Thursday, 31 October 2013



Cathy says 
‘you’re so quiet, 
is something wrong?’ 

on TV 
people move 
in mysterious tides 
through Tiananmen Square 

into each other 

seals shimmer 
across sandpits 
towards the Wash 

and I’m 
screaming inside 

Cathy says 
‘you’re so quiet, 
is something wrong?’

I want to say 
it’s over, finally 
it’s over,         a 
beautiful lover 
is gone and I’m 
sick with pain, 
I can’t staunch the 
pictures in my head 
and I can’t stand 
their tenderness 

but Cathy says 
‘you’re so quiet, 
is something wrong?’ 

while on TV 
people scatter 
like human shrapnel 
through Tiananmen Square 
and seals split waves 
into shimmering ice 

and I say 
‘no, I’m fine, 
just a little 

 Published in:- ‘IRON No.61’ (UK – June 1990)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cabaret Voltaire: Live In Leeds, And Manchester


at ‘Leeds University’, West Yorkshire

For almost a second, something’s vaguely disturbing here. There’s a long dark hall of glass and concrete. A mass of people in the drab greys and blacks of functional industrial wear. The occasional bright burst of hair outvoted by long coats and intense expressions. Heads are uniformly up-tilted at 45-degrees, obsessively fixed on a stage stripped bare but for silver mike-stand, cluster of drums and cable coils, to where the giant video screen fast-scrambles images of Test Department’s exhortative paeans to work and sweat. From outside it’s a ritual shot-through with Fritz Lang-ian ‘Metropolis’ stills, or (yawn) Orwellian intimations of populace-programming. The unease gets dispelled as soon as it’s firmed though, by Pete Hope aggressively pamphleting a Cabaret Voltaire biography, and John Keenan leafleting the Troggs appearance at the local Bierkeller. ‘I put the Cabs on in… um – 1978, with Joy Division supporting’ he recalls conversationally, ‘they’re better in a smaller venue, more intimate.’ Perhaps you shouldn’t try for intimacy with the Cabs? Perhaps that’s not part of their scenario…?

But such disquisition gets effectively stomped on by the sheer autowreck physicality of the “Sensoria” play-in. With the two Micro-Phonies positioned around the nagging hypnotic sound-repetitions and the flickering visuals of the Cabaret Voltaire total environment syndrome. Stephen ‘Mal’ Mallinder is in a bulky flak jacket. He seems looser, almost twitch-dancing, but it remains a private ceremony in which the audience are incidental. Richard H Kirk is in leathers, feeding the synth-lines and guitar breaks with his back to the mass, in pure Bebop. This year’s physical drummer is Mark Tattersall. Spectrums run along Mal’s fret. Layers of ear-shredding electronic sound builds and ebbs, ducks and weaves, attacks and decays on a loose-time schedule. Voice emerges through it in tantalising fragments. Song-titles are punctuations denoting rhythmic shifts.

There are very obvious developments of the strategy first fielded on last year’s ‘The Crackdown’ album (August 1983), and even if “Sensoria” IS their most cunningly assembled single-shot to date, it still segments seamlessly and effortlessly into what the band was always about. Extending and over-extending timelessly to the very edge of ad nauseam. A digital mantra. An alchemical chant aimed at the post-Machine Age, not the charts for the Teen-Age. The rhythms this time seem more pure, more stark and emphatic, more total, like they’re stealth-borrowing some of the brutal primitivism (but none of the methodology) from the metal-bashing avant garde. And even the rapid-run video cut-ups behind them are more austere – no sex or cartoons now, just hard industrial shots and totalitarian footage.

On the screen they’re peeling a face back from a skull. It’s “Just Fascination” circling and pulsing. Hitler’s caught in a time-loop. Mao Zedong (Tse-Tung) smiles beatifically. Hitler/ Mao/ Mussolini/ Thatcher/ Kennedy – the cult of personality is contrasted with the Cab’s cult of un-personality. With the figures on stage reduced down to near silhouettes against the screen. And their sound to part of a huge process of sounds. They use faces like Warhol silk-screens faces, reducing them down and pointing them up as the mere brain-furniture they are. Media spawn pouring with the fast-forward permanently depressed. Kennedy, Thatcher, Mussolini. Mark pores studiously over congas, drum-kit and snares, the top of his cropped-head a round ‘O’. A long autobahn shifts behind him, at warp factor ten. Massive rhythms fall hard and denser… white-noise and tape voices spray, effectively drowning out the possibility of applause between each long number, an amber light pulsing on a sound hook-in, spots breaking out across the walls and ceiling.

Why Hitler? Why swastikas and marching men? A fierce altercation in the dressing room. ‘They’re clips from Leni Riefenstahl art-movies. So you can’t say ‘they’re Nazis’, ‘cos they’re not. They’re ANTI-Nazis!’ But that’s not the point. We’re talking communications technology. We’re talking medium not message, talking Global Village, talking ‘Cult of Personality’, and that transcends the party line. Cabaret Voltaire is vivid, is stunning, is multi-sensory. Even when they’re gone and it’s obvious there’s no truck with contrived encores, the speakers still keep spitting out treated chants and noise-garbage, and the heads still stay of forty-five degrees, obsessively fixed on a stage stripped bare…

(The single “Sensoria” is taken from the album ‘Micro-Phonies’ (Some Bizarre/Virgin, November 1984). The video directed by Peter Care)


at ‘The Hacienda Club’, Manchester 

Pete Hope, singist with Box, sits catatonic with concentration. Razored bald but for a tyre-tread shading up the back and a truncated quiff at the front, he’s hunched forward, impassive, watching…

For a start there’s Double-Vision, triple-screened…

Two videos on closed circuit relay overhead, suspended between light-booms and girders, and one more screen panning across the back-stage backdrop. They’re synchronised, if not always exactly to the same colour-setting or degree of focal blur, into a festive junk-food for the eyes/ears, a funfair Coney Island of the mind. A Skinhead gets naked in a bare concrete yard, wraps himself in gasoline-soaked blanket and torches himself. William Burroughs crosses a city street all wasted and cadaver-thin, enters a phone-booth, lights a cigarette beneath a ripped collage of French-language ad hoardings. Riot Police (as on the ‘Voice Of America’ sleeve (Rough Trade, July 1980), or some Kent State University documentary) advance through tear-gas FX with nightsticks erect. There’s TV-ad ‘Jungle Burger’ out-takes with galloping penises. Poorly-animated UFO’s from some lost monochrome ‘Outer Limits’ episode. Geisha Boys And Temple Girls. Aerial shots of Tokyo, sodium streetlights, an auto factory, Capitalism + Electronics. The power of technology + the technology of power. “Toyota City” – you get the picture? Yes, we see.

And all the while ‘someone, sometimes, CRACKSDOWN!!!’

An insistently solid pagan repetition of Funk bass strips Western Music back to its primal roots. The natural-magic triggers of race-consciousness. Stephen Mallinder mouths lyrics that are vocal rhythms in chant. His white guitar, brown C&A sweatshirt and red neckerchief concede no flash or show-bizzy projection-pretentions, yet Cabaret Voltaire is all around you. I’ve heard the current ‘Crackdown’ (1983) set on domestic sound-centre, seen the Doublevision-label video on small-screen, met the persona dramatis at Western Works, yet experienced en masse, collectively, in toto, it’s stunning. A multi-sensory circus for all senses – and then some. An organic unity only glimpsed at when its constituent elements are ingested in plural forms. Live, with added perspective-effect and depth-of-field, it’s an incomparable spectacle. The only remotely suitable analogy I can come up with is the magnificent Clock DVA stage ritual.

