|John's Children track by track
|20th Century Boy
The reunited John's Children occasionally played this T. Rex classic live in the '90s.
Another Lucky Lie
The B-side of Andy Ellison's solo single "Fool From Upper Eden" (CBS, 3357, Mar. '68). Also available on Andy's Cornflake Zoo CD.
Originally released as the B-side of Andy Ellison's debut solo single "It's Been A Long Time" (Track 604 018, Dec. '67), this track is actually a John's Children recording, with (ex roadie/club manager) Chris Colville on drums and Chris Townson playing fantastic power chord riffs on the guitar.
(Ron Mael/Russell Mael)
A Sparks B-side that was recorded while Martin Gordon was in the band. John's Children did a version of it on Music For The Herd Of Herring.
But She's Mine
The B-side of the band's second 45 "Just What You Want - Just What You'll Get" (Columbia DB 8124, Feb. '67). The song features special guest Jeff Beck doing the guitar solo. The riff for this mod stomper was lifted straight out of The Who's "I Can't Explain". Who cares? If you're going to steal a riff, steal a good one! "But She's Mine" is the traditional John's Children live set opener and a live version can be heard on Music For The Herd Of Herring.
This was originally written by Marc Bolan and titled "Jasper C. Debussy". With a new set of lyrics Ellison recorded the track after the band split up, probably with intentions to release it as his fourth solo single since it's been said that there exist promo only copies of "Casbah Candy" coupled with "Cornflake Zoo". The song can be heard on the Jagged Time Lapse compilation album. Apparently a band version also exists in some vaults somewhere...?!
This was a one of Marc's songs that he'd written prior to joining John's Children and one that they possibly did this live sometimes. It was lined up for inclusion on the proposed second album that unfortunately never got recorded in the end. Marc eventually recorded it with Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Children Of The Revolution
A T. Rex single that the '90s JC played live.
Cold On Me
A song originally from The Silence demo from 1965. The song was of course re-recorded at Advision studios for the Orgasm album. Geoff McClelland has a really cool fuzz guitar sound on the solo and the last chorus on that version.
Come And Play With Me In The Garden
A re-edited and remixed version of an earlier B-side, "Remember Thomas à Beckett". With sligthly different lyrics (and cool falsetto backing vocals!), this track was then used for an A-side (Track 604 005, Aug. '67). In the middle of the ultra naive lyrics about flowers, ice cream and the fact that "love's a nice dream", the paranoid line "Please will you see there's something going on and you just don't know what" sounds so cool... A contemporary press review of the single: Their "Desdemona" only just missed the chart and now John's Children waste no time in issuing another loud, forceful but again original sound. The group has an urgent sound propelling all the time and attacking nicely. This is a commercial record right in the flower power groove and it roars with power. A very strong, climatic happening sound and I can't see how it can really fall especially judging on the reaction to "Desdemona". We'll all be playing in the garden soon, flower! And here's another one: Drummy precussive opening, then group vocal for the flower-power group who are getting enough publicity to make it quite big this time. Chorus is catchy and the directness of the arrangements is effective. Odd little falsetto touches. What you'd call a "full" sound. FLIP : A Marc Bolan song original, but just a shade monotonous.
Come On England (Our English Sons)
The band's 2006 "world cup song" that was recorded by Andy and Chris with John Hewlett and Trevor White -- basically what was going to be the 1968 line-up had the band not split before this version could get off the ground at the time. It was released as promotional CD single.
The B-side of Andy's solo single "You Can't Do That" (S.N.B., 55-3308, May '68). Originally a Bolan demo, over which Napier-Bell dubbed Ellison's vocal. Marc wrote the music and the lyrics are Andy's, but on the 45 the song was credited to a "T. Maundrell", who knows why (well, it must have had something to do with Napier-Bell!). The song is an absolutely fantastic piece of psychedelic raga rock with a great repetitive guitar riff. Also I think Andy's voice never sounded better than here! You can hear Marc's voice in the background as well if you listen closely. On Andy's Cornflake Zoo compilation CD the songwriting credit has been changed to Ellison/Bolan.
A T. Rex song from the Electric Warrior album that the reunited band played live in the '90s.
Daddy Rolling Stone
John's Children recorded their cover version of this song (popularised by The Who) at their BBC session. Can be heard on the Smashed Blocked! compilation album.
