The Triumph Records Story
Part 2: The 45s
All Triumph 45s had the prefix "RGM" (Meek's initials: Robert George Meek) at the beginning of the number. It's not known why the company started their releases with "0" instead of "1". The records came in neutral blue paper sleeves, later there were red ones (as shown on previous page). Allegedly, yellow sleeves had been planned for EPs, but apparently they never were printed.
Meek knew this band from Lansdowne. They came from Ealing, played skiffle and were first named West Five. Meek changed the name into The Cavaliers and then (without asking them) into The Blue Men. The real name of the singer they are backing here is Peter Lynch, Meek discovered him at a club. This Peter Jay is not the same as the drummer who played with the Jaywalkers.
The stamp on the label is a revenue stamp of the british "Mechanical Copyright Protection Society". The record company had to buy these revenue stamps and paste them to the label. In case of small print runs from unknown record companies the MCPS insisted in collecting this way the royalties which became due by pressing the record.
"Rodd-Ken" should better be spelled "Rodd, Ken" because they were two persons, Rod Freeman and Ken Harvey. Both tracks are penned by Meek (under the pseudonym Robert Duke which he used at that time; see also here). Magic Wheel is as catchy as a song can be, while Happy Valley features Meek's special liking of sound effects - the track starts with a train with which the band synchronizes their rhythm and ends with exuberant chuckling high-speed voices. Also remarkable the pedal steel guitar which Meek seemed to love dearly; it's coming back repeatedly in several other tracks.
Joy & Dave (Adams) were sister and brother; Meek knew them from his Lansdowne time. Dave Adams became - apart from Geoff Goddard - Meek's most important musician and collaborator; he's also known under the pseudonyms The Kids, Burr Bailey and Silas Dooley Jr; their collaboration lasted until Meek's death (more info here). Let's Go See Gran'ma is sung intentionally corny, the 45 barely missed the GB Top 50.
Chris Williams laid down some recordings for Columbia Records. This recording remained unissued; only some white label copies were found some years ago. The recordings are traditional British jazz in the style of, say, Chris Barber.
Simply a dull record. Yolanda was a jazz singer and actress (mainly in radio plays) from Ceylon and actually signed to Saga; Meek knew her since 1956 when he was balance engineer of the LP Moondog & Suncat Suites by Kenny Graham & his Satellites, in which Yolanda appeared.
The instrumental group The Flee-Rakkers (aka Fleerakkers, Flee Rekkers or Flea Rakkers, sometimes with, sometimes without the addition "Fabulous"), founded by Peter Fleeraker, is marked by craftsmenship as well as by its unusual line-up: bass, two guitars, drums and two saxophones. Green Jeans is an instrumental version of the song Greensleeves and probably remained their biggest success. The Flee-Rakkers acted for a longer time as in-house band at Meek's; they also played the "It's A Triumph" signature.
Especially interesting in this release is the BIEM imprint, which is missing on all other Triumph releases. It points to an intended export of a part of the copies to other European countries. But apparently this didn't happen. (BIEM = Bureau International des Sociétés gérants des Droits d'Enregistrement et de Reproduction Mécanique, founded 1929, is the international organisation representing 44 mechanical rights societies in 42 countries.)
Ricky Wayne was body builder and later became Mister Universe. He couldn't sing, but to Meek that was never a reason to stop. Meek rehearsed a stage show with him, which offered an (unfinished) striptease.
George Chakiris primarily was a good-looking actor, but he wasn't a real singer. His probably most important appearance was his part as "Sharks" leader Bernardo in the movie "West Side Story" from 1961. In a radio show he denied that it's he singing on this record. Most likely, the real singer is Dave Adams. The 45 reached #49 of the GB charts.
A little flaw: On the labels the sides A and B are mixed up.
Michael Cox from Liverpool came to Meek by recommendation of the TV producer Jack Good ("Wham!", "Boy Meets Girl"). His two records for Decca had failed. Not so Angela Jones. This song, a cover version of a US hit, made it to #7 in the GB charts. Also here on the labels the sides 1 and 2 are mixed up.
This was the last Triumph 45 production with Meek's direct contribution.
The numbers RGM 1004 to 1006 are missing. There were some projects which may have been planned for release under this numbers but abandoned for unknown reasons. One of those was Bridge Of Avignon/Hey Round The Corner with singer Eve Boswell: Allegedly it's been released in Italy on the Durium label, but neither a real copy nor a photo of this record has ever been seen. Some plans to make a record with Joy Adam's little son Smiley were talked about but never realized; another Flee Rakkers 45 entitled Isle Of Capri/Crazy Train remained unissued too. There were also recordings by the Charles Blackwell Orchestra which appeared in 2006 for the first time on CD under the title "Those Plucking Strings".
Quellen/Sources: Garth Banks; Sammlung/Collection Harald Bluschke; Sammlung/Collection Jörg Richard; R. W. Dopson/A. D. Blackburn: I Hear A New World CD Liner Notes; Record Collector 186, Feb. 1995; Thunderbolt 58, Feb 2010
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© 2006 Jan Reetze
last update: October 13, 2011