So the other day when I was looking up Fanny in one of my reference books, right below them was Fancy. The names are close; they both recorded unjustly forgotten 45s; their stories are far different.
Unlike Fanny, which was a self-contained group of musicians, Fancy was the brainchild of a producer named Mike Hurst. He started with an idea: to cut a new and sexed-up version of the Troggs’ “Wild Thing.” He’d already recruited a former Penthouse pet named Helen Court to sing it, and he signed up a respectable set of musicians to back her, including ex-Spencer Davis Group guitarist Ray Fenwick. Hurst christened the group Fancy, and their version of “Wild Thing” was all he’d imagined. According to Allmusic.com, he called it “a dirty, low-down track, with all the heavy breathing and suggestive orgasmic guitar and bass work.” It was so lowdown that he couldn’t find a British label willing to release it. After he found an American label, the record became a Top-20 hit in the States during the late summer of 1974.
There followed the problem that often befell one-shot studio creations—finding a way to turn it into a real band for the road. Original members Fenwick and bassist Mo Foster signed up; Court was replaced by an actual singer named Annie Cavanaugh; future Judas Priest drummer Les Binks was added. The group cut a second single, “Touch Me,” another risque lyric set to a sledgehammer beat, and opened an American tour that fall, despite having recorded just the two singles. The first gig for this R-rated rock band? A theological college in Michigan. History does not record how that audience responded, although the tour apparently got pretty good reviews. Fancy soldiered on for two years after that, making two albums that nobody bought, at least not in America.
“Wild Thing” is undeservedly forgotten, thanks to the big riffs and the heavy breathing, although the synthesizer break in the middle (described by Dave Thompson at Allmusic as “like Jell-O dripping from vertiginous heights”) dates it to the 70s like bell bottoms. “Touch Me” has a speeded-up version of the same bad-ass riff, and was, with only a couple of exceptions, the hardest-rockin’ record on the radio that fall. Nevertheless, after it dropped off the charts, it dropped off the radio for good.
(“Wild Thing”: Big Tree 15004, chart peak: #14, September 7, 1974; “Touch Me”: Big Tree 16026, chart peak:#19, November 30, 1974)