The Betterdays add to their legacy with Hush Your Mouth

The Betterdays add to their legacy with Hush Your Mouth

The Betterdays add to their legacy with Hush Your Mouth - - a wonderful insight into the 60s music scene from a band that should have been as big as their contemporaries. If you have Backlash, this is still worth buying; if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

Bluesdoodles rating: 4 Doodle Paws – a wonderful insight into the 60s music scene from a band that should have been as big as their contemporaries. If you have Backlash, this is still worth buying; if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

In the early to mid-1960s, the UK was awash with R’n’B combos that played any and every venue available. Very few of them had what it takes to go on to bigger and better things…some did and hits awaited: others, fate decreed that they would forever remain as a happy memory in the lucky few that saw them. Examples? Well, I can think of quite a few…the Rocking D Jays from County Durham spring to mind; the Ian Gillan fronted The Javelins are a perfect example of a band being full of promise without achieving a hit record, which was the way success was measured in those days. I can now add another example of a band that should have…

They were known as the West Country’s answer to the Rolling Stones: Plymouth’s The Betterdays are still fondly remembered by many today for their performances and potential, and they released just one extremely collectable single for the Polydor label. So if you find ‘Don’t Want That, b/w Here It Is’ on that label, it may be worth more than you think. As with many of their peers, their set tended to draw on American R’n’B and blues but on the evidence of this recording, they had the ability to make each song their own with flourishes never envisioned in the originals. In 2018 a ‘new’ album was released called Backlash that provided 24 tracks that are comfortably familiar but have a fire that many cover versions do not have. That album is now available again but backed with an additional CD of demos, live recordings and singles that weren’t on the initial release. As it was reviewed here on Bluesdoodles, I will concentrate solely on the Hush Your Mouth: The Betterdays Anthology CD1.

First, a brief history: Mike ‘Shane’ Hayne (vocals), Frank Tyler (drums), Richard Broczek (lead guitar), Bob Pitcher Keyboards and harmonica) and Mike Weston (bass) created quite a stir in their native West Country and were even banned by some venues for playing “black music”, although the enthusiastic audiences never took offence like the establishment did…they were different times for sure. Without established management and no promotion behind them, disillusioned and disappointed the group disbanded. Fast-forward to 1991 after a chance meeting, followed by some live shows, they finally entered a recording studio and recorded those Backlash tracks.

Now onto CD2 which brings together some restored acetates, that elusive Polydor single and some live recordings from August 1964 when they were at the peak of their powers plus, you get a couple of live tracks from the 90s reunion. So another twenty-four tracks to absorb and revel in The Betterdays insight into r’n’b and blues…they really did deserve to be recognised amongst their peers. My highlights from this eclectic set are err, most of them, so brutal whittling ensued and I decided on the following:

First that elusive single. Don’t Want That is a band original and gives even more credence to the unrealised potential…very high-quality British R’n’B that sounds like the Stones/Beatles/Kinks had a hand in it because it is more than equal to anything else in 1965 and the guitar is better! The B-side was a song made famous by Bo Diddley: Here ’Tis is probably the best cover of this I’ve heard, surpassing (in my humble) The Yardbirds. Again the guitar is excellent and the harp adds so much depth. Next comes some unreleased demos with different versions of the single and the song that gives this package its title: Aw Shucks Hush Your Mouth is a great reading of the Jimmy Reed song with a great guitar solo. Onto the stage now, with live cuts from a 1964 gig at The Quay Club in Plymouth which (sort of) still exists. Yes, the sound quality is a primitive as the date suggests…crowd noise interferes with the fuzzy recordings but, there is sufficient clarity on the outstanding versions of some real classics: Dimples is rock solid; Who Do You Love is way, way ahead of its time with waves of energy.

Then there are the 1990 live tracks from their brief reformation: I Was Fooled and Working Man show how good that ’64 concert would have sounded with modern technology. A wonderful slice of rhythm and blues fun. This continues on the last three tracks with an unissued and powerful 1992 recording of Got Love If You Want It with superb guitar and quality keyboards, plus a different version of I Was Fooled and a neat reading of Bright Lights, Big City, both from the Backlash album.

I summed up Backlash by saying:” I could keep going but suffice it to say, this album is a snapshot of a fine band that the music business missed out on all those years ago. Backlash revisits a golden era of music growth and development; of British Bands taking the American template and winding it up before feeding it back to them through bands like The Stones. If you remember that golden era or, if like me, you found it out while looking back on the inspirations and influences of your more recent favourite bands, then this is not just enjoyable, it is an education.” That view hasn’t changed, but rather it’s been enhanced by the insight into their live performances and early/alternative takes.

Hush You Mouth Track listing:

1 Don’t Want That (single version)
2 Here ‘Tis (single version)
3 Aw Shucks Hush Your Mouth
4 Cracking Up
5 Here ‘Tis (practice version)
6 Honey What’s Wrong?
7 Don’t Want That (demo version)
8 Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby
9 I Wanna Be Loved*
10 Parchman Farm
11 Dimples*
12 Who Do You Love*
13 Walkin’ The Boogie
14 Roadrunner
15 I Was Fooled
16 Howling For My Baby (fast version) 17 Working Man
18 I Ain’t Got You
19 You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover
20 I’m Looking For A Woman
21 Keep Your Hands Off My Woman 22 Got Love If You Want It*
23 I Was Fooled
24 Bright Lights, Big City

Source notes:
1-2 Single, Polydor BM 56024, released September 1965
3-5 Not originally released, recorded October 1964
6-7 Not originally released, recorded February 1965
8, 10, 13 Not originally released, recorded live at the Quay Club, circa August 1964
9, 11, 12 Previously unreleased, recorded live at the Quay Club, circa August 1964
14-15 Not originally released, recorded live 1990
16-21 From the album No Concessions, Aftermath NAFT 1001, released 1994
22 Previously unreleased, recorded 1992
23-24 From the vinyl version of the album Backlash, NTB Records 1003 – recorded early 1990s, released 2017

DISC TWO:
1 Cracking Up
2 I Can Tell
3 Goin’ Upside Your Head
4 Raining In My Heart
5 Route 66
6 Working Man
7 Don’t Start Me To Talking
8 I Wish You Would
9 Don’t Lie To Me
10 Howling For My Baby
11 Baby What You Want Me To Do
12 Boom Boom
13 Help Me
14 High Heel Sneakers
15 Pretty Thing
16 Two Fifty-Three
17 Hello Josephine
18 Walking The Boogie
19 Just A Little Bit
20 Treat Her Right
21 I Know It’s A Sin
22 Too Much Monkey Business
23 I’m Too Poor To Die
24 Road Runner

1-24 The album Backlash, NTB Records CD 1004 – recorded the early 1990s, released 2017
*previously unreleased

(iTunes decided it was time for some Big Bill Broonzy, one of the many brilliant blues artists of the 1940s…I went for the simply superb Key To The Highway.)

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