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Michael Allen

Michael Allen was a British singer whose career bridged the transition from early to mid-'60s British beat (and Merseybeat) into '70s pop/rock. He seems to have been from the north of England, as indicated by the fact that he was represented by the management of Liverpool's Cavern Club during their post-Beatles salad days, and made a string of appearances at the club commencing in the January of 1965. And it was through that relationship that he also ended up on the Ember Records album Liverpool Today: Live at the Cavern, working in tandem with Earl Preston's Realms and the Richmond Group. Allen, then age 17, definitely represented the most traditional of the three acts, a Billy J. Kramer-type singer (long past the point where Kramer was a leading figure in the city's music scene), even performing "Trains & Boats & Planes," although he did do the latter very credibly and showed some potential. Based on the evidence of this early effort, Allen was more properly suited to the career arc taken by Tom Jones and, even more so, Gerry Dorsey-c*m-Engelbert Humperdinck (or, perhaps given the Liverpudlian start to his career, Cilla Black) than to rock & roll, and this was precisely the direction that he did follow. After a series of gigs at the Cavern Club in 1965, he headed to London and was signed by Decca Records, where he cut a debut album a couple of years later. His last major thrust at international fame followed at the start of the '70s with the album Something Special, recorded in London for MGM Records, with Eddy Offord engineering, Johnny Harris producing, and a contingent of session players that included guitarist Chris Spedding. He had the voice to pull off numbers such as the ubiquitous "Yesterday When I Was Young" or the lushly romantic "This Is My Woman," but such repertory in 1971 hardly pegged Allen as potential cutting-edge talent, despite some great moments and fine playing and production: he was already out of the rock world, and a day late and a dollar short (as a signee of the rapidly weakening MGM label) in the pop world. Those who have heard him in subsequent years have tended to describe him in comparison to Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, rather than Humperdinck, et al. ~ Bruce Eder
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