Wednesday, 28 May 2008

The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy

No, No, No! Nothing to do with Nerys Hughes, Mollie Sugden, or Lucian’s rabbits. I’m talking about a sixties all-girl beat combo who, like Carla Lane, took the name from the statues on the top of the Liver Building.

Pete Frame’s intricately hand-lettered flow-diagram histories of rock bands and their members are at once an elegantly simple way of communicating complicated information, and beautiful examples of handmade graphic art. I savoured them wherever I found them (his own Zigzag magazine, for instance, and Sounds), and bought and devoured the book collections. They were so good, it was even a pleasure to read about bands i didn’t care much about, or even actively disliked (Journey, Asia, The Eagles). When his third collection The Beatles and Some Other Guys: Rock Family Trees of the Early Sixties came out, I was a little apprehensive to discover that it contained photographs: “Surely a dilution of the purity of his art?” screamed the Raging Aesthetic Puritan within me. But upon flicking through the book, those doubts vanished when I found this picture:

(Click on any picture for a bigger version)

“Wow! An all-girl mersybeat group! Cool!” I thought. Then I found the entry on them in the previous page’s tree:

This looks pomising: although I’d never heard of them before, they had been big enough in Germany to make two albums. And the one recording mentioned by name was a Bo Diddley song: excellent taste in covers, then. I was hooked: I had to hear them. But how?

I asked all my knowledgeable muso mates: they all said “What? the TV series?” Eventually Davie said I should try George. Of course! I should have thought of George earlier. We even worked in the same building at the time. So the next time I spotted him, in the Smoking Room (yes, this is so long ago that not only were there smoking rooms, but I was in them, smoking), I asked. He frowned, and thought for a moment, and said “Yes, I know who you mean. Might have a track or two, on a compilation, somewhere. Not very good, as I remember.”

Well that was hardly encouraging. I basically stopped looking, after that. But then the internet happened, and I found a few MP3s on the sainted audiogalaxy. And George was right. Not unpleasant, adequately performed, typical mid-sixties British lead-&-chorus-vocal/lead/rhythm/bass/drums beat music.

But still, I had the photograph. Do I have to explain what’s so good about it? Maybe the fact that they all look so individual: that even although they’re doing fake goofy pop group gestures for the camera, their smiles seem fairly genuine.Or the badly hand-painted “LIVER BIRDS” on the oil drum. Oh, go on then, I have to admit it to myself: it’s Sylvia Saunders' definitely dykey “pseudo-sideburn” locks of hair in front of her ears. Frankly, they make her look like me when I was fifteen.

Preparing for this post, I thought I’d have another trawl of the internet, in case there was some lost gem of a good record out there. I did find a few more, but more importantly, I found (drum roll…) A colour version of the photograph!

Woohoo! Their’s even a rubbish painting of a bird on the oil drum! But wait! I found another photograph:

Check out that cup on Val Gell’s head!

Make your own mind up: here’s their top 5 hit in Germany:

Listen:

Download The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy MP3 (rapidshare)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool and underrated band. Quite worthwhile to find their Star-Club LP's.

Here they are live:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyS8KkGyV1c

Anonymous said...

PS. For a highlight track, their version of Diddley's "Mona" rivals the Stones' in my humble and anonymous opinion. Very energetic with some great Diddley-riffic axe work!

Laurie said...

For Liverbirds tracks go to:

http://community.livejournal.com/rugarage/tag/60s
AND
onwingsdream.blogspot.com


Cheers,
60sbeatfan

bobby cortes said...

im desperately looking for copies of the cds or albums released by the liverbirds. if anyone can help me please contact me at:badfaith72@hotmail.com. i am willing to trade or pay for the copies of the album.

bobby cortes
mersey express
www.myspace.com/merseyexpress