WHITE PLAINS: THE EPITOME OF 70s POP
27th September 2023
Title: White Plains
Sometimes. Sometimes you’ve just got to get your teeth into sparkling, airy, lively 70s pop, draped with so much melody that 10 fingers and toes are really not quite enough to accomplish the required tapping.
White Plains are one of those groups that haunted the charts back in the 70s but very few people actually remember them. Yet their hit singles are staples, even now, of the radio.
Smash hit singles such as My Baby Loves Lovin’, When You Are A King, Julie Do Ya Love Me and I’ve Got You On My Mind have ‘The Seventies’ running through them like a branded stick of rock.
If you haven’t had the pleasure, just who on earth were White Plains? Well, that’s a tough one to answer because this was a group who never stood still in terms of their line up, despite core members hanging around but their song-writing source was Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway who some of you might remember performing as David & Jonathan from 1966 who wrote the hits This Golden Ring and You’ve Got Your Troubles for the UK outfit, the Fortunes (and later Blue Mink, The Hollies and others).
White Plains was packed with British veterans of the scene. Singer Peter Nelson had missed the charts despite releasing a host of singles, sometimes with Robin Shaw, another White Plans member. Tony Burrows was ex-The Kestrels and The Ivy League. All three joined and hooked up with former Ivy League member Neil Landon to form The Flower Pot Men to produce a No.4 UK hit, Let’s Go to San Francisco in 1966.
After a while that band had run its course but there were still potential hit singles hanging around the slightly rejigged line up. There was still potential there. For example, one of the final tracks recorded by The Flowerpot Men was that future White Plains smash, My Baby Loves Lovin’. It was Decca man Dick Rowe, the man who rejected The Beatles (his strike rate remained impressive but popular history chooses to ignore that), who suggested that the guys start afresh with that song book as White Plains.
Roger Greenaway stepped up to be the front man, Pete Nelson, Robin Shaw and Tony Burrows handled the backing vocals Burrows also had a hand on the contemporary hits, Gimme Dat Ding by The Pipkins, Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse and United We Stand with the Brotherhood of Man.
The White Plains self-titled debut arrived on Deram during September 1970 mixing the new band with tracks from The Flower Pot Men.
White Plains shared the vocals around, as voices were not in short supply in this band. Roger Cook was also the Blue Mink lead vocal at that time.
Tracks on the album feature interesting histories. For example, Taffeta Rose was written by Jerry Lordan and one Hank Marvin and had already been a single for the band, Brotherly Love. Another track, Summer Morning had also been a single for Vanity Fare.
This was a time when producers like Cook and Greenaway would rotate songs from one umbrella group to another and back again.
Later, in 1971, White Plains would also issue a second album call When You Are A King which featured more hits and more melodic fare.
Both albums can actually be found on a recently released 3CD set called ‘White Plains: The Collection’ (via the 7T’s label). You’ll find one CD for each album with a number of extra tracks appended to each. A third disc features a host of rarities including later spin-off groups. This multi-gatefold collection includes the band’s entire story in song and written down via the included booklet.
The band called it a day after releasing the single, Ecstasy in May of 1974. Success was proving harder to find so the band split at the end of that year.
To me, White Plains sounded akin to The Move. There’s a flavour of Roy Wood in there. There’s some Jeff Lynne in there as well. That slightly nasal quality mixed with melodic hooks, a driving beat and a musical flow that never jars. The basic harmonic qualities from the band are quite delightful and easy on the ear.
What I like about the 7T’s box set is that it puts people to hit singles, it puts names to faces. It supplies context and reminds us that these pieces of pop ephemera were created by real – and rather talented – individuals. They deserve to be remembered.
(Note: If you want to dive into a slice of White Plains, I recommend the CD collection picture at the top of this feature. It comes from Cherry Red and can be yours via this link: www.cherryred.co.uk)