About Steve Morley,
Steve Morley is a writer and pop historian because he was first a musician. He’s a musician because he first bonded with melody, words and rhythm before the age of 5. It didn’t hurt that his older brother helped call his attention to what was happening on AM radio in the early- and mid-1960s. Perhaps most important of all, brother Tom could ride his big-boy bike to the nearest department store to go fetch records by The Beatles and other popular artists of the period. Steve was all of 6 years old in February of 1964, when Life Changed as We Know It; that is, when The Beatles first appeared on the widely viewed American TV variety program The Ed Sullivan Show. Young Steve was highly enthused but, like many in his age range, he was still a bit too young to digest the entire Beatle enchilada, whose recipe would be substantially modified as the decade wore on. There would be time later on to catch up, listen with slightly more mature ears and compare notes with others who’d been bitten by the Beatle bug. Eventually, he did just that.
But first . . .
Like many who were still in single digits when the Fab Four made their American stand, the pre-teen Morley would come of age listening to late-’60s bubblegum music, sunshine pop and, importantly, The Monkees, a made-for-TV band designed to blatantly capitalize on the unprecedented popularity of The Beatles and their similarly shaggy ilk. The largely prepubescent appeal of The Monkees was a gateway drug for a sub-generation of last-wave baby boomers who, like Morley, appreciated The Beatles but whose tastes were more suited to sugar-frosted pop (fittingly served up as playable 7-inch “flexi-discs” printed on cereal boxes) than to the turned-on, tuned-in Woodstock-era music that had rapidly been evolving from mid-’60s pop (with The Beatles being chief among those leading the way). Truth be told, a portion of The Monkees’ music was informed by the same cultural zeitgeist of drugs, protest and sexual liberation as their more radical counterparts; such themes were generally subtler, though, and were largely overshadowed by the visual potency of TV antics that recalled the playful appeal of Beatles movies A Hard Day’s Night (1964) and Help! (1965).
In the early 1970s, a Cleveland, Ohio-based band called Raspberries, who wore matching suits as a radical sign of allegiance to mid-’60s British pop, did something new and old at the same time: they played music that harked back to the melodic, tightly constructed three-minute pop songs initially written and recorded by The Beatles and their English counterparts. It was now the ’70s, though, and Raspberries’ take on the British Invasion featured higher-decibel guitars and testosterone-fueled lyrics about going all the way, not about holding hands and realizing what a kiss could be. The junior-high-aged Morley fell hard for songs like the ones Raspberries played, mostly because their punchy pop reminded him of what he’d initially loved about the music of The Beatles and the many bands that followed in their bootsteps.
Other guys who also dug this kind of pop-rock thing would continue to form bands that sought to preserve this period of pop in one sense or another, creating over time a body of Beatlesque work both directly and indirectly emulating a golden period in pop music (1963–1966 ). But before that, there were also the many bands who had come up alongside The Beatles and shared their influences, or who had sprung forth from the initial froth of Beatlemania, offering largely unsampled riches for thirsty ears craving first-generation Beatle juice. Your host at Liverpool Genepool has spent decades seeking out and connecting the dots between songs containing an identifiable piece of the Liverpool DNA that inevitably connects back to the Band That Changed the World.