Year of Release: 1969
I spent my teenage years living in Benfleet - or the Thundersley region of Benfleet, to be much more precise - but I very rarely get the opportunity to write about bands from that area on this blog, purely because it has never, in any point in its history, been particularly lively. There were a number of "movers and shakers" in the local region during the sixties, though, most notably John Pantry in his many groups and guises, The Mode from Thundersley, and this lot, otherwise known as The Troggs (before Reg Presley got his hands on that name) or The Expression.
Consisting of Chris Brown, Mick Harding, Hugh Thomas, Mike Drewer and John Skelton, Sadie's Expression were kings of the Essex gig scene during the mid to late sixties, learning the ropes by playing rough bars to bikers and rockers, then moving on to having regular contracts with large venues such as the Basildon Mecca and The Elms in Leigh. Talent-spotted by numerous influential people, including producer Peter Eden and The Walker Brothers, their recording career was nonetheless something of a damp squib in comparison. A recording session for Decca produced their version of a Bill Fay track "Yesterday Was Such A Lovely Day (Elsie)" which the label rejected, and two 45s on the small Plexium label (this in 1969, and "Old Whitehall Number" in 1970) are the sole vinyl proof of their existence.
"Deep In My Heart" is a carefully arranged, mid-tempo late sixties beat track which picked up some Radio One airplay, but the distributors and manufacturers EMI failed to press up enough copies, with even shops in the Essex area apparently being devoid of Sadie's Expression stock. Largely regarded as a possible hit, it therefore languished in obscurity and remains something of a minor collectible. It's not a late sixties "hip sound" as such, but it does showcase the group's many strengths, not least the powerful vocal harmonies.
The group fell apart not long after the second single flopped, but are still remembered fondly by a number of people in the Essex area. The thoughts of drummer John Skelton form a large part of a tribute website which has been put together here, and it's a fascinating read. It was there that I learned that the group had a vicious local rivalry with The Mode, who accused them of stealing their idea for a homemade psychedelic light-show. I'm surprised there weren't street-fights on the Rayleigh Road at the Thundersley/ South Benfleet border.
About time The Mode put a website together too, if you ask me. And sued those other South East Essex chancers Depeche Mode for taking the second word in their group name.