NightMusicor MU 1033
Moment Of WeaknessMusicor MU 1033
Long After Tonight Is All OverMusicor MU 1042
My Ship Is Comin' InAurora 154
Going Where The Loving IsAurora 154
So DeepShout S-202
Deep In The Heart Of HarlemWhere There's Smoke There's Fire
Stand UpWhere There's Smoke There's Fire

 

Jimmy Radcliffe Long After Tonight Is All Over

 

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Jimmy Radcliffe photo

 

JIMMY RADCLIFFE:

ANATOMY OF A ONE HIT WONDER #20

Artists who flickered briefly then disappeared.

One Hit Wonders, the media called them. Part of the fascination of fifties and sixties music.

 

Contributor: Dave Stephens

Long After Tonight Is All Over had two lives.

It was a minor hit in the UK though you couldn’t be blamed if you missed it; it just squeezed in to the numero 40 slot in our Pop Chart in 1965, thus qualifying it for One Hit Wonder status. It deserved more. A gorgeous Burt Bacharach melody topping one of those Latin arrangements he loved, coupled with a memorable title and to-the-point lyrics from Hal David, all delivered with aplomb by Jimmy Radcliffe, it should have been a smash. But Jimmy was previously unknown to UK buyers – this was the first of his singles to be issued here – and radio plays were unlikely to have been frequent.

Tonight will be for the first time
I have learned what my lips are for
And darling, now that I’ve kissed you
I am craving to kiss you more

Jimmy died early after complications with liver removal. He left us on 23rd July 1973. He was only 36. Exactly two months later, an aging UK ballroom, previously known as the Empress, opened its doors at 2 am for the first all-nighter session. That ballroom/club was the Wigan Casino. It became one of the biggest venues for Northern Soul, a sub-genre of music heavily reliant on black American records (often of an earlier vintage), that was unique to the UK. After a time a tradition built up of playing three records before the 8 am closing deadline. These were termed the “3 before 8”. One of those records was Long After Tonight Is All Over.

The club was finally closed down in December 1981 due to Wigan Council insisting that they needed the land it occupied. The final all-nighter was held on 6th December. The “3 before 8” set was played consecutively three times by DJ Russ Winstanley. The final record itself which, according to Winstanley, was one he picked at random from his box (source: the excellent Wiki feature on the Wigan Casino), was Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) .

I’m a southern lad myself, brought up on a diet of Cornish pasties and St. Austell ale, but I have to say I love that record. (The clip was posted in 2007 by a lady called Jemma with the comment “I made this for my dad”.) I love Jimmy’s Long After Tonight Is All Over even more and I might not have come across if it hadn’t been for its second life. Hence this feature.

Jimmy Radcliffe was born on 18th November 1936 in New York’s Harlem. Like most self-respecting soul singers he sang in his church choir which, in his case, was at the All Souls Episcopal Church. When he received his call-up papers he joined the US Air Force and went into the Entertainment Corps where he sang solo and as leader of a group called the Fascinators.

Return to civilian life saw him attempting to follow this up with gigs in local clubs. He also started writing songs and made a demo tape of himself singing some. The tape got into the hands of one Aaron Schroeder who had recently founded Musicor Records. Schroeder’s previous claim to fame was being a songwriter for a certain Elvis Presley, plus others. Schroeder also discovered and managed Gene Pitney in addition to owning a music company, January Music. He signed Jimmy up as a performer and got him a start as a songwriter in the famous Brill Building.

For several years, running up well into the second half of the sixties, Jimmy effectively performed in three roles: as a songwriter which included making demo’s of his songs for placement, making demo’s for other songwriters after his ability to both sing well and learn new songs got noticed, and making his own records, not always necessarily using his own material. From 1965 onwards Jimmy also got himself a fourth role, that of writing, producing and singing commercial jingles for the advertising industry.

Which is taking us some way from Jim’s recording career. He got that underway with Twist Calypso c/w Don’t Look My Way in ˈ62. Both songs were co-written by Jimmy – this was his usual mode of song writing but he used a range of partners. The A-side was on YouTube but it disappeared by the time of writing (and I don’t recall it being remarkable). A rather murky version of the B-side is there, however, and it immediately reveals one heck of a voice even though the material is relatively typical early sixties ballad fare: “Don’t look my way as you walk down the aisle.”

