Who: Mike Conway
What: Reign of King Sadness (b/w "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman")
Label: Plexium Records
Where: Reckless Records, Soho (RIP)
I've said before that the reduced boxes and bins of your average second hand record store usually have a fair few sixties solo artists nesting amidst the novelty pop, three hit wonders and rejected promotional singles. The musical history books have been particularly poor at recording the comings and goings of these lone rangers unless they were folk artists - and even then, there are some shocking gaps in everybody's knowledge.
If there's any information out there about Mike Conway at all, I can't find it. On the evidence of this recording, though, he sounds like a middle of the road supper club character who obviously didn't find enormous success. "The Reign of King Sadness" is a celebratory ballad about the end of bleak times which is really quite wearisome despite its good intentions, and it's the B-side in all its "You couldn't get away with that now!" glory that I'm really interested in. "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman" is a bold declaration of intent where, with a joyful, brassy orchestral backing, Conway assures us "I'm gonna get me a woman, yes sir/ I think that each guy should/ but I ain't gonna marry no gal/ unless she can cook real good". The year might have been 1968, and such thoughts may have already become desperately passe and offensive to some, but the mainstream of pop carried on churning out these feminist baiting lyrical corkers for years to come (as also evidenced in Moments and Whatnauts' hit "Girls" in the seventies). There's a bounce to "I'm Gonna Get Me A Woman" I find enticing, and a distinct tone of wrongness about the lyrics which seems amusing now. The confidence in Conway's voice is a noise to behold - you can imagine him skipping down the street singing the song.
What became of the chap is anybody's guess. A search around the Internet reveals that this man here is a sixty year old singer from South Wales, which would seem to be about the right age, but there seem to be multiple Mikes in circulation, including an Indy racing car driver, a voiceover artist and musician based in the States, and the manager of Australian kid-pop band The Wiggles. Place your bets, please.
Of equal interest is the production credit for David Balfe, which I can only assume isn't David Balfe out of the Teardrop Explodes unless he was some kind of studio prodigy, and the fact this came out on Plexium Records, a very early independent label which failed to take on the might of the majors, but is now extremely collectible. Judging by the catalogue number, this looks like it may have been their first release.