Recording: I Pity The Fool, Take My Tip

Davie Jones and the Manish Boys recorded their only single, ‘I Pity The Fool’, and its b-side ‘Take My Tip’, on Friday 15 January 1965.

The band’s manager Leslie Conn had secured the agreement of producer Shel Talmy earlier in the month to produce the single. David Bowie’s contract with Decca had recently been nullified, allowing him to sign a new deal with EMI/Parlophone.

At 2:30pm on 15 January the band ran through both songs with Talmy at the 2i’s Coffee Bar on 59 Old Compton Street, London. Also present was session guitarist Jimmy Page, whom Talmy had arranged to perform on the recordings.

We met Shel Talmy in the 2i’s coffee bar on January 15 1965 – by this time we were rehearsing ‘I Pity The Fool’ and ‘Take My Tip’. I think Jimmy Page was probably there, and then on January 15 in the evening we went to IBC studios for two hours, and recorded two songs, twice. That included Jimmy Page and his famous fuzz box, which he was using for the first time ever.

We just went downstairs into a cellar, just above the BBC on Upper Regent Street. A two-hour slot, unheard of nowadays. Shel seemed like a nice guy. It was a release, which was the important thing, which in theory should have got us a lot more work but all it really got us was one TV programme that wasn’t recorded. That was Gadzooks! It was quite an amusing show. There’s a series of photographs – of all of us having our hair done, looking really neat. Barrie Langford was the producer – he and Leslie Conn thought up a story about Davie’s hair being too long for TV.

Woolf Byrne
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

That evening, at 7pm, they began recording at IBC Studios at 35 Portland Place. The Manish Boys and Page recorded two takes of both ‘I Pity The Fool’ and ‘Take My Tip’.

‘I Pity The Fool’ was Bowie’s last cover version until ‘Fill Your Heart’ on the Hunky Dory album.

Bowie was unquestionably the leader, but I worked with them in terms of rehearsing the band so that we knew what we were doing. It’s always 90 per cent rehearsal and 10 per cent hoping for something spectacular to happen in the studio, and occasionally it does. But I wanted to know what we were doing and that studio was a place to work. I didn’t want to do anything else there except work.

IBC I used a lot because it was ahead of most of the other studios except perhaps Olympic in terms of the gear they had, and they had a couple of very good people working in there. They’d built some of their own equipment, including parts of the console. The lead guitarist of the band was good but wasn’t a solo type. I found Jimmy Page early in my arrival to London and started using him. Bowie always liked really good musicians, and that’s my memory of that.

Shel Talmy
David Bowie: Ultimate Record Collection (Uncut)

During the session Jimmy Page taught Bowie a riff which was later incorporated into ‘The Supermen’ on The Man Who Sold The World.

When I was a baby, I did a rock session with one of the bands, one of the millions of bands that I had in the ’60s – it was the Manish Boys, that’s what it was – and the session guitar player doing the solo was this young kid who’d just come out of art school and was already a top session man, Jimmy Page. And he just got a fuzz box and he used that for the solo. He was wildly excited about it and he was quite generous that day and he said, ‘Look, I’ve got this riff but I’m not using it for anything, so why don’t you learn it and see if you can do anything with it?’ So I had his riff, and I’ve used it ever since! [laughs]. It’s never let me down.
David Bowie
ChangesNowBowie, BBC Radio 1, 8 January 1997

Page was just 21 years old at the time of the Manish Boys session, but was already making a name for himself as a formidable session guitarist.

He was this kid who just left art school and was the youngest session man in the world, fifteen or sixteen. He was a fresh faced kid who had a real joy for playing. The Led Zeppelin thing … it’s hard to put the two together. He taught me a wonderful riff which became ‘The Supermen’.
David Bowie
Seconds magazine, August/September 1995

‘I Pity The Fool’ was released on 5 March 1965 as Parlophone R 5250.

The Manish Boys audition for Hamburg's Star-Club
Live: Davie Jones and the Manish Boys, Royal Star, Maidstone
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