Burt Bacharach started writing on a regular basis with lyricist Hal David in 1962 and Aaron Schroeder latched on to the partnership with some alacrity. It gave Gene Pitney (and Schroeder) a #4 US hit with (The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance in 1962. The same pairing provided the song for the A-side of Jimmy Radcliffe’s second single, (There Goes) The Forgotten Man. It was up to their standard though, unfortunately for Jimmy, the names Bacharach and David in the credits didn’t yet mean an automatic hit (and I’d comment that the brackets thing was something of a coincidence; it wasn’t something that B and D were particularly prone to). Brooding intro which reappeared as a kind of chorus followed by big sweeping strings for the verses, plus those hints of rhythms from the lower of the Americas which we were to get so used to in B&D songs.

I used to be known as Jennie’s guy
They point me out when I walk by!
Oh, yes everyone noticed me
Till one night a stranger came
And stole my love away

The flip, An Awful Lot Of Cryin’, was more upbeat musically but with downer lyrics. A fruity trombone dominated the backing track and in broad approach it seemed to be aiming at that bright but sometimes brittle black pop sound of the early sixties – think Gene McDaniel’s Tower Of Strength or Marv Johnson’s You Got What It Takes. Jimmy even threw in a “cry/cry/cry” à la Solomon Burke and Cry To Me which had come out in January that year. And don’t tell me Jimmy wasn’t aware; he was a sharp cookie.

So far so good, if not astounding. Jimmy had shown himself adept at handling the kind of softer uptown (usually New York) soul ballad plus the more blatantly hit parade targeted soul-lite material on the flip. But the better or best was yet to come, as they say.

Jimmy was introduced to songwriter and producer Bert Berns by one of his own regular co-writers, Carl Spencer, and it was Berns who would sit in the producer’s booth for the next two Musicor singles – previously that role had been fulfilled by Schroeder himself. The A-side this time, Through A Long And Sleepless Night, another slow ballad, dated back to 1949 when it appeared in the film, Come To The Stable. Here’s the scene and the song from the movie. However, the most well known version prior to Jimmy wrapping his tonsils round the song came from Bobby Darin on his first album. Bert Berns’ arrangement for Jimmy slowed things down more than a tad, added a softly riffing guitar along the lines of For Your Precious Love and provided plenty of air to put the spotlight fully on the lead vocal. About a third to a half of the way in, the Sweet Inspirations entered to provide a suitable backdrop for some soaring from Jim but restraint was the operative word; any thoughts of turning the performance into one of those power ballads we hear so much today was totally avoided. A splendid track.

Moment Of Weakness, the flip, was just as good. You knew you were in Bert Berns land as soon as you heard those opening notes from an acoustic guitar (from the man himself of course), and what followed didn’t disappoint. Bert wrapped flurries from España around Jimmy, and the Inspirations gave us gospel hints. Slightly akin to Solomon Burke in playful mode. The song was written by Jimmy plus Oramay Diamond (and yes, that is the name registered with the BMI Database).

You were oh so far away from me
I was lonely as a boy could be
But then she came along when I was feeling blue
And in a moment of weakness, uh huh
Moment of weakness
I was untrue-true-true-true
True to you

All of which brings us up to disc four, Long After Tonight Is All Over, and one more piece of info relating to it. According to this biog the record was made as a demo, with the intended vocalist being Gene Pitney but Aaron Schroeder was so impressed with the record that they released Jimmy’s version. The flip was another example of Jim’s love for calypso which I don’t share or, at least, not to the same degree.

For reasons not documented, the rest of Jimmy’s official singles came out on different labels, though the first of these, Aurora Records, is believed to have been a subsidiary of Musicor. The record was another double sided goodie with both tracks being ballads and perhaps this time you could append the word, power. Both were written and arranged by another gent with whom Jimmy had composed, Joey Scott (not to be confused with the Joe Scott who was the arranger for Bobby Bland). The A-side, My Ship Is Comin’ In, received several compliments in the form of cover versions. Most significant of these, as far as British fans were concerned, was the one from the Walker Brothers which made #3 in the UK Chart. Later versions came from soul singer Walter Jackson and Carmen McRae. Check out the original though. Walker Brothers fans will note the vocal resemblance. It’s almost as if Jimmy and Aaron had put together a demo for the Walkers in line with other demos they’d created. And note that on this one, the power comes as early as 35 seconds in.

The flip, Goin’ Where The Lovin’ Is, was another with a long and varied verse line with plenty of variation. More pop ballad than soul but that’s not to denigrate it in any way.

