In the halcyon days of Anything Should Happen, Billy Kinsley was the ideal artist for what that Blog celebrated. He was involved in not one but two classic lost Pop Rock albums, added to his Mersey Beat standing. What more did you need? He is one of the mainstays of that genre, yet few of the general public laud him. Hopefully that's about to change.
Billy Kinsley was a founder member and vocalist (with Tony Crane) of The Merseybeats and left, excepting a brief departure in 1964, after their glory years were fading in 1966. He duly formed a vocal duo called The Merseys with Tony Crane, famous for the first cover of Sorrow which was a massive hit. Bowie would later also cover this McCoy's B Side.
His tie up with the equally excellent Jimmy Campbell in Rockin' Horse resulted in 1970's Yes It Is, an album that is still celebrated by the Power Pop Community. nearly five decades on. The band are held in the same esteem as say Badfinger, despite this being their only album. Indeed their only live outing was as Chuck Berry's Backing Band on his 1972 Tour.
After a period out of the limelight, but still touring, Kinsley re-emerged in Liverpool Express in 1975. Rapidly signed to Warner Brothers, their debut album, Tracks, has remained an album that fans have been waiting for on CD for a long long time.
Containing the hit singles, You are My Love, Hold Tight and the superb, Every Man Must Have A Dream are essential listening. Tracks is an album that any lover of McCartney type pop should own. It warrants it's position in the Top 10 Pop Rock albums of the 70s. The album lit up 1976.
You've heard of Big In Japan, well Liverpool Express were big in South America, very big. Whenever we discussed Liverpool Express, the fans from Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc waded in with their thoughts. The album was heavily bootlegged over there. Here you have 3 Bonus B Sides to add to the enjoyment.
The two follow up albums Dreamin' and LEX are not quite as good, but are still highly sought after. Dreamin' appeared in 1978, it was a rushed recording in between touring. Like many debut albums, Tracks had a lot of material honed before the studio recording, Dreamin' didn't. It got lost in the Punk and New Wave adventures of the time.
It's a really decent album and So Here I Go Again is a fine single, Dreamin' is a great song, but compared to Tracks, it obviously suffers. The addition of the single Don't Stop The Music as one of the three bonus tracks is a welcome one. That got a lot of play on local radio, but sadly did no more.
The third album, released in 1979 contains 3 covers amid it's nine songs. Games People Play is a really nice stab at Joe South's original and the Kinsley original I Want Nobody But You is great, but largely the times dictated that the band had served it's time. The two single B Sides are added to the original album here.
In 2002, Kinsley released a Greatest Hits which is now inessential, thanks to this set. A reformed Liverpool Express released a new album, Once Upon A Time in 2003, but the moment had gone.
Billy Kinsley still tours with The Merseybeats.
I was really disappointed to discover that I'd missed out on an excellent Spencer Leigh, 4 part documentary on Billy on Radio Merseyside a few years ago. If anyone has a recording of this, please give me a shout.
I Don't Hear A Single largely concentrates on the new, but as a collector, I never lose touch with my past. I have to say of all the reissues this year, this one delights me most. All three albums and eight bonus tracks. Cherry Red have made an ageing man very very happy.
You can buy the set here and everywhere.