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Record Details

Artist:The Smoke
Label:  Columbia
Catalogue:DB 8115
Date:10 Feb 1967
Chart Position:45
Collection:  I Own It     I Want It 
Community:32 Own, 5 Want
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AThe SmokeMy Friend JackThe SmokeMonty Babson10.0  Rate
BThe SmokeWe Can Take ItThe SmokeMonty Babson8.5  Rate


[ +2 more ]

Juke Jules
18th Oct 2013
 This IBC demo pressing (or cutting?) looks to be the answer concerning the original "oh what beautiful things he sees" version
What a pity you can't read anything on this label image. This version was already on YT when we were discussing the lyrics but didn't show up, presumably because the guy can't spell the difficult title of his treasure. Now the YT search engine has become a lot smarter


8th May 2013
 Ann(i)e Nightingale used to play this track quite a lot on her Sunday afternoon request programme on BBC Radio 1 in the late 70's (and possibly on her later Sunday evening programme). Always a favourite with the "let's see if we can get them to play this" fraternity.

8th May 2013
 "So, it's beginning to look like the "oh what beautiful things he sees" version never made it onto a single in the UK, but for it to get any airplay there would almost certainly have had to be a single promo copy somewhere as the only available media were vinyl or tape"

Or maybe an acetate? That may be the way that EMI heard the version that they so objected to.

8th May 2013
 This Single did reach no 45 in the singles chart the reason it didn't go no higher is be course the BBC band it as it re ford to LSD as in Sugar lumps as far as I now it is still band I tired to get it played not long ago on BBC but they wouldn't play it

Bob Harris definitely played it one night in the early to mid 90's on BBC Radio 2. He did an hour special of psychedelia during which he also played the Stones' "2000 Light Years From Home" - got bits of it on cassette somewhere... as "Jack" faded into oblivion, Harris whispered "obviously a happy jack..." So it's definitely been played on BBC Radio and it was the stereo mix.

Juke Jules
8th May 2013
 (The demo version definitely included the lyrics "oh, what beautiful things he sees")

Thanks for that, twerptwo, that's what I wanted to know, but not the Columbia demo shown here, according to Hawkmarty
So, it's beginning to look like the "oh what beautiful things he sees" version never made it onto a single in the UK, but for it to get any airplay there would almost certainly have had to be a single promo copy somewhere as the only available media were vinyl or tape

8th May 2013
 Juke Jules:
[From "High in a Room The Smoke Anthology" 2 CD release from Sanctuary Records 2002]
Here is a more extensive commentary on the "My Friend Jack" release:

The most significant of new material cut with Monty Babson at Lansdowne had been written in the summer of 1966. Zeke Lund: "We were living in Brixton and driving each day to a Mecca hall in Wembley to rehearse. After each session, we would throw ideas around and try to cobble a new song together. Mick Rowley came straight out with the first few lines for "My Friend Jack" and, with Geoff Gill's help, the song was complete after about fifteen minutes."

At the group's next recording session at Lansdowne, they premiered almost a dozen new songs. Not surprisingly, Babson honed in on the outrageous "My Friend Jack" which, at this stage, still had the original "oh, what beautiful things he sees" lyric. However, he insisted that, as the final piece in the jigsaw, guitarist Mal Luker should go back to the song and add something even more outrageous to the melting pot. Luker obliged with a savage, slashing reverb guitar intro that was achieved in just one take. "We were all astounded by the racket that he'd made", admits Zeke Lund. "But we were never there for the mixes, or 'reductions' as they were then called, and we had to wait weeks to hear the results".

Babson immediately proclaimed that "My Friend Jack" would be perfect for Germany - not because the Continent would pay less attention to the song's clearly acid-inspired lyrics, but because he felt that "it was a marching song"! He then attempted to seal a deal with EMI, only to be told by the label's apoplectic chairman, Sir Joseph Lockwood, that the lyrics made the song too hot to handle. After a furious row, chief wordsmith Mick Rowley finally backed down, and replaced some of the more overt references with a toned-down, travelogue-style lyric. The band (by now trading under the more contemporary-sounding name of The Smoke rather than The Shots) duly re-recorded the song. EMI decided it was fit for public consumption and the single was finally issued in the UK in February 1967 - just weeks after EMI had pulled the plug on The Game's equally notorious "The Addicted Man".

Even in its watered-down format, "My Friend Jack" was still probably the most overt celebration of the burgeoning drug culture thus far. Perhaps because of this, the single was heavily supported by the pirate stations, who were always keen to bait the authorities, and by March the single had reached the UK Top Fifty, spending three weeks in the charts and peaking at the number 45 position. However, its progress ground to a halt after it was banned by the BBC, while 'The News of the World', in its customary role as self-appointed guardian of the country's morals, referred to the release with a banner headline that referred to "this DISGRACEFUL DISC."

But while The Game had been crushed and broken by their sudden infamy, The Smoke went from strength to strength: though the single had been squashed in the UK, it became a massive hit in Europe. "The real breakthrough came with the first German "Beat Club" programme, recorded at the Marquee in March with The Who, Jim Hendrix, Cliff Bennett and Geno Washington", relates Zeke Lund. "Two weeks later we were in the Top Ten in Germany - it also did well in France, Austria and Switzerland." The single eventually topped the German charts for several weeks, and The Smoke were added to the Beach Boys/Small Faces tour of Germany later that year.

