Hi, and welcome to the latest Squire Fan Club newsletter. This week we are diving into the 2007 CD tribute album “ THE YOUNG IDEA - A pop tribute to Anthony Meynell and SQUIRE”
Squire arguably became the first band from the ‘mod revival’ era, after The Jam to be honoured with a tribute album!
The collection combines bands from all over the world, from Scotland to Australia, United States to Italy, UK to Canada, capturing some exceptional performances and interpretations of Squire songs! Next week we will look at a couple of the recordings in detail, but for now, we wish to share the excellent sleeve notes that appear inside the CD package. So if you don’t own a copy, you won’t have read them and because of small type, maybe not even then!
But they do paint an alternative snapshot of Squire from a Californian perspective. Over the last few weeks we have been delving in to this alternative Squire following the relocation of Anthony and Hi-Lo Records to the West Coast. We’ve been digging up archive material from radio broadcasts such as KROQ and KUSF, discussing concerts in California and Canada, the mixing of Get Smart in Los Angles, and the recent ‘Boys About Town’ band trilogy of radio excerpts.
The sleeve notes for the tribute album were expertly written by Bart Mendoza from Manual Scan and The Shambles, also a long time friend and San Diego scenester.
Indeed, he can claim to be the main conduit for all things ‘mod’ in that part of the world, and responsible for not only putting San Diego and Southern California on the mod map, but more importantly keeping it there over the last 40 years! No ‘mod’ event seems authentic unless he is performing or appearing in person! And he usually is!
Without further ado, here is the text reproduced from that CD insert:
While this is indeed a compilation with a world wide musical lineup, perhaps what's most unusual is that it was conceived not in Squire's British homeland, but in the United States, with the majority of the tracks from groups based Stateside. Anthony Meynell's trio did indeed make a splash in England, brushing the charts with such certified Mod anthems as "Walking Down The King's Road" and "Face of Youth Today." You can find the facts about the bands British adventures fairly easily. But perhaps what isn't as well known is the lasting impact on the West Coast's music scene of the eighties. Simply stated, he was the first major musician from the British mod community to make contact with and become involved with the exploding mod scene of Southern California.
Arriving first in Los Angeles, and spending a bit of time in San Francisco, he later made his home base in San Diego. Meynell’s arrival was greeted by local scenesters as nothing short of validation for the Vespa riding crowd, and brought in admirers from the then burgeoning paisley underground as well.
A terrific song writer, Meynell thrived in the early days of indie rock circa the early eighties, the pop punk of early tracks contrasting brilliantly with the horn drenched r&b flavoured later tracks, with forays into psychedelia. It all added up to a brilliant run of singles that ranged from 1978's "Get Ready To Go" to 1984's "The Young Idea," with lots of great stuff in between.
On his first trip to the Los Angeles area he performed with a band that included members of the Question, including Tony Rugolo, and the Targets. Hoping to possibly land a deal in the States where his records were selling well as imports, Meynell brought tapes of his then current sessions for the bands Get Smart album. "I first came to U.S in May 1983," he remembered. "Although we were aware of interest on the East Coast and New York, etc we had just received a fan club letter from a 'Sandra Smash' from Los Alamitos who was a huge fan of Squire. She begged us to come out and play live and gave us the contact of Howard Parr who ran the O.N Club at 3-2-1 at Santa Monica. Sandra mentioned that the "Girl On A Train” single was a hit at the club" Paar sold Meynell on the idea by describing a 'scene' that included the fledgling ‘Paisley Underground' bands Three O'clock, Rain Parade, Leaving Trains, and the other Wharfrat label groups. More importantly it was Paar that suggested Meynell work with The Question. "I had done nothing remotely like this before but it was an opportunity not to be missed so I agreed to come alone without the band! I spoke to Tony Rugolo of The Question who said he knew a couple of the songs but they really wanted to do it, so OK.” Meynell made the trip sans Squire, meeting up with a record distributor friend."I used the mixing money from Get Smart to fly over and took the multitrack tapes, along with the intention of mixing some of it in California!”
