Norman Conquest — “Upside Down”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 18, 2022


612) Norman Conquest — “Upside Down

This ’68 B-side is one of British musical genius John Pantry’s (see #494) most glorious pop psych confections. Vernon Joynson calls it “dreamy flowery pop.” (The Tapestry of Delights Revisited)

But, was Pantry the lead singer on the single? Joynson thought so, saying that Norman Conquest was “a group that later became Peter and the Wolves and then Factory. Pantry is thought to be the lead vocalist on both sides of the single.” But, as David Wells later revealed:

MGM . . . issued “Two People” . . . backed by the superior “Upside Down[]” . . . . in the name of Norman Conquest. [T]here has always been some doubt over the exact identity of both the musicians concerned and the lead singer . . . . John Pantry felt that the singer was somebody impersonating his vocal style . . . . [T]he real Norman Conquest has turned up — singer Paul Puig . . . and who confirms that both sides featured him on lead vocals.

liner notes to CD comp The Upside Down World of John Pantry

Jason gives us a sense of Pantry’s 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.” . . .

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Here is Pantry’s demo:

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