The Esquires – The Singles … Plus (CD)

The Esquires – The Singles… Plus (2011, Pacemaker PACE 085)
Review by Rebecca Jansen

It’s been two dozen years now since a short b&w film clip of a well-groomed skinny-tied early ’60s instrumental combo began showing up on the Canadian music video channel. They played an original Shadowsesque toe-tapper on Fenders and a Gibson whilst a not too serious drummer paradiddled at a kit with a bass drum that read “The Esquires”. It was too perfect to be a hoax, and the song burrowed into my mind even more than the drum lettering.

About a dozen years ago a CD series was launched by EMI Music Canada called the “Northern Heritage Connoisseur Series,” and part of this series was the 1963 album Introducing The Esquires. Remembering the Shadowsesque group in the film clip and seeing the cover made up to look like the Shadows own famous first LP (right down to the guys’ sweaters) I knew this must be that Esquires. It was, and I would hit replay after the track “Man From Adano” so many times I risked wearing out that button! I don’t know if it’s the memory of the almost Devo-like vintage film clip appearing anachronistically among a lot of modern videos, or the interweaving of guitar and background aaaah-aaaah-aaah-aaahs, but I’d almost swear The Esquires were more the Shadows than the Shadows ever were for this sligthly under two minutes. Like Les Paul’s “Nola” or Link Wray’s “Rumble” before it, it’s one of those tunes that branded itself right onto my brain and will never go, and yet somehow with each relistening making the mark deeper it feels good there.

Now Pacemaker has collected up seemingly everything else by the Esquires of Ottawa and with a photo-festooned and informative book I can scratch this itch all over again. In the manner of England’s Fluer De Lys or Germany’s Rattles, the Esquires of the earliest demos included here are a totally different group of people than the ones who play on their final Columbia single some years further along. In between still other members came and went, like singer Don Norman who dominated vocally and lyrically for the third through fifth Capitol singles only and then went on to lead Don Norman & The Other Four. Norman’s style was very smooth mid-60s Cliff Richard, and his original songs are as satisfyingly hook-laden as anything by bigger names of the era, particularly “So Many Other Boys”.

Don Norman has become somewhat familar to me before this release, so the real revelation here are the final two Columbia singles from 1966. With new members Ted Gerow on keyboard (a future Staccato, see Pacemaker’s great two disc First Sparks collection), and John Cassidy on guitar the Esquires took a moddish r&b turn for the interesting. Still with second drummer Richard Patterson (destined for 3’s A Crowd), and lead vocals from Brian Lewicki, “It’s a Dirty Shame” is a solid garage-rocker that escaped my ears until now, and the follow-up “Love Hides A Multitude Of Sins” is a totally infectious dancable raver (reportedly Zombies inspired). My poor replay button! The flipsides of both are almost equally deserving of attention as well, and yet what with the lack of support in Canada for homegrown rock & roll this was to be the last heard from the Esquires until much later reunions.

This CD is however loaded with bonus tracks from unissued demos and TV appearances to quality live recordings. And now finally, wonder of wonders, that film clip that haunted me all this time itself is explained; “shot in 1963… (two clips, one I’ve yet to see) are considered the first-ever Canadian pop videos and were made when a local vending machine entrepreneur brought back some early video machines [Scopitones] from France. Having nothing but French pop stars on them, he decided to feature Canadian acts.” That 16mm film of “Man From Adano” stands as a peek into a different time and sound as iconically as the celebrated 1906 Market Street in San Francisco film, as only a few weeks later the Beatles began their invasion! In the footsteps of Lonnie Donegan, Cliff and the Shadows, the Beatles hit first in Canada (many later-famous U.S. musicians have noted how they first heard that group while in Canada), but for me ‘Man From Adano’ will always be the coolest piece of Canadian rock.

See the Pacemaker site for more information on this release.

Rebecca Jansen’s writing and artwork can be seen at Hippies stole my blog! *

Garage Hangover accepts recently-released LPs, CDs, books and DVDs for review. Please contact us for a mailing address.

9 thoughts on “The Esquires – The Singles … Plus (CD)”

  1. Hi Rebecca, thanks for the nice article on the Esquires.I’m the founder of the group along with the original Bass player Clint Heirlihy.I’m also the guitar player on all material from 1962 until 1966,I’m surprised that there has been such a response to the latest album.Again thank you for the article.

    regards, Gary

    1. I Gary I have just heard about the death of ….I called him Richie….Patterson.
      As a young dj at CJET in 64-65, I had several on-air visits with Richie who was promoting product and sharing giggles with me live on the radio.

      I have often wondered what became of him…now I know. The group was top notch and I have fun memories of this outgoing neat oh drummer who was a really nice guy and a rare character.

      Cheers!!

      Stu Paterson Georgian Bluffs On
      Paterson Media 519-534-5194

  2. Hi Gary,

    CBC Music played So Many Other Boys the other day. I haven’t heard the song in – almost 50 years! – but I remembered it instantly! By chance I took a look at this website, and I see you’ve been here too. Thank you for the wonderful memories! Might you have an mp3 of the song to share?

  3. Hi Gary,

    Thank you!!!! I’ve been meaning to check for an answer from you, but real life kept getting in the way. I just heard the song again on cbc.ca, on a day when they aren’t playing a whole of Canadian stuff, unlike the first time I heard it. Good for you, a few decades too late! Please be kind enough to send an mp3 to newmoondancer@gmail.com. I’d love anything you could send. Thank you again for the great music!

    Brenda

  4. Rebecca – Much appreciated the great review of the Esquires cd.

    I am the man who (along with partner David Sampson)put the cd together. Our previous projects were Ottawa’s the Townsmen and Staccatos, and our next one is the Children which will be coming out in about February 2013. The Children never released any music at the time, but featured Bruce Cockburn, Sandy Crawley, William Hawkins, Sneezy Waters, David Wiffen, Nev Wells, Richard Patterson and Chris Anderson. Our cd will be the first time Children music has been available nad is coming out on True North.

  5. I’ve been all over the internet trying to find a clear non-backtrax/youtube version of the Esquires “Gee Whiz, It’s You”. I’ve heard the original Cliff Richard version but still prefer the harmonies backup of the Esquires version. Can you please send me an mp3 download version of it?

    Sincerly Louie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.