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Dick Greener
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Dick Greener

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A&M, 1973

Part Of The Union

Release date: 4 Jan 1973 (UK)

Strawbs' greatest hit, originally recorded by John and Hud (with some help from Blue and Lambert) and intended for release under the name of "The Brothers", it was re-recorded by the band and included on Bursting At The Seams instead, and pulled for release on 45 by the record company. Although he was happy for it to be on the album, Dave Cousins would have preferred to release "Stormy Down" as the second single, but "POTU" was the record company choice, and, finding its moment in the industrial unrest of the early 70s, it stormed up the UK charts to reach number 2. The Brothers version was later released on Disc 2 of A Taste Of Strawbs.

The intention in choosing a traditional song (from the Strawberry Hill Boys' old repertoire), was that all the band members would get a share of the publishing royalties on the B-side. Unfortunately "Will You Go" is not in fact traditional, but was written by the famous McPeake family. Oops! It's still a great track, not released on album until UK Halcyon Days CD; it also appears as one of the bonus tracks on the re-issue of Bursting At The Seams. It was always a great crowd pleaser on the '73 tour, with Blue strapping on the accordian and coming up front to pose with Dave C; its return at Chiswick '98 and on the '99 tour was most welcome indeed.

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UK vinyl

"Part Of The Union (second mix)"/"Not The Way To End A War"
(EMI acetate, no date but almost certainly 1972)

"This is a studio acetate, which may well be the recording of "Part Of The Union" intended for release as "The Brothers", but it has the B-side of Hudson-Ford's "Pick Up The Pieces" on the back, so that must have been around in 1972 as well, though they hadn't then settled on the final title.

Dave Cousins has suggested that this was recorded by the others whilst he went into the studio to record Two Weeks Last Summer.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMS 7047, A&M, 1973)
UK release

The scan below is my original copy, much played. Far less divergence, I think, between pressed-up copies of this than for Lay Down.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMS 7047, A&M, 1973)
UK promo release

The promo release is dated 4 Jan 1973.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMS 7047, A&M, 1973)
UK bespoke sleeve

Someone created a bespoke sleeve for this otherwise standard UK copy.

Presentation silver disc

Not certain whether this was a contemporaneous item, or something pulled together later on, but a nice thing to own nevertheless. A framed mounted silver single with a UK label - it looks like a release copy with the vinyl sprayed silver.

US vinyl

"Part Of The Union (stereo)"/" Part Of The Union (mono)"
(1419-S, A&M US, 1973)
US promo stereo/mono release

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AM 1419-S, A&M, 1973)
US full release/promo kit release

A real treasure from the US is a promo kit containing the released single version (not a promo), complete with 22cm x 22cm lavish foldout cover (folding out to 44cm x 44cm).

Front cover when folded, flap for the single




"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AM 1419-S, A&M, 1973)
US full releases

Thought to be later releases - blocky text c. 1974/1975 45 releases. One comes in 1975 style A&M sleeve.

Variant 1

Variant 2

Canada vinyl

"Part Of The Union" (stereo) /"Part Of The Union" (mono)
(AM 1419/AM 1419-S, A&M, 1973)
Canadian promo mono/stereo release

Copies spotted online with release date stamp.

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AM 1419/AM 1419-S, A&M, 1973)
Canadian full release

Canada also put "Tomorrow" on the B-side. Note: it was thought that the single wasn't released until later in the year in order to coincide with Strawbs 1973 tour in North America, but given its brown label, this may have been pressed earlier in the year.

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AM 1419/AM 1419-S, A&M, 1973)
Canadian silver label release

A silver label release. A&M adopted the silver label design sometime in 1973. The "spiky" typography matches early album reissues of eg Grave New World, Two Weeks Last Summer and Bursting At The Seams - all three came out with a brown label release but then was repressed with this silver label format, I'm guessing mid-1973 when Strawbs were touring Canada. Nice clean company sleeve.

Europe vinyl

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(T-7264, Sonet, 1973)
Danish release

Sonet, Strawbs' original record label, released both "Lay Down" and "Part Of The Union" in really attractive picture sleeves.

Dutch release

A fairly tatty sleeve in dull green, yellow and black, the band vignette photos pulled from a "band File" feature in an issue of Melody Maker. The back of the sleeve is the same as the front except for some wording "hoes: arno van ofsouw - amsterdam" (cover/sleeve by ..... ). (This wording is also on the sleeves of the Dutch releases for "Shine On Silver Sun" and Hudson Ford's "Pick Up The Pieces".) Van Ofsouw was a prolific graphic designer in Netherlands - look him up on Discogs!

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(12545 AT, A&M, 1973)
"Part Of The Union"/"New World"
(12545 AT, A&M, 1973)
German releases

A Roy Lichtenstein inspired cartoon fist "adorns" this German release. There are two versions: one copy matches the UK release with "Will You Go" as the B-side, the other has "New World". If you can read anything into the matrix numbering (those numbers in the run-out groove of the record itself):

Will You Go - B3

New World - B7

it seems possible that the "Will You Go" release was the earlier. But I'm guessing ... .

