(3 / 5)
Here’s an obscure one that will appeal to collectors and fans of the 1960s British pop music scene. A group that many will not have come across before. London five-piece The Spectrum, who signed to RCA and were marketed as “The British Monkees.”
They also had a tie-in with Gerry Anderson’s cult TV show Captain Scarlet and numerous high-quality singles, but somehow The Spectrum failed to achieve the same level of success in the UK as they did in mainland Europe.
This two CD set is the first-ever official anthology of their career. It features all of their singles, the 1970 UK LP “The Light Is Dark Enough”, their contribution to the soundtrack of the little-known 1968 film “The Bliss Of Mrs Blossom”, their unissued-at-the-time theme tune for Captain Scarlet played with the closing credits of the programme and, perhaps most notably of all, recordings that have only previously been released on their insanely rare and largely-unknown 1969 Venezuelan-only album.
With the addition of their obscure 1965 debut single for EMI and a 1964 album that they cut (as Group Five) for the French market, “All The Colours Of The Spectrum” is the definitive document of a fascinating but hitherto little-documented band.
We get two CDs, a total of 40 tracks, a 16 page booklet with some interesting period photos and memorabilia, and the Spectrum story from the cradle to the grave, with reminiscences from founder member Tony Atkins.
The group was made up of Tony Atkins on guitar, Colin Forsey was the lead singer, Bill Chambers played organ),Tony Judd provided the bottom end on bass and Keith Forsey sat at the drums. Their debut single “Samantha’s Mine” with a B-side of “Saturday’s Child,” was released in 1967. It did not do much in the UK, but over in sunny Spain it hit the top spot in their charts.
The follow-up single, “Portabello Road,” was played on heavy rotation by pirate radio station, Radio London. The group’s third single, “Headin’ for a Heatwave,” also made number one in Spain. Their fifth single, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” the track that was a big hit for Scottish band Marmalade, number one in the UK in January 1969. It was written by Paul McCartney, although credited to Lennon and McCartney on the Beatles 1968 so-called ‘White Album’, their ninth studio album which is actually called “The Beatles”. The song was released as a single by The Beatles that same year in many countries, but not in the UK or the United States until 1976.
Peter Wood replaced Bill Chambers in 1968, and in 1969, Tony Atkins picked up the bass, Colin Forsey played rhythm guitar while John Beattie took on lead guitar. The group recorded The Light Is Dark Enough album for RCA, before a move to the Parlophone label for a final single before calling it a day. Keith Forsey became a top drummer and a hit songwriter; he co-wrote “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” and “Don’t You Forget About Me”) and as a producer, he worked with the likes of Billy Idol, Nina Hagen, the Pointer Sisters, the Psychedelic Furs and many more, and penned movie soundtracks.
This two disc re-release is a fun, quirky, pleasant listen and a nice reminder of classic British pop from a band that many called “manufactured”; as per The Monkees’ template, but were in fact, accomplished musicians and as a unit, had something going for them. But they just did not get the break that they perhaps deserved.
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’