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:


Download The Liver Birds — Diddley Daddy MP3 (rapidshare)


Anonymous said...

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

Here they are live:

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:


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 i am willing to trade or pay for the copies of the album.

bobby cortes
mersey express