Bill Harry's Mersey Beat Days 

London 5th June 2009

Bringing Back The Music

Dave Ferguson has invited me to write a regular blog for the Merseycats site and as a member of Merseycats for over a decade I'll be more than pleased to do so.


I suppose to start with I'd better tell you what I've been up to. This week I concluded a deal with a record company to go ahead with my dream of compiling the ultimate collection of music from the days of the Mersey Sound.


Depending on whether they can obtain the rights at a reasonable price, it should be available in September.


This is something I've wanted to do for years. I suppose my first major compilation was 'Mersey Beat' released by Parlophone on 31 October1983 for which I compiled 34 tracks. There were Beatles tracks on the album, which was in vinyl and released only in the   U.K.  It was one of the very few albums which had permission to include Beatles tracks. They were 'She Loves You' and 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'. Other tracks included Rory Storm & the Hurricanes with 'America' , 'Bad To Me' by Billy J. Kramer and 'Love Of the Loved' by Cilla Black.


I'd actually compiled 40 tracks but the record company wasn't able to obtain the tracks for Kingsize Taylor & the Dominoes and the Liverbirds that I'd selected and when it was reviewed in the NME, although the review was positive, they wondered why I hadn't included Kingsize Taylor & the Dominoes!


They were all there  - Gerry, the Big Three, Mojos, Faron's Flamingos, Koobas, Escorts, Dennisons, Beryl Marsden, Freddie Starr and so on. Frankly, I never thought much of Freddie's single, but I felt I had to include him for old time's sake.


For the cover I suggested a painting based on a photo of the Merseybeats at the Cavern. It was taken from the rear of the group with them looking out onto a sea of faces and I asked them to place the faces of some of the artists such as Cilla and  Gerry on members of the audience.


In 2004 EM1 Gold asked me to compile an album of the Mersey   groups for them, but confined to EMI acts. As you can understand, this was extremely limiting. EMI might have signed up the Beatles and Brian's other acts such as Gerry, Billy J. Cilla, the Fourmost and a couple of others such as the Swinging Bluejeans, but the majority of Mersey recordings were on other labels including Decca, Pye, Piccadilly, Polydor, Oriole etc.


Last year, to tie-in with the European Capital of Culture I was asked to compile another collection for EMI Gold, this time with 30 tracks, but still confined to EMI artists. The ones I selected were tracks by Gerry & the Pacemakers, Cilla Black, the Swinging Bluejeans, Cindy Cole, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas  , the Fourmost, Beryl Marsden, the Blackwells, the Scaffold, the Pathfinders, Lee Castle & the Barons, Jason Eddie & the Centremen, Steve Aldo, Tiffany's Thoughts and the Kubas.


Someone on a website commented that the Pathfinders were a Scottish group, but as far as I knew the track I selected was by the Mersey  outfit. Names of bands were duplicated across the country. The Chants were originally called the Shades, but had to change because a group in the South had that name, the Fourmost had to change from the Four Jays because a Southern group had registered the name and so on.


The Blackwells recording was on the EMI catalogue because they'd appeared in the Locarno  group contest scene in the film 'Ferry 'Cross The Mersey'.


Beryl MarsdenBeryl Marsden's 'Break-A-Way' appeared on both compilations because, although I regarded her as the best girl singer in Liverpool   at the time, her recording career was a limited one.


For this compilation I prepared a booklet to go with it, detailing the story of the original Mersey  scene.


I named the compilation 'The Mersey Sound' because that was what the media referred to at the time. It was never actually called Mersey Beat or  Merseybeat in those days because that was the registered name of my newspaper.


The compilation I'm putting together is the most definitive collection of Mersey records ever assembled and will contain 100 tracks - and the one difficulty is that the records stretch across so many different record companies that everything depends on the deal which can be worked out - although most of the major record companies in Britain such as Decca  andPolydor were absorbed into Sanctuary, which was absorbed into Universal, so perhaps that makes it easier, having to deal with only one or two companies rather than several.


I've also been asking the artists to select their own personal favourites. Steve Aldo told me: 'My favourite recording of mine has always been 'Baby What You Want Me To Do', firstly because jazz and blues was always my preferred vocals and the musicianship on this track is unbelievable,the big three I may be biased but Griff's solo (Ed. Griff Griffiths later lead guitar with the Big Three) intro is the best blues guitar I have ever heard and considering the track was done in one take is pretty magnificent, as we didn't have any studio time left.

"All Dick Rowe had to do was turn on the tape and let it run, and as you know an original copy of this track is now worth in excess of £400.00."


Incidentally, if anyone wants to ask me any questions, please feel free to do by emailing me at

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