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Vocal Harmony Pop Groups and Duos
The New Seekers sound was influenced by vocal harmony styles stretching back to The Fleetwoods and the Everly Brothers. Founded by Keith Potger of the Seekers, the group was most obviously influenced by the folk pop of the original Seekers, but the New Seekers soon became more than just a replica of their namesakes. They also drew inspiration from the California sound of the Beach Boys and from the "sunshine pop" of The Mamas and The Papas. The psychedelia / flower power era also had its influence on the New Seekers' sound. Roy Wood's group The Move was particularly influential as were the more melodic beat groups from earlier in the '60s such as Herman's Hermits, the Hollies and the Searchers.
ABBA say hello
to the UK charts
with their 1974
as the New Seekers
Beautiful South Welcome
Blue Mink Melting Pot:
the very best of
ABBA emerged on the music scene just as the New Seekers were bidding the pop world adieu. On the night that ABBA won the Eurovision Song Contest with Waterloo (6th April 1974) the New Seekers were performing a farewell concert at the Music Hall in Dundee. By the time the New Seekers re-formed in 1976, ABBA had already notched up another three Top 10 hits with SOS, Mamma Mia and Fernando, so capturing the "middle of the road" market that the New Seekers had dominated in the early '70s.
Formed by two ex-members of the Housemartins (Paul Heaton and David Hemmingway), the Beautiful South were an immediate success. The group's début single, Song For Whoever, made it to number 2 in the UK singles chart in 1989. This was followed by a hit album, Welcome To The Beautiful South, and another Top 10 single, You Keep It All In.
In 1990 the single A Little Time reached number 1 in the UK. Although subsequent singles were less successful, the Beautiful South continued to make the Top 10 with their album releases. Choke equalled the success of the group's début album by reaching number 2 while their third album, 0898: Beautiful South, made it to number 4
After Briana Corrigan left the band in 1994, the Beautiful South continued to record with new singer Jacqui Abbot. The new line-up had a Top 20 single with a cover of Everybody's Talkin' (a hit for Nilsson in 1969) and a Top 10 album with Miaow.
Meanwhile, a greatest hits compilation, Carry On Up The Charts, gave the group its first number 1 album. Their next albums, Blue Is The Colour (1996) and Quench (1998) also reached number 1 and provided the Beautiful South with another three Top 10 singles - Rotterdam and Don't Marry Her (both taken from Blue Is The Colour) and Perfect 10 (from Quench).
It was originally intended that Eve Graham would sing the lead vocal on Blue Mink's début hit Melting Pot but when Eve joined the New Seekers instead, singer Madeline Bell got her lucky break. Eve later recorded the song with the New Seekers.
Blue Mink had four Top 10 hits in the UK - Melting Pot (1969), Good Morning Freedom (1970), Banner Man (1971) and Randy (1973).
The group's line-up included songwriter Roger Cook, who shared the lead vocals with Madeline Bell and co-wrote the songs for the group with Roger Greenaway. The other members of the group were: Richard Coulam (piano and organ), Herbie Flowers (bass), Barry Morgan (drums and percussion) and Alan Parker (lead and rhythm guitar).
In 1976 the New Seekers
make a comeback
but it is the Brotherhood of Man
is really rejuvenated
with a win at
Bucks Fizz Making Your Mind Up
future flat-mate Mike Nolan
wins Eurovision with Bucks Fizz
Boney M were put together in 1976 by the German-based record producer Frank Farian to front a record he had already recorded, Baby Do You Wanna Bump. The group blended Caribbean harmonies, catchy tunes and a disco beat to create a hit-making formula that reached its peak in 1978 with the million-selling singles Rivers Of Babylon and Mary's Boy Child.
The Brotherhood of Man's chart career came in two phases, beginning in February 1970 (before the New Seekers had scored their first hit) and resuming in March 1976 (after the New Seekers chart-topping days had come to an end). Their first hit United We Stand featured Tony Burrows as lead singer. Their later hits featured the more familiar line-up of Martin Lee, Lee Sheridan, Nicky Stevens and Sandra Stevens. In the 1960s Sandra Stevens had worked with the New Seekers' Eve Graham, first in a group called the Track and then in the Nocturnes.
