Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Beat Merchants - Pretty Face b/w Messin' With The Man (Columbia - 1964)

The place is Horsham in West Sussex, the year was 1964 and a band by the name of The Beat Merchants released one of the finest 60s beat 45s that the country has offered.

As a resident of West Sussex myself and living in Billingshurst which is 8 miles South-West of Horsham (it being the nearest town), I would call Horsham home and thus it makes me feel exceptionally proud that a great band like The Beat Merchants came from my neck of the woods as it were.

Weirdly I feel I am the only person in Horsham district making any music of any real worth today and so consider myself as the next best thing after the Beat Merchants, I just hope my own 45s are considered as legendary as theirs one day. 

Another weird and slightly boring fact for those who are reading this, is that my Barber Allan, claimed to have cut these guys' hair back in the day and he is still in the profession today and cuts my hair.

Anyway... moving on to the music.

The Beat Merchants were originally a beat-instrumental group in The Shadows vein and went by the name of Peter and The Hustlers until the time the Rolling Stones played a gig locally at St Leonards Hall and what appears to be over night, these local Sussex lads ditched their matching suits and reverb units and what came forth was a ferocious sound of the highest 'mod' order.

Armed with Burns Guitars, Vox Amplifiers and style to boot, The Beat Merchants formed and instantly worked hard playing the South Coast gig circuit and recording a couple of Acetates at the infamous Regent Sound complex on Denmark Street in London, also Acetates were made for Oak Records and Emidisc.

The Beat Merchants were -

Geoff Farndell - Bass
Chris Boyle - Vocals
Vic Sendall - Drums
Gavin Daneski - Rhythm Guitar & Harmonica 
Ralph Worman - Lead Guitar

The Beat Merchants were fortunate that their acetates got picked up and they had two released singles on Columbia.

Pretty Face b/w Messin' With The Man (which this post will honour)
So Fine b/w She Said Yeh

The track 'So Fine' was the b-side on a split-single with Freddie & The Dreamers which got to Number 1 in America.

'Pretty Face' entered the UK charts at number 44, which during the 60s was a pretty cool position to be in, especially if you were from a middle of no-where town like Horsham.

The Beat Merchants split up in late 1966, which is a shame cos they could of gone on and done great and wonderful things, an example of these songs are on the recently compiled 'The Beats Go On' cd which compiles all the band's recordings, my personal favourite being the track 'What Have I Done' which should have been a 45 of its own.

Both tracks of their debut 45 are found beneath the label pics below, copies of the original 45 are somewhat easily obtainable and can be found on Ebay and the like from time to time, I found my copy in one of the Record Shops in Guildford for £30, although copies of both Columbia 45s have been known to sell for over the £100 mark at times.

As stated above a really cool cd called 'The Beats Go On' is available and can be found both cheaply and easily and as mentioned there are some pretty cool unreleased cuts that never saw the light of day until now on it.

Enjoy the West Sussex Beat Music.


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