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The Original 60's Group
The Influences: Con & Dec, 'The Bachelors', being Irish, were influenced by Country Music - although over the years they have seen their ideas change. Their original recordings'Charmaine' with 'Tell old Bill', on the flip side, are prime examples of the Country Influence. They were assisted by Shel Talmy in obtaining this unique Bachelors Sound. Shel had worked in America with the 'new' four track tape recorders and was able to show the boys the art of two tracking. This was a completely new concept in recording technique and The Bachelors were the first group to use it in this country. All the harmonies and unisons were recorded twice- one on top of the other.
The Latest Album:
Shel, fresh from the USA [he also recorded The Kinks and The Who] knew the secrets of stereo recording, and thus The Bachelors were again one of the first to have proper stereo on their records. If you listen to the early Beatles, for instance, their voices are on one side of the stereo and the instruments on the other! The Bachelors got it right from the start with lead voice in the middle surrounded on either side by harmony voices and orchestra.
Reg Guest: The defining influence in the arranging and structure of the musical accompaniment came from Reg Guest, an eventual great pal and a total musical genius - well in tune with the musical aspirations of Con and Dec. Responsible for Lulu's iconic hit 'Shout' and much of the sounds of the Sixties ... Dusty Springfield, The Walker Brothers, Georgie Fame and many others got the 'Reg Guest' musical treatment.
Ivor Raymonde came on the scene later on and lent his experience to further assist 'The Bachelors' creating their 'Sound'. Con and Dec were fast learners and quickly made the recording studio their second home.
Art Sneider: Art, a respected country arranger from the USA, spent 16 weeks living with Dec in Blackpool, North West England and created an entire album of religious themed music for The Bachelors. This was the first time The Bachelors would use full orchestra and back singers [the same girls as Dusty Springfield used]
Artie Harris: An arranger from Canada was to put the icing on the cake with his 'scribbled on the back of a cigarette paper' arrangement of 'I Believe' ... the 1 min 28 secs. of scribbled music was to become the legendary hit which Con and Dec have re recorded so many times but still keep the original 'scribbled' music intact. How much is that scribbled arrangement worth today?
Dick Rowe, who was their A & R man, chose most of their early hit songs, and the biggest regret that Con & Dec 'The Bachelors' have is that they were actively discouraged from writing their own material. The year they released their first Christmas Record which they had written themselves, BBC put a ban on all Christmas records. This meant that 'The Bachelors' song 'Long Time Ago' was never heard on radio!
The Big Sound: Turning from the country sound to the big ballads, Con's voice was shown to be a hit with songs like 'I Believe', and 'No arms can ever hold you'. Then with 'The Bachelors' beautiful unison and harmony blend they had hits with songs like 'Sound of Silence'. Paul Simon was very miffed that The Bachelors had a no.3 hit with his song and strongly criticizes them in his autobiography, but I'm sure he enjoyed the royalties!
3 Distinct Styles: The Bachelors had three totally different and unique styles which they used throughout their career. First was the simple country feel songs, 'Diane', 'Ramona', 'Charmaine' and more. The simple idea of Con singing lead with the harmony voices either singing answering phrases or full three and four part harmony, very little unison was used in this style.
Then the huge ballad style with lots of breathy unison, harmony and Con soaring to the high crescendo notes ... 'No Arms Can Ever Hold You', 'I Believe', 'Walk With Faith in Your Heart'.
Finally, the casual 'all together now' style which combined every vocal group idea probably ever invented [they also invented a lot] ... 'Hello Dolly', 'Down Among the Sheltering Palms' and all the Irish songs they recorded. The solos were taken, literally by whoever was closest to the microphone.
It is interesting to note that Dec sang the lead in a Number One in Mexico, 'I Wish You Love' , with this last casual style.
Irish Album: 'The Bachelors' 'Under and Over' was before its time and was criticized by the purists who did not like the modern recording techniques used. The Irish music album was produced by Dec and was inspired by the comedy Television series in which The Bachelors starred. The show was of course called 'Under and Over'!
'Under and Over'
live in Scarborough
The last album with Decca 'The Bachelors' recorded with Patricia Cahill, a well known soprano from their home town of Dublin. The album was titled 'The Bachelors with Patricia Cahill' and was recorded with a sixty two piece orchestra in 1971 and is thought to be one of the best recorded albums of the day. The orchestrations and the vocals by both The Bachelors and Patricia Cahill are superb.
'The Bachelors' moved on to Philips: When Decca Record Company was sold 'The Bachelors' moved on to Philips in 1974 where they recorded "Bachelors' Singalong".
EMI? They were asked to record three songs as potential singles for EMI and for some reason John Stokes refused to learn the songs and walked off stage whenever they were performed live [to make them ready for the recording studio]. This led to John being dismissed from the group in 1984, and he was replaced by Peter Phipps. Peter fitted in well with 'The Bachelors' [retitled 'The New Bachelors'] but only recorded one album with them.
Peter Phipps left 'The New Bachelors' amicably in 1993 and Con & Dec decided that the time was ripe to change the presentation to them fronting the show and having musicians and back singers on stage and on Television as required. They noted that Status Quo, The Shadows and many more bands successfully followed this system.
Con and Dec
meet up with
'New Bachelor' Peter Phipps again
So who sings the harmonies? Dec was always the main 'producing and arranging' force behind all the records and stage presentations. So it followed, with the sophistication of the recording equipment available, that he could multi track his own voice in a limitless fashion.
Dec and Con have used, recently, up to 100 tracks when recording vocals for their recent CD's. Dec has a fully equipped, state of the art, digital studio at his home in Sussex, where all their current recordings are made using the latest ProTools and Apple Macintosh equipment.
All the Hits Together for the First Time: Because some of 'The Bachelors' records were with different record companies, all their hit songs have never been on one album. To rectify this Con & Dec 'The Bachelors' have rerecorded all their hit songs and have released this, 'The Complete Bachelors' which was their 59th Album!
"At present they are recording their 76th [yes, seventy sixth] release ... a bunch of quiet, acoustic guitar based tracks .... some new, some not so new.
A special edition gold CD of 'I Believe' 2008 was requested by the Pope and presented to him .... two gold records in 2008.
The 75th album is selling well: 'Swinging Bachelors'
Hear tracks from our new release "Swinging Bachelors" www.myspace.com/thebachelorsconanddec
Con & Dec The Bachelors
The Original 60's Group.
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