If You Wanna Be Happy – released March 11, 1966
Peter Green’s first recording was released on March eleventh 1966. He was the lead guitarist and one of the “voices” book-ending the Peter B’s cover of ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’.
There is little surviving information as to the session itself, but the label of the 45 whets our appetite for more.
The record is billed as a “Rik Gunnell Prod.” Gunnell was the groups “manager” and booking agent.
This credit can be found on a number of singles by acts signed to the Gunnell Agency, such as Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Chris Farlowe and Zoot Money.
Whether he had anything to do with the actual production of the songs, or if he was even in the studio at the time of the recording, we have no way of knowing.
The B-side, a Peter Barden’s original, shows that Gunnell also owned the publishing for the number.
More intriguing is the actual producer’s credit, which reads, “Directed by Eddie Kramer”.
Kramer went on to work with everyone from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Traffic, and of course Jimi Hendrix. To the best of my knowledge, he never used the appellation, “Directed” on any other release (nor has anyone else).
Green can barely be heard on the A-side, a showcase for Barden’s organ. Unfortunately, they have chosen to emphasize the number’s calypso origins at the expense of the rock ‘n roll drive fueling the original, smoothing the number out to an “easy listening” bit of fluff.
It seems possible that this approach to the material, an attempt to achieve a “commercial” sound was Gunnell’s contribution.
One would imagine that the B-side, ‘Jodrell Blues’ was more representative of the band’s sound as a club act.
Playing piano, rather than organ, toughens the sound and Green gets to do a quick break, one that is very much of its time but still containing the seeds of Green’s own style, one that he will nurture are grow during his time with Bardens, in both the Peter B’s and later with Steampacket and later in Mayall’s finishing school as a Bluesbreaker.
Jimmy Soul’s original recording, released at the end of 1962 has maintained a resilient popularity over the decades, most likely because of, rather than in spite of, it’s misogynistic marital advice.
It was covered in 1963 by both The Dovells (‘The Bristol Stomp’) which closely copied the original, Trini Lopez, whose smooth performance managed to make the lyrics sound deceptively benign.
Bobby Gregg, who would play drums on many of Bob Dylan’s seminal 1965 – 1966 recordings, also recorded an instrumental version of the song for the Laurie label in 1966, credited to Bobby Gregg and the Desert Sounds.
Bill Wyman recorded a fairly faithful version on his second solo LP “Stone Alone” in 1976 and in 1983 Kid Creole and the Coconuts paid (unwitting) homage to the Peter B’s recording, returning the focus to the calypso beat and using an organ as the main instrument.
Correction: In “A Love That Burns, Volume 1, Chapter 2, I stated that the original Peter B’s recording of ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ was available on Peter Bardens Write My Name In The Dust –The Anthology 1963—2002 (Castle 2005).
The recording on that collection is from the band’s February 02, 1966 BBC session.
To the best of my knowledge, the only “official” release of the song on CD is on “The Fleetwood Mac Family Album” (Connoisseur 1996).