I should be done with the sixth entry of my Nicky Hopkins series in the next week or so. That post will cover the events of 1968, the same year this syrupy pop gem came out. The Iveys were basically Badfinger before Badfinger and “Maybe Tomorrow” was their first release on Apple Records, the label’s fifth release overall when issued in November ’68. It surprised everybody at the time — and not in a good way — by being roundly ignored by the public, a fact that surprises the hell out of me 50 years later, because this tune is so catchy. Melody and harmony for days. All the Badfinger ingredients are there just waiting to be harvested.
Iveys – Maybe Tomorrow
Single released November 15, 1968
Tom Evans – lead vocal, acoustic guitar
Pete Ham – electric guitar, backing vocal
Ron Griffiths – bass, backing vocal
Mike Gibbins – drums
Tony Visconti – producer
I love how bassist Ron Griffiths, the one non-Badfingerer, goes full goof and plays with a drumstick at 1:42. Shortly thereafter, the camera cuts to Pete Ham and he’s laughing his ass off. Also, if you look closely, you’ll see that Tom Evans forgets (or doesn’t care) to lip sync the first line and cracks up about it. Given what we know about the Badfinger biography, it’s nice to see them having fun at a moment of total promise and potential.
This is also one of Tony Visconti‘s earliest significant production efforts. He helmed the first Tyrannosaurus Rex album before this and “Maybe Tomorrow” either preceded the follow-up, Prophets, Seers & Sages, or was recorded roughly simultaneously. Though he’d met Bowie, they wouldn’t record together until the following summer.
I get that the listening public isn’t rational. But, it makes zero sense that “Maybe Tomorrow” wasn’t even a minor hit. If you actually review the singles charts for Dec 4, Dec 11, Dec 18, Dec 25, and Jan 1, 1969, the period when presumably, “Maybe Tomorrow” would’ve made its greatest impact, the British Top 10 was dominated by wilting lettuce and I defy you to go through each of those charts and tell me otherwise. In that 5 week period, I think there are 5 legitimately great songs:
- Ennio Morricone – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly theme [YouTube]
- Nina Simone – “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life” [YouTube]
- Foundations – “Build Me Up Buttercup” [YouTube]
- Fleetwood Mac – “Albatross” [YouTube]
- Dusty Springfield – “Son Of A Preacher Man” [YouTube]
One song that is just ok, but worth mentioning, is Love Sculpture’s instrumental “Sabre Dance” [YouTube]. It’s cartoon music that’s technically precise, but wears out its welcome long before it ends at 4:50. On the bright side, they were led by a young Dave Edmunds, so while I’m not crazy about the tune, I like that Edmunds received unexpected chart action.
The most galling thing about “Maybe Tomorrow” getting gasfaced in the marketplace is the rise of fucking Marmalade. Their pleasantly insipid, note-for-note retread of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” went #1 UK for 3 weeks in January 1969 and was Top 10 for 9 consecutive weeks beginning in late December 1968. It makes no sense. How in the world is this song that popular?
I’m supposed to believe that sentient beings living in the UK at the time preferred Marmalade’s pleasantly unremarkable cover of a second tier White Album track more than The Iveys repurposing The Beatles for charming, inventive power pop??? COME ON! I realize this violates central tenets of cultural relativism, but you really fucked that one up, 1968-69 Britain.