Hit song Rowles around again

By Scott Kara

John Rowles rides again. Actually, the legendary New Zealand crooner never went away. But he just got cooler.

A vocal sample of his 1968 hit If I Only Had Time has been used on a new album by hip British electronic duo Lemon Jelly.

TimeOut tracked Rowles down in Sydney - after getting his phone number from his sister Cheryl (yes, the Cheryl of his 1969 hit Cheryl Moana Marie).

Rowles didn't know of Lemon Jelly or that the duo had used If I Only Had Time on their track Only Time. At first he was also suspicious whether Lemon Jelly had proper clearance from the song's publisher.

"That was my first international hit song," Rowles says.

If I Only Had Time reached No 1 in New Zealand, Australia and Britain in 1968. It was removed from the top spot in Britain by Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World. "That was a great song that Louis Armstrong did but I hated it because he knocked me off," Rowles says.

Although he's not a fan of electronic music, Rowles is all praise for Lemon Jelly. "It's very cool that they are aware of the song and they know I was the original recorder. That they're doing something with it 36 years later is quite incredible.

"Good luck to them and if they're going to go and get airplay on it then wonderful." Rowles first sang If I Only Had Time - originally a French song - as a 19-year-old in London when he moved there in 1968 to break into the big time. He still performs the song at shows.

His other big hit of the 60s was Cheryl Moana Marie, which he wrote for a performance in front of 80,000 people at the Rio De Janiero song festival in Brazil. Cheryl Moana reached No 1 in New Zealand, Australia and Hawaii and became a top-50 hit in the United States. Both songs are available on the album Voice of a Legend: the Millennium Collection Vol. 2.

Lemon Jelly - Fred Deakin and Nick Franglen - are a downbeat duo whose electronic noodlings are made more curious and intriguing by the fact that no one really knows what they look like. They prefer to be identified by cartoon images or obscured photos.

Their latest album, '64 -'95, is their third and will be out on January 31. Along with the John Rowles snippet, the album has samples from Scottish punks the Scars, US R&B singer Monica and metal band Masters of Reality.

Lemon Jelly were nominated for Britain's Mercury music prize in 2003 for their last album, Lost Horizons.

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