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by Marmalade
Sad to hear of the death of Marmalade singer, Dean Ford. Hopefully this clip will show that they were so much better than their cover of 'Ob la di Ob la da' suggests. Below is a short piece I've written (from a story) that will give a bit more background to the band.

AUGUST 19th 1967

Jools summed it up best when she said, "You take me to all the best places." She was referring to our destination for Saturday night, the Witchdoctor on Lee High Road in Catford. The place formerly known as the Savoy Rooms, had been the site of a gangland killing involving the Krays. So a name change made sense.

The venue attracted a stylish mod clientele with lads in Ben Shermans and girls in pencil skirts purchased from Deptford Market. All the youngsters kept their breath fresh, chewing gum endlessly as they shuffled to the latest Jamaican imports. It has to be said that the big attraction for many, was the amazing underwear revealing, ultra-violet light that swept the top floor; this for many lonely boys was the high point of the evening.

In more recent times the Witchdoctor had become well known for the house DJ, Steve Maxted and the ska/reggae bands that played there. For some reason blues bands and prog rock acts weren’t welcome in this part of south London, probably because the girls couldn't dance to them. Instead what you got was Desmond Dekker, the Skatalites, the Amboy Dukes and any touring ska bands. Occasionally you would get pop bands, in particular the Scottish band, Marmalade, who were firm favourites.

Some might be surprised to learn that Marmalade were one of the highest earning club acts in the UK. The reason being and it wasn't cool to admit it, but they could outplay most groups on the club circuit. Besides that they also had an ability to entertain, something most British bands didn't have a clue about. What is more their roguish looks pulled in the girls, which in turn pulled in the lads. No wonder then that club managers loved them.

At this point in their career Marmalade were essentially a Motown covers band, but their approach made them stand out. Unusually they used two bass players, one four string, the other six, enabling them to harness a full fat bottom sound. On top of this, they would float three part harmonies. And most refreshing of all, they never played 'Respect,' 'Knock on Wood,' 'Heatwave' or any of the lazy covers most bands slaughtered week after week. Instead with Marmalade you got a host of lesser know dance classics: 'Seven Days are Too Long,' 'Cool Jerk,' 'Sixty Minutes of your Love' and 'Boogaloo Party.' Here was a band who took their homework rather more seriously.

It was only a matter of time then, before Decca recognised the group's cross-over appeal and signed them up. From that point on I guess the pressure was on to record more commercial material in a bid for national success.

Unfortunately this placed them in the conundrum faced by so many of the sixties top groups: the Move, Manfred Mann, The Herd, Status Quo and the Love Affair all fell into this category. What to do - continue slogging round the country with your integrity in tact or sell your soul to the company in a bid for fame and fortune. You choose.

Marmalade signed on the dotted line but then made a major error when they turned down the best song offered to them, ‘Everlasting Love,’ a song that went on to be a number one hit for their rivals the Love Affair. Later in their career Marmalade were to achieve their own number one with a cover of the Beatles "Ob la di - Ob la da." Who knows whether the band were happy with this, because almost immediately they were classified as one of those sunshine pop bands like the Tremeloes. They went on to record some great songs but for their original club audience things would never be the same.
 
Posted: 3rd January 2019
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Richard Roberts
Like many of you I started at 'This is my Jam' - moved to 'Let's Loop' and now find myself in God's hands. Looking forward to seeing some familiar names and getting to know some new ones.
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