The Equals

TrackAlbum / Single
Rub A Dub DubPresident PT 275
Black Skin Blue Eyed BoysPresident PT 325
Baby, Come BackUnequalled Equals
Hold Me CloserUnequalled Equals
You Lied Just To Save Your NameUnequalled Equals
Viva Bobby JoePresident PT 260
Sunday MorningSupreme
She Reminds Me Of Spring In The WinterEquals Explosion
Is it RightSensational Equals
Beautiful ClownPresident PT 464

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Contributor: Ian Ashleigh

The first record I bought with my own money was The Equals’ Rub A Dub Dub and, like any such firsts, you never forget the song or the band. By that time (in mid-1969) the band had already released all of their four albums and had one UK hit single left to release, Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys. Further singles were released both in the UK that did not make the charts and on Continental Europe. If you include re-releases and releases in specific countries, Discogs notes 66 singles issued by The Equals between 1967 and 1995 (see link below).

I believe The Equals to be one of the UK’s first multi-racial bands that achieved chart success. Formed by Eddy Grant in Hornsey, North London in 1965, the original line up was: Eddy Grant (guitar & vocals), Derv Gordon (lead vocals), Lincoln Gordon (bass guitar), Pat Lloyd (guitar), John Hall (drums).

The Guyana-born Grant left The Equals in early 1971 and was to go on to have a number of solo hit albums and singles. He released an obscure album in 1969/70 under the group name 32nd Turn Off notable for a very erotic hand drawn cover and a bizarre track entitled Armadillo Walked To Missouri.

Fusing pop, blues, and R&B plus elements of ska and bluebeat, The Equals released eight singles and scored a UK number one with Baby, Come Back in May 1968, a year after it had appeared as a track on the band’s first album. They released four albums during 1967 and 1968. The debut Unequalled Equals reached number 10 in the UK chart. It opens with the beat driven Hold Me Closer and is full of short, sharp songs that brought together the various influences referred to above. You Lied Just To Save Your Name is a good illustration of the genre.

The follow-up was Supreme with another collection of short, sharp songs combining West Indian and pop styles. The songs have the sunshine in them; Sunday Morning is a case in point.

The upbeat Viva Bobby Joe gave the band a number 6 hit single in the UK, one of four top 40 singles in 1969 for The Equals.

Equals Explosion was the second of three LP releases in 1968 which, in fairness, had some poor tracks as well as very good ones. As love songs go, She Reminds Me Of Spring In The Winter has it all.

Sensational Equals completed the album releases with a dozen more songs that fused all the styles and influences to good effect. Is It Right is one of a very few downbeat numbers.

Greatest Hits was released in 1996 with the singles, B-sides and some unreleased tracks. Beautiful Clown is on it and completes the selection with a final R&B, beat driven pop song that has all the hallmarks of an Equals song with Eddy Grant taking the lead vocal.

The Equals continued to tour and play live throughout the 1970s without Eddy Grant but were never able to recapture the energy and excitement on record they achieved with him.

 

Eddy Grant on Ice Records

The Equals Discography

Hear “Beautiful Clown” original 1977 mono single on YouTube

The Equals biography (iTunes)

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2 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Apr 19, 2015

    Ian – thanks for this fine list. Bizarrely enough, in Ireland ‘Baby Come Back’ has come to be associated with the Galway hurling team. This was due to the cover version of it in 1979 by the showband, The Conquerors, who re-titled it ‘Galway Are Back’… More here – haven’t found a video version yet…

  2. Peter Viney
    Apr 20, 2015

    Thanks, Ian. The Equals deserve more attention as a forerunner of “Two Tone” – a bit later Hot Chocolate too were a multiracial band, but they didn’t have the Caribbean influence. From the record label angle, it was extraordinary to get major UK hits in 1968 to 1970 with a small and slightly dodgy record label, President, mainly reissuing American soul. One of the results is I’ve never heard a good CD transfer of The Equals. The “Hits” one I have is very poor, but I have the great 45s anyway. The die-cut sleeve for Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys is a favourite and very unusual for its era.

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