Richard H Kirk chain-smokes throughout. He’s in leopard-skin top, leather pants, hennaed (?) hair shimmering and slip-slithering over his forehead. He feeds in squiffs of synth, some silver metallic sax passages, some guitar as required by whim or premeditation. He sequences the infiltration of taped voices burbling beneath the mix and filling the twixt-number silences. Alan Fish squats behind a Berlin Wall barrage of Perspex drums, hexagon synth-drums, and percussion, meticulously laying down anchor-chains of beat around which all else swirls. He’s in red, a single aquatic-turquoise ear-stud, a frontal bush of scrupulously clean hair black against the shifting colour-filtered videos.

‘Twenty-four, – twenty-four, – twenty-four hours a day’ intones Mal into a web of sound dense enough to make neutrons dance in different formations. Real notes, real solid drop-beat riffs and kicks plentifully jived up by a grafting of taped voices that decode all those messages programmed into the conventional syntax of ‘conventional’ musics. Normal service may never be resumed.

Cabaret Voltaire is about as old as Atari Electronics Inc – but it’s getting younger every day. You’ll see nothing quite like this on any British stage this year.

Pete Hope, singist with Box, is sat hunched in introverted isolation, scarcely blinking. Impassive. Watching…

Thursday, 24 October 2013



Book Review of:
(Jonathan Cape, 1969, then Penguin Books, 
1986 ISBN: 0-14-005521-5)

‘seeing as I had no choice, 
I became honest…’

What is this thing called Portnoy’s Complaint? The title suggests a kind of medical condition. An exotic ailment with highly specific symptoms and side-effects. And the novel takes the form of analysis divulged to a psychiatrist who is sometimes addressed in pleading tones of frustrated incomprehension as ‘Doctor’ Spielvogel. But a complaint is also a protest against perceived injustice. You take your flawed purchases along to the Complaints Department and list your grievances in expectation of a refund or at least a sympathetic hearing. And the novel is that too. A long howl of protest against the condition of being Alexander Portnoy in his time, place and body. We read sympathetically, up to a point, but no – there will be no refund.

The key to its text is ‘the key to what determined my character, what causes me to be living in this predicament.’ It’s not chronological. It leaps around in time as the narrative accumulates, like a string of anecdotes or routines running chaotically into each other, triggered by theme rather than sequentially. Showing the long shadow that childhood and confused infant sexuality casts across adult behaviour, so that ‘my right mind is simply that inheritance of terror I bring with me out of my ridiculous past.’

It’s a beautifully written novel, with exactly the correct leavening of coarseness and truth (‘I pledge my allegiance to the twat of the United States of America’). There are literary and cultural references, to ‘Joseph K’ – Kafka, to Jack Benny and Tom Paine, but most of all to Freud. I first read ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ many years ago, when, due to the illegitimate circumstances of my birth I also considered myself something of the social outsider. I, too, had the secret that must never be uttered. Is that the same as Portnoy’s ‘whining edge of permanent disgruntlement and grievance’? No – obviously not, but sufficient to chime. Close enough for resonance. At least it seemed that way, to me.

I remembered the sex-humour of this self-confessed ‘Raskolnikov of jerking off’ well. The bathroom masturbation scene where the arcing spurt of jism hits the light-bulb, where it sizzles and bubbles. As well as the comic scenario of excess that anticipates by some decades the scurrilously-iconic scene in the movie ‘American Pie’ (1999), featuring the sexual assault on the apple pie. Here, Alex discovers some raw liver in the family fridge on arriving home from school. It was ‘rolled round my cock in the bathroom at three-thirty – and then had again on the end of a fork, at five-thirty, along with the other members of that poor innocent family of mine.’ Yet although Alex’s masturbatory high-jinks take on dimensions of Jewish guilt, they’re also universal enough to be instantly recognisably true. Yes, that’s how it is. Exactly. This book should be a compulsory primer for every pubescent female, as a glimpse into the way the male psyche really works, as a corrective to all the soapy Rom-Com TV movie-stuff, and all the sensitive metro-sexual New Man posturing. Here, read this!

In what purports to be a confessional psychoanalytical monologue there’s an obligation to a core of truth, even if it’s a variety of fictionalised truth. Even if it’s a sometime’s squeamish kind of veracity, as in the uncomfortably disturbing truths of… say, Vladimir Nabokov’s ‘Lolita’ (1959). Something that pokes at areas of the psyche that provoke unsettling responses. And the tale Roth tells is recognisably part of human experience, and hence a valid ingredient for narrative portrayal. Yet the fact that Roth kicked off a seismic controversy on its first publication, was due not only to its pruriently detailed wank-sequences, as much as its irreverent depiction of Jewish identity. I remembered those sex scene, I’d forgotten, or failed to pick up on the Jewish presence. Suddenly, now, I know more about ‘shikses’ and ‘goyim’ than I ever need to know.

There are many ethnic communities making up the greater New York melting pot. From Italian and Afro-American to Hispanic and Puerto-Rican. Jewish is but one. And Philip Roth captures every nuance of its distinctiveness to perfection. Even ‘the terror bred into my bones’, the fear and guilt, particular to the Jewish family, is readily accessible and empathic. Isn’t Catholicism based around original-sin guilt? The moral policeman inserted into the back of the brain monitoring behaviour. But then again, if those two great and opposing religions both inculcate guilt, isn’t that also preying upon the essential good conscience that’s common to all humans? If there was no conscience, there would be no guilt. Which is not to claim that Jewish guilt is in any way comparable to Catholic guilt, or any other brand of guilt.

Philip Milton Roth was born 19th March 1933, and grew up in Newark, New Jersey. As he later documents in an ‘Observer’ item promoting his novel ‘I Married A Communist’ (1998), ‘I was eight when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour… twelve when Germany surrendered… and Japan surrendered on 14 August 1945’. In 1941 the fictional Portnoy family move from Jersey City – because of anti-Semitism, to Newark. Making the ‘Schnoz’ Portnoy a ‘child of the forties, of network radio and World War Two.’ Hiroshima and Nagasaki ‘went up in a puff, one week when I was twelve.’ The autobiographical parallels scarcely need underlining. But more personally significant, young Alex sees himself as one of ‘the sad and watery-eyed sons of Jewish parents, sick to the gills from rolling through these heaving seas of guilt.’ His parents, Sophie and Jack, are ‘the outstanding producers and packagers of guilt in our time!’ A double-act subtly eroding him, their parental manipulation game expertly charted.

His insurance salesman father’s constipation makes him ‘the patron saint of self-sacrifice’, with ‘his intestinal tract in the hands of the firm of Worry, Fear and Frustration.’ Yet he’s more dominated by his mother’s supernatural ubiquity, ‘scolding, correcting, reproving, criticising, fault-finding without end.’ She plots her loving blackmail, poopie-dramas and inquisitions, as well as supervising the correction of Alex’s undescended testicle in a world ‘dripping with germs fraught with peril.’ Roth’s transcription of their push-pull dialogue that conspires towards trapping him inescapably is both recognisably true, and laugh-out-loud funny. A confusion of desires. As a result ‘I am marked like a road map from head to toe with my repressions.’

