Jonathan Kelly – Jonathan Kelly
Jonathan Kelly had a reasonably successful career during the 1970s as a London-based singer/songwriter, and his four albums for the RCA label have all been reissued on CD. His debut Parlophone LP from 1970, however, has bizarrely never received the digital treatment. The album itself is a more sparse, acoustic based collection than his later work, and bears comparisons to artists of the era like Cat Stevens or Donovan. There is a consistency from Kelly’s earlier singles through to the LPs reflective ballads, with his wry and strongly anti-war lyrics remaining just as relevant today.
Kelly was the artist formerly known as Jon Ledingham, Drogheda-born leader of Irish pop group ‘The Boomerangs’ who released one single on the Pye label in 1966. This was followed by two solo singles credited to Jon Ledingham, also on Pye, before he reinvented himself as a folk singer on the London scene. There he was discovered by ex-Bee Gee Colin Peterson who managed him during the next phase of his career. Peterson attracted a lot of publicity for Kelly but it failed to translate into sales. During the second half of 1970 Peterson and Kelly formed the short-lived group ‘Humpy Bong’ (named after a school Peterson and the Gibb brothers had attended in Australia) along with ex-Smile (a.k.a. Queen) singer Tim Staffell, and made two appearances on Top of the Pops. Kelly’s breakthrough finally happened two years later with his Twice Around The Houses LP.
The Boomerangs excellent, spooky debut single and its b-side were included on the out-of-print CD collection Ireland’s Beat Groups 1964-69, but none of the other recordings from this era are available except on original vinyl. Of the three solo singles on Parlophone, only the tracks ‘Make A Stranger Your Friend’ and ‘Billy’ didn’t appear on the album, but the Jon Ledingham and Humpy Bong singles featured different recordings of some of the album tracks, so there is the potential here for a really comprehensive digital release someday.
01 – Denver
02 – Son Jon
03 – Tom Bodey
04 – Sailor
05 – Mrs. Gilbert
06 – Don’t You Be Too Long
07 – Don’t You Believe It
08 – Julia
09 – That Grand Old Uniform Of Mine
10 – Another Man’s Wife
11 – Daddy Don’t Take Me Down Fishing
12 – Sunday Saddle
13 – The Boomerangs – Dreamworld
14 – The Boomerangs – Upgraded
21 – Jonathan Kelly – Make A Stranger Your Friend
25 – Humpy Bong – Don’t You Be Too Long
26 – Humpy Bong – We’re All Right Till Then
I’ve since got my hands on more of Kelly’s singles missing from this collection, including the elusive two singles by Jon Ledingham. ‘Don’t You Believe It’ was recorded with Eric Clapton on slide guitar and released in 1970 just before he formed Humpy Bong, and in fact the line-up that became Humpy Bong played this song for a Top of the Pops appearance. Singer Tim Staffell remembered, “I struggled to duplicate a guitar part that Eric Clapton had played, because we had to re-record it for Top Of The Pops, you weren’t allowed to mime, and Eric Clapton couldn’t make the session. I was in a bit of a shambles, I can tell you”. Unfortunately, the tapes of these episodes were wiped by the BBC.
Still missing three sides of his first two singles as Jonathan Kelly. However, those three songs all featured on the above album, and having now listened to the album and single versions of ‘Don’t You Believe It’, I can’t notice any difference, so it seems quite likely they weren’t unique versions. In any case, if someone has these and is willing to share, I’d be very grateful to have the collection complete. The ‘B’-side, ‘Billy’, wasn’t released anywhere else and is a worthy addition.
15 – Jon Ledingham – Without An E
16 – Jon Ledingham – She’s Got Me
17 – Jon Ledingham – Love Is A Toy
18 – Jon Ledingham – Thank You Mrs. Gilbert
23 – Don’t You Believe It
24 – Billy