From left, Jeff Alan Ross, Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde, Monday night at City Winery (Photo: Troy Charmell)
In recent years soft-spoken and self-effacing producer Peter Asher has become perhaps the unlikeliest of innovative concert performers, regularly reinventing himself, first as a singer/raconteur with his delightful Musical Memoir of the 60s and Beyond featuring the music of Peter and Gordon show backed by a full band, then in a duo format with the great guitarist Albert Lee.
And now the British Invasion legend has come back to his initial fame as half of Peter and Gordon, only this time with half of its friendly rival duo, Chad & Jeremy. Touring together for the first time in what has rightly been described as a superduo, Asher and Jeremy Clyde’s show Monday night at City Winery took the Musical Memoir format—songs, stories and accompanying slides and videos—and doubled down upon it, thanks to Clyde’s fresh input.
With his bandleader Jeff Alan Ross supporting the two acoustic guitarists on piano and guitar, Asher, whose original partner Gordon Waller died in 2009, and Clyde, whose original partner Chad Stuart has retired, commenced by conceding that the “vintage” black-and-white Peter & Jeremy promo still screened above was in fact “genuine fake news.”
“We know that because we faked it ourselves!” admitted Asher, who then goofed on it further by listing what might have been their combined hit song titles in “Yesterday’s Gone to Pieces,” “A World Without a Summer Song” and “Willow Weep for Nobody I Know.”
From there it became a gentle game of one-upmanship, and sometimes, one-downmanship. After it was noted how both duos had been heavily influenced by Buddy Holly--in Asher’s case so much so that he wore Holly-style eyeglasses—the pair performed Holly’s hit “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” and Asher joked that in both duos, one tall and handsome man (Waller, in his) partnered with a smaller nerdy one with glasses (Asher). Shortly after, Clyde sheepishly pulled out his own glasses and confessed, “I’ve moved on” from his previous non-nerdy appearance.
Clyde also related how both duos “got confused a lot” back in the day, and sure enough, a Chad & Jeremy Greatest Hits LP was screened, showing a small pic of Peter & Gordon at the bottom right of a series of photos on the back cover—though Clyde insisted its inclusion was an act of vengeance for leaving the releasing label for a major one.
Asher informed that after Elvis Presley “changed everything” in England (and he and Clyde sang “All Shook Up”), and also cited the influence of George Formby, the English music hall star of the 1930s and ‘40s, as a lead-in to Peter & Godon’s music hall-flavored hit “Lady Godiva.”
For his part, Clyde mentioned Chad & Jeremy’s skiffle background, then showed a clip of Chad & Jeremy performing the late ‘50s skiffle tune “No Other Baby” on a 1965 “The Redcoats Are Coming” episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (he said the show’s cast was as nice as could be hoped for), as well as clips from their appearances on Batman (with “wonderful” Julie Newman as Catwoman, who used a raygun to steal their voices in the middle of their hit “Distant Shores”) and The Patty Duke Show.
Not to be outdone, Asher screened a clip of Peter and Gordon from The Red Skelton Show, but acknowledged that maybe they shouldn’t have done the silly hillbilly dance to Roger Miller’s 1960 country hit “You Don’t Want My Love.” The former child actor (he was the young boy in 1952 film The Planter’s Wife, his parents played by Claudette Colbert and Jack Hawkins) also had to suck it up while Clyde showed some of his own acting roles, even though most of them were villains who were eventually executed.
Asher, of course, went on to famously produce such artists as James Taylor, and he and Clyde performed “You’ve Got a Friend,” Taylor’s 1971 No. 1 cover of the Carole King standard. He also offered Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” having included Sheeran on Elton John's 2014 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 40th anniversary CD celebration, which Asher produced.
Clyde has been writing hundreds of songs since the ‘70s, and sang one from each of four Bottom Drawer Sessions volumes that he’s recorded and released so far. He saved Chad & Jeremy’s big hits “Yesterday’s Gone” and “A Summer Song” for the end, as Asher did with Peter and Gordon’s “Nobody I Know,” which Paul McCartney, then dating Asher’s sister Jane Asher and living with Asher’s family, wrote. It was further distinguished at City Winery by Asher’s rare guitar solo, which he set up by noting that he’d only done it correctly once so far out of 12 shows—though this might well have been the second out of 13, based on the applause afterward from Clyde.
The set ended predictably with Peter and Gordon’s 1964 Lennon-McCartney signature “A World Without Love,” for which Asher asked for assistance from “the City Winery Choir.”
“This song was No. 1 54 years ago,” Asher noted. “Anybody old enough to remember it is too old to remember pretty much anything else.”
That being the case, the song’s lyrics were screened so that the SRO audience could accurately singalong with the new Peter & Jeremy version.
Storytelling and singing with Peter & Jeremy