Former Dundee showbiz agent Andi Lothian has spoken of his regret that Highway O’er The Sea did not send local teenagers Peter and Alison on the road to pop stardom.
The single was one of two records released to mark the opening of the Tay Road Bridge back in 1966.
But it failed to make waves and the pair never recorded another record and failed to make a professional career in the music business.
Mr Lothian, who worked with The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Eric Clapton and many others during his career, said he was very sad at the time.
Peter and Alison were described as “Scotland’s exciting new stars” and the single came out on Mr Lothian’s ALP record label.
The single, which is the rarest of the 11 released by ALP Records, has just been heard again for the first time in 54 years after radio DJ Shane Quentin recently discovered the Tay Road Bridge commemorative records at an auction.
The single includes lyrics celebrating the opening of the bridge which was the culmination of just over three years of hard toil and labour by hundreds of hardy men.
Peter and Alison were asked to record a double A-side – the Mingulay Boat Song and Highway O’er The Sea – following a 700-mile journey to the recording studios in Birmingham.
After numerous run-throughs without success, the producer, in desperation, suggested that the couple should hold hands.
They did and the result was two perfect takes.
Mr Lothian said: “ALP records was the name I gave to my venture into the recording industry.
“ALP Records – holding the never to be attained goal of ALP as ‘the peak of sound performance’ – was a brand title that I negotiated with Polydor Records, the then UK arm of Deutch-Gramaphone.
“I produced 11 titles with various ‘pop’ acts in the mid-1960s including The Red Hawks from Dunfermline; the Vikings from Perth; and the Poor Souls with Dougie Martin from Dundee.
“A few folk flavoured Scottish records were also released by ALP, including recordings by my violinist father Andy Lothian; accordionist John Huband; and Bert Shorthouse and his Scottish country dance band.
“Unfortunately with the exception of the Poor Souls ‘When my Baby Cries’ – released on Decca records – few of the ALP releases made a dent in the music market outside of their own local following.
“Yet there are trails from the Vikings to the Average White Band success and from the Red Hawkes to Nazareth.
“At the time of the opening of the Tay Road Bridge, the Dundee Town Council in the shape of then city factor Charles MacDonald, asked me to run a number of celebratory events for the city in the Caird Hall over the weekend of the formal opening of the bridge by the Queen Mother, which I was pleased to do.
“I was approached by Peter and Alison, a charming and talented folk duo who had composed a tuneful melody in recognition of the event, titled Highway O’er The Sea.
“I recollect that Peter and Alison’s session backing group on the record was my father, Andy Lothian, accordionist John Huband, bassist Jim McKenzie and drummer Harry Morrison.
“At the Scottish evening in the Caird Hall on the Sunday of the opening weekend, Peter and Alison’s composition of Highway O’er The Sea received a warm reception from the audience at its first public performance by the duo.
“Sadly, the success was somewhat too localised to make much impact on a rather busy UK music scene of the musical sixties after the initial launch and a few radio plays on the BBC.
“I was very sad at the time that the pair did not make a professional career in the music business, as they were a very impressive and talented young folk partnership with much to offer.”
DJ Shane Quentin, who has just moved to Dundee from Northampton, found The Road Bridge to Bonnie Dundee by Dennis Clancy and Highway O’er The Sea by Peter and Alison in pristine condition among a stash of Scottish vinyl.
“Highway O’er The Sea was the recording debut of Peter and Alison in 1966,” said Shane.
“This, their only vinyl record, was released in the summer to coincide with the opening of the Tay Road Bridge.
“Listening to the A-side, one can hear across the decades the infectious enthusiasm and energy which they shared during live performances in ’60s Dundee.
“This lively song combines accordion and bold vocals in a traditional folk music style with party rocking excitement!
“They were a big hit in dance halls and venues such as the Palais in South Tay Street and their live performances really got the crowds going.
“The single was one of 11 records issued on the label ALP Records, run by local legend Andi Lothian, all of which were released in 1966.
“Andi even put out a record by his father entitled The Piper O’ Dundee but of all the discs released on ALP, the rarest of them all is the sole release from Peter and Alison, which nowadays can sell for three figures.
“This was followed by a single from local beat group Poor Souls, who the previous year had a disc issued on Decca Records.
“In 1963 the same group supported The Beatles at The Caird Hall under the name Johnny Hudson Hi-Four.”
Shane recorded a special ‘bridges mix’ for his radio show which included the single by Peter and Alison, plus Denis Clancy’s Road Bridge To Bonnie Dundee alongside music by Scott Walker, Kate Bush and Scottish musician Ed Muirhead.
Shane has written for several magazines including Record Collector and also last year contributed his flexi-discs to a book on the subject.
In 1991 quite by chance he visited a local radio station in Milton Keynes where he found a weekly opportunity to play out his record collection to a wider audience.
After almost 30 years he is still with the same station where he will continue to host his show from Broughty Ferry after moving to Dundee with his Scottish wife.
Shane Quentin’s bridges mix
Dennis Clancy: The Road Bridge to Bonnie Dundee
Scott Walker: The Bridge
Neil Young: The Bridge
Robin Trower: Bridge Of Sighs
William McGonagall: The Tay Bridge Disaster
Kate Bush: Burning Bridge
Hildur Guðnadóttir: Bridge Of Death
Prince Buster: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Peter and Alison: Highway o’er The Sea
The Wedding Present: Two Bridges
Calexico: Bridge To Nowhere
Pink Floyd: Burning Bridges
Peter Baumann: The Glass Bridge
Ed Muirhead: High Girders
PJ Harvey: Rope Bridge Crossing
Brenda Wooton: I Wish That I Were Crossing Now