The Bachelors – Bachelors’ Girls
Dublin easy-listening harmony pop trio The Bachelors were possibly the first Irish group to have truly international success, hitting the charts in the UK, Europe, Australia, South Africa, South America, parts of the USSR and the United States during the ’60s. The three teenagers first got together in 1957 and adopted their band name on signing to Decca Records in 1962, “because that’s the kind of boy a girl likes”. While not exactly ground-breaking or rock, they unknowingly helped lay the foundations for later Irish acts.
In a bizarre example of self-promotion, the blurb on the back of this 1966 album says very little about The Bachelors and a lot about the Belfast-based Solomon family who managed them. We are assured the Solomons “enjoy the pleasure of being immensely successful”. It’s true, however, that the family played a significant role in Irish rock. Maurice Solomon founded the Irish-wide record distribution company ‘Solomon & Peres’ in the 1940s, and was sharp enough to adapt to the music boom that would soon emerge. He held substantial shares in London’s Decca Records. Maurice apparently ran an office in Dublin while son Mervyn ran the business in Belfast, also finding time to start his own Emerald Records in 1964 (and, much later, punk label Rip Off Records). Emerald was very successful in Ireland, specialising in showband and country music such as Big Tom & The Mainliners and Brian Coll & The Plattermen, but occasionally branching into pop music. Maurice’s younger son, Phil Solomon, headed the family business in London, where he and his wife ran ‘Dorothy Solomon Associated Artists’ and launched the Major Minor record label in November 1966 after working with Decca. Among Major Minor’s notable releases were Taste’s first single, David McWilliams, Them (re-issues of earlier material) and The Dubliners. Mervyn and Phil also bought the largest shareholding in Radio Caroline from fellow-Irishman Ronan O’Rahilly in late ’66, at a time when pirate radio literally meant sitting on a boat in international waters. They used the station to shamelessly promote their own records before it went bankrupt in 1968. It was Mervyn Solomon who heard Them in Belfast and persuaded his brother to sign the band to Decca in 1964, and he did exactly the same for The Mad Lads/Moses K & The Prophets in 1965 and David McWilliams in 1966 (signing to Major Minor). Very much the old-school 1960s music manager, Phil Solomon has been accused of causing McWilliam’s musical burnout, and according to showband manager-turned-journalist Sam Smyth, “he was exotic, noisy and bombastic, he annoyed everybody he did business with, he took the lion’s share of every deal and dressed like a millionaire”. Despite this, he was remembered with fondness by members of his first act, The Bachelors, on his death in April 2011.
Returning to the Bachelors’ album, the “chicks on the front cover” were friends of the band from the ABC Theatre in Blackpool, where they (like Belfast bands The Wheels and The People) had an extended residency in 1966. The theme of the LP was songs with girls’ names in the title, of which the group had a lot. Personally, I find this music cheesy and incredibly tedious – listening to all 16 songs is an unbearable ordeal – but I’ve posted it because very little of their back catalogue has been digitised and someone’s grandmother might want to hear this album once more. (There are some skips on one of the tracks that I didn’t bother fixing – if anyone really wants, I can go back and try it again.)
One interesting footnote is that Jimmy Page plays on this album. Honestly. By far the best track is a cover of ‘Lovey Kravezit’ – a Dean Martin song from the soundtrack of his movie “The Silencers”. On this, Page is credited with the guitar solo, but the solo is both extremely short and very simple; easy money for the already very experienced player. I wouldn’t recommend downloading the album just for this. In any case the same recording can be found on some of the CD collections of Page’s many anonymous ’60s studio sessions. As for The Bachelors, they faded somewhat from the limelight after 1970, but carried on regardless. After a dispute which reached the High Court in London in 1984, there are now two rival groups of septuagenarians touring as The Bachelors.
- Sweet Sue – Just You
- Once In Love With Amy
- Lovey Kravezit
- Ida, Sweet As Apple Cider
- Hello, Dolly!
- Rose Marie
- Trouble With Angels