Joey Brooks was also co-composer of the song, So Deep, which appeared on the flip of Jimmy’s next release, a record which saw the light of day via Bert Berns’ Shout Records, though there’s no mention of him in a production role so presumably he wasn’t involved. Indeed the producers named on the record were Buddy Scott and Jimmy Radcliffe. This fits with Jimmy extending his activities into record production and a song writing partnership with Buddy Scott which was on/off through the second half of the decade. Less tricksy than the previous pair of sides but less light and shade too. Jimmy is in semi-restrained big voice mode throughout and he unleashes a delicious falsetto in the final seconds. The big voice might have been a carry-over from the A-side, a revival of That Lucky Old Sun (only “That” disappeared in the title line). This was the loudest thing that Jimmy had put out to date and I did wonder whether it was an attempt to emulate a version that had appeared (on album in ’63) from Ray Charles. I was wrong though; the Charles version when I checked was far more sensitive.

At about this time the Radcliffe career as a front man vocalist started to fall apart, either deliberately or otherwise. There were only two more singles on which he was credited though both were on major labels, RCA Victor in ’69 and then Columbia in 1970. Only one of the four sides appears on YouTube indicating lack of buyer interest or, less likely, a clampdown by the label concerned. The one that is there, Funky Bottom Congregation is not a song that I find too appealing though it does have one of the most unusual opening lines you’re likely to hear: “You’re just like a parking meter – put in a nickel, a dime, depending on where you’re at”. Writer credit states “Tommy Kaye” who I presume is no other than the gent who also called himself Thomas Jefferson Kaye.

The final single, that’s to say the Columbia one, contained two songs from the 1969 Broadway musical, 1776, which had been created by another sometime Brill Building resident, Sherman Edwards. Jimmy was one of a team of singers who’d worked with Edwards to produce demo versions of songs for the planned musical. While his pair of songs, Momma Look Sharp and Is Anybody There?, aren’t on YouTube, for the curious there is a full Broadway cast version of the musical on Spotify.

In his book “Young Soul Rebels: A Personal History Of Northern Soul”, writer Stuart Cosgrove states in reference to the Brill Building:

“The corridors were alive with action: Jewish impresarios rubbed shoulders with Italian-American crooners, and poets worked with hucksters. Few if any were black, and the one that stood out was Jimmy Radcliffe. Fighting a weight problem, Radcliffe knew that the real deal was intellectual copyright and he could make more money writing songs rather than touring on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” of low-value ghetto venues. Radcliffe became the first person to try to combine the burning social messages of the civil rights movement with the output of the Brill Building …”

I also wonder whether the short but intense period of personal appearances and like activity plugging “Long After” and its follow-up had turned Jimmy off the delights of a front line vocalist role. Couple that with his weight problem and consciousness of the same and you could well have seen his ambitions moving to something much more akin to a back room job. Which all fits with the radio and television commercial work he took on, his song writing, the record production activity – he was working with Carolyn Franklin on an album when he died – and the numerous side projects like 1776 that he got involved with (see Footnotes for more on the latter). It’s noticeable that biographies, and I don’t mean just the Wikipedia one, tend to contain more words on the ‘other activities’ than Jimmy’s own records.

The eagle-eyed reader might have spotted that reference to “burning social messages” in the Stuart Cosgrove quote. I was coming to it. In 2008, a compilation of Jimmy’s work, Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire, was issued (and you’ll find it on Spotify). In addition to the A-sides or alternate takes of some of his key singles, it contained 12 unreleased tracks. Among these were his own version of Deep In The Heart Of Harlem (penned by Carl Spencer and the man himself), a song that had been recorded by Clyde McPhatter which was rewarded with success in the R&B Chart, plus a number called Stand Up about which the sleeve notes state:

“In 1964, after a chance meeting with Civil Rights Activist the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. in a Harlem supper-club, Jimmy was so inspired that he went home and composed a timeless ballad of freedom and equality called ‘Stand Up.’”

I confess to some ambivalence to several of the songs in this vein that appeared in the sixties and early seventies and I don’t mean just from Jimmy. However, I fully respect the rights of the artists involved in every aspect in the creation of these records. Consequently, that pair are in the selection as representative of Jimmy’s views rather than as personal favourites.