There was a later reissue for the German market as part of the "Hits Come Back series". See Part Of The Union reissues.

"Part Of The Union"/"Invierno Y Verano (The Winter And The Summer)"
(HS 925, A&M/Hispavox, 1973)
Spanish release

Garish orange, featuring the "tweed" photos. The rear cover notes the single's achievement in the unofficial NME chart in the UK (where it got to number 1) and advertises "Lay Down". "Part Of The Union" was obviously untranslateable ....

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMS 7.047, A&M, 1973)
French release

The fist motif a popular one, it also resurfaces on the French release.

"Part Of The Union"/"Lay Down"
(AM 45042, A&M, 1973)
Italian release

The Italians backed the single with "Lay Down" which they must have missed out on first time round, and lifted the five piece design from the cover of the album Bursting At The Seams. The printed cover has a date of 1972, but that refers to the registered trade mark logo; the label has a date 1973. The back of the cover is the same as the front.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(8E 006 94284, A&M, 1973)
Portuguese release

Another anachronistic photo here, including Tony Hooper.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AM 10, A&M, 1973)
Greek release

Recently acquired. Very similar typography to UK release on brown label but with additional data relating to Greek release. Comes in striking orange A&M company sleeve.

Polish releases

These Polish flexi-discs have to be the strangest Strawbs 45s. The surface is laminated and the details only show up against the light.

"Part Of The Union (part only)" plus The Sweet's "Black Buster" (90Z, Transco, Not dated). The first one looks like a piece of Granny's wallpaper and the band name is mis-spelled as "The Stawbs". The whole of the track is played on the second disc which has a more appealing tree and cockerel design.

"Part Of The Union" plus Thin Lizzy's "Whisky In The Jar" (747, Not dated). The next two came in a brown paper sleeve. The "cog" design is in fact intended as a postcard! It has the two tracks on the laminated top and the back, which is matt brown, has embossing to show wherer you'd put the stamp and the address! God knows what the single would end up like if you actually put it in the post ...

The yellow one has some Polish writing on it but no track listing.

"Part Of The Union" plus The Purple's "Pretty Danger" (X547, not dated). The last one - another wallpaper job - again configured like a postcard on the back.

Asia Pacific vinyl

"Part Of The Union"/"Will Ye Go"
(AMK-5041, A&M, 1973)
"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AMK-5041, A&M, 1973)
Australian releases

All copies of the Australian release of POTU that I'd seen till recently had "Tomorrow" as the b-side. However copies have come to light with "Will Ye Go" instead, same catalogue number, no changes to the A side as far as I can see. Wasn't certain which came first, but I'd have guessed that it was "Will Ye Go", as more copies of "Tomorrow" are around. Discogs lists it as "withdrawn".

Tomorrow release

Will Ye Go release (withdrawn)

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AMX 5041, A&M, 1973)
New Zealand release

"Part Of The Union"/"Heavy Disguise"
(AM180, A&M, 1973)
Japanese promo and full release

Packaging for the promo and full release are the same. The insert has the "goldfish bowl shot, also used for the Spanish version of "Lay Down". The lyrics on the back of the insert contain a couple of curiosities, and missing off the last verse line "makes me some kind of Superman!"

The A-side label promo misprints the title as "Past Of The Union", but this is correct on the full release. The Japanese picked "Heavy Disguise" to back the release. Wonder what they made of our boys' union frolics ....

"Part Of The Union" plus 3 other tracks
(No. 754, 1973)
Thailand EP 1

Can only presume that the cover featured artists were the Grassroots - certainly not Strawbs, Wizzard or Thin Lizzy who were the other artists on this Thai special, probably a bootleg.

"Part Of The Union" plus 3 other tracks
(MCR 737, 1973)
Thailand EP 2 (*)

The Stylistics and Steely Dan accompany Wizzard and Strawbs on this one.

Other releases

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMT 704, A&M, 1973)
Turkish release

A straightforward picture sleeve for this release in Turkey (both sides the same). Also spotted online in a Turkish EMI company sleeve.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMS 7047, A&M, 1973)
Israeli release

Just as for their release of Lay Down, the Israelis chose a gloriously anachronistic photo, again of the Antiques & Curios team, all kaftans and duffel coats, and NOT the glam-rock ensemble that they had transformed themselves into by this stage. The back of the sleeve is identical to the front.

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(AM 1419-S, A&M, 1973)
Guatemalan release (AB)

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(S7AM-5093, A&M/Industrias Electricas Musicas Fabrica Odeon SA, 1973)
Brazilian release

Plays at 33 rpm, which is the standard for Brazilian singles. One copy (with writing on the label) came in a nice Odeon company sleeve, with logos of the companies it releases for - A&M on the back sleeve, bottom right. The clean one didn't.

"Part Of The Union"/"Tomorrow"
(45-13.363, A&M/Palaccio De La Musica SA, 1973)
Venezuelan release

Plain sleeve, may not be original, stamped Radio Capital, so may have been in some radio station library.

"Part Of The Union"/"Will You Go"
(AMRS 1043, A&M, 1973)
South African release

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