Edit added: In addition to the original demo and release versions included in this CD set there is a third version of "My Friend Jack" by The Smoke on this 2 CD release: In 1975, with Geoff Gill on vocals, a glam/disco remake (it sucks badly by the way - but to each his own - just not a disco fan) of "My Friend Jack" was released, with the glam/rock "Lady" on the flip, but only for the French market. After this release the Smoke name was put to rest for good.

8th May 2013
 Juke Jules:
[From "Real Life Permanent Dreams a cornucopia of British psychedelia 1965-1970" 4 CD release from Sanctuary Records 2007 that includes:]
My Friend Jack (original demo version)
When The Smoke - four Yorkshire lads who'd come down to London the previous year - first cut "My Friend Jack" in the summer of 1966, it had an even more explicit lyric, as can be heard on this original demo. But EMI chairman Sir Joseph Lockwood was apoplectic, and lyricist/singer Mick Rowley reluctantly backed down, replacing some of the more overt drug references with a toned-down, travelogue-style lyric. He needn't have bothered: the reshaped version was still banned by the BBC after a 'News of the World'-instigated furore. Mainland Europe had no such qualms, though, and the single topped the German charts for several weeks.

(The demo version definitely included the lyrics "oh, what beautiful things he sees")

30th May 2012
 Does anyone know why this record has a 1966 publishing date when it first saw the light of day in February 1967?

17th Apr 2012
 I've heard it on Sounds of the sixties. There are very few records on the not to be played list.

17th Apr 2012
 This Single did reach no 45 in the singles chart the reason it didn't go no higher is be course the BBC band it as it re ford to LSD as in Sugar lumps as far as I now it is still band I tired to get it played not long ago on BBC but they wouldn't play it

Juke Jules
12th Mar 2012
 Thanks Boursin, hope you can look at the compilation notes soon, but I heard the 'beautiful things' version played on one or more of the pirates prior to the 'hasn't got a care' release, and I never heard it again until now
csjolfsjol, who cannot post at present, tells me the German release is 'hasn't got a care' and he also says
"I just checked with a recording from Radio Caroline I have of February 11th, 1967 (a day after the release of "My friend Jack") and the lyrics are clearly "sugar man hasn't got a care" The song is presented as a "sure shot". So they definitely did not play the 'beautiful things' version"
He also tells me the 'beautiful things' with the best sound quality is on the Sanctuary 4-disc compilation Real Life Permanent Dreams: a Cornucopia of British Psychedelia 1965-1970. I wonder if the notes there have anything to say on this?

11th Mar 2012
 The answer is in the notes to the Electric Sugarcube Flashbacks comp, but I don't have it here with me right now! But the version in question escaped accidentally on some later European issue (German? Dutch?) if I recall correctly. I have the same version on this CD box set. In the booklet it doesn't mention anything about any earlier release, but a copyright date of 1993 is inexplicably given. Maybe the first official UK release was in 1993 on some other, as yet unknown comp.

Juke Jules
11th Mar 2012
 Thanks Marty. So how do we explain this, anybody? maybe the German issue..?

11th Mar 2012
 Sorry for the delay, I had to dig for the key to the box etc.
Nope - the demo copy is just a louder mix of the standard release complete with "Sugarman hasn't got a care". The reverb guitar bit is phenomenally aggressive on the old speakers.

Juke Jules
11th Mar 2012
 Thanks to member csjolfsjol for mailing me that the original version with the lyrics "oh what beautiful things he sees" is available on some CD compilations, maybe it's on the compilations shown below, and I now see that it's on "Electric Sugar Cube Flashbacks" and on YT. I wonder if Hawkmarty can confirm that this is the demo copy version? Would be an interesting case of different versions under the same cat. no.

I also see there is yet another version credited to The Smoke, on the compilation "Sing Don't Speak"

24th Jan 2012

24th Jan 2012

Juke Jules
27th Jan 2011
 I'd love to hear again the pre-release version the pirates were playing, it was a quite different version which had a barely disguised theme about LSD, quite unacceptable for BBC or Luxemburg airplay. IIRC the original was "M-F-J eats sugarlumps, oh what wonderful sights he sees" which had to be re-recorded as "Sugarman hasn't got a care etc" I forget the rest of the original lyrics. Maybe there was an alternative demo copy, or maybe the German version was different and I was hearing it on Veronica
BTW, the band was formerly The Shots as mentioned on that page and had two singles releases

28th Jun 2010
 The Demo copy has a wilder mix than the stock copies.
Apparently Columbia thought it had to be toned down a little.

Leather Rebel
12th Sep 2009
 Indeed, the single flopped in the official UK charts, yet received lots of airplay on pirate radio.
That aside, it was a huge hit in Europe and particularly in Germany.
The first official CD of Smoke recordings came out in Germany in the 90s and was imported in large quantities into the UK.
To this very day, the band is considered STARS in Germany, and virtually every 60s compilation CD there contains the song.
The Boney M version was produced by a member of Smoke.

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Linked Releases

Canada - Capitol - 1967

Germany - Metronome - 1967

Greece - Columbia - 1967

Netherlands - Columbia - 1967



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