I have also implied that there were ‘unofficial’ records from Jimmy, or to put it another way, ones on which he was not credited. For more on the subject see Footnotes, but none of this (or what’s visible of it on YouTube), was/is of real significance in Jimmy’s overall oeuvre.

He also continued to record tracks regardless of whether anyone was likely to issue them or not. Some of these appeared in a collection entitled Sugar Baby Cakes released in 2009. This contained seven previously unissued tracks from Jimmy plus thirteen from other artists with whom he’d been involved in a writing or producing category. There’s nothing too remarkable here. Of most interest might be Soulville which Jackie Wilson included on his album Higher And Higher. Lastly in terms of albums, I’ve also seen reference to The Songs And Recordings Of Jimmy Radcliffe, a US 23-track promotional CD), though I’ve not found any samples from it. A few tracks do appear on YouTube though (see also Footnotes for further Radcliffe material on YouTube).

In terms of song writing, Jimmy was certainly prolific and was highly successful in placing songs with artists. Wiki provides a very long list of artists and songs they recorded – I’ve mentioned Clyde McPhatter, he recorded five of Jimmy’s numbers. However, the majority of these songs are unlikely to make the reader exclaim, “Oh yes, I remember that”. I guess you might term Jimmy and whichever partner he happened to be working with, journeymen songwriters, but there was some more than decent stuff in there. Here’s a few, in no particular order:

Etta James – I Can’t Hold It In Any More (also recorded by Tammi Terrell when she was Tammi Montgomery)
Aretha Franklin – Pullin’ (from Spirit In The Dark)
Arthur Prysock – Don’t You Ever Feel Sorry
Garnet Mimms – The Truth Hurts (But Not As Much As Your Lies)
Helen Shapiro – Forget About The Bad Things
H.B. Barnum – Three Rooms With Running Water (also recorded by Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers)
Gloria Lynne – Speaking Of Happiness
The Essex – She’s Got Everything

There are a few examples on YouTube of a Jimmy Radcliffe demo preceding a finished article. This one features a song called My Block, written by Jimmy and Carl Spencer, with the final released version coming from the Chiffons, recording as the Four Pennies:

I’ve wandered some way from Jimmy’s splendid early to mid sixties records and if I’ve diluted the memory of those tracks I’ll apologise now. His very low official output –as opposed to songs for others plus the relatively high volume of unofficial offerings– was such that it’s difficult to compare him with the really big names of the emerging soul era like Burke or Charles. A good parallel would be Chuck Jackson who had hits in the early sixties in a similar soft soul style but is largely forgotten now. Jimmy still evokes very fond recall in northern soul land though, and it only took one record to put him on that pedestal.

 

FOOTNOTES

1. The other two of the “3 before 8” were Dean Parrish’s I’m On My Way and Tobi Legend’s Time Will Pass You By. The three were later compiled as a maxi-single.

2. For further info on the Wigan Casino and the music played there please see the fine feature from Keith Shackleton, Northern Soul – The “Three Before Eight” and the indented article on the Wigan Casino from Chris Hunt of Mojo magazine and other publications.

3. My own experience of Northern Soul is minimal. While I strongly suspect my ‘dancing feet’ wouldn’t have kept up, it was really down to the fact that I continued to be southern based during my working career thus missing out on a northern and ever-so-slightly midlands activity. However, I do claim a little empathy with the music having dropped into the occasional mod club in London in the early to mid sixties. While the music powering the northern scene wasn’t anything like a wholesale lift from the mod period, there were some similarities. “Long After” was favoured by the mods in ’64/’65 prior to its subsequent move to places like Wigan. I should also apologise to any Northern Soul fans reading this if I’ve got anything wrong.

4. The reference to Long After Tonight Is All Over in “Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul Of Bert Berns And The Dirty Business Of Rhythm And Blues” by Joel Selvin is almost throwaway. When he comes to 1964, one of Joel’s sentences, featuring Berns as the subject, ends in the following manner, “ … and dusted off an old Burt Bacharach instrumental track to have session vocalist Jimmy Radcliffe add new vocals to a Bacharach-David number “Long After Tonight Is All Over” which Aaron Schroeder put out on Musicor”.

5. Within the songs Aaron Schroeder wrote or co-wrote was It’s Now Or Never. The melody of course was already in place but lyrics were required and, reportedly, Schroeder and regular co-writer Wally Gold knocked them up in half an hour (source: Wiki).

