This was the first 7" 45rpm vinyl single released by The Wurzels after Adge Cutler's death. It was released on 23rd April 1976 on the EMI record label, catalogue number EMI2450. It entered charts 15 May 1976 for 13 weeks, reaching number 1 for two weeks.
At the time of the recording of this single The Wurzels consisted of Pete Budd, Tommy Banner and Tony Baylis, all of who had been supporting Adge Cutler at the time of his death two years earlier.
Both tracks on this single - 'The Combine Harvester' (the 'A' side) and 'The Blackbird' - were taken directly from the upcoming LP 'The Combine Harvester' which was released two months later. Both tracks are musically identical to the ones appearing on the LP but they lack the audience clapping and atmosphere that exists on that album. It would appear that both recordings (which are sharp and clear) are actually studio recordings and that the album versions were overlaid with the atmospheric audience sounds.
The title track was a parody of Melanie's hit 'Brand New Key', and rocketed The Wurzels to the pinnacle of the UK music industry in 1976, with the band spending two weeks at #1 in the British singles charts. The song was orginally a #1 hit for Irish singer Brendan Grace, who topped Irish Charts with the song in autumn 1975. A promotional music video was produced to accompany this single and can be viewed here.
Disc and Label Variations:
The examples below are taken from the collection of Professor Wurzel and represent what a collector should expect to find. Generally The Wurzels' vinyl single releases from 1975 onwards tended to have an initial pressing run and were then taken off the catalogue. Matrix, Mother and Stamper codes were still used on the vinyl and the information centred around Adge's 1960's recordings that can be found on the Main Menu under 'Vinyl Collecting Guides' remains relevant (with minor changes between different record labels).
EMI2450 was issued on the standard EMI red/tan label (which can be found with two shades red/tan).
Hand-etched into run-off groove on side A is the phrase NOT THE JOHN MILES! This is a humorous reference to John Miles The Wurzels' manager. Another John Miles was a well-known musician at the time.
'A' Side: Matrix EMI2450 A-1 1 O 'B' Side: Matrix EMI2450 B-1 1 B
Hand-etched into run-off groove on side B is the phrase HAVE A GURT BIG DOLLOP. There is at yet no good explanation for this amusing comment.
EMI2450 demo example with DEMO RECORD NOT FOR RESALE printed on both sides together with the release date - 23.4.76 - and the timings for each track ie 3mins for the A side (indicated with the large black 'A') and 3 minutes 20 seconds for side B.
'A' Side: Matrix EMI 2450 A-1 1 O 'B' Side: Matrix EMI 2450 B-1 1 G
As can be seen by the sticker on this example of EMI2450 (again on the darker label) this is a 'factory sample' - a disc removed from the production line at random to have quality checks carried out on it.
'A' Side: Matrix EMI 2450 A-1 1 A 'B' Side: Matrix EMI 2450 B-1 1 A
All other label details are the same as the release in Image 1 the major difference being that this example is that it refers to 'EMI Ltd' as opposed to 'EMI Limited' used in the previous images which makes it a 'later' pressing
This single came in the standard EMI company sleeve - front as shown in top image, the rear as shown right. This sleeve was first used on 1st July 1973. Early sleeves look very much identical except that the text 'EMI Records' is followed by The Gramophone Company Limited' on the earlier 1970-73 sleeve.
Firstly, an interesting collector's copy of this single autographed by all three band members. Not as common an item as you might think!
This example, an early pressing, has the 'A' Side Matrix of EMI 2450 1 M and 'B' Side Matrix of EMI 2450 1 M
Secondly - a quite unique collector's item - the original 1976 single-sided metal acetate for the Combine Harvester single. It was produced at EMI's Abbey Road Studios.
For information concerning the acetate and its role in the vinyl production line read Professor Wurzel's collector's guide available on the main menu.
This is an unusual and unique 'factory sample' copy of the 'Combine Harvester' single.
It came from the personal collection of Bob Barratt - the group's record producer and close friend -
Bob's handwriting can be seen on the sleeve giving the record title and his own collection reference number (2228).