Being without a recording contract seemed like the end of the world to the two youngsters, but fate once again took a hand in their lives in the shape of an appointment at Philips Records in Stanhope Place. W.1. on 14th May ’68. This was a VERY different set up to that of the rather stayed EMI. The head of A&R Paddy Fleming introduced the attendees to a longhaired young man who, it transpired, had heard S&J’s last Parlophone single, and loved it! He was Brian Shepherd, still a close friend to this day. They were signed to Mercury and after a session at Philips studio (used by Dusty Springfield – The Walker Brothers amongst others) on 28th June, ‘All the time in the world’ was released on September 6th 1968. Although not a hit it gave the ‘kids’ a new direction, that of the BIG ballad.
In those days the BBC were only permitted so many hours a day of ‘needle time’. This meant that a number of live music shows had to be broadcast. The likes of Ray McVay, Johnny Howard and Joe Loss all had lunchtime music shows + Jimmy Young amongst others had live (although pre-recorded) singers and bands on each show. Over the years S & J were lucky enough to be asked to appear on those shows. They did two sessions (always in the morning!) for the J Y Show. One on the 31st October 1968. The other 3rd July ’69. Recording five songs each time that would then be broadcast some weeks later, one song per day for a week. They recall doing the live Johnny Howard and Ray McVay shows too (names?). They sang ‘It takes two’ + their current single on one of them.
A new, slower, more soulful version of ‘Don’t make me over’ from the pen of Bacharach and David was their next release on 28th February 1969. One could say this was a ‘turntable hit’. To have your record as ‘record of the week’ on the Tony Blackburn breakfast show on Radio 1 was almost impossible for ‘unknowns’ so it was a revelation when he chose theirs! Not only that, he kept it that way for about three weeks! ‘The best record in the world’ was Tony’s view. Despite numerous plays on the radio and a number of TV appearances, ‘Don’t make me over’ did not chart! (After seeing them in caberet Tony was pleased to write the sleeve notes for their forthcoming album).
With Brian Shepherds faith in the ‘kids’ un-dented another single was released on Mercury before the act switched to Philips Records for a further single and an album ‘This is Shirley and Johnny’ in 1970.
S&J met Dave Dee and the boys whilst promoting a single, as a consequence Dave asked Johnny to sing lead vocals on a song he had written, but due to contractual problems could not record himself. ‘Baby do I need you’ by Cheep Boots was the song in question.
Again (see a pattern forming here) it didn’t chart. If you have a copy of this record, it's VERY rare!