The Clefs of Lavender Hill

Stop! Get a Ticket

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The Clefs of Lavender Hill were a rock band from Miami, FL who cut a single for a local label in 1966, "First Tell Me Why" b/w "Stop! Get a Ticket." While "First Tell Me Why" was a fine bit of folk-rock, the single didn't do much until a Miami disc jockey played the energetic flip side on the air, and suddenly "Stop! Get a Ticket" became a smash hit in the Sunshine State. Date Records, a subsidiary of Columbia Records, snapped up the rights to the record and gave it a nationwide re-release; it peaked at a somewhat disappointing number 80 on the Billboard pop charts. A pair of follow-up singles fared poorly, and while the Clefs had gone into the studio with producer John Simon to record an album, Date opted to drop the band and the album was shelved, with the band calling it quits in 1967. The unreleased album from the Clefs of Lavender Hill has finally emerged 44 years after Date Records pulled the plug, though this is more of a triumph for pop archaeology than the discovery of a lost classic. The Clefs were a fine band, tight and enthusiastic, particularly the brother-and-sister team of Travis Fairchild and Coventry Fairchild (real names Joseph Ximenes and Lorraine Ximenes), who were both fine guitarists, vocalists, and songwriters. Their original songs are easily the most interesting stuff on this album, and "One More Time" and "You Don't Notice" suggest the Clefs could have had more hits left in them; unfortunately, of the nine unreleased tunes only four were written by the Fairchilds, and the unremarkable covers of hits by the likes of Donovan, Sonny & Cher, and Gary "U.S." Bonds are little more than well-executed filler weighing down this release. And as great a single as "Stop! Get a Ticket" may be, how many people need three different versions of it on one album? Obsessive fans of '60s pop will be glad that the Clefs of Lavender Hill's body of work has finally been collected in one place, but ultimately this disc gives the impression this band never quite got the chance to reach its full potential in the studio, though the best of what's here is great, invigorating folk-rock.

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