There was a bustling scene in the Midlands in the mid-1960s
with both the Idle Race and the Move including
former members of the Nightriders as well as the Moody
Blues, Spencer Davis Group, Band of Joy and
more. The Idle Race was one of those 1960s groups who did
not trouble the hit parade but, nowadays, are viewed with a
great deal of admiration and not just because they included Jeff
Lynne contributes the majority of the songs with a further four from
guitarist Dave Pritchard. There are a number of interesting cover versions.
The Move's (Here We Go Round) the Lemon Tree was written by former
Nightrider bandmate and future Move and ELO partner Roy Wood as the b-side of
the Rain. The Idle Race version had been intended as the debut single but it was
only issued in the US once the Move's version started to receive airplay in the
There is a nod to the San Francisco sound with a cover of Moby Grape's
Grandma. Clearly popular in the Midlands, the song was also covered by the
and the Band of Joy (with Robert Plant and John Bonham). Frantic Desolation is a
Sopwith Camel song while Marc Bolan makes an appearance as a writer with a version of
Tyrannosaurus Rex's Debora. The latter includes "samples" of other
songs including Get Back, Peter Gunne and probably several more.
Most of the tracks are from BBC's Top of the Pops (not the TV show) or from
John Peel's late '60s show with the DJs introducing the tracks. Peel, in
particular, notes his surprise at the band's lack of commercial success despite
the quality of Jeff Lynne's songs. The singles included in this selection are
especially good with the superb Days of Broken Arrows featured twice.
This is a quality compilation and show just how good a band the Idle Race
were. Although they did not have major commercial success they have left behind
a good body of work that is well worth a listen.
CD Release: 3 May 2019
- Imposters of Life's Magazine
- The Skeleton and the Roundabout
- Days of Broken Arrows