The Scaffold's Singles

by Mike McCartney

From the cover of the 1982 album The Scaffold Singles As & Bs, lightly edited.

To write one's own sleeve notes could justifiably be construed as self-indulgent megalomaniac opportunism... that's why I agreed immediately to write about Scaffold's long and outrageously successful pop career for you.

Way back in 1963 we started out as a theatrical humour group originally called The Liverpool One Fat Lady All Electric Show but as no-one could remember our name (or even pronounce it) we quickly changed it to Scaffold and toured theatres and universities up and down the country.

Joining Brlan Epstein's NEMS a few years later we declded to cut our first record (rather like a tooth but not as painful) and for this purpose chose gentleman George Martin not for his Beatle productions but because of his Peter Sellers Goon connections.

2 Days Monday. Pronounced to dies Mondie In Cockney, this was our first classic comedy dirge and was a monster! hit (well not in the charts perhaps, but definitely with Spike Milligan, the Yardbirds, and Mrs Rose Barnet from Peckham Rye, London).

George Martin quote "I have fond memories of Scaffold as their recordings came not only in the middle of the Beatles but also just after my long association wlth those extreme forms of British humour such as Peter Sellers and the Goons, Beyond the Fringe with Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, etc... right through to the Establishment and Scaffold came pretty high on that list."

A change of producer to John Burgess gave us Goodbat Nightman. Brian (God rest him) Epstein rush released this brilliant Batman spoof just after! Batmania.

Another change of producer (Tony Palmer) produced our first chart top ten disc Thank U Very Much.

With a little help from our kid on the day of recording and with cheeky refs to Napalm bombs! and our gracious team, "Tar very much" became Sir Tommy Sopwith and Prime Minister of England Harold Wilson's favourite pop ditty.

Yet another! change of producer to Norrie Paramor who stayed for the next four singles. The fact that his wife Joan came from Liverpool could have had something to do with it but definitely not the rumour in Tin Pan Alley that several thousand melted down gold discs exchanged hands etc. This led us to Do You Remember.

Written by McGough with a McGear tune laid on top as soon as lyrics received and containing Twiggy's favourite soft shoe shuffle solo by Gorman (a first on record I believe) "Do Do Do Do Do You" was a big hit in every other way but the pop charts as Peter Asher said at the time. 1,2,3 was Scaffold's answer to A Day in the Life but not quite as popular (except for John's subtle operatic solo, that is). This track sums up the hopeful Carnaby Street meditation flower power, fun era of the much maligned Swingin' 60s.

Lily The Pink. Our biggest no. 1 record which they couldn't knock off the top of the pops over the entire Christmas period of '68 was produced by Norrie with Tim Superstar Rice on tea bags. We had Jack (ace Cream) Bruce on bass, Graham (Crosby, Still and) Nash on Jennifer Eccles verse (the Hollies had just had a monster hit of the same name), my Auntle Mill on receding legs and Ringo's bass drum on the floor of Abbey Road's number 3 studio because we'd lost the thud, thud, thud (imperative for no. 1 records) during the mix down. Tiny Rice Tim Quote: "I helped produce Lily the Pink, I even sang on it but there again so did nearly everyone else in the music business of '68, my uncredited contribution was perhaps not a major one but if I'd been given even a small royalty I could have become rich over night and would never have needed to write Jesus Christ Superstar the following year, but enough of history.. I cannot recommend this album too highly. P.S. I am not even receiving a fee for this tribute."

Tim Rice gravitated up to joint producer on Scaffold's next resounding... miss! Charity Bubbles.

Charity was Liverpool's answer to Diana Ross and the Supremes wlth Mike McGear and the Toxteth Tamla Toy Town Rioters. For Norrie's last `A' side we chose the Boy Scout National Anthem Gin Gan Goolie.

One of the many Abbey Road tracks that Elton John helped out on... as a Scaffold backing singer in his day as an EMI session singer. Elt had a chance to relax on Scaffold sing-a-longs and as disclosed in my recent Thank-U Very Much book, in later years at the Wings launch he even offered to be our pianerist.

