Happy Release Day to Ivor Raymonde
Odyssey: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde Vol II is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Paradise: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde. The new compilation, released today via Bella Union, is a further celebration of the great British arranger, musical director, producer and songwriter Ivor Raymonde, who died at age 63 in 1990.
Like Paradise, Odyssey has been compiled by Ivor’s son Simon Raymonde with author, journalist and music historian Kieron Tyler. Simon explains that: “The research Kieron and I did for Paradise showed us that there was still an extremely rich seam of his music to be uncovered. A follow-up volume was increasingly inevitable.”
Paradise told the story of a British musical great for the first time. Classic Sixties hits like Billy Fury’s “Halfway To Paradise”, Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want To Be With You” (co-written by Ivor) and The Walker Brothers’ “Make It Easy On Yourself” were collected. All were arranged or produced by Ivor and heard alongside just-as-fantastic tracks by David Bowie, Sonny Childe, Cindy Cole, Tom Jones, Los Bravos and Helen Shapiro.
Odyssey is additional confirmation of the seemingly limitless scope of Ivor’s talents. More hits are featured: the Alan Price Set’s irresistible Top Five interpretation of Randy Newman’s “Simon Smith And The Amazing Dancing Bear”, Dusty Springfield’s kinetic “Little By Little”, Frankie Vaughan’s epic chart topper “Tower Of Strength” and the aural drama of Marty Wilde And His Wildcats’ “Endless Sleep”. There are also lesser-known tracks by best-sellers: Los Bravos’ Raymonde-composed soul stomper “Brand New Baby”, Cat Stevens’ moody “Blackness Of The Night” and the extraordinary 1966 Walker Brothers’ album track “Where’s The Girl”, which pointed to where the solo Scott Walker would soon be heading.
Although Ivor Raymonde was a back-room figure, he made the Top 30 in early 1963 as the clandestine vocalist with The Chucks – a studio demo had been made with no intention of it ending up in record shops. Then, it was issued and a band name needed. Ivor plumped for The Chucks and “Loo-Be-Loo” began rising up the charts. On Odyssey, it is at last given its context.
Not everything was a hit. Paul Slade’s epic “Odyssey” missed out on the charts. So did Giles, Giles and Fripp’s baroque psych-pop gem “Thursday Morning”: three-quarters of the band, which featured Robert Fripp, became the first version of King Crimson. One track could never have been a hit: “Twinkle’s “Michael Hannah” was recorded with Ivor in 1971 as a potential single but never released. Now, it is united with 24 other examples of Ivor Raymonde at his best.
Instead of Ivor, the cover image of Odyssey is of Ivor’s wife Nita. As Simon explains: “Since the release of Paradise the love of Dad’s life and my dear mum Nita passed away. I thought it fitting that the cover reflects the huge influence this woman had on him. So often, as was society’s norm in the ’50s and ’60s, the woman behind the scenes rarely got a mention. She raised four children while he made his way in the rapidly changing music business, and definitely helped keep his feet on the ground. Using this beautiful photo of Mum as a cover for Odyssey: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde Vol II redresses the balance a little. He kept it perched on top of his upright walnut Kemble piano in his study and while Mum took it down when he died, thankfully she put it away somewhere safe. It’s certainly a peculiar and unsettling feeling to be left with no parents to turn to, to call, to rely on, and perhaps this emptiness lead me into such a deep period of soul mining.”
Further going into the reasons for a follow-up to Paradise, Simon adds: “I knew there was more but even a serial curator, late-night trawler like me, at some point thinks ‘the best stuff must now surely be all discovered.’ But finding tracks like Christopher Colt’s ‘Girl In The Mirror’ is like unearthing a rare Donovan track produced by Ray Davies. Probably my favourite discovery was The Martells’ ‘Time To Say Goodnight’ which Ivor produced when he worked at Decca Records. They only released one seven-inch single which sells for over £200, so it’s quite a rarity and more importantly a banger of a track.”
Odyssey: The Sound Of Ivor Raymonde Vol II is issued on CD, double album and as a download. Every track but one was originally issued or recorded in mono: stereo became standard in the pop market in 1968/1969. Keeping the integrity of the compilation in mind, all but one track appears in mono. With tracks issued as singles, the masters used are those of the singles themselves.