Handle Artists Management became involved with Rocky Sharpe & The Replays in 1979 following their initial chart success. As a producer I had already been working with Handle’s David Walker for a number of years, reaping the benefits of his successful organisation. Although progress was slow at first, we did eventually begin to see the results of our collective efforts as the group became increasingly more popular with many of the major TV shows both in the UK and mainland Europe.
Ever conscious that newly recorded material would be needed, David Walker was agreeable for us to enter the studios fairly regularly but thought a label change might offer better prospects. David discussed this idea with Dave Most at RAK Records. Enthusiastic about the possibility of having the group on his label, it was Mickie Most who came up with the idea of covering an exceedingly obscure song – ‘Clap Your Hands’ – originally recorded by Canadian band the Beaumarks.
‘Clap Your Hands’ made a brief appearance in the UK charts rising to #54 in August 1982 but proved to be the only release for Rocky and his cohorts on RAK. A follow-up was recorded in October 1982 – ‘First Crush’ – but disappointingly, not considered strong enough and duly rejected by Mickie. David Walker was given a release from the agreement with RAK and took the group to Polydor.
Most of the titles included on the “Stop! Please Stop!” Polydor album were recorded during 1982 and early 1983 – four of the songs originals and the others covers chosen by the group. . The album was released in late spring 1983 but, despite all our efforts and those at Handle, it received little exposure and did not sell too well. We were all very disheartened, especially as it was our feeling it included some of our best work. Thankfully, though, the release and subsequent chart success of ‘If You Wanna Be Happy’ put a big smile back on our faces when it rose to #46 a few months later. Rocky picked the song, originally recorded by Jimmy Soul, and described it as a “thoroughly silly but catchy song that would create a memorable impression”. His suggestion proved to be a stroke of genius.
On the back of that success, the group were soon to become a firm favourite with Cannon and Ball. Indeed, Rocky Sharpe & The Replays were to work with the popular comedy duo through three consecutive ‘seasons’ all across the UK, adding to their already strong fan base. After Polydor they re-signed with Ace Records, but all too soon the group disbanded and the members went their separate ways.
The music of Rocky Sharpe & The Replays is still popular and his CD release show exactly why. Rock’n’roll and a good tune, forever will stand.
By Mike Vernon (The Boogie Man)