Dubbed "the poor man's ABBA", the Brotherhood of Man looked at one point as though they might beat ABBA at their own game. In 1976 they not only won the Eurovision Song Contest with Save Your Kisses For Me (as ABBA had done with Waterloo two years earlier), they also spent six weeks at number 1 (ABBA had only managed two weeks at the top). Save Your Kisses For Me ended the year as the UK's top-selling single, with ABBA coming in third and fourth with Dancing Queen and Fernando.
Two boys, two girls and a catchy tune - Eurovision here we come! Bucks Fizz were manufactured by Nicola Martin and Jill Shirley to repeat the success of ABBA and the Brotherhood of Man. In 1977 Martin and Shirley had tried their luck in the Song For Europe contest as two thirds of Rags but, like Lyn Paul, who was also one of the contestants that year, they lost out to Lynsey de Paul and Mike Moran. What made the difference in 1981 was the songwriting and production talents of Andy Hill, not to mention a slick performance by the four fresh-faced members of Bucks Fizz and a saucy dance routine that included the boys whipping off the girls skirts.
formed in 1970,
the year that the New Seekers
had their first hit. Clannad's first hit
came 12 years later,
long after the New Seekers'
The Corrs Forgiven,
The Dooley Family In Moscow
at the Rossia Hall
Clannad was formed by members of the Bhraonain family in 1970 to play at Irish folk festivals. The group got its big break 12 years later when it recorded the theme song to the television show Harry's Game. With its layered harmonies and haunting melody the song typified their ethereal style, taking Clannad to number 5 in the UK singles chart and winning an Ivor Novello award.
In 1984 Clannad recorded the television soundtrack to Robin of Sherwood. This bought them a Top 50 single, Robin (The Hooded Man), a Top 20 album, Legend and a British Academy Award.
In 1988 Clannad's success was surpassed by the Bhraonain's sister Enya, who had a solo number 1 single in the UK with Orinoco Flow and a Top 5 album with Watermark. Enya had been a member of Clannad for three years from 1979-82.
A family group consisting of three sisters (Sharon, Caroline and Andrea) and their brother Jim, the Corrs combine traditional Irish elements (fiddle and tin whistle) with harmony vocals and a pop backing. Their 1995 début album Forgiven, Not Forgotten was a best-seller in Eire and did well in mainland Europe and Australia. The follow-up, Talk On Corners, which was more pop-oriented, gave them their first big hits in the UK. The album reached number 1 in January 1998, while the singles Dreams, What Can I Do and So Young all made it into the UK Top 10.
A vocal trio featuring Tony Orlando, Dawn had three Top 10 hits in the UK in 1971 - Candida, Knock Three Times and What Are You Doing Sunday. Their fourth and final Top 10 hit, Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree, was the top-selling single of 1973 in both the USA and the UK.
When the New Seekers re-formed in 1976 (minus Lyn Paul), one of the acts they soon found themselves competing against (on the cabaret circuit and in the charts) was the Dooleys. With a line-up that included three brothers (Jim, John and Frank) and three sisters (Kathy, Anne and Helen), the Dooleys sang catchy tunes, blending bright harmonies with a lightweight disco beat. The group had its first hit in August 1977 when I Think I'm Gonna Fall In Love climbed to number 13 in the UK singles chart. The Dooleys had another four Top 20 UK hits, the biggest of which, Wanted, made it to number 3 in 1979.