The narrative ranges across the full breadth of his life up to now, that now being 1966. The Civil Rights struggle and the Sexual Revolution are said to be happening all around him. And he’s opportunistically ready to take personal advantage of both. His adult sexual conquistadoring – ‘another gentile heart broken’, with the ‘unsullied thrill of sadism’ is part of his revenge. A manifest symptom of his ‘complaint’ against the world. He’s ‘the tantrum kid’, and what he’s doing with the girls he refers to as The Pumpkin, The Pilgrim or The Monkey, is ‘I don’t seem to stick my dick up these girls, as much as I stick it up their backgrounds.’ They are scores to settle, ‘having your goy, and eating one too’. It’s his self-serving manipulation of these women under the guise of the new morality that, to me, is more offensive than his honesty about adolescent tossing-off.

There’s some doubt about the girlfriend he calls ‘The Monkey’ – Mary Jane Reed, who he picks up on Lexington Avenue. She seems to be the epitome of, and answer to, every teenage boy’s wank-fantasy. Can she really be true? He suggests that she’s been emotionally damaged by her dysfunctional West Virginian family background, she is ‘this brutalised woman, this coarse, tormented, self-loathing, bewildered, lost, identity-less’ woman. Suggesting all families can be equally toxic, in their own way. That her rapacious sexual appetite, even if it’s not faked, is in part a device to lure him into commitment, into marriage. A move he is determinedly not about to make. That he is commitment-phobic is both a result of, and a reaction against his infant moral programming. His fight against the claustrophobic restrictions of his boyhood.

When he declares himself an atheist, his father’s response is charged with deliberate insinuation, ‘what do you know about the history of the Jewish people, that you have the right to call their religion, that’s been good enough for people a lot smarter than you and a lot older than you for two-thousand years – that you can call all that suffering and heartache a lie!’ And his sister Hannah articulately refutes his need to be seen as not just Jewish, but human – ‘you could have screamed all you wanted that you were not a Jew, that you were a human and had nothing whatever to do with their stupid suffering heritage’ but in Nazi Europe ‘you would have been taken away to be disposed of…’ In spite of which he rehearses chat-up lines in which he introduces himself as ‘Alton Peterson – totally goy’.

He spends a weekend in Davenport, Iowa, with the blonde girl he calls The Pumpkin. The experience delineates his separation, his alienation as part of a community within – but different from the world he knows. It is November 1950. He is seventeen years old. And on an Elm Street that might have been painted by Norman Rockwell, he – the insurance salesman’s son, can’t believe he’s in the same America. ‘Why then can’t I believe I am eating my dinner in America, that America is where I am, instead of some other place.’ It’s here he discovers ‘conversation isn’t just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at.’ That the English language can be a form of interactive conversation, in which words can be ‘little gifts, containing meanings.’

The long howl of protest against the condition of being Alex Portnoy finally comes together in escape to Israel, where – with post-modern awareness, Naomi skewers the core of the novel, ‘everything you say is somehow always twisted, some way or another, to come out ‘funny’… in some little way or other, everything is ironical, or self-deprecating. Self mockery.’ This is Philip Roth laying out the ‘key’ of the novel exactly as it is, where ‘self-laceration is never more than a memory away.’

In his final desperation he attempts to sexually force himself on Naomi – and there’s no way rape can ever be passed off as humour, except in the irony that Portnoy, ever-priapic in the American diaspora of blonde ‘shikses’, fails to achieve erection in the supposed heart of the promised Jewish homeland. Leaving him stricken with impotence.

The novel ends with a long five-line scream. And a punchline.


GOODBYE COLUMBUS’ (Houghton Miffin, 1959) the title novella, originally published in ‘The Paris Review’ (and filmed in 1969, with Ali MacGraw as ‘Brenda Patimkin’, and Richard Benjamin as ‘Neil Klugman’), plus five short stories, ‘The Conversion Of The Jews’, ‘Defender Of The Faith’, ‘Epstein’, ‘Eli, The Fanatic’ and ‘You Can’t Tell A Man By The Song He Sings’

LETTING GO’ (Random House. 1962) a novel in seven sections, charting Gabe Wallach’s attempts to find ‘the world of feeling’

PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT’ (Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1969, Penguin Books, 1986)

WHEN SHE WAS GOOD’ (Random House, 1967) Roth’s only novel with a female protagonist, Lucy Nelson, a Midwestern girl in the 1940’s wounded by life and wild with righteousness, she sets out to make the men of her world do their duty by their wives and children. ‘With unerring fidelity, Roth records the flat surface of provincial American life, the look and feel and sound of it, and then penetrates it to the cesspool of its invisible dynamism’ (‘Newsweek’)

OUR GANG’ (Random House, 1971) a political satire about ‘Trick E Dixon’, a thinly disguised ‘Tricky’ Richard Nixon

THE BREAST’ (Houghton Miffin, 1972) the first of Roth’s three ‘Kapesh’ novels (the other two being ‘The Professor Of Desire’ and ‘The Dying Animal’ in 2001), which – in deliberate reference to Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ and Gogol’s ‘The Nose’, a man turns into a 155-pound female breast. It ‘picks up where ‘Portnoy’ left off and carries the main issue to an imaginary extreme that turns out to be the far edge of certain human realities, including some unanalysable ones, such as the reality of strangeness… the best example yet of Roth’s astonishing prowess when he is at the top of his talent and control’ (Ted Solotaroff, ‘Esquire’) ‘Roth’s prose is, as ever, elegant and intelligent, delicate even when at its most crude. It sent me… back to Kafka – a brave thing to do, but he stands the comparison well’ (Margaret Drabble, ‘The Listener’)

THE GREAT AMERICAN NOVEL’ (Holt, Rinehart And Winston, 1973) Baseball as a slapstick symbol of America, the adventures of the ‘Patriots’ – the only homeless big-league team in American history – hilarious, bizarre, and strangely poignant. ‘A comic extravaganza… parody, burlesque, and verbal ingenuity’ (‘The times Literary Supplement’). ‘Genuinely Rabelaisian, word-rich, in the great tradition, and it is gloriously funny, moving, revealing about what twentieth-century life is all about’ (Anthony Burgess)

MY LIFE AS A MAN’ (1974) the savage, sometimes lurid story of the all-out battle waged between the young writer Peter Tarnopol and the wife who is his nemesis, his demon and his muse. In this novel, Roth comes to grips with the wild inconsistencies of life and art, and exposes them to his relentless comic touch and electric prose. ‘One of the most fiercely engaged, incisive, funny and tormented American novelists… has told it like it was – like it is – for him, and it makes his book a scalding, unique addition to the lasting literature about men and women’ (Seymour Krim, ‘Newsday’)

READING MYSELF AND OTHERS’ (1975) a collection of essays

THE PROFESSOR OF DESIRE’ (1977) the story of David Kepesh, an adventurous man of intelligence and feeling who makes his way through a world of sensual possibilities as he tries to find both pleasure and dignity. ‘Philip Roth is a great historian of modern eroticism. After the lyrical exultation of sexuality that we know from such as Henry Miller, Roth speaks of a sexuality that questions itself; it is still hedonism, but it is problematic, wounded, ironic hedonism. His is the uncommon union of confession and irony. Infinitely vulnerable in his sincerity and infinitely elusive in his irony’ (Milan Kundera, ‘Le Monde’). ‘A thoughtful, even gentle, stylistically elegant novel… a fine display of literary skills’ (‘The New York Times Book Review’)

