Album Reviews

Bo Street Runners: Never Say Goodbye: The Complete Recordings 1964-1966 (RPM/Cherry Red)

bo street runners

Bo Street Runners
Never Say Goodbye: The Complete Recordings 1964-1966
RPM/Cherry Red

The short-lived British R&B band Bo Street Runners existed for only two years, released only four singles, and whose brief claim to fame was winning a Ready Steady Go unsigned band contest. Perhaps the only reason the band is recalled at all is due to the brief membership of legendary drummer Mick Fleetwood. Never Say Goodbye: The Complete Recordings 1964-1966 compiles the entirety of their recorded output, and it’s no stretch to say that Bo Street Runners were somewhat atypical for bands of this era; they were heavily indebted to American blues and rock and roll, mixed in covers of American songs with originals, and enjoyed a live following but ultimately failed to translate that into commercial success

But commercial success doesn’t negate talent and ability, and that’s what makes Never Say Goodbye a rewarding listen. Their first record was a self-financed four-song EP that featured three covers–Willie Dixon‘s “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” Doc Pomus‘ “Lonely Avenue,” and Jimmy Reed‘s “Shame Shame Shame.” Though hardly groundbreaking, they are fun, enjoyable covers that highlight the band’s roots in American music. The sole original, written by singer John Dominic, was “Bo Street Runners,” a Bo Diddly-like rocker that attracted the interest of Ready Steady Go producers, earning them a spot in an unsigned band contest that resulted in a cash prize, and a recording contract with Decca. Winning the contest resulted in their debut release, which featured a rerecorded version of the song, coupled with another original, the upbeat, harmonica-driven “Tell Me,” which was far superior to the a-side.

Sadly, it wasn’t a hit, and Decca lost interest, and Columbia Records took over their contract. Their second single, released at the beginning of 1965, featured two James Brown covers, “Tell Me What You’re Going To Do” and “And I Do Just What I Want,” and it was vastly superior to their previous single, and Dominic’s singing is at its most powerful here, but frustratingly, the single failed to trouble the charts. Their third single, “Baby Never Say Goodbye,” would prove to be new drummer Mick Fleetwood’s very first recorded work, and the song was beginning to take off…until a strike at the label’s pressing plant meant that the label couldn’t reinforce and push the single’s modest success. Fleetwood soon left the band, and, disillusioned, Dominic left as well. He was replaced by Mike Patto, and their fourth single, released in 1966, was a cover of The Beatles’ “Drive My Car.” Backed with the jazzy lounge number “So Very Woman.” But failing to garner any further success, the band split. Mike Patto would record a solo single with the members of the last incarnation of the band, the upbeat sunshine-pop of “Can’t Stop Talkin’ ‘Bout My Baby” and the slightly psychedelic “Love.” Both songs showed Patto’s burgeoning songwriting skills, which he would use for his next band, the excellent psych-rock Timebox.

Never Say Goodbye is a compelling collection of not-too-bad songs from a band that was, sadly, destined for obscurity. But don’t let that harsh reality cloud the listening experience, for the music contained is, in fact, a quite enjoyable slice of mid-60s British blues-rock.

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