Year of Release: 1972
There are two ways I purchase records for this blog. One is to approach the problem by shopping using either blind or calculated luck. Perhaps the band's name seems interesting, or a producer of some renown is credited on the label, or it's 50p in a charity shop and I've never heard of it before. The other is being tipped off by people online raving about long-lost singles which they haven't heard in years. The former approach pays dividends about a tenth of the time, I'd say, whereas the latter approach tends to involve striking gold more often than not.
So then, this Christopher Neil single has a number of fans on the internet, yet there are no YouTube videos of it or even brief snippets to be found anywhere. The only way I could possibly hear the thing was by tracking down a copy, which I did on ebay from a seller who seemed keen to pitch it as a fantastic folk obscurity. "Here you are, Mr Ebay seller!" I cried, waving my hands around like Russell Brand. "Have my bank details immediately and debit my account of ten pounds, for - despite its appearance on the none-more-pop RAK Records - this is clearly a Nick Drake styled winner!" The fact I was also slightly drunk at the time might explain matters further.
I wouldn't have bothered to mention the above were it not for the fact that I have to be brutally honest and declare that I'm not too sure what everyone else is hearing. The A-side "If I Was Close To You" was later covered by Olivia Newton-John, and is pleasant, silky, acoustic guitar led pop. What it isn't is popsike or acid folk or even fuzzy felt folk. It's a frail, lovelorn pop record you could imagine an artist like Cliff Richard taking on. I can't imagine myself playing it that often.
The B-side "Grey Day" seems to get more virtual knickers in twists, and I can appreciate that a fair bit more - it's a rather more sixties affair, complete with jazzily plucked guitar strings and a melancholy feel. Still, though, I would never have paid that much money for it had I known the contents. But damn it, when so many people are seeking out an mp3 copy of a record, it seems only fair to give it a place on here, however much I agree with them or otherwise.
Christopher Neil has many strings to his bow, being an actor, singer, songwriter and record producer. His most successful foray into record production was probably with Celine Dion who he handled for the global hit "Think Twice", but he gains far more respect from me for having twiddled the knobs for the Earl Brutus-favoured Dennis Waterman hit "I Could Be So Good For You", a record which is so good-time, boozy and giddy it practically whiffs of fizzy lager and the smoke from a hundred lit Bensons.
He did eventually release an LP on RAK as well entitled "Where I Belong", but I have yet to see a copy of this anywhere.
Sorry for the pops and clicks on both these tracks. I tried my hardest by giving the record a deep clean, but only so much could be achieved.