John & Lynda


Label: Mike Records MIKE 001

Release Date: autumn 1982

This was The Fivepenny Piece’s first single without major label support – having left EMI and not released any singles with Philips. It was also the first release by the band since the departure of John Meeks in 1981. For this release, the line-up was Lynda Meeks, Eddie Crotty, Colin Radcliffe, George Radcliffe and John’s replacement Trevor Chance, with Phil Barlow on drums and Pete Lingwood on keyboards.

The record was issued on a small independent label Mike Records and this was the first record issued on that label. The single appears to have some sort of promotional connection with a company called Eland Travel of Surrey, who according to the sleeve notes “helped transport troops to the Falklands”. Although there is no date anywhere on the record or the sleeve, we estimate the release to be in the autmn of 1982 following the end of the Falklands War.  This would also explain the choice of a medley of First World War songs as being commercially viable.

The single was released in a picture sleeve with a sepia-tinted black and white photograph of the band dressed in First World War uniforms and period costume. The photograph was taken outside the gate of the former Ladysmith Barracks in Mossley Road, Ashton-under-Lyne; once home of the “Manchesters” (The Manchester Regiment). The gate was preserved when the barracks themselves were demolished to make way for a housing estate. The back of the sleeve shows three more photos – another one outside the barracks gate; one with an Eland bus; and a close-up of the Eland Air logo on the bus.

The sleeve notes read: “Three all-time favourite war songs are incorporated in “It’s A Long Way”. The Fivepenny Piece have successfully blended the nostalgia and comradeship of “Tipperary” and “Pack Up Your Troubles”, together with the hauntingly plaintive “Keep The Home Fires Burning”. It is an unusual reminder that the past is still relevant today. “In A World Of Three Foot Nothing” is a contrast portraying the innocence of youth.

And there is the Stalybridge link between the song and the band. According to Wikipedia, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary is a British music hall song written by Jack Judge and co-credited to Henry James “Harry” Williams. It was allegedly written for a 5-shilling bet in Stalybridge on 30 January 1912 and performed the next night at the local music hall. Now commonly called “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, the original printed music calls it “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary.” It became popular among soldiers in the First World War and is remembered as a song of that war. Welcoming signs in the referenced county of Tipperary, Ireland, humorously declare, “You’ve come a long long way…” in reference to the song.

Other details given on the sleeve are that the producers of the record were Trevor Chance and Pete Lingwood; the engineer was Roger Salmon; and that the record was recorded in Bootleg Studios, Reddish. The photographs were taken by Martin Williscroft, and the sleeve was “by courtesy of Eland Travel, Surrey”.

As for the record label, the company made a bit of a pig’s ear of this! As can be seen from the labels below, Side A is labelled as containing Tiperary (spelled wrong!) and Pack Up Your Troubles, with Side B labelled Keep The Home Fires Burning and World Of Three Foot Nothing. This gives the impression that the record has two tracks on each side. In fact all three WWI songs form the medley It’s A Long Way on one side, with just the World Of Three Foot Nothing on the other. Still, it was the Mike Records’ first release, so perhaps some allowance should be made!

The song In A World Of Three Foot Nothing later appeared on the album Here We Are Again.

Side 1

  1. It’s A Long Way – a medley of three songs:
    · Tipperary (Jack Judge – Harry Williams)
    · Keep The Home Fires Burning (Lena Ford – Ivor Novello)
    · Pack Up Your Troubles (George Asaf – Felix Powell)

Side 2

  1. In A World Of Three Foot Nothing (Trevor Chance – Colin Radcliffe)

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