6. Among the demo tapes on which Jimmy starred were Pink Flamingo (Manfred Mann) and It’s Not Unusual (Tom Jones). According to a biography at Soul Cellar written by Jimmy’s son Chris, “Jim’s demo and Tom Jones’ hit sounded exactly the same vocally, even down to the accenting on certain words”.

7. My Ship Is Comin’ In wasn’t the only connection between Scott Walker and Jimmy Radcliffe. The song, Through A Long And Sleepless Night, appeared on Walker’s first solo album, Scott, which was released in 1967. While the largely strings based arrangement varied considerably from Jimmy’s version, the slow pace was retained and Scott’s intonation and general approach to the song resembled that of Jimmy.

8. In the Wikipedia article on Jim there’s a quote about him from composer and fellow jingle writer Steve Karmen “Typically, Jim would be called to come to the studio at a designated time, in most cases not even being told the name of the product he was to sing about, then be given about five minutes to learn a song that he had never seen before that moment, and was then expected to deliver the ‘soul’ version of the commercial”. At the time of Jimmy’s death he had worked on 200 radio and television commercials.

9. Uncredited but extra-curricular activity from Jimmy included the following:

* Vocals on an otherwise instrumental record from the Steve Karmen Big Band entitled Breakaway.

* Lead vocal on two records ostensibly from the Globetrotters. One of the sides was Everybody Needs Love, written by Jimmy and Phil Stern.

* Being part of an outfit called the Definitive Rock Chorale which consisted largely of Brill Building alumnae. They recorded a single entitled Variations On A Theme Called Hanky Panky / Picture Postcard World. Production was by Ellie Greenwich and Mike Rashkow. The A-side sounded like this.

* Sharing the vocals with Carl Spencer on Secret Weapon (The British Are Coming) / Jealous Kind Of Woman from B.R.A.T.T.S. which stood for the Brotherhood for the Reestablishment of American Top Ten Supremacy i.e. a reaction to the Brit Invasion (though I’d note that this one wasn’t written by Jimmy).

* Appearing with Joey Brooks as the Mixture on a couple of songs written by the pair, Cry, Cry, Cry / A Girl Wants To Believe – neither side is available on YouTube.

These weren’t the only appearances but they do give a flavour

10. I spent a long and somewhat frustrating evening with YouTube in search of other tracks/tapes/call them what you like which hadn’t found their way to more conventional release. It was only frustrating in that one usually embarks on such exercises in the hope of finding a neglected nugget or two but there weren’t really any that could embrace those words, even though there was much more material than I’d expected. One of the better performances came on a song entitled As Late As The Hour May Be which was in the ballad style of his heyday if you could call it that. Subsequent digging unearthed the information that the song was written by Jim with Buddy Scott and that it was present in the sound track of an Australian film, Cut Snake, released in 2014.

Amongst other snippets I found were several jingles clips – this is one for Ballantine Beer (done in soul style) – plus Stavolta No, a version of Long After Tonight Is All Over sung in Italian.

And finally, visitors to the Bridlington Northern Soul Weekender in 2012 might not have known the Italian words but they couldn’t be faulted on the English ones:

 

Jimmy Radcliffe (1936–1973)

 

Jimmy Radcliffe facebook

Jimmy Radcliffe discography at 45cat

Jimmy Radcliffe biography (iTunes)

ONE HIT WONDERS ON TOPPERMOST
#1 Jody Reynolds
#2 James Ray
#3 Richie Barrett
#4 Mickey & Sylvia
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#6 Blue
#7 Chris Kenner
#8 Dawn Penn
#9 Shep and the Limelites
#10 The Poni-Tails
#11 The La’s
#12 Thomas Wayne
#13 Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford
#14 Carl Mann
#15 Duncan Browne
#16 Harold Dorman
#17 Ned Miller
#18 Gary Shearston
#19 The Fendermen
#20 Jimmy Radcliffe

Dave Stephens is the author of two books on popular music. His first, “RocknRoll”, is described by one reviewer as “probably the most useful single source of information on 50s & 60s music I’ve come across”. Dave followed this up with “London Rocks” in 2016, an analysis of the early years of the London (American) record label in the UK. You can follow him on Twitter @DangerousDaveXX

TopperPost #689

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Shields
    Jan 12, 2018

    Dave, thanks for yet another superbly researched and fascinating piece. Can’t say I knew very much about Radcliffe before reading this but will now remedy that omission. He had a superb voice.

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