Dan The Sniff
A song Marc originally called "The Lilac Hand Of Menthol Dan" but which John's Children rechristened. They used to do this live.
The group used to do this Beatles tune live in 1967 as well as in the '90s reunion shows.
An unreleased track recorded by the very short lived 1982 version of John's Children.
The band's third single (Track 604 003, May '67), and arguably their best known song. The original version was deemed unsuitable for airplay by the BBC due to the line "lift up your skirt and fly". A new vocal was overdubbed with the offending line changed to "why do you have to lie", and they also added an organ overdub to the new version. The original version can be heard on the Jagged Time Lapse compilation while the "clean" version is available on the 1999 John's Children CD. Andy and Chris' post JC band Jet also recorded a version of this song and that along with everything else they ever recorded can be heard on the Nothing To Do With Us CD. Here's a press review of the single from '67: This is an intuitive tip for the Fifty - based on a feeling that this is very commercial though also rather different. Verse is well sung and the chorus, with "answering" voice in the background, is both catchy and impacty. Strong guitar in parts and the beat is just right. Rather a refreshing slice of pop. Flip: Noisier, also rather original - but not so strong. TOP FIFTY TIP. "Desdemona" has naturally been part of the reunited band's live set ever since 1992 and a live version can be heard on the Music For The Herd Of Herring album.
A song from The Silence demo from 1965. This is actually an early version of "Why Do You Lie" (from Orgasm) with a different set of lyrics.
John's Children have been doing their arrangement of this Beatles song live from the '90s onwards and they also recorded it for the Black & White album.
Fool From Upper Eden
An Andy Ellison solo single from 1968. Has a really groovy rhythm and a cool organ sound.
Forgive Me If I'm Wrong
Another track from The Silence's demo. This has a real heavy sort of organ driven sound and the song itself is quite slow and soulful. Andy sings unbelievably well seeing as the band had just started. All in all, a track very reminiscent of Decca era Small Faces...
Go Go Girl
This was released as a single (Track 604 010, Oct. '67) after Bolan's departure although it was a version of his "Mustang Ford" with a different lyric and a freaky organ overdub. A '67 music press review of the single said: If you can resist the compulsion to dance to this you must be a Radio 3 listener! It's a sizzling hunk of r-and-b, blended with psychedelic effects and oscillations, and strings - surprising, but effective - in the background. Ideal for discotheques, but the welter of big-name releases coming out simultaneously may prevent it from making the chart.
The band's first, or at least one of the very first songs from way back when they were called The Silence. According to the Growing Up With John's Children book, the song had two chords and the band considered it the most exciting song in the world. It was never recorded.
Andy recorded a cover version of this in 5/4 time with a real big band sound... Can be heard on John's Children's Jagged Time Lapse and Andy's Cornflake Zoo compilations.
Here Comes The Sun
The '90s band covered this live as a tribute to Harrison at a gig following his passing.
Hey Little Anaconda
According to Andy, this was the first song he and Chris ever wrote together way back when they went to Box Hill Outward Bound School in Surrey (and "bounded outward together").
Marc's third pre-John's Children solo single, also recorded by JC with Marc on lead vocals (available on Smashed Blocked!). There is a version with Andy on lead vocals as well, which can be heard on Andy's Cornflake Zoo CD. This was also included in the reunited band's setlists, a particular favourite of Martin Gordon's, "especially the bit where it goes from A minor to, er..., A minor."
This was another song Marc had written prior to joining the band and during 1967 they did it live. The song is also known as "You Scare Me To Death". Later on, also Jet and Radio Stars did it live and Radio Stars even released it on the B-side of their single "Nervous Wreck" in 1977.
Hot Rod Mama
A groovy energetic Who style number, the band recorded this Bolan original at their BBC session with Andy and Marc trading vocal verses. Can be heard on Smashed Blocked! This song was also supposed to be recorded for the band's second album that never got done. Bolan later recorded it with Tyrannosaurus Rex.
I Got The Buzz
One of the "new" songs on the Black & White album. Well, it's previously unheard but not exactly new, following the John's Children policy of "...environmentally-friendly recycling of things that have been previously used, this song is an old one of mine that Andy found on a 38 bus which has clearly not reached the end of its shelf life. The song, that is, not the bus", as Martin put it.
