Band members Related acts
- Bob Brittain -- keyboards (1969-73)
- Polly Brown (aka Polly Browne) -- vocals (1969-72)
- Martin Bridges -- bass, lead guitar (1969-70)
- Peter Hawkins -- lead guitar (replaced Martin Bridges)
- Keith Hall -- drums, percussion (1969-73)
- Maggie Hutson -- vocals (1969)
- Dave Martyr -- lead guitar (1969)
- Paul Riordan -- bass (replaced Brian Stewart) (1970-72)
- Paul Risi -- lead guitar (replaced Peter Hawkins)
- Sheila Rossall (RIP 1986) -- vocals (1975)
- Brian Stewart -- bass (replaced Mike Tomich) (1970-71)
- Mike Tomich -- bass (1969-70)
- Chris Warren --
vocals (1969-1973 and 75)
- Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (Mike Tomich)
- Polly Brown (solo efforts)
- Gerry and The Pacemakers (Keith Hall)
- Storm Warning (Keith Hall)
- Sweet Dreams (Polly Brown)
Rating: *** (3 stars)
Catalog: NSP 18357
Grade (cover/record): VG/VG
Comments: textured UK pressing
GEMM catalog ID: 5359
I'll readily admit that I kind of backed into Pickettywitch via lead singer Polly Brown's solo career. When I was a teenager Brown was a singer who seemed to have it all - a soulful voice that recalled a mix of Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick and looks that could have stopped a truck ...
The fact Brown was almost unknown to American audiences and virtually none of my friends had a clue who she was really didn't seem to matter. Damn she was a hotty ... Anyhow, where was I? Oh, yeah PIckettywitch.
Named after a Cornish village, Pickettywitch formed in 1969 with a lineup consisting of singer Polly Brown (she latter changed her surname to Browne), bassist Martin Bridges, keyboardist Bob Brittain, drummer Keith Hall, and guitarist Dave Martyr. They're previously played together in an outfit called The 20th Century Showband. Adding Chris Warren as a second singer, the group spent several months rehearsing what became a fairly elaborate stage act. A series of auditions saw them signed by producer John Macleod to Pye Records. They quickly debuted with the single 'You've Got Me So I Don't Know' b/w 'Solomon Grundy' (Pye catalog number Pye 7N 17799)). Though the 45 didn't chart, it generated considerable media attention including an appearance on the UK television program Opportunity Knocks. It also brought the American Janus label calling with a US distribution deal. Following a personnel shakeup that saw Martyr leave (Bridges took over guitar chores with newcomer Mike Tomich handling bass), the group released a second single. Originally recorded by The Foundations, their cover of 'That Same Old Feeling' b/w 'Maybe We've Been Loving Too Long' (Pye catalog number 7N 17887) proved their breakthrough, eventually going top -5 in the UK.
Anxious to cash-in on the band's unexpected success Pye wasted little time rushing the group into the studio to record a supporting LP. Released as 1971's cleverly titled "Pickettywitch", the album showcased a classic set of early 1970s power pop. Offering up a mixture of band originals and selections penned by producer Macleod the collection was full of sterling MOR melodies and bright harmony vocals. In the interests of honesty, I'm simply a sucker for this stuff. While Warren and Brown shared lead vocal duties the big draw was clearly Brown. As mentioned, she had a big, expressive voice that recalled a mix of Dusty Springfield and Dionne Warwick, infusing material like 'Days I Remember' and 'Take Away the Emptiness Too' with a surprisingly soulful edge. The collection certainly wasn't perfect. Warren was an okay, if somewhat anonymous singer and material like '(It's Like a) Sad Old Kinda' Movie' and 'Then It Will Be' had a distinctive MOR edge apparently intended to capture the same crowd who were gobbling up Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdink LPs in the belief they were cool and happening. Still, it's one of those enjoyable period pieces that most Americans have never heard and makes you wonder what they could have done had they been given a little more flexibility in terms of the material they chose to record. Elsewhere, released as a single '(It's Like A) Sad Old Kinda Movie' b/w 'Times' (Pye catalog number 7N 17951) also went top-20 in the UK, though the parent LP did little commercially. In the meantime, apparently concerned the original UK cover wasn't commercial enough, Janus marketing executives chose to slap a different cover on the US release (Janus catalog number JLS 3015).
"Pickettywitch" track listing:
2.) (It's Like a) Sad Old Kinda' Movie (John Macleod - Tony Macaulay) - 3:02
3.) Take Away the Emptiness Too (John Macleod - Tony Macaulay) - 2:40
4.) Then It Will Be (Bob Brittain - Polly Brown) - 2:37
5.) Shame Shame (J. Kilbourn) - 2:17
6.) Sound of Silence (Paul Simon) - 3:08
1.) I'll Say Bye Bye (Peter Hawkins - Brian Stewart) - 2:10
2.) Days I Remember (Bob Brittain - Polly Brown) - 2:29
3.) Two Hearts Are Better Than One (John Macleod) - 3:28
4.) There He Goes (John Macleod) - 2:34
5.) Maybe We've Been Loving Too Long (J. Kilbourn) - 2:34
6.) This Day (Bob Brittain - Polly Brown) - 2:32
6.) I'll Say Bye Bye
The video and sound quality on these YouTube clips isn't all that great, but at least they give you a chance to see the group at work ...
"Same Old Feeling"
Next up was a non-LP release 'Baby I Won't Let You Down' b/w 'Please Bring Her Back Home' (Pye catalog number 7N 45002). At that point the band began to run out of creative steam. Guitarist Bridges and bassist Tomich tendered their notices and were quickly replaced by Peter Hawkins and Brian Stewart. Hawkins and Stewart were then replaced by guitarist Paul Risi and bassist Paul Riordan. Singles continued to be released, but they were increasingly uninspired and sold in fewer and fewer quantities:
- 1970's 'Waldo P Emerson Jones' b/w 'There He Goes' (Pye catalog number 7N 45035)
- 1970's 'Summertime Feelin'' b/w 'Dreamin'' (Pye catalog number 7N 45080)
- 1970's 'Bring A Little Light Into My World' b/w 'Dream World' (Pye catalog number 7N 45096)
- 1970's 'Number Wonderful' b/w 'Point Of No Return' (Pye catalog number 7N 45126)
By 1972 Brown bailed out reappearing as a member of Sweet Dreams, followed by a modest solo career. That left Chris Warren and Keith Hall to anchor the group. It was Warren who took lead vocals on the final single:
- 1973's 'The Power And The Glory' b/w 'Living By The Gun' (Pye catalog number 7N 45254). In the States the single was released by Bell under catalog number 45-419).
In 1975 the band nameplate was resurrected. Featuring all new studio musicians including lead singer Sheila Rossall 'The New Pickettywitch' managed to release one single for the Penny Farthing label before collapsing: 'Love Me Just A Little Bit More\' b/w 'Suddenly' (Penny Farthing catalog number PEN 879). (Rossall contracted a bizarre disease that literally left her allergic to virtually every kind of manmade substance. She ended up being confined to a decontaminated bubble and died of the disease in November 1986.)
Ah you have to love the internet. Thanks for drummer Keith Hall for taking the time to send me a detailed band history with tons of corrections (sorry I didn't even get your surname right):
And out of the blue Ms. Browne was kind enough to drop me a line with some factual corrections which I was more than happy to accommodate:
Hi 'BadCat Records'
best wishes, Polly Browne
By the way she has a nice website at:
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