‘New Jersey’

About England Dan & John Ford Coley . . .

The last time we saw the soft rock duo in these parts was a little more than a year ago with a brief mention in a rundown of records of the summer of 1976; there have been a couple of other mentions, too, since their “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” helped close our Ultimate Jukebox series almost four years ago. (As well as being a good record, “I’d Really Love . . .” was the biggest hit the pair had, reaching No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 and topping the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart.)

The duo popped up again this week with what turned out to be a mystery. It started with a survey from forty-three years ago released by the Twin Cities station KDWB. Most of the records on the survey, dated September 13, 1971, are familiar; if I didn’t hear them on KDWB (and I might not have; the Twin Cities station was falling out of my listening rotation at the time), I heard them on WJON across the railroad tracks or else late at night on Chicago’s WLS.

But at No. 28 in that long-ago survey, wedged between the Stampeders’ “Sweet City Woman” and the Glass Bottle’s “Ain’t Got Time Anymore,” was a record I didn’t know: “New Jersey” by England Dan & John Ford Coley. It startled me to see their names listed during the summer of 1971, five years before they began their four-year run that put nine records into the Hot 100, four of them in the Top Ten. The first thing I did was check Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, which told me that “New Jersey” had bubbled under the Hot 100 for four weeks, peaking at No. 103. (It peaked at No. 22 on KDWB.)

Intrigued, I started to poke around a couple of discography sites. The listings at Discogs told me that “New Jersey” was released as a promo on A&M in 1971, but the catalog number was not the same as the A&M single listed by Whitburn, and the 45 pictured there had a small center hole with the doohickey that could be punched out to make a larger hole, as European 45s do. So that wasn’t the U.S. 45, which isn’t listed at Discogs for some reason. Discogs did tell me that the 1971 self-titled album by ED & JFC had been released in the U.K. on A&M and in Canada on the Pickwick label. Again, there was no listing for a U.S. release. We know via Whitburn (and the KDWB survey) that the single existed, but I began to wonder if A&M here in the States released a single first, wanting to know if listeners were interested in the group before releasing the album, and then did not release the album when the single tanked.

(I also learned at Discogs that ED & JFC had a second album, Fables, released on A&M in 1972 in both the U.S. and the U.K. and that a single from that album, “Simone,” had been a No. 1 hit in Japan and had also done well in France. It turns out that “Simone” is a decent record, but it was evidently never released as a single here in the U.S. [Actually, Discogs’ information is incomplete, which is not surprising: “Simone” was released twice as a single in the U.S., according to our pal Yah Shure – see his note below – but it failed to chart either time.] )

Still unsure if the duo’s first album, the self-titled 1971 effort, had been released here in the U.S., I headed to another of my favorite discography joints, Both Sides Now. The listings there in the A&M section showed England Dan & John Ford Coley with the catalog number of SP 4305, tucked between the Strawbs’ From The Witchwood and a live album by Free. There was, however, an asterisk next to the catalog number, and that lead to a comment that noted that the folks at BSN had never verified the running order of the tracks, so the track titles were listed alphabetically.

That tells me that they’ve never seen the record (or gotten a note from someone who had the correct track order and cared enough to send it in). And I began to wonder if perhaps A&M had assigned the catalog number and had perhaps sent out some promo copies but never officially released the LP. So I began to look for used copies for sale, and at Ebay, it took me five minutes to find two promo copies of SP 4305. But that’s all I found, so I still don’t know if there was a regular U.S. release of the album. I doubt I’ll buy either of the promo LPs. But I may scavenge around to see if I can get hold of the single “New Jersey.” Despite an opening seemingly lifted – with some minor modifications to tempo and rhythm – from Joe Cocker’s “With A Little Help From My Friends,” the ED & JFC single is, to my ears, pretty good. I think I would have liked it if I’d heard it. Maybe I should have listened to KDWB more often back then.

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3 Responses to “‘New Jersey’”

  1. Yah Shure says:

    I’ve long been a fan of ED & JFC’s A&M years. When they moved to the Big Tree label, the needle shifted a bit more to the slick side, production-wise.

    I do remember hearing “New Jersey” on KDWB, even though my radar was likewise not sweeping that part of the dial as frequently as it once had. The station was taking a few chances on unproven acts at the time (Cherokee’s “Girl I Got News For You” being another from that year.)

    The ED & JFC album was issued both commercially and promotionally (a promo-only LP would likely have been assigned a release number in A&M’s 8000 series, not the regular 4000 series.) I do have a promo copy of A&M 4305 and here’s the running order:

    SIDE 1

    Mud And Stone
    Miss Me
    Swamp River
    Tell Her Hello
    Lady Rose

    SIDE 2

    New Jersey
    Winning Side
    Elysian Fields
    I’m Home
    Ask The Rain

    I could tell just from the thumbnail label scan on discogs that the “New Jersey” 45 you found there was a U.K. promo 45. My U.S. promo 45 is A&M 1278, backed with “Tell Her Hello.” Both sides are mono.

    “Simone” was actually released as a U.S. A&M 45 twice. The first time (A&M 1354) was as the lead-off single from the ‘Fables’ album, backed with “Casey.” Again, both sides were mono. That was followed by my favorite ED & JFC song, “Free The People” (A&M 1369, mono/stereo on the promo.) Neither single charted.

    Next up was a non-LP single in 1973, “I Hear The Music (A&M 1465, mono/stereo on the DJ 45.) Like “Free The People,” this was a decent rocker, but it likewise notched nary a peg on the Billboards.

    ‘Fables’ remained in the A&M catalog, but the ’71 self-titled debut album went out of print within just a couple of years. When Big Tree scored right out of the gate with “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” A&M – in time-honored record company fashion – dusted off some of its own ED/JFC catalog. The resulting 1976 ‘I Hear The Music’ compilation LP (A&M 4613) made the title tune an album cut for the first time, with the remaining tracks culled from the duo’s earlier pair of A&M LPs:

    SIDE 1

    Used To You
    Tell Her Hello
    New Jersey
    Idolizer
    Mud And Stone

    SIDE 2

    I Hear The Music
    Legendary Captain
    Miss Me
    The Pilot
    Carry On

    The album’s back cover contained the following prominent notation:

    “The selections ‘Tell Her Hello,’ ‘New Jersey,’ ‘Mud And Stone’ and ‘Miss Me’ were previously released on the A&M album ‘England Dan & John Ford Coley’ A&M SP-4305. Not currently available from the A&M catalog.”

    And why was that? A&M had already licensed the deleted debut album’s U.S. rights to the Pickwick budget label.

    To help promote the ‘I Hear The Music’ compilation, A&M issued “Simone” as a single once again (A&M 1871), but no one at retail or radio was fooled. I’d’ve gone with either “New Jersey” or “I Hear The Music.”

  2. Yah Shure says:

    I need to correct the last paragraph in my above comment: A&M did re-release “Simone” as a single in 1976 (A&M 1871) but oddly enough, it was NOT included on the simultaneous ‘I Hear The Music’ compilation. All the more reason to go with “New Jersey” and the title track as better singles choices.

  3. Yah Shure says:

    Hoo, boy. Next time, I’ll wait for the meds to wear off before commenting. Another correction: The ‘I Hear The Music’ album actually consisted of the aforementioned four tracks from the debut album plus the “I Hear The Music” single, with the remaining five cuts having been previously unreleased. The ‘Fables’ album wasn’t represented on it at all.

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