It's Been A Long Time
This ballad was Andy's debut solo single (Track 604 018, Dec. '67). The song was originally a much heavier band version that Andy and Chris had worked on. On the original 45 the song was credited to "Ellison/Child", allegedly due to some dodgy deal by Simon Napier-Bell, who also arranged the song for the orchestra. The song was used in the film Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush. On the soundtrack album the song was credited to "Napier-Bell/Child/Child"... The song has been re-recorded for the Black & White album (fittingly retiled "It's Been A Long Time Coming" on the back of the album cover but not the inside booklet) while the original can be heard on the Jagged Time Lapse and Cornflake Zoo CDs.
It's Too Late
The band performed this Small Faces song at the Steve Marriott Memorial concert in 2001.
Jagged Time Lapse
According to Andy Ellison, this song was about a migrane attack Geoff had once... One of the band's greatest tunes in my opinion, it was originally released as the B-side of "Go Go Girl" (but even before that originally recorded for Orgasm). There are quite a few different versions of this... One on Orgasm (the best one if you ask me; it really flows...), two on Smashed Blocked!, one on Jagged Time Lapse, and the rearranged live version on Music For The Herd Of Herring. A '67 review of the "Go Go Girl" single said: FLIP: You'd expect something way-out from this title - and you'd get it. Not so much from the treatment, as from the lyric, which is very surrealistic. Unusual!
Jasper C. Debussy
Marc's proposed 4th solo single pre John's Children. The band used to do this live in '67 and were supposed to record it for their second LP (which was never recorded). After the group disbanded Andy used the same backing track to record a version which was retitled "Casbah Candy" and can be heard on the Jagged Time Lapse album. The same backing track also emerged as the B-side to a Fresh single on RCA, called "Just A Note" (credited to Ray Singer and Simon Napier-Bell, who certainly got his money's worth!). The A-side is called "Stoned In Saigon" and the single was released in September 1971. Both songs also appear on the 1971 Fresh Today LP for which Chris Townson did the sleeve illustration. Marc Bolan's original version can be heard on The Beginning Of Doves compilation and the 20th Century Superstar boxed set.
One of the best of the new songs on the Black & White album.
A song that was released on the Dig The Fuzz V/A compilation with The Silence demos as a track by The Silence but it was actually recorded by another group called The Jeeps.
Just What You Want - Just What You'll Get
The second 45 and it's classic freakbeat with its start/stop rhythm and manic backing vocals! A different version was also recorded for Orgasm. A music press clipping from '67: Meet John's Children, the group whose latest disc is entitled "Just What You Want - Just What You'll Get". And the Children are getting what they want - success in the charts. John himself (second left on picture) explains: "Provocative people who get on in life are just like babies. If you cry, you get picked up. We're a bit like that."
Orgasm album opener for which the band borrow quite liberally from Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs' "Wooly Bully" to say the least. This track originally dates from The Silence days.
The Last Time
The band covered this Rolling Stones song at The Monarch, Camden Town, Saturday 28th December, 2002.
The band performed this Small Faces song at the Steve Marriott Memorial concert in 2001. It is also included in the album that was put together of the best bits of that evening and there's a studio recorded version on the band's own Black & White album.
Leave Me Alone
Another great track from Orgasm with JC's trademark time signature changes in action. The verse is kind of "souly", again quite reminiscient of Decca era Small Faces, played in 3/4 time. The chorus is in up tempo 4/4 time.
Let Me Know
A simple pop song from Orgasm, based on a repetitive riff that sounds quite a lot like The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go"...
The Lilac Hand Of Menthol Dan
This was a song Marc had written before joining the band. After he did, it became known as "Dan The Sniff" and was intended for inclusion on the "second" JC album that never got recorded. A demo version Marc and JC recorded after he'd already left the band was released on the 20th Century Superstar boxed set and it's rocking! An excerpt from the booklet: While waiting to perform his next transformation, Marc briefly returned to the studio with John's Children as his backing band for a one-off song, "The Lilac Hand Of Menthol Dan", a curio on which he finally unleashes his new voice with gusto, a howl that peaks spectacularly on the "Dan, Dan, Dan" choruses. The song, which was also known as "Dan The Sniff", is another oddity that only came to light after Bolan's death. As for who's doing what it is not exactly clear except that I can clearly recognise Chris Townson on the drums and Andy Ellison doing the "Hey!" shouts in the choruses.