THE GHOST WRITER’ (1979) the first of Roth’s four ‘Zuckerman’ novels (with ‘Zuckerman Unbound’, ‘The Anatomy Lesson’, and ‘The Prague Orgy’), a celebrated blend of sympathy and pitilessness were the trademarks of EI Lonoff’s work. And it was to this great American-Jewish writer that Nathan Zuckerman turned for support and inspiration. Only to find, when he visited Lonoff’s rural retreat, that the disturbing presence of an enigmatic house-guest haunted his imagination. It has seemed impossible that America’s most famous literary ascetic should keep a mistress. But there she was. The beautiful, gifted, desirable Amy Bellette… or was she Anne Frank? ‘it all adds up to a beautifully written story, admirably terse and restrained’ (‘Sunday Telegraph’)


ZUCKERMAN UNBOUND’ (1981) hero of ‘The Ghost Writer’ Nathan Zuckerman is now the author of his own bestselling novel. The comic-erotic masterpiece ‘Carnovsky’ has rocketed him onto the cover of ‘Life’ magazine – and into the arms of the great American public. Now Zuckerman can’t even get on a bus without being recognised, he’s hounded by gossip columnists and ominous phone calls and, worst of all, by Alvin Pepler, would-be novelist and one-time celebrity on the TV-quiz ‘Smart Money’… fame, fortune or fiction? Something seems to be dealing the death-blow to Zuckerman’s marriage, his family and his former life. ‘A rollicking read’ (Martin Amis, ‘Observer’). ‘Crammed with good jokes and penetrating observations of life and fiction’ (Francis King, ‘Spectator’)

THE ANATOMY LESSON’ (1983) the hilarious tale of Zuckerman, now a famous forty-year-old writer, who decides to give it all up and become a doctor – and a pornographer, instead. ‘The finest, boldest and funniest piece of fiction which Philip Roth has yet produced’ (‘Spectator’). ‘The old story of low, piggish, real life undermining high ideals. This is daring, first-rate stuff’ (‘Punch’). ‘The Anatomy Lesson shows Roth at his peak. The book is possessed by an exuberant desperation. Scorchingly funny, gravely discomforting’ (Harold Pinter, ‘Observer Books Of The Year’)






AMERICAN PASTORAL’ (Houghton Miffin, 1997) critic Bernice Rubens calls it ‘a classical novel in the sense that it can be read over and over again, and promises to enrich the reader anew. It has many layers, domestic, political, psychological, and each layer magically merges into the other. I must not omit the industrial layer which concern a glove factory (dysfunctional family business) and its details of sewing, cutting, shaping of various fabrics. This layer of the novel is as seductive as any other. On the domestic and political front, the novel concerns itself with (Seymour ‘Swede Levov)’s daughter, a ‘weatherman’ of the sixties, who, pursued by the police, goes underground. Her family have lost sight of her for years; it is the father’s search for his daughter, dogged by his own guilt, his rage, and his heartbreak, that forms the core of this wonderful novel’ (in ‘Guardian’, 17 October 1998)

I MARRIED A COMMUNIST’ (Cape, 1998) as told to Nathan Zuckerman by Ira’s brother, Murray, Tim Adams explains, this is ‘the concluding part of a trilogy that began with ‘Sabbath’s Theatre’ (1995) and continued with ‘American Pastoral’ (1997). Taken together, these three books are likely to stand as the significant fictional achievement of our decade. Each of the novels explores as its tragedy the ways in which a formidable American soul is broken on a particular historical moment. The soul in question here belongs to Ira Ringold – aka Iron Rinn, giant of Newark, New Jersey; miner turned radio-star; Abe Lincoln impersonator, charismatic communist. The events that overwhelm him are the McCarthy trials of the Fifties, to which he is indicted by his film-star wife’ (‘Observer, 18 October 1998). He adds that ‘one reading of the novel’ could be seen as ‘nothing more than a badly concealed account of Roth’s own ‘betrayal’ by his partner of twenty years, the actress Claire Bloom, whose brutal memoir of her life with the writer ‘Leaving A Doll’s House’ was published last year’ In the book she is ‘Eve Frame’. But as Linda Grant points out Roth ‘has always deliberately muddled the distinction between the true and the false to dazzle and entertain’ (‘Guardian’ 3 October 1998)

THE HUMAN STAIN’ (2000) Zuckerman observes retired Professor of Classics Coleman Silk – played by Anthony Hopkins in the 2003 movie, with Nicole Kidman


EVERYMAN’ (2006)



NEMESIS’ (Houghton Miffin, 2010) Roth told an interviewer that this account of a polio epidemic in Summer 1944's Newark – his thirty-first novel, would be his last. We shall see...!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013



From “Sheila” to “Dizzy” Tommy Roe’s
Chart profile came in fits and starts.
Andrew Darlington investigates
a strange BubblePop career …

To F Scott Fitzgerald ‘there are no second acts in American lives.’ But then, he’d never heard Tommy Roe. Teen-Pop idols of the late-fifties, and early-sixties tended to have their signature sound. Roy Orbison had his operatic dramas. Gene Pitney his anguished dual-tracked heartbreakers. Bobby Vee his sweet melodic confections. They may have squirmed around within these definitions, but seldom ventured too far beyond. Periodic career reinvention was something that did not arrive until David Bowie. Well… maybe Bobby Darin went through a stylistic blur, but he had something to prove. Eddie Cochran and Johnny Burnette went from Rockabilly to Teen-idol status. Chris Montez returned some years after his “Let’s Dance” hit, as a cheesy supper-club revivalist. But in general, no, there were no second acts to American Rock ‘n’ Roll lives.

Except for Tommy Roe. “Sheila” – his breakthrough hit, was very much Buddy Holly. Not that he was unique in that. Bobby Vee started out using the Holly template, as did Jimmy Gilmer, Bobby Fuller, and a clutch of others. Although “Sheila” was pretty-much a “Peggy Sue” facsimile, it still sounds fresh and original. Later, after a career-pause, came “The Folk Singer” which was a sensitive acoustic narrative described by ‘New Musical Express’ writer Gordon Coxhill as ‘a sad broken little song with a happy ending.’ Then, “Everybody” – a kind of secular gospel anthem. All of which came before his biggest revival comeback with teenbeat bubblepop classic “Dizzy”. There’s no linear career-plan to this uniquely inconsistent chart profile, more a series of disconnected peaks in fits and starts, each happening independently of what had come before. But each identity revealed some vinyl of worth.


Thomas David ‘Tommy’ Roe (born 9 May1942), was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia where he studied at Brown High School by day – showing promise in art class, while skipping homework to train on the running-track or goof around practicing guitar in his bedroom. Already a Buddy Holly fan, he witnessed the electrifying fan-pandemonium that ensued when Elvis took the stage during a show at the ‘Rialto’, and ‘began to dream of becoming an entertainer.’ Yet – hit the pause button, isn’t ‘entertainer’ a strange word to use? Presley was less showbiz at this time than he was an insurrectionary force of Rock ‘n’ Roll nature. Perhaps Tommy Roe’s dreams were never that extreme? Whatever, by sixteen he’d already formed his first group – the Satins, to play local dances and high-school hops. After graduating, he landed a steady job as a testing-technician, soldering wires at General Electric, but continued playing whenever the opportunity presented itself. Until his first break came when the Satins stood in for a date originally scheduled for Buddy Holly.

