Random Play: Merton Parkas
Before he took his place in The Style Council as Robin to Weller’s Batman, Mick Talbot, along with his brother Danny had been in one hit Mod revival wonders Merton Parkas. The Mertons were always seen as a plastic parka sort of a band, playing a sort of pub rock Madness meets Chas and Dave sort of thing. And listening to their one and only album Face In The Crowd does little to change your mind. There are one or two decent tracks on there, but mostly it’s forgettable.
But listening to later single Put Me In The Picture and unreleased at the time Flat 19 suggests that they were simply a victim of being signed too soon. Given time they could have been much much better. Put Me In The Picture has a lovely lilting melancholy chorus; and Flat 19’s swooning melodies are supported by beautiful Hammond parts. They remind me of Madness on Keep Moving from a few years later, there’s the same clipped London tones underpinned by a sadness. These are, in my mind anyway, great songs which leave behind the feeling that the 79 Mod Revival had more talent than history records.
(Flat 19 came out as the b-side to a single with a cover of Band Of Gold on the A a few years later; on Well Suspect Records, a label run by Eddie Pillar who later set up Acid Jazz Records)