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The Merseys

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The Merseys had a big pop/rock hit in the U.K. in 1966 with "Sorrow," later covered by David Bowie (on Pin Ups), but never followed up on the promise of this successful debut. They were a spinoff group from the Merseybeats, who were one of the more popular Liverpool bands of the British Invasion although they never managed to land a hit in the United States. The Merseybeats split up in 1966, with lead guitarist Tony Crane and bassist Billy Kinsley forming the Merseys. Unlike the Merseybeats, a self-contained quartet, the Merseys were a duo, backed on-stage by the Fruit Eating Bears, who had two drummers and featured Joey Molland (later of Badfinger) as lead guitarist. The Merseys were managed by Who managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, which seemed a solid indicator of their future growth, although Kinsley has said Lambert and Stamp naturally focused much more of their attention on the Who. Their engaging, robustly produced cover of the McCoys' "Sorrow" went to number four in Britain in 1966, although it (like the Merseybeats' hits) made no impact on the other side of the Atlantic. Certainly it made a durable impression at home: in addition to Bowie's mid-'70s cover, its lyric "your long blond hair and your eyes so blue" was quoted by George Harrison in the Beatles' "It's All Too Much." For a follow-up, they secured the Pete Townshend-penned "So Sad About Us," which the Who would record on their second album. It was given an orchestral production by Kit Lambert, and failed to match the performance of its predecessor. The Merseys did make a few more singles that also missed the hit parade. Tony Crane says they considered doing a cover of the Beatles' "I'll Be Back," which John Lennon had an arrangement in mind for and wanted to produce; that was not recorded, however. The Merseys never did make an album, and their singles have never been compiled for an archival reissue. The unfortunate difficulty in finding any of these, even "Sorrow," on compilation reissues indicates that there may be some sort of contractual or licensing problem obstructing this. ~ Richie Unterberger