The Dooleys originally performed as the Dooley Family. In October 1975, over 3 years before Elton John's much-publicised trip, The Dooley Family toured Russia and Eastern Europe. On 29th October 1975, while in Moscow, they recorded a live album, The Dooley Family in Moscow "Live" at the Rossia Hall. The LP sold over 2 million copies (not bad for an unknown UK act). The album included covers of the Hank Williams' song Jambalaya (a hit for the Carpenters in 1974) and The Mamas and The Papas' Monday, Monday. It also included two medleys - a Beatles Medley (comprising Help, Fool On The Hill, The Night Before, For No One and All My Loving) and a Seekers Madley, which combined two hits by the Seekers (I'll Never Find Another You and Georgy Girl) with another three by the New Seekers (Never Ending Song Of Love, I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing and Beg, Steal Or Borrow).
The 5th Dimension's
album of Jim Webb songs
includes a cover
of The Beatles' Ticket To Ride)
original version of Carpet Man. Lyn Paul
recorded the song with The Nocturnes.
The Fleetwoods Mr. Blue
one hit wonders
in the UK
but their songs
including the New Seekers.
The 5th Dimension
The soul-flavoured harmonies of the 5th Dimension helped to launch the songwriting careers of Jimmy Webb and Laura Nyro. Among their early US hits were the Webb songs Go Where You Wanna Go (number 16 in 1967), Up, Up And Away (number 7 the same year) and Carpet Man (number 29 in 1968). Later hits by Nyro included Stoned Soul Picnic (number 3 in 1968), Wedding Bell Blues (number 1 in 1969) and One Less Bell To Answer (number 2 in 1970).
The Fifth Dimension were less successful in the UK, where they only had two hits - Aquarius and Wedding Bell Blues. At least two of their US hits were covered in the UK by other artists, Up, Up And Away being taken to number 6 by the Johnny Mann Singers and Carpet Man covered (less successfully) by the Nocturnes.
In 1976 Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. left the Fifth Dimension to work as a duo, scoring an international hit the following year with You Don't Have To Be A Star (To Be In My Show). They also recorded the original version of Saving All My Love For You, which became a hit for Whitney Houston in 1985.
Originally known as Two Girls and A Guy, the Fleetwoods continued where the Teddy Bears left off. Imitating their blend of gentle harmonies, the Fleetwoods matched the Teddy Bears by scoring a US number 1 with their début single Come Softly To Me. Unlike the Teddy Bears, however, the Fleetwoods then went on to have a chart career in the United States that lasted five years (1959-63) and included a second number 1, Mr. Blue.
In the UK the Fleetwoods remained "one hit wonders". They reached number 6 with Come Softly To Me (despite a cover version of the song by Frankie Vaughan and the Kaye Sisters, which reached number 9) but lost out completely to covers of Mr. Blue. The song was a UK hit for Mike Preston (who got to number 12) and for David MacBeth (number 18).
The New Seekers revived Come Softly To Me in 1972, taking the song into the UK Top 20 for the third time but failing to make much of an impression in the States, where the single peaked at number 95.
In 1975 Guys 'n' Dolls looked set to step into the New Seekers' shoes, emerging with their first hit, There's A Whole Lot Of Loving, less than a year after the New Seekers had disbanded. Although they had another Top 10 hit in 1976 with a cover of Dusty Springfield's You Don't Have To Say You Love Me, Guys 'n' Dolls were unable to sustain their chart career. Originally a six piece group (three boy / girl couples), Guys 'n' Dolls continued as a foursome after David Van Day and Therese Bazaar (both soon to become more famous as Dollar) left the group in acrimonious circumstances.
Most of the Mamas and The Paps
hits were written by
John and Michelle Phillips,
but their 1967 hit Dedicated To
The One I Love
was an inspired cover of
a song first recorded by
Manhattan Transfer The
first UK hit in
a few months before the New Seekers
Peter Paul and Mary In The Wind
Peter Paul and Mary's
version of Blowing In The Wind
brought the work of Bob Dylan
to a mainstream audience.
The song was
later covered by other
vocal harmony groups
such as The Seekers
and the New Seekers.
