The Bay City Rollers were coming! They talked about them in all the teen magazines and showed pictures of five strange looking guys with spiky hair and weird trousers who were causing Beatle-style mania in Europe and the U.S. was their next stop. I was too young to have experienced Beatlemania firsthand, but I was still a massive Beatles fan and anxiously awaited every new release from Wings and any other solo Beatles material that was coming out. But here were these young guys coming from Scotland with a driving single called "Saturday Night" and a promise to be a huge sensation in America. The Beatles debuted on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, and now 11 years later, the Rollers were going to debut on Howard Cosell's Saturday night variety TV show. As a young rocker I was sure this was going to be the NEXT BEATLES!!
Collecting BCR vinyl has always been fun and a relatively cheap exercise. Only in the past few years have I seen their LPs filed in proper BCR sections in record shops and not only in the 99 cent bargain bin. Through the years I've scored some ultra rare U.S. singles too including some stock copies of their early flop Bell 45s but one of my rarest is a single that was only released as a promotional copy in 1975. "Give A Little Love" has the same catalog # that was later used for "Saturday Night" which means the label changed their minds at the last minute to put out "Saturday Night" as the first major release to introduce the U.S. audience to the Rollers.
"Saturday Night" was already a flop once back in 1973 when it was released in the UK with lead vocal by original Roller singer Nobby Clark. A few of the singles that Nobby sang on were re-recorded with new vocalist Leslie McKeown, including "Saturday Night" to fill out the group's first two UK albums released in 1974 and 1975. "Remember (Sha La La)" (with new Leslie vocal) became a huge hit in Europe. "Give A Little Love" would have been a nice single for America (the track opens up the first Arista album) but "Saturday Night" sounded great on American radio next to "Fox On The Run" and "Telephone Line" plus it was the PERFECT song to play on Howard Cosell's SATURDAY NIGHT TV show!
To introduce the Rollers to the U.S. album buying audience, Arista Records decided to make a conglomerate of the first two UK albums ("Rollin'" and "Once Upon A Star"), do a little remixing ("Be My Baby" is COMPLETELY different on the U.S. album and "Give A Little Love" removes the fancy string arrangement found on the third UK album "Wouldn't You Like It?") and push the plaid image with unique artwork for the sleeve. The band even re-recorded their very first single, "Keep On Dancing" with new Leslie vocal and more guitars.
1."Give A Little Love" - Goodison, Wainman
2."Bye Bye Baby" - Bob Crewe, Bob Gaudio
3."Shang-A-Lang" - Martin, Coulter
4."Marlina" - Faulkner, McKeown, Wood
5."Let's Go (A Huggin' And A Kissin' In The Moonlight)" - Goodison, Wainman
6."Be My Baby" - Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Phil Spector
7."Summer Love Sensation" - Martin, Coulter
8."Remember (Sha-La-La-La)" - Martin, Coulter
9."Saturday Night" - Martin, Coulter
10."My Teenage Heart" - Faulkner, Wood
11."Keep On Dancing" - Young
"Bye Bye Baby" was a #1 single in the UK in 1975. In January 1976, "Saturday Night" was a #1 single in the U.S.!!
The second album released in the States in early 1976 looked similar to the UK counterpart but "Rock 'N' Roll Love Letter" was a strong album full of rockers written by Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody" Wood and included a brand new single called "Money Honey" which raced up the charts and the title track was also a favorite with fans.
1."Money Honey" (Faulkner, Wood)
2."La Belle Jeane" (Faulkner, Wood)
3."Rock And Roll Love Letter" (Moore)
4."Maybe I'm A Fool To Love You" (Faulkner, Wood)
5."Wouldn't You Like It" (Faulkner, Wood)
6."I Only Wanna Dance With You" (Faulkner, Wood)
7."Shanghai'd In Love" (Faulkner, Wood)
8."Don't Stop The Music" (Faulkner, Wood)
9."The Disco Kid" (Faulkner, Wood)
10."Eagles Fly" (Faulkner, Wood)
11."Too Young To Rock & Roll" (Faulkner, Wood)
Whether many will admit it or not, these two albums influenced countless American rockers (including The Ramones and yours truly) to pick up guitars and play (tartan optional). They have never been released on CD in these formats (the UK albums have taken over as the 'proper' CD releases) and the Rollers continue to fight Arista Records for back royalties so we probably never will see these reissued officially.