Billy Mitchell & co.'s 1971 LP rediscovered and reviewed by Charles Orr
A very youthful sounding Billy Mitchell (lead vocals) heads the cast of the three 'Callies' – the other members being Ray Tweedie and Will Browell (all contributing strings and vocals). This unfortunately now deleted album was produced by the legendary Dave Wood; other credits go to Richard Bowe (drums), Si Cowe (domino card), and engineering by Geoff Heslop. The exterior of the gatefold album cover boasts striking graphics in yellow, black and orange, whilst a large monochrome photograph of the band lurks within. A record worth seeking out, and a valuable asset to your Lindisfarne ‘family’ collection.
Running time: 37 min. 58 secs. - Rubber Records Rub 002
A number of tracks will be instantly recognised by Jack The Lad fans - seven out of the total eleven tracks were penned either solely or partly by Mitch. Although lacking the cheekiness and humour of "Jack", it is easy to see how that band’s style developed one stage further from the influences of this Callies release.
Rocking Chair The classic song from Billy - it gets everywhere! This version of the song is close to that found on his solo 'Almost Grown' album of 1993 (and is still available). It resurfaced on the Jack The Lad live album (1993) - but I have to say my own favourite version is from the 1975 Jack The Lad 'Rough Diamonds' LP. (4min.14secs)
January Man (D. Goulder) Strong acoustic style - in keeping with the rest of this album. A remarkably similar presentation to that found on 'Almost Grown'.
Monty's Song A whimsical track, but fairly average.I wonder who Monty was...
Make Me Happy Billy really rocking on! Sounds like they had good fun recording it. Features some different verses from that found on the Jack The Lad 'B' side - no references to taking women to bed on this one!
Reason To Believe (T. Hardin) This 1966 Tim Hardin song has been covered by many artists including another Rod whose second name I can't remember - but the most famous version is to be found on the 'Almost Grown' album (of course!!).
Home Town Vocal harmonies combine with acoustic guitars for a catchy little number.
Peggy Gordon (R. Burns) This song was also a single release by the Callies. A different recording to the 'Take Off Your Head' version. Whilst this is a pleasant track, I feel it doesn't sit very comfortably with the rest of this album; being a very traditional sounding folk song of the 'old school' - most of the other tracks have a more contemporary atmosphere.
Is It Surprising Interesting track. Typical early '70's acoustic ballad. Sounds a little like very early Lindisfarne - in the same vein as 'From My Window'. With a different arrangement it wouldn't sound out of place on a current album.
A Change Of Mind Faster number combining banjos and vocals; the only number to include drums. My least favourite track on the album, but no doubt others will disagree!
Turning Into Winter Another Mitchell classic - no surprises with this one - similar in presentation to the 'Almost Grown' version, but being almost two minutes shorter than "Jack's" rendition ('It's Jack The Lad, 1973) it lacks the jolly little jig tagged on to the end!
Top Forty (S.Simon) Oh dear - how could they do it? With such lines as " Are you in the top forty of the Lordy, Lordy, Lordy?" This gospel/country anthem is so awful that it's good! Billy gets carried away with his best American accent, and finishes with a resounding and appropriate "yeee-hah!" Presumably all done tongue-in-cheek, and no doubt taking the mickey - a foretaste of what was to come with Mr. Mitchell's next band the rest is history! "