That same year, 1960, the group trooped into a small local studio owned by Judd Philllips, brother of ‘Sun’ records Sam. They cut a song Tommy had written – “Sheila”, a minimalist and catchy fast-paced soft-Rocker driven on an echoey whalloping drum-track. Sure, it replicates Holly’s “Peggy Sue” ‘E-A-D’ chords, its arrangement, and even Holly’s phrasing so when he sings ‘her name drives me insane’ it comes out ‘her noyme drives me insoyne’, but it rises above its borrowings to come out shiny and new. Issued as by Tommy Roe & The Satins the Judd-label single fizzled out due to limited distribution, but did attract the attention of local DJ Paul Drew.

Within eighteen months Tommy had quit the group and – nudged by Drew’s recommendation, come to the attention of ABC-Paramount Records. Matched with producer Felton Jarvis (who would later work with Elvis) he re-cut the track as ‘B’-side for intended single “Save Your Kisses”. Although the proposed ‘A’-side is an attractive song highlighted by a nagging piping organ hook, DJs flipped the resulting record, and the label was soon anxious to capitalise on its airplay momentum. As it looked as though “Sheila” was about to chart, they pressured Tommy to get out and fulfill promo-dates. In an echo of the early Elvis radio spot in which the sniffy interviewer seems dubiously critical about Elvis throwing away a promising career as a truck-driver for the vagaries of this crazy Rock ‘n’ Roll business, Tommy was reluctant to give up his secure day-job and career-prospects at GEC, until his manager Bill Lowery lured him with a $500 advance. ‘Man, what if I hadn’t needed five-hundred dollars right then?’ he speculates later, ‘I might have ended up as the best singer at General Electric!’

Was there a ‘Sheila’ in young Tommy’s life? Considerable academic research has gone into tracking down the real identity of ‘Peggy Sue’, but Tommy was eventually induced to divulge where his song came from. It began as a poem about his first infatuation, to Freda, who moved out of the neighborhood, never knew she was the object of his teenage crush, or that she’d inspired his first hit. As the 45rpm spins on the jukebox turntable, he sings about how you’ll know Sheila if you see her by her blue eyes and ponytail, but then – oddly, her ‘cheeks are rosy, she looks a little nosy’! A little ‘nosy’…? What kind of compliment is this! As lyrics go, it’s hardly George and Ira Gershwin. But that’s not the point. At its best, Rock is a kind of Folk music, spontaneously created not by professional genius-teams, but direct from its own demographic. In its own speak, with all its hesitant inarticulacy. When he sings ‘me and Sheila go for a ride, oh-oh-oh-oh I feel funny inside’, is that a reference to the circus going on in his underpants? An inept euphemism for unsettling sexual arousal? Chances are – no, it’s not clever enough for that. But Tommy Roe was fourteen when he wrote the poem. What were you writing when you were fourteen?

By midsummer 1962 “Sheila” debuted on the national ‘Billboard’ chart, and climbed irresistibly all the way to no.1. Issued in Britain on the pale-blue HMV POP label it first charted in ‘New Musical Express’ at no.24 (13 September) and peaked five weeks later at no.3, beneath the Tornado’s “Telstar” and Little Eva’s “The Locomotion”. Although its global sales easily topped the million – a big-seller in Australia as well, the sluggardly RIAA didn’t get around to presenting him with the gold disc until 1969! As a footnote to the hit, studio guitarist for the recording session was fellow Atlanta-native Joe South, providing the future “Games People Play” star with his own first break. As his career ascended, he would later produce sessions for Tommy. While Mike Clark, drummer with the Satins, was recruited into Lowery Music where he’d help promote Tommy’s later hits.

The first great age of Rock ‘n’ Roll iconoclasts – the Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bo Diddley, had passed. Tommy Roe was never going to be in that league. But “Shelia” was perfect soda-pop jukebox jive for the ‘Dreamboats and Petticoats’ era. Yet despite his clean-cut unthreatening teen-idol appeal and blue-eyed brown-haired photogenic looks that smiled up out of the fan-mags, his follow-up, a revival of Robin Luke’s “Susie Darlin’” flopped. He had to look elsewhere for his ticket back into the Top 40. Although a later track, “The Folk Singer”, failed in America, it scored in England where it climbed as high as no.4. Written by Merle Kilgore in the form of a Nashville angst-movie or a TV mini-series, it relates the story of a country hick whose love-songs to Sara Jane made the mountains ring. Although probably more a kind of hillbilly singer than what we’d come to think of as the Bob Dylan Folkie archetype, as his fame grew, lavished in glory, fortune at his feet, he let his hair grow long and dressed in style, as poor plain Sara Jane got pushed aside. Until that pivotal fateful morning when he woke and could not speak. The Doctor told him his singing days were through. So he ends up wiser, back in the mountains, singing again to loyal Sara Jane. This tale of hubris and redemption is set against simple acoustic guitar backing, Tommy’s pure, clear voice rising in intensity as he interprets its drama with an innocent sincerity that says this is not irony or postmodern cynicism, he believes this lyric and its reassuring moral.


Then, strange days indeed. Bouyed by the single’s European success he flies into London in March 1963 to co-headline a full national twenty-one-date package-tour. Totally unaware of what is going on in that cold bleak British winter. ‘New Musical Express’ was soon carrying a story about how ‘America’s Fabulous Tommy Roe’ and ‘America’s Exciting’ Chris Montez were both being upstaged by their upstart newcomer support-act the Beatles. The one-nighters, which also featured the Viscounts and the Terry Young Six, compèred by Radio Luxembourg DJ Tony Marsh, opened at the East Ham ‘Granada’, appeared at Birmingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Portsmouth and elsewhere through to close at the ‘De Montfort Hall’ in Leicester. But at each date, all the hysterical fan-action was directed not at the supposed stars, but at the four mop-tops from the small-print half-way down the bill!

Despite being seriously overshadowed by this ‘new thing’, Tommy fought back by writing a song, “Everybody”, during the tour. Perhaps motivated by the negative knock-backs he’d endured, alone in lonely hotel rooms after shows, it was a repetitive assertive uplifting power-of-positive-thinking anthem about not letting bad times get you down. ‘Everybody’s had the blues’ he urges, driven like a revivalist preacher by call-and-response chorus-voices ‘…but that’s no reason for you to break down and cry.’ Later that same year it became his third big hit, reaching a US number 3 and UK number 9. In a kind of vindication he returned to England to lip-synch the record on the 16th November screening of the ITV Pop show ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’ – hosted by Brian Matthew, alongside other guests the Dave Clark Five, Johnny Burnette and Frank Ifield. Then he performed it on an early edition of the cult Mod-show ‘Ready Steady Go’ too. On the black-and-white screen, this was the first time I’d watched Tommy Roe perform, although I’d bought the singles. I bought “Everybody” too. By now he’d had three separate hits, each dissimilar from the other two. He’d never be that kind of star who enjoyed an unbroken run of hits. Instead, each of his successes was carried out from ground-zero up, on its own merits. That’s something else entirely.

