ROCKY SHARPE AND THE REPLAYS-IF YOU WANNA BE HAPPY-THE POLYDOR AND RAK MASTERS AND MORE.

ROCKY SHARPE AND THE REPLAYS-IF YOU WANNA BE HAPPY-THE POLYDOR AND RAK MASTERS AND MORE.

December 1978 found Rocky Sharpe and The Replays enjoying an unexpected hit single. They’d covered The Astors’ Rama Lama Ding Dong, which reached number seventeen in the UK.  This was the first of series of hit singles Rocky Sharpe and The Replays released between 1978 and 1982. However, commercial success nearly eluded Rocky Sharpe and The Replays.

The original band, Rocky Sharpe and The Razors, were formed in 1974 by Rocky Sharpe. He’d recently graduated from drama school. He co-founded the group with a group of friends. This was just a temporary measure though. Long term, Rocky wanted to become an actor. For the time being, he was happy being in a band. During the next two years, they struggled to make a living. They were only a semi-professional band. So members were juggling work and family commitments. Then in 1976, frustrated with this, some members of Rocky Sharpe and The Razors decided to leave the band. They joined the rhythm section of the John Drummer Blues Band and became The Darts. Soon, they were enjoying commercial success. This left just Rocky Sharpe and his brother Jan (Johnny Stud).

Down but not out, Rocky and Jan decided to put together a new lineup of what would become Rocky Sharpe and The Replays. This was the lineup of the group that recorded Rama Lama Ding Dong. A stomping slice of vintage party music, Rama Lama Ding Dong reached number seventeen in the UK. This was just the start of a string of hit singles that Rocky Sharpe and The Replays released between 1978 and 1982. They feature on If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More, which was recently released by Chiswick Records, a subsidiary of Ace Records.

If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More features twenty-six tracks. Twenty-three were recorded Rocky Sharpe and The Replays, two by The Boogie Man and one by Rocky Sharpe. Of the Rocky Sharpe and The Replays tracks, seven have never been released before. This makes  If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More the most comprehensive compilation of music by Rocky Sharpe and The Replays, which I’ll tell you about.

For anyone who doesn’t remember Rocky Sharpe and The Replays, they sounded as if they belonged in another era. Rather than London in 1978, they sounded as if they were an American band from the late-fifties and early-sixties. Their music is best described as veering between doo wop, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and R&B. This was totally unlike the music that was commercially successful when Rocky Sharpe and The Replays enjoyed their debut single Rama Lama Ding Dong.

Having lost most of its members Rocky Sharpe and The Replays rebuilt. Rocky Sharpe and his brother Jan (Johnny Stud) brought in two new members. Just like Rocky and Jan, they adopted a new persona. Helen Blizard became Helen Highwater, while Mike Vernon became Eric Rondo. The new lineup of Rocky Sharpe and The Replays released their first single late in 1978. Rama Lama Ding Dong was a cover of a track originally recorded by The Edsels. In the hands of Rocky Sharpe and The Replays, it became a stomper, reaching number seventeen in the UK Charts. Rocky Sharpe and The Replays were on their way.

Following their first hit single, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays released their second single, Imagination, in March 1979. Although it didn’t replicate the success of Rama Lama Ding Dong, it reached number thirty-nine in the UK. Imagination was a track from Rocky Sharpe and The Replays debut album, Rama Lama, which like the singles, was released on Chiswick Records. This was despite the band recently signing to RAK Records. For their third single, Love Will Make You Fail In School. It reached just number sixty in the UK in August 1979. This didn’t mark the end of Rocky Sharpe and The Replays’ success though.

In 1980, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays released their sophomore album, Rock It To Mars. Released in 1980, Martian Hop was the only successful single on Rock It To Mars. Even then, it stalled at number fifty-five. This was disappointing. Worse however, was to come.

Things got worse when their next two albums weren’t a commercial success. Neither 1981s Come On Let’s Go, nor 1982s Shout Shout, which were released in 1981, were a commercial success. At least the single Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out) reached number nineteen. This was all very good, but albums were where the money was made. For everyone concerned, the album’s lack of success was a worrying development. Despite the lack of chart success, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays were always in demand overseas. They were a popular live act in Europe. However, in 1982, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays encountered more problems.

In 1982, RAK Records decided it was time to end Rocky Sharpe and The Replays’ four year association with Chiswick Records. Things had started well, but it was a long time since the group had a hit single. It was two years since Martian Hop stalled at number fifty-five. Then another problem arose. Helen decided to leave the group. She was replaced by Carole Forbes, whose persona was Gloria Sunshine. This marked the start of the next chapter in the Rocky Sharpe and The Replays’ story.