The Love I Thought I'd Found
"Smashed..." with a different vocal take. Probably the same take of the backing track, but re-edited by Napier-Bell.
Love Is All Around
The band recorded a version of this Troggs song for the Black & White album.
One of the Bolan originals John's Children possibly used in their live set; Chris Townson mentioned to me that he didn't remember doing it...
Maybe It's Because I'm A Londoner
A song written in 1946, the short lived 2006 version of John's Children (Ellison, Townson, Hewlett, White) recorded their arrangement of it after recording "Come On England". It has not been properly released yet.
Midsummer Night's Scene
Another one of JC's best songs, no doubt about it! Also probably their most "psychedelic" one. This was supposed to be their fourth single but the release was cancelled. A testpress was made however and a copy of that will now cost you a mind boggling £3,700...!! There are a few different versions/mixes of the songs on Jagged Time Lapse and Smashed Blocked!
This was recorded by JC and eventually released on Smashed Blocked! After Marc left the band they retitled it "Go Go Girl" and released it as a single.
Not The Sort Of Girl (You'd Take To Bed)
The shelved third single. A different version was recorded with the chorus line "not the sort of girl I'd like to take to bed" changed to "you want all of me but all I want of you I've had". But the single was still never released. If you listen to the sound of the recording, for example the "you want all of me..." version on the Jagged Time Lapse album, you will notice that the sound is the same as on the Orgasm album so this is actually a glimpse of how that LP would sound without the audience noises...!!
Oh No (She Wouldn't Swallow It)
New song from the Black & White album...
Perfumed Garden Of Gulliver Smith
This was included in the BBC session and is available on Smashed Blocked! Andy's vocal has a lot of feeling in it. An instrumental version can be found on Jagged Time Lapse. "Perfumed Garden" was also included on the Music For The Herd Of Herring live album as well as the Black & White studio album.
Remember Thomas à Beckett
After first appearing as a short snippet between the first two tracks on the Orgasm album, the Small Faces' "Understanding" reappears as the verse melody for this song. Originally the B-side of "Desdemona", there are various versions of this, basically the same song available. From a '67 press review: ...equally palpitating as its partner ["Desdemona"] - but with quite a catchy tune weaving in and out of the general hysteria.
Sally Was An Angel
This song has been released as an instrumental version on Smashed Blocked! but there is a version in some collector's vaults somewhere that has vocals on it but that has never been officially released. Half of it (!) ended up on Bolan's The Beginning Of Doves compilation though.
Sara Crazy Child
One of the classics... The B-side of "Come And Play With Me In The Garden" (and "Midsummer Night's Scene"), a really great, quite psychedelic tune with Marc doing some cool guitar "breaks". Marc also did another version of this with Tyrannosaurus Rex (available on The Beginning Of Doves). The song was re-recorded by John's Children in 1999 which resulted in my humble opinion in an even better version! The new version is also included on the new album.
The band's debut 45, which featured Andy Ellison as the sole band member performing on it - the backing track was recorded by some Los Angeles session men because manager Simon Napier-Bell didn't believe the band could cut it in the studio. The song is quite unusual in fact; the intro and outro sound like "psychedelic"/"freakout" music (with the Arsenal football crowd dubbed over it!), while the verses sound like soul music. In the UK the single was retitled "The Love I Thought I'd Found" (Columbia DB 8030, Oct. '66) while in the US, Canada and Europe it was released with the original title. On the Orgasm album version the band perform the instrumentation themselves. A 1966 press review said: This is so unusual that it just gets a Top 50 tip. Spoken intro over space age instrumental sound (The Arsenal football crowd?)... it deserves to do well for originality. Hard to describe... just play it.
The B-side of "Smashed Blocked" a.k.a. "The Love I Thought I'd Found". This was quickly put together in the studio when the band and manager Simon Napier-Bell all of a sudden realised that they would need a B-side as well! The backing track was an instrumental recorded by session musicians and Andy came up with the lyric (that tells the tragic story of Ernie!) pretty much on the spot. On the original 7" demo disc the track was credited to a Mr. Fingers Groin who "mysteriously" was also the author of Yardbirds lead singer Keith Relf's solo material, produced by Simon Napier-Bell.
