The Hullaballoos were a British band, just in case the sleeve didn’t clue you in. Roulette was an American label, one of many smaller record companies based in New York City at the time. In order to compete, they had to exploit what was hot at the time. In 1964, nothing was hotter than The Beatles—and by extension, record executives believed, any other British foursomes that even vaguely looked the part.
This particular quartet started out as Ricky Night and the Crusaders, but new management meant a new name and a new look. In this case, that meant Carnaby Street duds and matching blonde hair-dos. For a group from from a small, Northern city like Hull, that was a pretty radical change. Hull, by the way, was the home to future rockers like Mick Ronson of David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars, as well as 80’s groups like The Housemartins and Everything But the Girl. So as the first Hull group to make it in the States, The Hullaballoos could be seen as trailblazers of sorts.
Like the Beatles, The Hullaballoos cut their teeth on 1950’s rock and roll classics, such as this cover of Buddy Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You Too.” Click here for Buddy’s version, and click here for a corker of a cover by Blondie.
Yep. That was the Hullaballoos on Hullabaloo. And yes, that was George Hamilton, mistakenly introducing them as a band from London, and thereby missing the real meaning of their name. Contrary to what a lot of people thought, the band did not change it’s name to that of an American variety show just to get ahead commercially. I mean, come on—Hullaballoos. Hull. Pretty clear. Still, the band did record their first album—self-titled in England and England’s Newest Singing Sensations here—in London, in what later became known as Abbey Road studios. And it wouldn’t be surprising if the record company folks thought it better to pretend that the band was from swinging London rather than a small city that few Americans had ever heard of. Like a good TV host, George was probably just saying what he was told to say, and I suppose he can’t be faulted for that.
“I’m Gonna Love You Too” made it to 56 in the US Billboard Hot 100. The B Side was another rockabilly cover, this time a speedy take of Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll.”
The second single “Did You Ever” only made it up to 74 on the charts, but it still has a pleasing melody and a (for it’s time) clever keyboard sound.
The Hullaballoos second and final album, On Hullabaloo, did not do so well. They had made a number of television appearances at this point, and a lot of them had been on the show that shared their name. The decision to vaguely suggest that they were the show’s house band did not do much for distinguishing them from other British Invasion acts, and in fact, it led to the audience wondering if the they were even British. Maybe they were just manufactured for the show after all; stranger things had certainly happened in the music business.
Real they were, though. Real enough that mismanagement of the band’s finances and image ultimately meant the end of the group. Which is a shame, because there was potential in this Northern band with the silly name. Let’s close with the lead song from their second album: “I Won’t Turn Away Now.”
For more Hullaballoo fun, click here.
For more Hullabaloo fun, click here.