John Pantry: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — June 23, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

494) John Pantry — “Mississippi Paddleboat”

Oh man, does John Pantry kick ass. OK, since he began a quite successful career in Christian music and broadcasting after the ’60’s came to a close, let me just say “Hallelujah” for John Pantry. A singer and songwriter for the ages.

Jason says that “Pantry took advantage of free studio time and recorded a slew of demos. . . . [T]he power of popsike gems like . . . “Mississippi Paddleboat” cannot be denied.” (https://therisingstorm.net/year/1968/page/5/) Steve Elliott proclaims that “[the] very melodic and quite infectious 1968 demo of the McCartney-esque “Mississippi Paddleboat[]” . . . would not sound out of place on Emitt Rhodes’ debut solo album.” (https://somethingelsereviews.com/2013/08/02/forgotten-series-the-factory-peter-and-the-wolves-others-upside-down-world-of-john-pantry-1999/)

Jason gives us a sense of Pantry’s B.C. history:

John Pantry is one of those artists that deserves to be heard by more people, especially those who value melodic British pop. . . . [He was] a talented studio engineer for IBC Studios (working with Eddie Tre-Vett), producing for the likes of Donovan, The Small Faces, The Bee Gees, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Cream. He was also a member of Peter & The Wolves, an accomplished mid 60s pop group from Leigh-on-Sea/Southend and had a major hand with many other IBC studio projects of the time: the Factory, Sounds Around, Wolfe, The Bunch and Norman Conquest. . . . Besides being a savvy studio technician, Pantry was a gifted songwriter and vocalist and an accomplished musician (. . . keyboards). . . . [O]ne of Pantry’s first groups, Sounds Around. . . . played straight pop with slight soul and psych influences – they released two singles in 1966-1967. Peter & The Wolves came shortly after Sounds Around’s demise (they were essentially the same group). This is the group with which Pantry is most associated, along with The Factory. . . . [Peter & The Wolves’] most productive period was probably the years of 1967-1969, where they released a string of pop gems . . . . It was around this time that John Pantry was asked to write two tracks for The Factory, a legendary psychedelic group who had previously released the classic “Path Through The Forest” 45 [see #5]. Pantry wrote and sang lead on the two Factory standouts, “Try A Little Sunshine” [see #460] and the more folk-like “Red Chalk Hill.” . . .

https://therisingstorm.net/year/1968/page/5/

“Hear the beating Mississippi paddle boat, churning home. See the people waiving flags and handkerchiefs, people we know. Hear the hooter tooting to the sunny sky just for fun. See my girl go rushing to the landing side, she is the one that I’ve been waiting for a long long time, and she’s been waiting for and she is mine. Na, na, na, na, na, na. Hear the beating Mississippi paddle boat, churning home. See the people waving flags and handkerchiefs, people we know. See my baby running down the road to me, calls my name. Hear her saying “Haven’t got too long to stay.” Who do I blame? Oh, and I’ve been waiting here a long long time, why aren’t you waiting here since you are mine? Na, na, na, na, na, na. I had been hoping that you would stay, but from your words I see you are all ready to go away, leaving me, yeah. Hear the beating Mississippi paddle boat, churning home. See the people waiving flags and handkerchiefs, people we know. Hear the hooter tooting to the sunny sky just for fun. See my girl go rushing to the landing side, she is the one.”

Check out the transition (if I am getting the lyrics right) from:

“See my girl go rushing to the landing side, she is the one that I’ve been waiting for a long long time, and she’s been waiting for and she is mine.”

to:

“Oh, and I’ve been waiting here a long long time, why aren’t you waiting here since you are mine?”

Exquisite!

We are lucky enough to be able to hear John Pantry’s original demo for “Mississippi Paddleboat” because, as David Wells informs us, “songwriter demos [presumably including this song] . . . are taken from a thirteen-track acetate album that mysteriously turned up at a Lancashire car boot fair in late 2008”. (liner notes to the The Upside Down World of John Pantry comp) Book me a trip to Lancashire, I’m goin’ to the car boot fair.*

* Wikipedia let’s us Yanks know that “Car boot sales or boot fairs are a form of market in which private individuals come together to sell household and garden goods. They are popular in the United Kingdom, where they are often referred to simply as ‘car boots’.” Oh, fleamarkets — I think “car boots” have a whole other connotation in the U.S.!

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The Chanters released the song as a ’68 A-side:

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