The First Class
|The First Class|
|Origin||England, United Kingdom|
|Genres||Rock music, pop music|
The First Class was the studio creation of the British singer-songwriter John Carter, and singers Tony Burrows and Chas Mills, as an outlet for material Carter wrote with his creative partner and wife, Gillian (Jill) Shakespeare. Carter was the veteran of the early 1960s beat music, most notably Carter-Lewis and the Southerners, a band Carter formed with fellow producer Ken Lewis. That band dissolved when Carter and Lewis began working extensively as studio singers, appearing on the hits "It's Not Unusual" (Tom Jones), "I Can't Explain" (The Who), "Hi Ho Silver Lining" (Jeff Beck), "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" (Sandie Shaw), "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera" (Keith West) and "Out of Time" (Chris Farlowe).
Carter and Shakespeare wrote the song "Beach Baby" in the summer of 1974 in their home in East Sheen, South West London, far from California or, for that matter, any beach. Carter immediately enlisted the help of Burrows and another session singer, Chas Mills, to record the song for Jonathan King's UK Records record label under the name The First Class. At one point the arrangement utilises the horn theme from the last movement of Sibelius' Fifth Symphony and later references Carter's previous hit 'Let's Go to San Francisco' (The Flowerpot Men 1967). In 1974, the song became a hit in the UK (where it peaked at number 13), and in the US, where it peaked at #4. It was subsequently recorded in French by Sacha Distel under the title "Vite, Cherie, Vite".
The group recorded a follow-up single, "Bobby Dazzler" and material for their eponymous first album, The First Class. While there was some demand for live performances by the group, neither Carter or Burrows had the time for or interest in touring. So, a group including bassist Robin Shaw, lead singer Del John, guitarist Spencer James (now lead singer with The Searchers), keyboardist Clive Barrett and drummer Eddie Richards was assembled to perform a number of dates as The First Class. However, although that quintet was pictured and credited along with Carter, Burrows and Mills on the cover of the band's first album, none of the "live" quintet actually performed on "Beach Baby" or any of the album's other tracks.
"Bobby Dazzler" and later singles, "Dreams Are Ten a Penny", "Won't Somebody Help Me" and "Funny How Love Can Be" (a remake of the Ivy League hit) failed to chart. After releasing an unsuccessful second album, SST in 1976 (with a drawing of the then-new Concorde supersonic transport airliner featured on the cover), Carter, Burrows and Mills saw no need to continue under the First Class moniker and the "group" effectively ceased to exist.
Chas Mills subsequently retired from the music industry to run a restaurant in North London. Tony Burrows continued his session career, although he never again had a hit single, leaving him a multiple "one-hit wonder". John Carter remained active writing jingles and managing his back catalogue. Carter later reflected on The First Class, "Making the First Class albums was a very happy and creative time. Who knows if we ever come up with another suitable song, maybe we will all get back together one day and record under that name again?"
- 1974 The First Class
- 1976 The First Class SST
- 1996 The First Class (compilation on See For Miles Records)
- 2005 Summer Sound Sensations (compilation on RPM Records)
|"Dreams are Ten a Penny"||-||-||-|
|1975||"What Became of Me"||-||-||-|
|"Funny How Love Can Be"||-||-||-|
|"Life Is Whatever You Want It To Be"||-||-||-|
|"I Was a Star"||-||-||-|
|1976||"Beach Baby (Re-Release)"||-||-||-|
|"Ain't No Love"||-||-||-|
|1977||"Too Many Golden Oldies"||-||-||-|
|1980||"Beach Baby (Re-Release)"||-||-||-|
|1982||"Beach Baby (Re-Release)"||-||-||-|
|1983||"Gimme Little Sign"||-||-||-|