Platters Complete Federal
The Mamas and The Papas
They formed in 1965 and folded in 1968. In those three years The Mamas and The Papas made some of the best vocal harmony pop records ever recorded. The group comprised husband and wife John and Michelle Phillips, Canadian Denny Doherty and the vivacious Mama Cass Elliott. Their début hit was California Dreamin' (which was later covered by the Seekers). Other hits included the US number 1 Monday, Monday, the autobiographical Creeque Alley and a cover of the Shirelles' Dedicated To The One I Love. The New Seekers recorded the latter on their Farewell Album using an arrangement largely borrowed from The Mamas and The Papas version.
The Mamas and The Papas re-formed briefly in 1971 and again in 1982. Mama Cass, who had died in July 1974 after embarking on a solo career, was replaced by Elaine 'Spanky' McFarlane (formerly of Spanky and Our Gang).
Denny Doherty died, aged 66, on 19th January 2007 at his home in Mississauga, near Toronto. He had suffered kidney problems after surgery in December 2006 and had been put on dialysis.
Best-known in the UK for their 1977 number 1 Chanson d'Amour, Manhattan Transfer had a varied repertoire, encompassing swing, jazz, doo-wop and sixties pop. The group's stunning vocal harmonies and slick presentation made them the epitomé of elegance.
Manhattan Transfer formed in 1969. The quartet (two guys and two girls) became popular on the New York cabaret scene but did not have a chart hit until 1975 when Operator made it to number 22 in the US singles chart. The flip side Tuxedo Junction was a hit in the UK the following year.
In 1975, following the success of Operator / Tuxedo Junction, Manhattan Transfer hosted their own TV variety show in the United States. Despite this exposure, the group did not have another US hit single until 1980. In the intervening years they were successful in the UK and Europe, topping the charts with Chanson d'Amour and scoring Top 20 hits with Walk In Love and On A Little Street In Singapore.
1980 saw the pendulum swing from the UK to the USA. Manhattan Transfer made the US Top 30 with Twilight Zone / Twilight Tone. This became the first of six Top 100 hits that included their only US Top 10 entry, a cover of The Boy From New York City, which had been a UK hit for Darts in 1978. In 1985, as their run of US hit singles came to an end, Manhattan Transfer received a Grammy award for their jazz-oriented album Vocalese.
Like the Monkees, the Partridge Family was created for a Screen Gems-Columbia TV series. Shirley Jones was cast as a mother of five, whose fictional family included her real-life step son David Cassidy. The television series ran for four years (1970-74), during which time the Partridge Family scored spin-off hit singles on both sides of the Atlantic. These included I Think I Love You (a US number 1 in 1970), Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (a Top 3 hit in the UK in 1972) and Lookin' Through The Eyes Of Love.
With their bright harmonies backed by two guitars, Peter, Paul and Mary brought folk music into the mainstream. They were formed in 1961 by their manager Albert Grossman and disbanded a decade later. During those ten years the trio had seven Top 20 hits in the USA but only two in the UK - Bob Dylan's Blowing In The Wind (which reached number 13 in 1963) and John Denver's Leaving On A Jet Plane (number 2 in 1970). Their US hits included Pete Seger's If I Had A Hammer and the children's song Puff (The Magic Dragon).
Originally an all-male vocal group, the Platters formed in 1953. Following a change in line-up which saw the addition of female vocalist Zola Taylor, the Platters had their début hit in 1955 with Only You (And You Alone). The Platters went on to have four US number 1s, beginning with The Great Pretender (a chart-topper in 1955) and followed by My Prayer (1956), Twilight Time (1958) and Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (1958). In the UK the Platters' chart run came to an end in 1960 but in the United States they continued to have hits until 1967.
While Lyn Paul
and Eve Graham
found fame with the New Seekers,
their former bandmate
from the Nocturnes, Jon Camp,
became a member of Renaissance.
Seekers A Carnival Of Hits
From folk to pop ...
First there was the Springfields,
then the Seekers.
Then in the 1970s
there was the New Seekers.
in the 1990s,
there was Steps ...
