The Ugly's: Wake Up My Mind (1965)

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The Ugly's: Wake Up My Mind (1965)

Among the many unusual things about the story of the Ugly's is why a band (with an unnecessary apostrophe?) from Birmingham should have enjoyed a huge hit in Australia and New Zealand with this song, and not made a ripple back home.

The Ugly's had emerged from the Dominettes which had been caught up in the skiffle boom of the late Fifties. But as they embraced r'n'b and had new members (notably Steve Gibbons who later achieved success with the Steve Gibbons Band) they moved into a tougher sound -- and what seems like an astonishingly careless membership policy.

It would take pages to recount the movements in and out over the next decade and former members went on to links with Electric Light Orchestra, the Mindbenders, the Exception (which include Robert Plant) and Fairport Convention (whose Dave Pegg was briefly an Ugly).

They were also dogged with bad luck. Their tour to Finland was aborted when the ferry stopped in Denmark, their Uglymobile was impounded and they were deported back to England.

Yet they soldiered on, despite the conspicuous lack of chart success. Except in Australia and New Zealand with their single Wake Up My Mind which they had written under the influence of Dylan and Barry McGuire's social messages.

The reason for their Antipodean success was simple: the recording manager at their label Pye had a sister who workd at a radio station in Austrlaia and she gave the song a shove along. It went into the top 10 and then New Zealand picked up on it.

Unfortunately the band failed to capitalise on the interest and tour to that far end of the world. And they lost yet another member . . . to be replaced by Jimmy O'Neill who had been briefly a member of the Walker Brothers' touring band.

Oddly enough the flipside of the socially aware Wake Up My Mind was the throwaway Ugly Blues which also gained them some radio play in New Zealand as a joke song.

Ugly Blues

But there was something more about Wake Up My Mind.

In October of the same year the Beatles recorded We Can Work it Out, a song with folk-references and also not dissimilar time changes.

Could the Beatles (somewhat stoned in this clip) have been among the few to have heard the Ugly's song which had been released in June?

Hmmm. 

For more oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed for daily updates, and check the massive back-catalogue at From the Vaults.

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