Billy Nicholls – Would You Believe
CD Album, Reissue, Stereo, Mono, UK, 1999 (Originally 1968)
Immediate (Sequel Records)
For me this album came out of nowhere, and I couldn't believe (no pun intended with respect to the title...) no one heard this or why it hasn't become an instant 1960's classic. In a way it reminds me of the great Jackie Lomax album Is This What You Want?in that it got support from the heavy hitters of its era or year and yet, crashed down the charts.
Billy Nicholls was (and still is) an associate of The Who, and on Would You Believe he is backed by the mighty Small Faces as well as Nicky Hopkins, John Paul Jones, and Big Jim Sullivan, with production by the great Andrew Loog Oldham and issued on his Mod-tastic Immediate Records. Why didn't it sell? Well, never mind that, because this album is great.
With respect to my memory, 1968 was the year where everything was coming apart in very interesting ways. The songs got longer, and more jazzy, with an eye towards the endless horizon. So this album is very much the last stance on short perfect psych-pop songs that is also a snapshot of its year and I presume London music life as well. There's not a bad cut on this album, but the one that I play over and over again is “Girl From New York.” Just the rush of the melody and the fullness of the production makes one swoon. It's a great, great record. “London Social Degree,” “Portobello Road,” and the title cut (not written by Nicholls) are excellent as well.