As Beatlemania swept America Tommy found himself opening for them at the Washington Coliseum. But there were other factors out to disrupt his life. Conscription into two-year’s service in the Army Reserves set off a relatively barren period for Tommy Roe. Encouraged by the more successful UK tour-reception reported by his friend Roy Orbison, he returned, toured with Cilla Black and PJ Proby, and then moved to London when it was at its most trendiest, living here for a couple of years. He issued his regular three or four singles a years, which went largely unnoticed, including a novelty “Diane From Manchester Square”, written by Buzz Cason about a girl working upstairs in an EMI House office. Which is the building featured on the iconic sleeve-photo of the Beatles first LP. He even guested on children’s TV’s ‘Ollie And Fred’s Five O’Clock Club’ (26 February 1965), with puppets Ollie Beak (owl) and Fred Barker (dog)! Well, Blondie and Alice Cooper appeared on ‘The Muppet Show’, but did this really fulfill Tommy’s early dream of becoming an entertainer? Were his hit-making days really over this time, despite his proven come-back ability when all but his most loyal fans pronounced his career dead in the water? No, there was more to come, he was to have several more Top 40 hits. Meanwhile he bided his time by touring with Dick Clark’s nostalgia-revival ‘Caravan Of Stars’, before returning emphatically to celebrity in 1966.


It’s as though he used this downtime to rethink and refocus his music. His quiff now combed forward into a fringe. His style retuned so that while critic Bill Dahl concedes he’d ‘cut some pretty decent rockers along the way, especially early in his career’ he would now be ‘widely perceived as one of the archetypal bubblegum artists of the late 1960s’ (in ‘Allmusic’). “Sweet Pea” elevated him to an American no.8 (no.1 Canada), almost impossibly cute, yet with a melody-line strong enough to be covered as an instrumental single by Manfred Mann. Then, all the way to no.6 with nursery-rhyme catchy “Hooray for Hazel” (no.2 Canada).

But it all came together with the release of “Dizzy”. On the 4th June 1969 it soared to no.1 in the U.S. Billboard chart as well as no.1 in Canada. It entered the ‘New Musical Express’ chart at no.24 (30th April), nudging the Beatles “Get Back” from no.1 on the 4th June – in sweet backatcha for the 1963 tour, before itself being unseated by “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” a week later! A brief promotional visit took in radio dates and a triumphal ‘Top Of The Pops’ appearance. “Dizzy” was written by Tommy, on the tour-bus, with Freddy Weller, who became a Country star in his own right after briefly serving time with Paul Revere’s Raiders. It was produced by A&R-man Steve Barri, who’d written hits in his own right with PF Sloane. He used the cream of the LA ‘wrecking crew’ session-players – driven by Hal Blaine’s thumping drumbeat overlaid with Jimmy Haskell’s offbeat sawing violin arrangement. A brilliant piece of pure Pop it became massive. Selling two million copies by mid-April 1969, giving Tommy his third gold disc. As Rock was getting heavier, increasingly psychedelic and more album-sized all around him, and other fifties and early-sixties names were struggling to keep their careers afloat, his contagiously light Pop provided the perfect teen-beat counterweight. Slightly more knowing than before, a little more calculated, but irresistibly radio-friendly, he’d never been bigger. “Dizzy” became a soundtrack time-fix inclusion for movies such as ‘Love And Other Disaster’ (2006) and the Sci-Fi comedy ‘Alien Autopsy’ (2006). Then Comedian Vic Reeves – with the Wonder Stuff, took the song back to the British no.1 with a poor revival a couple of decades later (26 October 1991).


Meanwhile “Heather Honey” neatly followed “Dizzy” into the chart, taking his lyrical preoccupations from ‘man, this little girl is fine’ (“Sheila”) to ‘now can’t you see, you’re blowing my mind’. With the sharp drum-break given a trial-run on “Sweet Pea” and most effectively deployed on “Dizzy”. Was there a ‘Heather’ in Tommy’s life? Or – like ‘Sheila’ or ‘Hazel’, was it another symptom of what the Beautiful South cleverly satirise on “Song For Whoever”, that any girl’s-name song-title guarantees niche sales? Although never a UK hit, it certainly worked with my friend Heather Kingdom. Her boyfriend bought her the single anyway, purely on the strength of the title.

In 1969, Tommy Roe could be seen guest-starring as ‘Tadpole Talbot’ in the “The Four of Spades” episode of sitcom ‘Green Acres’, as his final American Top 10 single peaked at no.8. The lubricious “Jam Up Jelly Tight”, another track co-written with Freddy Weller, earned him his fourth gold record. It’s nudge-nudge suggestive lyric, ‘you won’t say you will, but there’s a chance that you might’ had come a long way from the teenage innocence of “Sheila”. Through the summer of 1971 he toured with Joe South and Billy Joe Royal. As a regular on Dick Clark’s TV-show ‘Where The Action Is’ he relocated to Beverly Hills, where he enjoyed the golf and married French actress Josette Banzet, who won a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe award for her performance in the TV mini-series ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ (1976). But, dissatisfied with west coast living he wound up restlessly commuting back to just north of Atlanta where he’d bought a ranch overlooking Lake Lanier. Freed from his long-standing ABC contract he re-signed to MGM South with whom he made inroads into the Country market. Inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1986, as well as the ‘Rockabilly Hall Of Fame’, there were to be no more career-resurrections, although he tours comfortably, sometimes with sixties nostalgia Rockers Freddy Cannon or Bobby Vee. And still makes new music. To F Scott Fitzgerald ‘there are no second acts in American lives.’ But then, he’d never heard Tommy Roe. Tommy had second, third… and even fourth lives as a chart star.


1960 – “Sheila” c/w “Pretty Girl” (Judd Records) as by Tommy Roe & The Satins

1960 – “I Got A Girl” c/w “Caveman Late” (Judd Records) as by Tommy Roe & The Satins

6 September 1962 – “Sheila” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Save Your Kisses” (E Bruce and L Litherman (HMV POP 1060) UK ‘Record Mirror’ no.3, on chart 14-weeks (US no.1, 11 August 1962, ABC-Paramount 10329

 6 December 1962 – “Susie Darlin’” (Robin Luke) c/w “Piddle De Pat” (Tommy Roe) (HMV POP 1092) Producer: Felton Jarvis. UK no.37, on chart 5-weeks (US no.35, 3 November 1962, ABC-Paramount 10362)

1963 – “Gonna Take A Chance” c/w “Don’t Cry Donna” (ABC-Paramount 10389/ HMV 45-POP-1117) Producer: Felton Jarvis

21 March 1963 – “The Folk Singer” (Merle Kilgore) c/w “Count On Me” (HMV POP 1138) Producer: Felton Jarvis. UK no.4, on chart 13-weeks (US ABC 10423, no.84)

1963 – “Town Crier” c/w “Rainbow” (revival of Russ Hamilton’s 1957 hit) (ABC-Paramount 10379)

1963 – “Kiss And Run” c/w “What Makes The Blues (Want To Pick On Me)” (HMV POP 1174) Producer: Felton Jarvis

26 September 1963 – “Everybody” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Sorry I’m Late, Lisa” (HMV POP 1207) Producer: Felton Jarvis. Running time: 1:56mins. UK no.9, on chart 11-weeks, then returns for three more weeks, hitting no.49 from 19th December (US no.3, 26 October 1963, ABC-Paramount 10478)

