John Bromley — “Old Time Mover”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — January 16, 2023


703) John Bromley — “Old Time Mover”

A delightful and whimsical McCartneyesque retro number by English songwriter John Bromley, who has written “over 200 works with over 60 recorded and performed worldwide by major artists such as Shirley Bassey, Sacha Distel, Petula Clark, Richard Harris, Paul Anka . . . John Farnham”, Jackie De Shannon and the Ace Kefford Stand. (Facebook). He also recorded some of his songs in the 60’s, releasing them as singles (backed by The Fleur De Lys [see #32, 122]) which were eventually collected on his sole album, ’69’s Sing (see #337, 350).

Bromley says that:

This was my attempt at trying to write a 1940s Dance Hall type of song — you know, out of tune sax, swing rhythm. The lyrics found themselves really and I just threw any old words together that fitted the meter and the rhyme. I suppose they tell a sort of story, but it is not autobiographical. A lot of my songs were based on imaginary relationships or incidents.

liner notes to the Songs CD (an expanded CD reissue of Sing)

Bromley “never thought of himself as a singer. . . . ‘I was really only interested in performing on my own original recorded demos’”. (Mark Johnston’s liner notes to Songs). The way he was discovered comes right out of a movie:

[He was working in a record shop in London when Graham Dee] overheard a bored Bromley busking behind the shop’s counter with a cheap plastic guitar. Graham was . . . trying to place the tune that was being sung. . . . [and] was suitably impressed to learn that the song that he thought he recognized, “What a Woman Does”, was actually a John Bromley original. . . . “He asked me to hold on and he ran around the corner and came back five minutes later asking if I could slip away for twenty -minutes to record a demo of the song.” . . . Dee ran off with the demo to Atlantic Records’s European managing director Frank Fenter[, who] was impressed enough by what he heard to rush John into his office the very next day. John was shocked, “Frank loved the song . . . . he offered me a recording contract for three singles and one album on the spot! I was hoping to get one of my songs placed with a major act by Frank, not a recording contract for myself.”Mark Johnston’s liner noes to the CD reissue of Sing

Mark Johnston’s liner notes to Songs

Reviewers often comment on how it and other of Bromley’s songs are imbued with the spirit of Paul McCartney: Rob Jones calls his songs “Macca-esque psychedelia” ( and John Reed calls Bromley “a singer-songwriter firmly rooted in the Macca tradition – and it’s possible to hear echoes of Beatles ballads such as Yesterday or Eleanor Rigby in many of his compositions.” ( “Old Time Mover” would not have felt out of place on the White Album or ’70’s McCartney.

If Bromley’s singles had been released a year or two earlier, they would likely have received the rapturous reception they deserved. Rob Jones perceptively notes that:

[B]y 1969, there had been a bit of a shift where this approach was concerned since the height of the psych period in 1966-67. The world had become less optimistic and open to whimsy by then, two years after the summer of love, and after some of the figureheads of the civil rights movement were no more. British psychedelia had begun to mutate into a more “progressive”  and serious direction to contrast the nostalgic and twee nature of what psych bands had created. King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King is a good example of a darker, and less romanticized musical and thematic landscape from bands in Britain by the end of the 1960s when Bromley’s record came out. Perhaps this is why [Sing], didn’t take off. Bromley eventually left the music business for a time, escaping the ins and outs of an often callous industry.  This record has been a sought-after treasure for vinyl collectors over the years since, an artifact perhaps of a lost era that is attached, ironically, to a new kind of hazy nostalgia for many. Listening to this song now, it’s easy to appreciate its charms . . . .

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