On my radio show tonight (which can be heard at whcl.org), I’m playing a rare 1960’s psychedelic track with a bit of a backstory.
In 1966, the Bee Gees were just on the cusp of breaking through worldwide. They had several hits in their native Australia, their songs going through different musical genres and tempmos to find the sound that worked best for them. Eventually they tried a psychedelic track that mixed 3/4 time and 4/4 time, telling the story of a neighborhood toymaker.
The song was first recorded in 1967 by Australian singer Jon Blanchfield, with the Bee Gees providing backup vocals and instruments. Here’s the original version of this song, known as “Town of Tuxley Toymaker, Part 1.”
Now eventually the Bee Gees moved to London, and the song was pitched to various performers. Enter Billy J .Kramer, a British Invasion singer who had a series of hits (“Bad to Me,” “Little Children”), but was looking for a comeback. Again, the Bee Gees provided their instruments and their background vocals, and Billy J. Kramer sang lead.
Meanwhile, other artists tried to make this song a hit, with varying levels of success. Greek singer Vicky Leandros gave her interpretation of the song, punching up the tempo and adding more of a 60’s rock beat, especially in the 4/4 sections.
Meanwhile, New Zealand singer Shane did his version of “Town of Tuxley Toymaker” completely in 4/4 time, while retaining as much of the psychedelic instrumentation as he could.
There’s also a version by the Vipers, a Belgian band whose version is … well … it’s there, that’s all I can say about it.
Here’s the crazy thing, though. You know who DIDN’T record this song? The Bee Gees. I mean, they backed up two different versions of this song, but they never released it as one of their own tracks. Although there is an argument out there that the song did have more than a passing resemblance to a popular Broadway musical of the time. Especially the similarity to the introductory verses of “Town of Tuxley Toymaker” to this song.
And why was there never a Part 2 to this song? If you have a Part 1, doesn’t that necessarily mean that a Part 2 must exist in one form or another? Even a Part 1 1/2?
Anyways, that’s the backstory to one of the songs I’m playing on tonight’s Nightowl Radio Show, along with a host of other tracks. Show starts at 7:00 p.m., and the playlist will post at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Hope you enjoy!