JIMMY CAMPBELL 1944 - 2007
This month selection deviates from the norm. Rather than spotlighting a new artist I'm sharing a self compiled collection of Liverpool singer-songwriter, Jimmy Campbell. You may have seen his name mentioned in the same breath as Michael Head so hopefully this will be of interest to all ShackNet members. Rather than rewrite Campbell's biography I have included Spencer Leigh's obituary from 2007. It provides a good summary of Campbell's recording career which spanned from 1965 to 1972. As part of the download I have also included scans of the sleeve notes from the five CDs featuring his work which will provide further information on these recordings
Campbell was one of the few musicians that managed to break out of the Merseybeat era while contemporaries failed to move with the times. His best known song is the 1967 single, 'Michael Angelo' which he released as part of the 23rd Turnoff (recently covered by John Head). Following this he released three solo albums plus a collaboration with ex-Merseys member Billy Kinsley under the of Rockin' Horse. None of these records charted and sold in very small numbers. Campbell's reluctance to leave Liverpool is often sited as a reason he didn't achieve fame. He has stated that he didn't have the drive to further his career and gave up recording in 1972.
This download collects music from all eras of his short career, give it a listen, if you're a fan of MH/Shack I'm certain you will hear similarities in the music of Jimmy Campbell…
Golden Opportunity - The Music Of Jimmy Campbell
Click here to download
01 Michael Angelo [The 23rd Turnoff]
02 Green Eyed American Actress
03 By The Light Of A Lamp
04 Mother's Boy
05 Keep Me Warm (Til the Sun Shines) [Swinging Blue Jeans]
06 Another Vincent Van Gogh
07 Leave Me Here [The 23rd Turnoff]
08 In My Room
09 Biggest Gossip In Town [Rockin' Horse]
10 Forever Grateful
11 Don't You Ever Think I Cry [Rockin' Horse]
12 (Not) A Penny In My Pocket (Demo Version With Strings) [The 23rd Turnoff]
13 Painting A Song
14 It's A Crime [The Kirkbys]
15 Paris, You're In Paris
16 That's Right That's Me
17 Loving You Is All I Do
18 On A Monday
19 Don't You Want Me No More [The Kirkbys]
20 Golden Opportunity [Rockin' Horse]
21 Flowers Are Flowering (Demo) [The 23rd Turnoff]
22 When You're Coming Home
23 Half Baked
24 Closing Down The Shop
26 Don't Leave Me Now
Note: Although he wrote the song Campbell doesn't appear on track 5 but it's too good to leave off this compilation.
Writer of psychedelic classics
Spencer Leigh - The Independent - 14 February 2007
James Campbell, singer and songwriter: born Liverpool 4 January 1944; married (one daughter); died Liverpool 12 February 2007.
Everybody who heard the Liverpool singer and songwriter Jimmy Campbell recognised his talent. Why did he receive so little acclaim? Much of the reason lies in his own personality, but he has left behind some fine songs that he recorded as part of the Kirkbys, 23rd Turnoff and Rockin' Horse as well as on his own. Campbell mocked his own lack of success in "Tremendous Commercial Potential" (1971) and he once told me, "A lot of my songs are cries for help and I suppose that's why they didn't make the grade."
Like many young Liverpool lads, Campbell formed a beat group, the Panthers, and on 13 January 1962 they supported the Beatles at Hambleton Hall in Huyton. As in a western showdown, John Lennon stood at the front of the stage checking out the new boy in town. Campbell was to regard Lennon and McCartney as the best songwriters in the world, adding, "McCartney had that magic, that self-confidence, and I never had that."
In March 1964, the Panthers were recording for the Radio Luxembourg programme Sunday Night at the Cavern and the compere, Bob Wooler, confused their name with the suburb where they lived, calling them the Kirkbys. As the Kirkbys, they recorded for RCA and their single "It's a Crime" was released in 1966. After a tour with Herman's Hermits in Finland, they acquired a cult following and two of Campbell's best songs, "Don't You Want Me No More" and "Bless You", were only released there.
In line with the psychedelic times, they changed their name to 23rd Turnoff (actually the exit from the M6 to the East Lancs Road) and recorded "Michaelangelo" (1967) for Decca's progressive label Deram. The intended follow-up, "Another Vincent Van Gogh", was cancelled as sales were disappointing. It is now viewed as a prime example of UK psychedelia and the collection of the Kirkbys/23rd Turnoff work, The Dream of Michaelangelo (2004), had superb reviews. "I wish we had done something on Van Gogh," said Campbell:
I was sick when Don McLean wrote his "starry, starry night" rubbish. Van Gogh was a hard man and a hard drinker and I put myself in his shoes.
Some of Campbell's songs were recorded by Liverpool acts: "She'll Get No Lovin' That Way" (Escorts), "Dreamin'" (Merseys), "Penny in My Pocket" (Merseys) and "Keep Me Warm Til the Sun Shines" (Swinging Blue Jeans). The Blue Jeans recorded Campbell's song independently and, when they took it to EMI, the record company supported their regular producer, Wally Ridley, and refused to release it. When it finally appeared in 2003, it could be seen as another psychedelic classic.
In 1969, Campbell signed to Fontana as a solo performer and he released Son of Anastasia (1969), Half-Baked (1970) and The Jimmy Campbell Album (1972). He worked with Billy Kinsley of the Merseybeats as Rockin' Horse and they made the album Yes It Is (1971). Rolf Harris recorded "Salvation Army Citadel" but it was the Sixties Liverpool star Billy Fury who appreciated what Campbell was doing.
Fury recorded his wry comments on gambling, "That's Right That's Me", a story about a half-hearted affair, "Green Eyed American Actress", and another about his possessions, "In My Room". "In My Room" is so personal that one wonders how Fury viewed it: "In the posters on my wall, / Of Hitler, John and Paul, / I see myself" - and by the end of the song that same self decides to destroy everything in a bonfire.
Campbell tried to settle to a day job but he drank heavily and became unreliable. His later years are a sorry story. He stopped drinking a few years ago but heavy smoking had already wrecked his health. He returned to songwriting and tracks for a new album had been recorded, including one about Iraq, "When I Cross Your Path".
Jimmy Campbell's story is one of lost potential, someone who had the talent but couldn't pursue it. "I wish I got my act together," he once said, "and opened a songwriting school in Liverpool."