Liver Birds (pronouneed Liever not Liver) was the updated version of the highly popular BBC TV Liver Birds series which sadly doesn't feature Pauline Collins with John Gorman in the middle re speech:

John: "Are You Dancin'?"
Pauline: "Are you askin' ?"
John: "I'm askin'"
Pauline: "Well I'm dancin'"
(Sheer Liverpool poetry)

For Busdreams we enlisted the help of (bus) conductors Simon Napier Bell (Ding) and Ray (Ding Dong) Singer on one of Roger McGough's fine poems originally entitled Busseductress.

Our final producer was brother Paul McCartney (ex-Beatle, ex-Wing, ex-actly) who took over the harness of Liverpool Lou which sailed up into the top ten once again but all the money received from this foin L-pool Irish folk song went to paying off a Scaffold Arts Centre Project debt! Lou was knocked off at the end of my McGear album sessions at Stockport's Strawberry Studios and features Paul and Lin Mac (Bass and Lecy Piano), Denny (Gob-iron) Lane and Jimmy McCulloch (Beets) and Jerry (Drums) Conway. Lol Creme and Kevin Godley's unearthly Gyzmo was superbly mastered by our Paul.. Amen.

Paul McCartney quote: "I first met my brother at a very early age."

3 Blind Jellyfish was the `B' side of 2 Days Monday... two old standards which used to feature happily in many a Scaffold two hour theatrical performance. The gentle gelatinous backing is by care of the George Martin String Ensemble.

Ide B. The First, the `B' side to Thank U Very Much (which used to end our two hour shows) will surely go down in history as the first underwater sound effects disc.

Do you remember? Carry On Krow. The John Gorman traditional Carry On classic with Scaffold as mere sibbling aids.

Today. Having borrowed our group name from Roget's Thesaurus and the Miles Davis (no relation to Colin C4) album Lift to the Scaffold (L'ascenseur pour l'echefaud) we made no excuses for this magnificent attempt by the three Lively Whacker Whits to sail the unknown waters of ... featuring Herbie Flowers on Double Bass.

Buttons Of Your Mind was the double `A' side of Lily The Pink which nobody ever heard as they (the media) insisted on playing Lily to death (we should be so lucky!). Buttons features the other straighter side of Scaffs with Roger on poem, me on voice and Andy Roberts on excellent guitars.

Goose. Sitting in a country garden surrounded by Emperor Geese, brother Paul couldn't recognise the fine singer of Goose and didn t even remember playing on this Dylanesque McGough-McGear number but nevertheless this track features him on lead! guitar (for a change) trying to outdo Nicky (Rolling Stone) Hopkins on Piano.

All The Way Up was the first non-McGough-McGear-Gorman composition produced by Brian Gascoigne and Howard Blake for the title track of an Alf (Silly Moo) Garnett feature film (of the same name). Brian Auger's electric organ can be heard looning during and over the end fade.

Please Sorry. Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, Elton John, Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Moon, and John Lennon would have liked to have played on this track.

Ten Years After On Strawberry Jam. The title alone deserves an Oscar but this track actually manifests the reminiscenees of three Liverpool working class doctors, whilst maintaining a painful awareness of their brother's position in Poland. The background instrumentation is supplied by The Stockport Gdansk Band Co-operative and can we hear a couple of 10ccs, a flutter of Wings and not a lot of Carpenters.

Commercial Break. When Scaffold went into the heady world of Advertising, after the enormous success of Lily The Pink, they naturally felt obliged to send the whole business up.

Finally Do The Albert was a song commissioned by the BBC for a TV Extravaganza to celebrate the centenary of the lovely old Albert Hall. Alongside Sir John Geilgud and Sir John Betjamin, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and giant size video blow ups of ourselves (in the proverbial white suits), we performed this song which featured amongst others Neil Innes on anarchic piano, Alex Harvey's brother Les on guitar solo, Viv Stanshall on deep throat plus the Claes Oldenberg Soft (see through) drum kit and wild eyed and legless drumming of that salubrious eccentric pop legend... Mr Keith Moon (who?)

Thank you and goodnight (but yours forever)
Mike McCartney
(ex-McGear) (ex-actorly)


The Establishment

I think he's referring to Peter Cook's Establishment Club, a comedy club he founded in the early Sixties. [Back]
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