Monday, July 3, 2017

A Song A Day: Chad and Jeremy, "I'll Be Back"

JULY 3, 2017




Most acts from the 1960s British Invasion splintered, withered, or exploded decades ago. One that didn’t is Chad and Jeremy.

There were two popular duos featuring British guys, with one wearing glasses, during the 1960s. While Peter and Gordon had the biggest hit, and a memorable Beatles connection, Chad and Jeremy did the more sublime work.

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller sang a Lennon/McCartney song, “A World Without Love,” to the top of the charts in 1964. They got the song because Paul McCartney, dating Peter’s sister Jane, was living with the Asher family in London. P&G also released some other tailor-made Beatles compositions.

Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde were a bit more intellectual, a bit more reserved, a bit deeper than Peter and Gordon. From the start, their records had a folk/ballad edge that skirted adult contemporary pop. Their biggest hits—“Yesterday’s Gone,” “A Summer Song,” and “Distant Shores”—are rich songs solidly presented with class and restraint.

They did fine uptempo numbers like “Teenage Failure,” “Rest in Peace,” and “The Emancipation of Mr. X,” but midtempo pop was always their specialty. They weaved folk elements, psychedelic passages, easy-listening arrangements, strange lyrics, and wordy titles into their originals and cover choices. Their voices blended spectacularly, whether in unison or when Chad Stuart (he with the glasses) harmonized above Jeremy Clyde’s melody line.

The duo drifted apart in the early 70s, Chad continuing in music and, later, teaching, while Jeremy embraced acting. But they always remained friends, and several reunions over the ensuing years attracted attention; the two could still produce solid material and undertake satisfying live appearances.

In 2013, Chad and Jeremy released Rien Ne Va Plus, intended as their final studio creation. (They played their final tour in 2016 and a live CD commemorates that.) Chad produced most of the CD in his Electric Paintbox studio in Idaho, where he has long resided with his second wife. Jeremy most often lives in London.

"Rien Ne Va Plus" is a French term meaning, alternately, “no more bets” (as at a gaming table), “the die is cast” (one’s fate is sealed) or, more colloquially, “nothing works any longer,” a pretty cynical thing for a couple of guys in their 70s to say. But then Chad and Jeremy always had a sense of humor.

The Rien Ne Va Plus CD combines cover material and originals, live and studio recordings. I’ve chosen to feature their version of the Beatles’ “I’ll Be Back.” Sung by young men, it seems to be a song of will, of perseverance; when sung by men in their 70s, it almost feels like a dysfunctional obsession, a sort of co-dependence, and is equally determined and sad. Their harmonies glisten as always, and the setting is lovely.

Assuming Chad and Jeremy are done, I am so glad they made so much quality music and was glad to hear them live. Thanks, guys. All the best.

1 comment:

  1. Pretty decent job at that. The Buckinghams had a HUGE success with their version in Philippines staying at number one for some 10 weeks. Still, no one can tough the original version. WLSClark