The initial gig went great with a minor exception. "The ON Club gig was a tremendous success - packed, and to make things really edgy, I remember being accidentally hit in the face by the bass guitar head stock just as we went on stage so my nose was bleeding for the first three songs! I was so into it didn't matter." With support from the influential LA Weekly and half of LA's hottest bands in attendance at that first gig. another bigger show was set up at Costa Mesa's Concert Factory. Meynell even had an episode of Rodney on the Roq dedicated to his band, performing live on air. Some mixing was accomplished stateside as well. Meynell became beneficiary of downtime from a pair of major artists utilising the studio between sessions for Michael Jackson's Thriller at Alpha Studios and Lionel Ritchie sessions at famed Ocean Way Studios. This is possibly the only worthwhile thing to ever emerge from a Ritchie session, but we digress.
Meynell's whirl wind trip was brief, but he soon returned. “This time I went straight to San Diego. I recall being met at San Diego airport by an entourage scooters and had the ride of my life on the back of a scooter, As usual I hadn't slept for 48 hours before arriving and hung on for dear life!" Meynell is bemused by the memory, but there was a reason behind the move. "You sold me on it," he laughs. We had indeed been friends for a few years at that point, and exchanged mailing lists etc., but my insistence that he come visit and check out our clubs and bands ended up being well timed. "By 1985 LA was very Black Flag and the Paisley Underground had evaporated. Fishbone headed up the 'mod' scene," Meynell remembers. "San Diego was a different story altogether. I remember seeing the Tell Tale Hearts in a club in San Diego and being overwhelmed with excitement. This was the scene for me! Whereas LA had gone more hardcore, San Diego was London 1964!”
Anthony became a perennial at area clubs, scored airplay on then new 91X and performing several times alongside Manual Scan (these shows were filmed), notably at two of the annual New Sounds Festivals. He also joined Paul Bevoir. Ed Ball and Simon Smith for a Boys About Town performance in San Francisco alongside David Fleminger (Manual Scan) and Buddy Woodward (Lost Patrol).
Despite some impressive accomplishments, by the late 80’s the going was decidedly tougher for mod, pop or sixties based artists, and Meynell moved on to other musical horizons, leaving Squire a cult band with a devoted following. The records went out of print. Meynell wouldn't return to the U.S. until 1997 when he was a headliner at that years International Pop Overthrow Festival in Los Angeles. A couple of 'Best Of comps came and also went out of print, the last music fans got to hear of those great tunes. Until now.
Gathering artists from around the world, this compilation is fairly evenly split between peers and new comers. Amongst those who need no introduction is British tunesmith and graphic artist extraordinaire Paul Bevoir (ex-Jetset, Small Town Parade) who performed in the U.S. alongside Meynell and also saw The Jetset's April May June & The Jetset released by Hi Lo Records.
The Shambles of course have worked with Meynell throughout the years. Back when Kevin Donaker-Ring and I fronted Manual Scan, Meynell released our first album on his label. Later as The Shambles, we've covered three of his songs. Trash is another old friend under a new name. in this case Bob Andrews formerly of Canada's Beat Direction, and another former Hi Lo signee. Also back after a lengthy hiatus, the newly revitalised Mod Fun, were included on Hi Lo's American Heart & Soul compilation. Returning with a vengeance after a bit of time off, are Yeh Yeh who clearly have lost none of their edge.
The compilation also reaches back to include a mid-nineties track released as a single circa 1994 by Scotland's Deceivers as well as a cut of similar vintage by Australia's Little Murders. But Meynell's knack for writing pop hooks is also taken on by a new generation of artists. Certainly The Eddies "Debbie Jones," adds an LA edge not far removed from the likes of 20/20 (no surprise considering Earle Mankey performs production chores here!) while Jeremy's "You're The One" manages to squeeze every last bit of jangle out of the tune. Just the tip of the iceberg here, as all 17 tracks bear repeated listens, and hold up well to the originals. No easy feat.
I've been honoured to call Anthony a good friend for over two decades now, and I look forward to many more. Listening to this compilation I'm reminded what a consummate song craftsman he is, and how criminally under rated his catalog of tunes has been. May this fitting tribute be the first step in spreading the word about the magic of Squire and opening up the music world's eyes to the equally worthy projects he has worked on in the years since that band roamed the earth. Whether you dig the originals or groove to the remakes, you must agree these songs are meant to play loud, perfect for dancing or just jumping about, that rare artefact, the three minute pop gem.
Bart Mendoza / San Diego 2006
See you next week when we reveal the stories behind some of the tracks!