US 8 February 1964 – “Come On” (Ernie Hall and Dan Penn) c/w “There Will Be Better Years” (ABC-Paramount 10515) ‘Billboard’ no.36 (HMV POP 1259)

April 1964 – “Carol” (Chuck Berry) c/w “Be A Good Little Girl” (ABC-Paramount 10543) US no.61

1964 – “Diane From Manchester Square” c/w “Love Me, Love Me” (ABC-Paramount)

1964 – “A Wild Water Skiing Weekend” (B Kalb/ Ray Whitley) c/w “Dance With Henry” (Tommy Roe) (ABC Paramount 45-10555) Producer: Felton Jarvis

December 1964 – “Party Girl” (Perry ‘Buddy’ C Buie) c/w “Oh, How Could I Love You” (ABC-Paramount 10604) US no.85

December 1964 – “Little Miss Heartbreak” (HMV POP 1364) with the Roemans

1965 – “Fourteen Pairs Of Shoes” c/w “Combo Music” (ABC-Paramount 10665)

1965 – “I Keep Remembering (Things I Forgot)” (B Buie/ JR Adkins) c/w “Wish You Didn’t Have To Go” (ABC-Paramount 45-10706) Producer: Felton Jarvis)

1965 – “Doesn’t Anybody Know My Name (Two-Ten, Six-Eighteen)” c/w “Everytime A Bluebird Cries” (ABC-Paramount 10738)

US 2 July 1966 – “Sweet Pea” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Much More Love” (ABC-Paramount 10762/ HMV POP 1539) ‘Billboard’ no.8

US 1 October 1966 – “Hooray For Hazel” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Need Your Love” (ABC 10852) Produced by ‘OUR Productions’ (which is Steve Clark and Curt Boettcher). Running time 2:28mins. ‘Billboard’ no.6

US 28 January 1967 – “It’s Now Winters Day” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Kick Me Charlie” (ABC 10888) ‘Billboard’ no.23

April 1967 – “Sing Along With Me” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Nightime” (ABC 10908) US no.91

June 1967 – “Little Miss Sunshine” (Tommy Roe) c/w “The You I Need” (ABC 10945) a beach-surf single, US no.99

October 1967 – “Melancholy Mood” c/w “Paisley Dreams” (HMV POP 1611)

February 1968 – “Dottie I Like It” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Soft Words” (ABC 11039)

16 April 1969 – “Dizzy” (Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller) c/w “The You I Need” (Stateside SS 2143), UK no.1, on charts 19-weeks (US no.1, 15 February 1969, ABC 11164)

23 July 1969 – “Heather Honey” (Tommy Roe) c/w “Money Is My Pay” (Stateside SS 2152) Producer: Steve Barri. String Arrangement: Jimmie Haskell. UK no.24, on charts 9-weeks (US no.29, 17 May 1969, ABC 11211)

July 1969 – “Jack And Jill” (Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller) c/w “Tip Toe Tina” (ABC 11229) US no.53

US 6 December 1969 – “Jam Up Jelly Tight” (Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller) c/w “Moontalk” (Tommy Roe) (ABC 11247) ‘Billboard’ no.8 In Canada it hit no.5. UK Stateside SS2156

June 1970 – “Pearl” (Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller) c/w “Dollars Worth Of Pennies” (ABC 11266). Producer: Steve Barri. US no.50

1970 – “Stir It Up And Serve It” (Tommy Roe and Freddy Weller) c/w “Firefly” (ABC 11258) Producer: Steve Barri. US no.50. UK Stateside

October 1970 – “We Can Make Music” (Lou T Josie) c/w “Gotta Keep Rolling Along” (Tommy Roe) (ABC 11273) Producer: Steve Barri. US no.49. UK Probe PRO 506

November 1970 – “Brush A Little Sunshine” (Stanley J Geiber) (ABC 11281)

US 25 September 1971 – “Stagger Lee” (Harold Logan and Lloyd Price) c/w “Back Streets And Alleys” (ABC 11307) ‘Billboard’ no.25

February 1971 – “Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes” (Allen McCollum and Ronnie Laws) c/w “Traffic Jam” (Tommy Roe and M Davis) (ABC 11287) Producer: Steve Barri. UK Probe, double-tracked teeny-Pop

April 1971 – “Pistol Legged Mama” (Tommy Roe) c/w “King Of Fools” (ABC 11293)

September 1972 – “Mean Little Woman, Rosalie” (Richard Laws) (MGM South 7001) US no.92

May 1973 – “Working Class Hero” (Tommy Roe) (MGM South 7013) US no.97 and Country no.73

1976 – “Glitter And Gleam

1979 – “Massachusetts” (Warner 8800) US Country chart no.77

1979 – “You Better Move On” (Warner 49085) US Country chart no.70

1980 – “Charlie I Love Your Wife” US Country chart no.87

1985 – “Some Such Foolishness” (RA Wade) c/w “Barbara Lou” (MCA 52711) US Country chart no.57

1986 – “Radio Romance” (MCA 52778) US Country chart no.51

1987 – “Back When It Really Mattered” (Polygram/Mercury 888497) US Country chart no.67

1987 – “Let’s Be Fools Like That Again” US Country chart no.38

2012 – “Devil’s Soul Pile” followed by “It’s For You I’m Me” singles featuring Melissa Hooker

2013 – “Memphis Me


1963 – ‘SHEILA’ (ABC-432, HMV CLP 1614) with ‘Sheila’, ‘Piddle De Pat’, ‘Little Hollywood Girl’, ‘Heart Beat’, ‘There Will Be Better Years’, ‘There’s A Great Day A-Coming’, ‘Susie Darlin’, ‘Think About The Good Things’, ‘Look At Me’, “I Found A Love’, ‘Blue Ghost’, ‘Maybellene’. US LP chart no.110

1963 – ‘SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY’ (ABC-467) with ‘Come On And Dance’, ‘Be My Baby’, ‘Taste Of Honey’, ‘That’ll Be The Day’, ‘Standing Watch’, ‘Why Do You Make Me Cry?’, ‘Nitty Gritty’, ‘You’re My Happiness’, ‘Dominique’, ‘Sensations’, ‘Switchie, Witchie, Titchie’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’

1964 – ‘EVERYBODY LIKES TOMMY ROE’ with ‘Janie’, ‘Kiss And Run’, ‘I Got A Girl’, ‘Little Tomboy’, ‘Almost Grown’. Issued as a 2-for-1 CD with ‘Sheila’ by BGO Records

1965 – ‘BALLADS AND BEAT’ (HMV CLP1860) UK only reshuffle of earlier tracks, ‘A Taste Of Honey’, ‘Be My Baby’

1966 – ‘SWEET PEA’ (ABC S-575) compilation LP with ‘Hooray For Hazel’, ‘Under My Thumb’, ‘Pretty Famingo’, ‘Where Were You When I Needed You’, ‘Wild Thing’, ‘Sweet Pea’, ‘Party Girl’, ‘Everybody’, ‘The Folk Singer’ ‘Pleasing You Pleases Me’, ‘Kick Me Charlie’, ‘Sheila’. US LP chart no.94

