A Universally Good Start

jamsham musicA Universally Good Start

Col, Towny and I ended the first Spoke meeting with a lot of ideas but few unanimous decisions except one; that we would reissue the rare UK 45 by Frog.  Major questions hovered though.  If Frog (Jam 39) was such a sought after single why hadn’t it been reissued before ?

Initial enquiries from information on the label boded well. The publishers ‘p’ in the circle was next to a company called This Record Co. Ltd who were a subsidiary of DJM (Dick James Music).  DJM had been purchased by Mercury in the eighties who were then devoured by Universal Music (now Umusic) in the 90’s.  Several emails later the Umusic computer said ‘yes we own the publishing.’ 

Digging for Jam

The search for the sound recording rights began with emails to John Cameron and his business manager David Wilkinson.  Trunk Records had already issued the Psychomania soundtrack in 2004 but the Frog 45 was a separate entity altogether.

Our attention turned to finding the owners of Jam and the name Jamsham Music Ltd on the label suggested a related company were also involved.  We knew if we found the owners of the Jam label and Jamsham Music Ltd then we’d find the owners of the sound recording.

It’s common knowledge that 95% of people never search for information in Google under Web or Images beyond the third page.  In awareness of this Col donned his deerstalker and tweed cape, fired up his pipe and on a wintry dark evening with the wind howling, hounds barking and nothing good on the telly he searched the bowels of Google beyond pages 4 and 5 and surfaced with the name of the man who ran Jam.

Jam was revealed as another subsidiary of DJM run by Dick James’ son Stephen James and the first of a number of name games revealed itself.

Stephen proved to be a difficult man to find and the other name on the label had us scratching our heads.  Was this another name game ? Was Jamsham Music Ltd a sham ?  Did it exist at all ?  Had he made up a false company?

The Sham in Jam

David Wilkinson came to our aid soon after with the name Harold Shampan which solved the second name game.  Shampan was Stephen’s partner in Jamsham, a company established to release film music.  We continued to search for both men, making good use of music forum connections at Companies House and MCPS.

Col eventually located Stephen James running a publishing conpany called Dejamus and in one telephone call to his loyal secretary of twenty years our search was over.

More Stephen James Name Games

Jam, Jamsham and Dejamus all revealed Stephen James’ predilection for playing games with his own name. A further example of this is the Essjay – Twins Of Evil 45 which was produced and arranged by SJ himself.

We’re on the hunt for more wordplay from Stephen so if you know of any examples please contact us via our newly working contact button or simply email us at enquiries(at)spokerecords.co.uk.

Harold Shampan and the Small Faces

Harold shampanResearching any specific area of music invariably turns up interesting tidbits and links to other genres.

With an old school Mod not so much firmly in the saddle as completely entangled in every Spoke, Col was intrigued to learn dapper Jamsham man Harold Shampan not only sported a devilishly good pencil ‘tache but had also been involved with getting the Small Faces a role in the sixties ‘cop and pop’ film called ‘Dateline Diamonds.’

Dateline Diamonds

This low-budget film was originally intended as the supporting film for a Norman Wisdom release called ‘The Sandwich Man’ but ended up touring cinemas as part of a double bill with the British comedy  ‘Doctor In Clover’ back in the days when films camedateline diamonds in pairs.

Dateline Diamonds was mainly conceived by music publisher, Harold Shampan, as a publicity vehicle for up-and-coming talent. The plot revolves around smuggling diamonds concealed inside band demo tape boxes, between Holland and the UK, via the mv Galaxy – unbeknown to the Radio London management, of course. The film deserves an Oscar for containing the longest safe-robbery sequence in the history of film-making.

The story apparently caused some suspicion amongst genuine customs officers, perhaps wondering where such a notion might have originated, and concluding that there is no smoke without fire! There are reports of increased customs vigilance over offshore personnel, following the release of Dateline Diamonds, and of DJs having their tubes of toothpaste squeezed out during inspections. Source : Radio London website

The film is available on DVD but according to various websites the Small Faces credit on the cover is much taller than it should be and is disproportionate to their appearance in the film which by all accounts is extremely short, as were The Small Faces themselves.

Jimmy Winston

The ‘vertically-unchallenged’ exception in the Small Faces line-up at this stage of their career was guitarist / organist Jimmy Winston who was reputedly kicked out of the band for being too tall.  This is an oft-repeated urban myth and the saddeningly mundane reason for his departure was a succession of personality clashes with Steve Marriott.

A certain truth is that he was replaced by the less-than-statuesque Ian McLagen whose height matched the rest of the group making it much easier for photographers to frame satisfying publicity shots of the band.

Col is very happy to convey inspiration to lanky rejects everywhere with the heart-warming news that discarded modern day Gulliver Jimmy Winston refused to shrink into obscurity and went on to release two killer rare Mod 45s as Jimmy Winston and the Reflections and Winston’s Fumbs.

Although James and Shampan’s operation was set up purely to release film music the paucity of information available suggests that like the Small Faces, Jamsham never grew in stature, possibly due to Harold being involved in so many other projects.

This is obviously pure conjecture on our part and any further information on the subject of Jam or Jamsham would always be very welcome, but no tall stories please.

Grateful thanks to the Radio London website and Ben Toney’s extended article on his reminisces from the set of ‘Dateline Diamonds’ which resides there.

Grateful thanks also to the All Too Beautiful – A Small Faces & The Faces Community website at livejournal.com for the still of Ronnie Lane from the film.

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