From Freddie the Dreamers to Peter and Gordon, John Burgess was one of the British chaps most likely to be standing behind the glass supervising the twirling of knobs on the mixer. The sweet sound of the Hollies' harmony may be a pleasure, but Burgess also went farther into the sweet horizon, producing a record entitled Lollipop by the Sweet. It gets worse. Tracks by the Sweet have shown up on a split-disc with another Burgess project, a daffy duo who call themselves the Pipkins and wear large cut-outs of the letter "P" on their jerseys. Gimme Dat Ding Ding is one of the masterpieces from this session, hinting that by the early '60s, Britain was perhaps moving backwards from the artistic heyday of Shakespeare, if one was to judge from Burgess' activities. It should not be inferred, however, that this producer toiled only on projects by the feebly talented from his lair at Abbey Road studios. He worked particularly well with Manfred Mann, continuing the relationship with the group's charismatic lead singer Paul Jones when he went out on his own. In either case, the material contained the blend of lyrical and strong rhythmical elements that was pretty much the classic musical scenario expected from British rock and pop music of this period. Like a good buddy, Burgess would often take an original from Jones or other members of the Manfred Mann crew and get one of his other projects, such as Tony Rivers the Castaways, to cut a cover version, thereby ensuring a royalty check. The celebrated studio was a London home base for both he and the Manfred Mann band, but they were playing second fiddle to Sir George Martin and his celebrated clients, the Beatles. By the '80s, both producers were well situated at what was now called AIR studios. More equilibrium had developed by 1985 with the Fab Four long gone. The seasoned producers formed a partnership with John Jones and Dee Long, representative of a new generation of producers involved with British acts such as Duran Duran. (Is that a new way of saying ding ding?) The quartet of producers opened a new MIDI studio located in the AIR facility. Burgess eventually switched his involvement more to the London theater, and was involved in a hit revival of +Guys and Dolls among many other shows. He produced the group Toto in the '90s, perhaps an attempt to revive some of the magic of the Pipkins. Ding ding, anyone? He is not related to either the master Scottish bagpiper of the same name or traditional singer and mandolinist John Burgess from the Hastings area, who was active in folk-rock groups such as Better Days in the early '70s. He is also not the John Burgess from the contemporary international jazz scene of the late '90s, although one of the producing Burgess' best '60s clients, musclebound mood music maestro John Barry, enjoyed a dollop of tenor sax here and there at his sessions. Barry wound up hauling Burgess into court at London's infamous "James Bond music trials" in which bandleader Barry attempted to prove that it was he, and not Monty Norman, who had written the famous James Bond Theme. Unfortunately for the relationship of Barry and Burgess, the latter man remembered things the other way around, with Norman the composer of the memorable Dr. No riff that was appropriated as a musical signature for one of the most profitable film franchises in history. Monty Norman had of course enjoyed the fruits of success that had come along with that, but most musical experts who testified did not agree with Burgess. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi
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