On New Year’s Day 1969, Marmalade began a month-long reign at Number One with ‘Ob-la-di Ob-la-da’. Their consequent headlining slots on Top Of The Pops marked not only the high summer of Scottish rock, but the climax of a hard-won personal victory traceable to the struggles of Glasgow’s Dean Ford and the Gaylords, who, becoming too hot for mid-1960s Clydeside to hold, began a new chapter with a change of name to Marmalade. 1967 finished with a smash sur le continent in psychedelic ‘I See The Rain’. Tenacity was further rewarded the next summer when Marmalade cracked the British Top Ten at last with ‘Lovin’ Things’. This – and ‘Wait For Me Marianne ‘ – paved the way for ‘Ob-la-di Ob-la-da’ and the protraction of a lengthy international chart run with ‘Baby Make It Soon’ and self-penned – ‘Reflections Of My Life’, another million-seller – and a major US chartbuster. Among further hits were ‘Rainbow’, ’My Little One’, ‘Cousin Norman’, ‘Back On The Road’ – and ‘Radancer’, issued in the wake of Sunday newspaper revelations about the lads’ off-duty frolics with female admirers.
Yet no harm was done as in 1976’s ‘Falling Apart At The Seams’ penetrated the Top Twenties across the globe, following the recruitment of Sandy Newman, a talented singing guitarist.
By the turn of the decade, Sandy had emerged as leader of The Marmalade, and having weathered passing trends were coping with a hectic touring schedule that, over subsequent years, has shown no signs of slowing down, very much the opposite. Though Sandy remains at the helm, he has forged a second career as a composer, record producer and interpreter of quite sophisticated material, notably ‘Voir Un Ami Pleurer’, a highlight of 1998’s Ne Me Quitte Pas CD celebration of Belgian chansonnier Jacques Brel – and one of Folk Roots‘ Albums Of The Year. More recently, a critically acclaimed solo offering, Golden Years, reached the shops, shortly before John James Newman, Sandy’s younger son, joined Marmalade as guitarist and backing vocalist.
No child of such a parent could have avoided performing in public, on when trying his luck in North America, he surfaced as a regional attraction in Massachusetts and Alaska. Nevertheless, John considered prospects more appealing back in Britain where response to both his recorded and in-concert output – both solo and fronting ‘The Velvet Hearts’ – still suggests that he has the potential to be more than a mere cult celebrity. As much a ‘collective’ nowadays as a group – meaning personnel can engage in a multitude of interesting extra-mural projects.
Marmalade’s current line-up is completed by multi-instrumentalist and humorist Alan Holmes, who became a long-time mainstay, following a tenure with ‘Federation’ – who notched up a ‘turntable hit’ with 1976’s ‘Hooked On Love’ – along with bass player Jan Robinson and in-demand drummer Chris North, whose career has embraced providing accompaniment for several top ten artistes. Both new fans and those there from the beginning agree that the Newman-Robinson-North-Holmes-Newman amalgam might be the finest edition of Marmalade ever to take the stage. Live concerts see Marmalade blitz across the generations by counterpoising freshly-minted showstoppers with the timeless classics. Every appearance remains a special event – and there’ll never be another like them!