The Third Degree
Marc's second pre-JC solo single, which the band possibly did live sometimes around '67. This was also going to be included on the band's "second" LP. At least the new millennium edition of the band have played it live for certain.
This Is Your Wife
This song was written around 1992/'93 for John's Children and was recorded for the Black & White album.
To Sarah B
As with "Julie September", this song was released on the Dig The Fuzz V/A compilation with The Silence demos as a track by The Silence but it was actually recorded by another group called The Jeeps.
Train In My Head
A great song that was recorded for the eponymous CD EP in 1999. Both Andy and Chris shine on this track! Also included on the Black & White new album.
Turned To Stone
Another new track from the same CD (see above). Likewise, included on the new album. The EP and album versions differ from each other in that Boz recorded different guitar solos for them.
Why Do You Lie
Originally a Silence song called "Down Down". In my opinion one of the best tracks from Orgasm. Has a really catchy chorus. The major difference to The Silence version is that they cut the song a couple of verses short and went into that "John's Children trademark" feedback/drum solo mayhem for the end bit.
You Can't Do That
This Beatles cover was Andy Ellison's solo single from April '68 and has that same big band type sound as another Beatles cover, "Help!". They were recorded during the same session.
You're A Nothing
Orgasm album closer that starts out as little more than a "Daddy Rolling Stone" rip-off but builds into a grand freakout finale with ominous feedback and thunderous drums.
You Scare Me To Death
Alternate title for "Horrible Breath".
From an e-mail from Chris Townson: "Also, just for interest's sake, you may be interested to know that in fact there is a forgotten song... With me on guitar (and with Chris Colville on drums) in the early hours of a summer's morning at the club, we wrote and performed a tune which seemed to last for hours, got great applause from the Shepherds Bush mob, and was promptly forgotten! I can remember the first chords (very non standard!). The rest is somewhere deep in the unconscious!!! We were dancing with Lucy in the sky at the time... so perhaps not so surprising... who knows... perhaps it was the hit!!!"
|Here's a list of known cover versions of John's Children songs...
The Apemen, German band did a version of "Remember Thomas à Beckett" on their Phantacity album (Detour, DRLP/CD011, 1996).
Beatle Hans & The Paisley Perverts, a Dutch band who included a version of "Desdemona" on their 1990 release Live Tonight Sold Out (Fierce Recordings).
Mynah Bird "Hippy Gumbo".
The Blue Giant Zeta Puppies, "Desdemona" on Nuggets II Revisisted (The Active Listener, 2015).
Dr. Robert recorded "Hippy Gumbo" on his album Other Folk (Artbus, ROOTCD 1, 1997).
Andy Ellison, OK, well, not really a "cover" as such (he is the original performer after all!) but Andy re-recorded a version of "Desdemona" with Boz Boorer and Marco Pirroni for the Bolan tribute album An Exalted Companion (Of T. Rex Nights) (Barracuda Blue, LPUTA7, 1988).
The Event, 1980s mod/'60s revivalist group from San Diego whose This Is The Event LP included "Jagged Time Lapse".
Fresh, '70s group whose second LP Fresh Today (RCA, LSA 3027, 1971) was produced by Simon Napier-Bell and included both "Desdemona" & "Horrible Breath", along with "Just A Note" (credited to Ray Singer and Simon Napier-Bell) which uses the same backing track as "Jasper C. Debussy"/"Casbah Candy". The album also features a cover illustration by Chris Townson.
Halo Of Flies did "Jagged Time Lapse" on a split 7" single with Mudhoney titled Mod Showdown! Mudhoney Versus Halo Of Flies (Amphetamine Reptile, SCALE 36, 1991).
Marsha Hunt recorded "Desdemona" on her Woman Child album on Track Records (Track, 2410 101, 1971). The album featured special guest Pete Townshend on guitar and backing vocals. Her version of "Desdemona" was also released as a 45 (Track 604 034, 1969), and the B-side was none other than "Hippy Gumbo"! A compilation of her stuff called Walk On Gilded Splinters (See For Miles, SEE 209/SEE CD 209, 1988) also includes "Hot Rod Poppa" (yes, that one), and Bolan himself guesting on vocals on two tracks...
