compiled by Tom Brennan
last updated: September 20, 2014
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Review by J. Trout (Elkton, MD):
I've listened to the Keyhole Street CDs many times this summer. They are incredibly amazing proof of the musical genius of the 19-20 year old Pete Ham. The only comparison I know of is the Pete Townshend Scoop demo recordings which I've also listened to many times and enjoyed very much. I like Pete Ham's demos more. He has the best male voice in Rock and Pop music and is a more tasteful guitarist. His genius for melody, harmony and backing vocals is amazing and is what stands out most on these recordings. The diversity and range of song writing on these recordings are incredible. They are sophisticated compositions for such a young man. When you consider his overall ability as a song writer, singer and guitarist, Pete Ham is second to no one.
These recordings are really hundreds of separate recordings by The Iveys period Pete Ham. They are his own personal vision of songs he composed during 1966-67. They reveal his great determination and drive to be a song writer and musician. He is already a master of melody. Each recording shows Pete altering his vocal phrasing in subtle ways and experimenting with different effects from tapping his cheeks to recording at different tape speeds. There is an incredible range of experimentation. The dedication and hard work he shows on these recordings lead to the classic masterpieces he creates with Badfinger that equal The Beatles' best. Even though these recordings are only demos, they stick with you as well as any album releases. I have listened so many times that a lot of these songs pop into my mind like all good songs do. The sequencing of tracks is very listenable. The packaging and cover is very well done and I believe Pete would be very happy and surprised with the first-rate job you have done with these demos. I am very happy I purchased these CDs.
Ostrich is a rocker that is a masterpiece. A great vocal with great backing vocals and excellent guitar work and a great lead guitar sound. I can't imagine The Iveys or Badfinger doing this any better than Pete. It's my favorite on this CD. Keyhole Street is a great song in every way. Great lyrics and a great melody. Mrs. Jones is just as good. Little Sue and Knocking Down Our Home are also very good. Black And White Rainbows has some excellent harmony vocals. Horse With A Green Tail is another great rocker. Come And Join Us is also a fine rocker with a little bit of Pete's humor thrown in. The Raven is an amazing recording unlike anything I've ever heard by Pete -- Very good segments of excellent vocal work mixed with experimental effects infused with Pete's humor. It is truly an amazing track.
Another track that has his humor that I like a lot is Get Up. I woke up one morning with this song in my head. I'm sure Pete would have a laugh at this. I like psychedelia and really enjoy Pete's compositions in this style. Down Down Down is an excellent song. Some guitar parts seem to be recorded at a slower speed and some sound as if recorded backward. A gem of a recording. How Much Is The Sky is is another great song with interesting guitar effects. I've Been There Once Before is a piano-based composition that is a very good song. I can't express my joy upon hearing these recordings. I have the greatest respect and admiration for Pete Ham and that admiration only deepened after hearing these excellent recordings. He is the best. First-rate work has been done preserving these tracks.
Label: Without You Music, WYM-A
Released: April 18, 2013
All through the second half of 1966 and all of 1967, Pete Ham of Swansea, South Wales, then age 19 and 20, could be found toiling away in a small windowless soundproofed room in a quaint house located at 7 Park Avenue, Golders Green, London. Furiously composing and recording his fresh compositions, Pete was excited by the opportunity at hand that, Bill Collins, the new manager of his band, The Iveys, had provided for them. Bill had built the space, supplying it with a Revox two-track sound-on-sound recording deck, a few microphones, some old tapes, headphones and one creaky chair to sit on.
With one small dim light bulb above his head and a little red warning light on the outside, Pete usually entered this dark, dank 8x8x8 foot room late at night where he would write and record his varied musical gems. Pete had a vast background of musical experience growing up in South Wales playing in bands around Swansea, a port city infused by music of all styles. He began playing the mouth harp proficiently by age seven, with guitar becoming his main instrument.
Well-ensconced in Wales early '60s rock 'n' roll scene, Pete had been brought to London to pursue a professional career in July 1966. With his background at hand, Pete was now creating his mini-masterpieces with the burgeoning pop scene of 1966 and 1967 infused by an outpouring of psychedelia and freedom of expression especially hit with The Beatles' Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's LPs. Pete was also gigging with bands such as The Pink Floyd, Move and Tomorrow, as they were making bolder moves with their musical arrangements.
In the earliest demos, Pete showed his American soul, Motown and Merseyside pop influences were down pat and you will hear many snappy little songs in that vein - but he was also clearly being inspired by the psychedelia aspects of the time. He retained his heightened sense of a good tune. When asked, Pete would describe himself as a "writer of melodic songs."
Included in this set, you will hear an amazingly varied collection: catchy, hook-filled pop, '50s rock, music hall pastiches, rocking and gorgeous guitar instrumentals, multiple-harmony exercises, a fun blues tune, an on-the-money Elvis cop, and even one long incredible "Horror film" soundtrack.
Every take, with no punch-ins available, would be recorded on one track with the next take merging in with the previous take, back and forth track-to-track and layering to result in a mono song. Despite these restrictions, he often ended with a complex arrangement. The creativity he displays and the talent is clearly astounding, especially in context of the times. His demos are far beyond and other artist of the era working on similar equipment.
In 2013, as he is about to be honored in his hometown, it is time for more of the world to know, enjoy and understand this "master of melody," a musical genius who went away much too soon. Spread the word on Pete Ham. He deserved better...
Testing [not a song]
I Want You
Come A Bit Closer
Horse With A Green Tail
Come And Join Us
You Didn't Know Each Other Very Well
Never Felt Like This
I'll See You Tonight
I'm Only Crying
Dress Myself In Black
Girl Next Door In The Miniskirt*
Grand Prix [not a song]
Graham Hill [not a song]
Cavalier Club Rock [instrumental]
Loved By You
Punch With Judy
I'm In Love
For My Sympathy
Black And White Rainbows
I'll Kiss You Goodnight
Knocking Down Our Home
Testing (Grampian) [not a song]
How Much Is The Sky
Do What You Like
Open Your Mind
Down Down Down
Never Been Alone
I've Been There Once Before
When I'm Asleep
Hurt Too Many Times
Has Someone Really Got Into My Heart
Hampstead Heath [instrumental]
I Need You
The Raven: He's A Raven/Meeek/Frank/Gravity/Nightwing/Drifting/Taking Flight/Raven reprise
more Pete Ham demos at
7 Park Avenue
Pete Ham Library