1967 – ‘IT’S NOW WINTER’S DAY’ (ABC S-594) Produced by ‘Our Productions’, Curt Boettcher, former Phil Sector handclap-guy and future Association member, who died 14 June 1987. Cover shows Tommy photo-merged going in two directions, with ‘Leave Her’, ‘Moon Talk’, ‘Aggravation’, ‘Golden Girl’, ‘Misty Eyes’, ‘Have Pity On Me’, ‘Sing Along With Me’, ‘Long Live Love’, ‘Nightime’, ‘Cry On Crying Eyes’, ‘Sweet Sounds’, ‘It’s Now Winter’s Day’. US LP chart no.159. ‘ZigZag no.48’ writes that ‘it was a collection of songs Tommy had been working on through the years that were more serious than his usual fare. And they were certainly worth the effort, especially the title track… most noteworthy is ‘Sweet Sounds’ – one of those perfect tracks, and any deviation from the arrangement would only mar its perfection. There was such a variety of songs on the album, from blue-eyed soul with ‘Have Pity On me’, a little freaky track ‘Moontalk’ with its sound effects, to the Bo Diddley styled ‘Misty Eyes’

1967 – ‘PHANTASY’ (ABC S-610) includes single ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘Paisley Dreams’, ‘Plastic World’, ‘Melancholy Mood’, ‘Visions’, ‘Mystic Magic’, ‘These Are The Children’, ‘Goodbye Yesterday’, ‘The Executive’, ‘The You I Need’, ‘It’s Gonna Hurt Me’, a shot at psychedelia which –according to ‘ZigZag’ ‘pleased him artistically’ although ‘saleswise it was a write-off’. Musicians – as on ‘Winters Day’, include guitarists Mike Deasy and Ben Benay, Butch Parker (piano), Jim Bell (oboe), Jerry Scheff (bass), Jim Troxell (drums), Curt Boettcher (percussion), Toxie French (vibes), Mike Henderson (organ) plus back-up vocals by Sandy Salisbury (who wrote ‘These Are The Children’ and ‘Goodbye Yesterday’), Jim Bell, Michelle O’Malley, Dottie Holmberg, Sharon Olsen and Lee Mallory Vocal arrangements by Curt Boettcher

1969 – ‘DIZZY’ (ABC S-683/ Stateside SSL 10282) with ‘Heather Honey’, ‘Raining In My Heart’, ‘Cinnamon’, ‘A Dollar’s Worth Of Pennies’, ‘Stormy’, ‘Makin Music’, ‘Money Is My Pay’, ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Gotta Keep Rolling Along’, ‘Look Out Girl’, ‘Dizzy’. US LP chart no.25. The ‘NME’ review commends its ‘good, beaty ballads, best of which are his double-tracked ‘Money Is My Pay’, his belting ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Cinnamon’ (a girl, not the flavouring), and two slow numbers – ‘Raining In my Heart’ and ‘Gotta Keep Rolling Along’. He gets plenty of rocking instrumental and vocal support, which gets his singing really going. Six composing credits for Tommy, too’. (There’s a compilation also called ‘Dizzy’ issued by Pickwick SPC-3361, with ‘Dizzy’, ‘Jack And Jill’, ‘Hooray For Hazel’, ‘Jam Up Jelly Tight’, ‘Carol’, ‘Sheila’, ‘Party Girl’, ‘Wild Thing’, ‘Heather Honey’)

June 1969 - ‘TOMMY ROE: GREATEST HITS’ (Stateside SSL 10296) with ‘Sheila’, ‘Susie Darlin’, ‘Everybody’, ‘The Folk Singer’, ‘Party Girl’, ‘Carol’, ‘Sweet Pea’, ‘Hooray For Hazel’, ‘It’s Now Winter’s Day’, ‘Melancholy Mood’, ‘Dizzy’, ‘Heather Honey’, ‘Jack And Jill’, ‘Jam Up Jelly Tight’ (there are various other hits compilations including ‘Tommy Roe’s 16 Greatest Hits’ in 1972, ABCX-762)

1970 – ‘TWELVE IN A ROE: A COLLECTION OF TOMMY ROE’S GREATEST HITS’ (ABCS-700/ Stateside SSL 10296) with ‘Sheila’, ‘Everybody’, ‘The Folk Singer’, ‘Party Girl’, ‘Carol’, ‘Sweet Pea’, ‘Hooray For Hazel’, ‘It’s Now Winter’s Day’, ‘Dizzy’, ‘Heather Honey’, ‘Jack And Jill’, ‘Jam Up Jelly Tight’. US LP chart no.21

1970 – ‘WE CAN MAKE MUSIC’ (ABC S-714/ Probe SPB 1021) with ‘We Can Make Music’, ‘The Greatest Love’, ‘Firefly’, ‘Evergreen’, ‘Traffic Jam’, ‘Pearl’, ‘Brush A Little Sunshine And Love’, ‘King Of Fools’, ‘No Sad Songs’, ‘(They Long To Be) Close To You’, ‘Stir It Up And Serve It’, ‘Reprise: We Can Make Music’. US LP chart no.134. The ‘Record Mirror’ review says ‘Tommy Roe doesn’t change much – makes few concessions to musical trends. He goes for straightforward songs and dresses them up with a smile and a light-hearted approach. The only thing that keeps him out of the charts is sometimes faulty song selection. However, with ‘King Of Fools’ is very good indeed won’t disappoint his fans’

1971 – ‘BEGINNINGS’ (ABC S-732) with ‘Beginnings’, ‘Lawdy Miss Clawdy’, ‘Why Can’t It Be Me’, ‘The Way Things Are’, ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’, ‘Snowman’, ‘Indulge In Love’, ‘Back Streets And Alleys’, ‘Hide Daddy’s Whiskey’, ‘Your Touch Is The Best Thing In Life’, ‘Beginnings’, ‘Stagger Lee’

1976 – ‘ENERGY’ (Monument PZ34182) Producer: Felton Jarvis. Engineer: Chip Young. With ‘Drop A Little Rock’, ‘You Don’t Need Me’, ‘Slow Dancing’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Snowing Me Under’, ‘Energy’, ‘Burn On Love Light’, ‘Bad News (Don’t Follow Me)’, ‘Glitter And Gleam’, ‘Everybody’

1977 – ‘FULL BLOOM’ (Monument MG 7614) Producer: Chips Moman on ‘But I Do’ and ‘You Babe’, Fred Foster on ‘Slippin’ On The Love We Make’, ‘Sha Na Na Na’, ‘Back To The Roots’, ‘Love Has A Way Of Breaking Your Heart’, ‘Up To My Heart In Love’, ‘Baby Blue Eyes’, ‘Working Class Hero’, ‘Your Love Will See Me Through’

1990 – ‘YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW’ (Curb) a weak mix of ten tracks, ‘Early In The Morning’, ‘Sheila’, ‘(Stop Complaining) We’re Only Here For A While’, ‘Dizzy’, ‘Barbara Lou’, ‘Sweet Pea’, ‘Who I Used To Be’, ‘Some Such Foolishness’, ‘Who’s That Lady’, ‘Everybody’

2013 – ‘MEMPHIS ME’ (Tommy Roe/ Airebelle, available through his own website) with ‘Memphis Me’, ‘It’s For You I’m Me’ (duet with Melissa Hooker), ‘Water Underneath My Burning Bridge’, ‘What If’s And Should Have’s’, ‘Remember’, ‘Without Her’, ‘That’s When She Ran Out Of Time’, ‘Love For My Woman’, ‘Devil’s Soul Pile’. An album of pleasant easy Country-flavoured Tommy Roe originals