High Society
Compiled by Olaf Owre, 2000

Line-up

Peter Cowap, guitar/vocals
Friday Brown, vocals
Christine Ebbrell, vocals
Keith Lawless, bass/vocals

Graham Gouldman, guitar/producer
Phil Dennys, keyboards/musical director
Clem Cattini, drums/percussion
John Paul Jones, bass/strings arrangements

As late as 1966 Graham Gouldman was still working at Bargains Unlimited, a mens clothes shop near Salford Docks in Manchester. His magnificent songs had been big hits for The Yardbirds, The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits, whereas his own releases with The Whirlwinds and The Mockingbirds, as well as a solo single for Decca had all been flops. So being one of the best young songwriters in the UK was an achievement that Gouldman had difficulty in relating to. Many of his songs were in fact written in the backroom of the shop during lunch hours, and his father, Hymie, often helped him with the lyrics.

Gouldman wanted to expand upon his songwriting career by trying his luck as a record producer, but singles for Friday Brown and Little Frankie & The Country Gentlemen didn’t bring much success during 1965-66.

However, Gouldman instigated a casual songwriting and production partnership with his friend Peter Cowap, leader of The Country Gents. Notably the two came up with ”The Cost Of Living” for The Downliners Sect’s last Columbia single, released in September 1966, while Cowap wrote ”How To Find A Lover” for The Mockingbirds, released on Decca the following month.

Gouldman and Cowap also launched a couple of very interesting studio projects onto record that same year, when they brought a few people together in the studio to cut some new songs they had written. First they recorded a Gouldman written song titled ”People Passing By”. The group, called High Society, comprised Peter Cowap, Christine Ebbrell, Friday Brown and Keith Lawless (ex-Ivans Meads bassist). Also on the sessions were notables such as Phil Dennys, Clem Cattini (ex-Tornadoes of ”Telstar” fame) and John Paul Jones (later of Led Zeppelin). A ”Harvey Lisberg Production” with Graham Gouldman behind the controls, and the blend of voices and Seekers style arrangement was perfect for the song, which was released on UK Fontana in November 1966. The B-side, ”Star Of Eastern Street”, written by Peter Cowap was a ballad with Eastern influences. This was also covered by Wayne Fontana on his 1966 solo album.

In the U.S.A. the High Society single was released on Cameo Parkway Records. Sadly it went by virtually unnoticed on both sides of the Atlantic at the time, but has later become a highly-sought item for 10cc and Led Zeppelin collectors everywhere.

Memories

I have good memories of the High Society session, and how much I loved the song 'Star of Eastern Street' this is Friday Brown tipping a hat to P.C in fond thoughts of yesteryears.

Friday Brown


High Society discography:
Click on song title to see disk

UK SINGLE:  
45:”People Passing By” (Graham Gouldman)/”Star Of Eastern Street” (Peter Cowap) Fontana TF 771 (267655) 11/1966
US SINGLE:  

45:”People Passing By” (Graham Gouldman)/”Star Of Eastern Street” (Peter Cowap) Cameo C-452 /1966

Cameo 2nd pressing: People Passing By/Star Of Eastern Street

 

 





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