16 July 2017

Autumn - Down Down Down/ October



Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1973

Autumn just about qualify as one hit wonders by the skins of their collective teeth. Their debut single "My Little Girl" was a Tony "I wonder how many hits you've had" Rivers composition which was a slab of highly effective retro sixties harmony pop. Nudging the Top 40 at number 37, it allowed them an appearance on "Top of the Pops" where they appeared wearing natty matching suits, deliberately looking like throwbacks to another era. Nostalgia certainly isn't what it used to be.

The band struggled to build on that modest success, however, and follow-up singles "Not The Way She Looks" and "Hazy Crazy Days" didn't chart, and nor did this, their last effort for Pye before being dropped. Of all their singles, "Down Down Down" is the oddest and the most unexpectedly raucous sounding, featuring the usual slick sounding harmony vocals meeting pounding rock noises, and a guitar instrumental break which somewhat unexpectedly combines the initial melody of "Layla" with "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye". There are lots of sudden hairpin bends in its arrangement, and as such, it ends up sounding more like a lost bit of Pye popsike from 1968 or 1969 than its 1973 release date would suggest (if you suspend disbelief about the release date of "Layla", that is). Perhaps because of that, it's not overly surprising it wasn't a hit. It's short, sharp and ever-so-slightly on the wrong side of commercial (whatever the group's intentions). An LP was recorded by the group for release by Pye, but apparently never saw the light of day. 

The band consisted of Keith Parsons on lead vocals and guitar, Dave Charlwood on drums, John Court on guitar, Peter Cramer on bass and backing vocals, and Ron Shaughnessy on guitar and backing vocals. I'm not too sure what the group ended up doing after this single, but I can rather sadly confirm that Ron and Keith have since passed away.

The "Alshire USA Production" credit appears on all their singles, incidentally, and is something of a mystery. Alshire were a budget label in the USA whose works could generally be found lingering in the wire racks in supermarkets, usually consisting of rush-recorded soundalike compilations and easy listening cash-ins, such as "Tribute To Jimi Hendrix" by The Purple Fox or "Award Winning Scores From The Silver Screen" by 101 Strings (a less typical and more inexplicable example would be The Animated Egg's eponymously titled LP). It's not clear to me how Autumn ended up associated with the label, unless they were signed up to do some harmony pop work for a cheapo LP and found that one of their recorded tracks took off in its own right in the UK. I'd be very grateful if somebody could clear this puzzle up, as the standard biographies of the band online and offline make no mention of the US deal. 


4 comments:

Simon Mclean said...

This biog explains the Alshire connection - it's all down to producer Jack Dorsey, who was working for Alshire at the time, and recorded lots of sessions for them in London.

http://www.45cat.com/biography/autumn

Doc Gaz said...

I'm thinking of making a podcast of these records that sound euphoric in the face of adversity....Chris Andrews - Yesterday Man will be the starter of course

albert1946 said...


Super rare these single by Autumn, thank you so much

Greetings Albert

23 Daves said...

Thanks for the clarification, Simon - I couldn't find that biog, for some reason - and to everyone else for the comments. I did wonder whether anyone would be interested in this, actually, but it seems to have picked up quite a bit of traffic.