Hedgehoppers Anonymous: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — July 19, 2022


523) Hedgehoppers Anonymous — “Daytime”

How was this snarling bit of freakbeat not a huge hit, at least in the UK? Its expression of sexual frustration is even more potent than the Stones’ “Satisfaction” because directed at one person. Nick Warburton nails the ’66 A-side by then current/former Royal Air Force service members as “arguably their finest outing on disc – [a] mod/freakbeat classic” that is “[d]riven by [a] buzz-saw lead guitar and psychedelic undertones [and] should have been the hit single to put Hedgehoppers Anonymous back in the UK charts.” (https://thestrangebrew.co.uk/interviews/hedgehoppers-anonymous-1/)

Believe it or not, “Daytime” is actually a French tune! —

“As American rock music journalist and webmaster at the Garage Hangover website Chris Bishop explains: “[The song was] an adaption of Les 5 Gentleman’s ‘Dis-Nous Dylan’ (originally co-written by Jean Fredenucci of Les 5 Gentlemen and T Saunders) with English lyrics by [the Hedgehoppers’] John Stewart.” Les 5 Gentlemen, incidentally, also recorded “Daytime” with Stewart’s lyrics for a release on the Major Minor label as Darwin’s Theory.

Nick Warburton, https://thestrangebrew.co.uk/interviews/hedgehoppers-anonymous-1/); Mikey Dread, https://www.45cat.com/record/f12479

The Gentlemen “overdubbed this lyric over their original backing track”. (CorporalClegg, https://www.45cat.com/record/f12479) I should say that the HA version is far superior to the original — snoozebeat transformed into freakbeat.

Nick Warburton dives deep:

Royal Air Force ground crew . . . . [were c]aptivated by the beat scene exploding in the UK [and] decide to form a band [in ‘63], The Trendsetters. The quintet performs initially in the officers’ mess [and] then ventures out . . . . [and in ‘64] changes its name to The Hedgehoppers; a nickname for the “V” bombers, which can fly a few hundred feet above the ground, under enemy radar to avoid detection and ground-to-air missiles. A local agent spots [them] playing the local pub scene and arranges live gigs to showcase the band . . . . [Soon, they] have opened for Unit Four Plus Two, The Hollies and The Kinks among others. . . . The Hedgehoppers . . . are spotted by Trinity College student Kenneth King (aka Jonathan King), who is working as a producer for Decca Records . . . . [and who] approaches [the band] to see if they will record [one] of his songs – “It’s Good News Week”. King, who is keener on becoming a producer than a singer, suggests that they add the Anonymous tag so that they can keep their fan base but protect their anonymity from the RAF, which is unaware of the recording. . . . King’s tongue-in-cheek protest song[‘] . . . . success generates a huge amount of publicity but also creates problems with the RAF, which has not given the musicians the proper authority to find employment outside the Armed Forces. Hedgehoppers Anonymous make their debut TV appearance on ITV’s Ready Steady Go! [and] appear on BBC TV’s Top of The Pops . . . . [The song] peaks at UK #5 and also reaches #48 in the US Billboard chart. . . . Decca rush releases a second single to capitalise on the [song’s] success . . . but . . . “Don’t Push Me” . . . sells poorly. . . . [They release a] third single, “Baby (You’re My Everything)” [but t]he band’s poppy sound . . . increasingly sounds dated, and [it] does not chart. . . . The band moves towards a more harder-edge rock sound, which culminates in . . . “Daytime” . . . . [which] is not a chart success.

. . . .

[When “Good News Week” came out,] most of the band were still members of the RAF and had not obtained the proper authority to find employment outside the Armed Forces. [S]inger [Mike Tinsley] recalls: “We were starting to get into deep water over recording a song while still serving in the RAF without proper authority. The record was released on Decca and started bringing newspaper reporters and photographers to the base along with young girls seeking autographs! That got us even more into deep water!” As the single stormed up the UK charts that October, the four RAF members applied for a discharge from the service but had an uncomfortable wait while the authorities considered each musician’s case. By late November, Tinsley and [guitarist John] Stewart had managed to secure a successful discharge but [two] were turned down, forcing the band’s manager . . . to find replacements to promote “It’s Good News Week” on the road and for TV appearances. . . . Dissatisfaction over the direction that Decca was pushing them prompted the musicians to take over creative control for . . . “Daytime” . . . . Despite charting in the Scandinavian market, the single failed to breakthrough in the UK on its release in August 1966 and Decca began to lose interest.

https://thestrangebrew.co.uk/interviews/hedgehoppers-anonymous-1/; https://garagehangover.com/hedgehoppers-anonymou

But, oh, what could have been! —

In April 1966, the [band] discovered a demo recording of Chip Taylor’s “Wild Thing” . . . and, realising it had hit potential, decided to record a version. “We did a very lush recording [and] I remember the solo in the middle,” says [drummer Glenn] Martin. “What we did was John Stewart played the chords on the guitar and I drummed up and down the strings. It was very dramatic. We did a beautiful big arrangement [and] we had strings coming in.” A release date was set for Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ version of “Wild Thing” but the day before the single was shipped, King called the band into Decca’s offices for a meeting with the head of the A&R department. Neither was that keen on releasing the track and convinced the musicians to record King’s ballad, “Baby (You’re My Everything)” . . . instead. “The demo of ‘Wild Thing’ was first played to me by the publishers,” says King. “I loved the song and allowed the guys to play on it but their version wasn’t even as good as the demo so I passed . . . . Tinsley, however, has his own take on events: “I’m quite sure our version with more work in the studio to please all concerned would have produced a number one. . . .” For Tinsley and Martin it was the defining moment in Hedgehoppers Anonymous’ career. While King’s ballad stalled in the charts, The Troggs’ own version of “Wild Thing”, released only a short while later, topped the UK charts. “They chose [our demo] out of [Decca’s] basement unknowing and went into the studio and recorded it in 20 minutes and next week I turn the radio on and I heard The Troggs with ‘Wild Thing’ at number one,” remembers Martin. . . . “If Decca had let us release that record the next day, there’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever it would have been just as big if not bigger than it was for The Troggs.”


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