The Hypnotic Eye recorded "Smashed Blocked" for the Record Store Day 2013 special limited 7" single with John's Children's "Cornflake Zoo 2013" on the other side (Downtown Sound, Austria, HYPEYE003, Apr. 2013).
The Jam used to do "Desdemona" live.
Icehouse, an Australian band whose album Full Circle (Alex, 4833, 1994) includes "Desdemona".
The Lyres, '80s US garage punk band recorded "Go Go Girl" on a French 7" (New Rose, NEW 116). They also did a version of "Jagged Time Lapse" on their A Promise Is A Promise album, released on Ace Of Hearts in 1988.
Madame de C***, "Midsummer Night's Scene" on Nuggets II Revisisted (The Active Listener, 2015).
Alison McCallum "Hippy Gumbo".
Natalie McDonald "The Third Degree" (Pinnacle, 1988).
Monolith, from an email from website visitor Ray Eden: "...a dodgy pick up band I was in did "Desdemona" as a demo in '89 (it's my all time favourite song) and we hoped to get it released as part of a tribute album, but unfortunately Andy Ellison chose that particular point in time to re-record "Desdemona" with a dance feel to it (!) and our version was rejected. We were called MONOLITH after another one of my favourite T.Rex songs..." The tribute album Ray referred to is of course the An Exalted Companion (Of T. Rex Nights) one I've mentioned above...
The Necessitarians "Midsummer Night's Scene".
Octopus Syng Finnish psych band recorded a version of "Midsummer Night's Scene" for the Fruits de Mer Records various artists double LP Keep Off The Grass in 2011.
The Ophelias did "Midsummer Night's Scene" on the Oriental Head LP (Rough Trade, Rough US-44, 1988).
The Outskirts Of Infinity recorded "Desdemona" on their Scenes From The Dreams Of Angels album (Infinity, INF 001, 1989).
The Paisley, late '90s Finnish garage/freakbeat band (no relation to Beatle Hans & The Paisley Perverts) featuring the Kapanen brothers Mikko (guitar) and Kassu (bass) -- both coincidentally now with John's Children! -- used to do "Remember Thomas à Beckett" and "Hot Rod Mama" live.
The Pooh Sticks, a Welsh band who released a version of "Go Go Girl" as a flexi disc single (Cheree, F3, 1989). They also had an album called Orgasm (!!) and another one called Multiple Orgasm. In that album's liner noters it says: "...obviously you need everything by John's Children..."
The Rage, a '70s garage pop band did a version of "Jagged Time Lapse".
Se, coincidentally here's yet another Finnish JC cover!! A band called Se (which is Finnish for "It") put a single out on Love records in 1978 called "Eloise" (Love, LRS 2245). The B-side was "En Sinuun Lankee" which is a Finnish language version of "Desdemona".
The Three O'Clock, 1980s "Paisley Underground" band covered "Desdemona" live.
Tigersharks did "Mustang Ford" on the Savage Amusement 12" EP
(Barracuda Blue, 12 UTA 10, 1987).
The Time Lapse (cool monicker!) were obviously big John's Children fans... They included "Arthur Green" and "Desdemona" on their LP Timelapse Now which is on Smarten-Up! records (Big Start 11). The central label has the flower on it from the "Come And Play With Me In The Garden" sleeve! They also released a 4 track 7" white vinyl EP called It's Child's Play on Sneaky Pete records (LC 7772, 1988) which included "Jagged Time Lapse" and "Desdemona" and apes the sleeve design of the John's Children bootleg 7" of the same name. One side is called the Timed Side, while the other is called the Lapsed Side.
Topos Locos "Remember Thomas à Beckett"
The University, an American band who cover "Hot Rod Mama" live.
|Cornflake Zoo, a Swedish band with top name...
Cornflake Zoo Records, there was/is (?) a record label by this name.
London Chris Townson also did the sleeve to Animal Games by London. This LP came out in 1978 on MCA Records (MCF 2823).
The Smashed Blocked released a one sided 7" single on Dig The Fuzz called "Lift Up Your Skirt And Fly". On top of the very tasteful band name and song title, the verse melody is borrowed from that of "Desdemona". Was apparently recorded by the head of the label and a friend...
Jet & Radio Stars ...and of course there's these two groups who used to do "Desdemona" and "Horrible Breath".