Steps Step One
Originally a progressive folk-rock band, Renaissance was formed by Jim McCarty and Keith Relf (both ex-Yardbirds). Their début album, Renaissance, was released in 1969 and made a brief 1 week appearance in the UK album chart in February 1970. By 1972 the original line-up had been superseded by a new one featuring Jon Camp (ex-Nocturnes) on bass and Annie Haslam on lead vocal.
Renaissance became popular on the UK campus circuit and built up a cult following in the USA (prompting the band to up sticks and move to America). Their greatest success came in 1978 with the album A Song For All Seasons and the single Northern Lights, which charted at the same time that the New Seekers were having a hit with Anthem (One Day In Every Week).
Australia's answer to the Springfields, the Seekers came over to the UK in 1964. They were spotted by Tom Springfield, who wrote five of the group's six UK Top 10 hits, among them the number 1s I'll Never Find Another You and The Carnival Is Over.
Keith Potger, a member of the Seekers, founded the New Seekers after the original group split up.
The Springfields (Dusty, her brother Tom and Tim Field, who was later replaced by Mike Hurst) formed in 1960. Between 1961 and 1963 they had five Top 40 hits in the UK, the most successful of which, Island Of Dreams, was written by Tom. The Springfields had a surprise success in the USA with Silver Threads And Golden Needles and became the first British vocal group to make it into the US Top 20.
As the title of their début album phrased it, the Springfields were "kinda folksy," Dusty also described them as "terribly cheerful." Although it was ultimately limiting for Dusty as a vocalist, the cheerful folksy format was the ideal vehicle for Tom as a songwriter. After the Springfields had split up, he found the perfect replacement in the Seekers, who had a similar square image and a lead vocalist (Judith Durham) to rival even Dusty.
"They were an early version of Steps. They were the darlings of British pop." That was David Cassidy's description of the New Seekers on the BBC's nostalgia show I Love 1972.
Steps and the New Seekers were both manufactured groups. Steps were recruited through an ad in The Stage. The New Seekers, as Paul Layton put it, "were managed by a company that had principally put the group together - a bit like the Monkees." Both groups had five members and both had the image of "squeaky clean popsters" (to quote David Cassidy again).
Steps, though, were more highly choreographed than the New Seekers, with every song accompanied by a dance routine. Their first hit, 5,6,7,8, cashed in on the line-dancing craze that was sweeping the UK in 1997. This single began a run of chart hits that lasted for four years and included two number 1s - Stomp (number 1 for a week in 2000) and the double A-sided single Heartbeat / Tragedy, which sold over a million copies and spent 30 weeks in the charts. The Steps story came to an end on Boxing Day 2001, when it was announced that the group was splitting up.
In August 2011 Steps' Faye Tozer and Ian H. Watkins starred alongside Lyn Paul in the UK touring production of Rhinestone Mondays, a jukebox musical featuring country hits such as Thank God I'm A Country Boy and Achy Breaky Heart, as well as the Steps' hit 5,6,7,8. Faye Tozer played the part of dance teacher Annie; Ian H. Watkins played Duncan, one of the motley crew who attended her classes.
Before the Rhinestone Mondays tour had come to an end, the news broke that Steps would be re-forming for The Ultimate Tour of the UK in 2012. The 15-date tour began in Belfast on 2nd April and ended with two nights at London's O2 Arena.
The 'Teddy Bears had a brief pop career and are remembered primarily for their 1958 hit To Know Him Is To Love Him. Originally released as the B-side of their début single, the song took them to the top of the US charts (and number 2 in the UK). Although the trio went on to record an album and released several other singles, they were unable to repeat their initial success.
The Teddy Bears, however, are more than just a footnote in pop history. Their style, a girlish lead vocal and cooing harmonies, was imitated by other groups such as the Fleetwoods. Their main significance, though, was to launch the career of Phil Spector. Spector had founded the Teddy Bears and written To Know Him Is To Love Him (the title being taken from the inscription on his father's tombstone). After the trio split Spector made the move to record production and within a few years had gone on to achieve much greater success with the Crystals and the Ronettes.