The November 26, 1966 edition of Billboard informs us that Beverley’s “Happy New Year” – along with Cat Stevens’ “I Love My Dog” – would comprise the first two releases from Deram, a “new” imprint from German label, Teldec, that was created to showcase British artists in all their “far-out pop stylings”:
Deram, actually, would have a shared German-English corporate heritage, as it began life as a cooperative venture between Telefunken and Decca Records. Wikipedia also tells us that Decca staff producer, Hugh Mendl, was instrumental in birthing Decca’s “progressive” new imprint and did battle with the label’s penny-pinching management to ensure that Deram’s biggest star, The Moody Blues, would be given the time and resources necessary to produce its breakthrough pop album, 1967‘s Days of Future Passed.
Singer, Beverley Kutner, interestingly, would later become Beverley Martyn, wife of uncompromising guitarist-singer-songwriter, John (and member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). The A-side’s lyrical bite [“No bridges left to cross now/No dragons left to slay/ I’ve never been this lost/You’ve gone away, happy New Year.”] would be provided, logically enough, by up-and-coming Yank songwriter, Randy Newman. Writer and historian, Jon Savage, in his 2009 Guardian essay, identifies session player, Jimmy Page, to be the song’s guitarist, while Martyn’s own discography would go a step further and pinpoint (1) beloved keyboardist, Nicky Hopkins, (2) Decca staff musician (and other future Led Zep alumnus), John Baldwin, and (3) “Love Me Do” percussionist, Andy White, as the pianist, bassist, and drummer, respectively, on this driving and bittersweet 45.
promo poster for Deram’s inaugural single
2014 would see the release of The Phoenix and the Turtle – Beverley Martyn’s first album in fourteen years – as well as a live performance in London to coincide with the album’s release. Beverley’s website bio reveals, intriguingly, that (1) her musical career began at the tender age of 16 as a member of The Levee Breakers, with their first single – “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” – released in 1965 (and later covered on Zep’s debut album); (2) Martyn contributed to the Simon & Garfunkel album, Bookends, and also (3) appeared as a solo artist at 1967’s Monterey Pop Festival.
According to Both Sides Now Publications, “Happy New Year” – bafflingly – failed to chart. Martyn’s follow-up single, her version of Donovan’s “Museum,” also failed to find an audience, hence her deadpan spoken line near the end of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Fakin’ It,” “Good morning, Mr. Leitch, have you had a busy day?” (as music blogger, Ill Folks, astutely points out).
Check out Randy Newman’s original demo version.