There is a great deal of Alan Merrill music on You Tube, a patchwork of things from various decades of the 50 years he has been a musician, his time in Japan, in England, in the USA; a rich variety of styles. There is something to suit every taste.
I have bought a couple of collections of Arrows (his UK band) and his first album with the Japanese band Vodka Collins. Obviously I am a fan, but when I bought a 2006 CD reissue of Alan’s debut solo album, “Merrill 1” which came out ONLY in Japan way back in 1971, I really wasn’t prepared for it. I had heard a couple of the tracks “Policy” and “Tranquility” on You Tube, and I had already decided that Policy was very much the sort of thing I like, and Tranquility although it was a slow grower at first… well I love it now.
The thing that shocked me most about Merrill 1 was just how great it is, like the Beatles colliding with Carole King, John Sebastian and David Crosby in a tight sweaty encounter… and then I remembered that Alan Merrill wrote and recorded all these songs when he was only a teenager and if I am honest I was literally overwhelmed with awe at such precocious and astounding talent. It’s no great surprise that only 4 years later he went on to write and record one of the most famous rock songs of all time, “I Love Rock ‘n’Roll” which was covered by Joan Jett and formed the foundation of her long successful career.
Merrill 1 is a phenomenal album as a whole. Every song is so strong and has such energy. I really hope that a few artists and producers take a listen and realise that this is full to the brim with potential hit singles. There are spaced out piano ballads, jingly Macca-esque love songs, trippy psychedelic pop and gritty grinding rock all smashed up together in a box of delights that I will treasure forever.
If this album had received a worldwide release, it would be unnecessary to tell you about it. This album would have skyrocketed Alan Merrill to lifelong superstardom without a doubt, and his name would be as familiar as The Beatles, the Stones, Bowie, Bolan, Springsteen and the rest of the top table of stars. His talent is no less than any of those people, but his story is enigmatic, complex and full of twists and turns of Fate that sent him to some very different places.
I am lucky that he and I have become very close friends and I have got to know a good deal of his extraordinary story and how the circumstances of his life have shaped his career, his music, and his character. He’s working on his autobiography currently. It will be a wild ride for us all when it is done.
In the meantime, please consider that Merrill 1 SHOULD have been one of those iconic pop/rock albums of the early 70s. Buy it, listen twice and I can guarantee by the third time you will be singing along as if you have known these songs all of your life.
It’s hard to pick the stand-out tracks Policy is the song that attracted me initially and I still love its sleazy gritty feel, but another phenomenal effort is Knot Tier, its vocal harmonies orchestrated by the one and only Laura Nyro, Alan’s cousin and very close friend.
Several songs have a very McCartneyish mid/late 60s feel, like so much of that era. They’re great pop songs with potential that is ageless, all the songs on this album are. They feel oddly familiar but escape feeling derivative because of Alan Merrill’s unique natural musical ability.
At first hearing, you think you know what you have, but then you listen a little more closely and you hear the fine tooled craft that has gone into each song. I think you will come away with the impression, as I did, that in the record company’s decision not to give this a worldwide release, (with the appropriate promotion,) we have all been cheated out of something very special that is a lost part of our lives, a lost masterpiece.
It certainly could have changed Alan’s life in a very different way. Please buy it and enjoy ♥
1. Everyday all night stand 3:03
2. Starstruck 2:11
3. Knot tier 3:13
4. First love 2:25
5. Movies 3:11
6. Crazy lady 2:52
7. Policy 2:47
8. Please let me love you 3:15
9. Know yourself 2:24
10. Ferris wheel 2:15
11. Tranquility 3:14
Bonus Tracks included in the 2006 reissue
12. Jacqueline 2:17
13. Daydream believer 2:36
14. Hey Jude 5:03
15. The Drifter 3:10
16. Long hard road 2:27