Having ended their association with Chiswick Records, Mickie Most, founder of RAK Records, decided that Rocky Sharpe and The Replays should record a cover of Clap Your Hands. On the B-Side was Twenty-Four Hours. Both tracks feature on If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More. Originally recorded by The Beaumarks, a Canadian group, this was perceived as the perfect comeback for Rocky Sharpe and The Replays.  Clap Your Hands a storming, hook-laden track. It reached number fifty-four in the UK charts in 1982. Although it wasn’t a huge success, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays were back. So work began on the followup. 

Following the success of Clap Your Hands, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays started work on the followup. They recorded Nicky Chin and Mitch Murray’s First Crush. The group felt this would make a good single. Mickie Most rejected the idea. So, manager David Walker negotiated Rocky Sharpe and The Replays’ release from RAK. A new chapter of their career was about to unfold at Polydor.

At Polydor, work began on Rocky Sharpe and The Replays fifth album. This was Stop! Please Stop! The group were allowed to choose the material for Stop! Please Stop! They decided upon  a mixture of new material and cover versions. Among the cover versions were Let’s Twist Again, La Bamba (Parts 1 & 2) and Heart And Soul. Original tracks included Nicky Chin and Mitch Murray’s First Crush, which had been rejected by RAK. This was indeed a missed opportunity. Here was vintage slice of doo wop given an eighties makeover. It was a reminder of another era. That was the case with much of the album which features in its entirety on If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More. Would Stop! Please Stop! revive the fortunes of Rocky Sharpe and The Replays?

On the release of Stop! Please Stop! in 1983, towards the end of 1983. Despite being promoted by Polydor and the band’s management, it passed almost unnoticed. It hardly garnered a review and wasn’t a commercial success. For the band, this was disappointing. They felt Stop! Please Stop! featured some of their best work. Worse was to come. If You Want To Be Happy was released as a single, and sunk without trace. Ironically, when Rocky Sharpe and The Replays they were still proving to be a successful band. The only problem was, they weren’t selling any records. Something had to give.

During the next year or so, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays continued touring. Then when Rocky Sharpe and The Replays contract with Polydor was up, it wasn’t renewed. They resigned to Chiswick Records, which had been home for them for four years. They released a number of singles, but they weren’t commercially successful. After that, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays called it a day. They’d enjoyed a five hit singles and had released five albums. They’d toured the world and enjoyed six years of relative success. A reminder of this sucess can be found on If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More, which is available from Chiswick Records, a subsidiary of Ace Records.

If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More is a reminder of Rocky Sharpe and The Replays. They were a group who were a reminder of another musical era. Undoubtably talented, they could’ve enjoyed more commercial success if they’d recorded music that was commercial. Instead, they went their own way, playing and recording the music that they loved. For that, Rocky Sharpe and The Replays deserve our admiration. They stuck to their principles. Inspired by doo wop, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and R&B, they sounded as if they were an American band from the late-fifties and early-sixties. Rocky Sharpe and The Replays’ fusion of doo wop, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and R&B is given a makeover. 

Featuring the vocal talents of Rocky Sharpe and harmonies courtesy of The Replays, If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More is like a musical journey back in time. During twenty-six tracks, you hear singles like Clap Your Hands, the whole of their fifth album Stop! Please Stop! plus seven tracks that have never been released before. Then there’s two tracks from The Boogie Man and a single from Rocky Sharp. That’s why If You Want To Be Happy-The Polydor and RAK Masters and More, is the most comprehensive compilation of music by Rocky Sharpe and The Replays ever released.

ROCKY SHARPE AND THE REPLAYS-IF YOU WANNA BE HAPPY-THE POLYDOR AND RAK MASTERS AND MORE.

2 Comments

  1. G.Prince

    I’m afraid that some of this blog is inaccurate.
    The orginal band was called Rocky Sharpe and the Razors.
    Den Heggerty et al were never in the the Replays. They were in the Razors.
    Rocky Sharpe and the Razors broke up in summer 1976 at a farewell concert that all their devoted fans attended. Everybody was given a handkerchief with “I cried at Rocky’s last gig” printed across the corner.
    About five of the Razors went to Darts.
    Rocky went into acting and then came back to form the Replays.

    • Hi Garth,

      Thanks for your information. When I was researching the article, there was no mention of The Replays being called The Razors. So thanks for correcting me. I corrected the article. It’s always embarrassing when research proves to be inaccurate.

      The farewell concert sounds amazing. I remember the music well. Rocky Sharpe and The Replays were a great band. Listening to the music brought the memories flooding back. I hope it did for you.

      Best Wishes,
      Derek.

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