Even better was their swelling, electric version of Tim Hardin’s ‘If I Were A Carpenter’, a big confident production from the talented Peter Dawkins.
Wellington’s Tom Thumb were lower North Island heavyweights, resident at inner city teen club The Place. They had the stylish, long-haired Rick White from The Relics on rhythm guitar (and later, bass), Irishman Sammy Shaw on drums, Warren Willis on keyboards and Graeme Thompson on guitar.
Howard Gable produced their early singles, including their first release, 'Midnight Snack', the B-side of which was a cover of Otis Redding's 'Respect'. They stepped the power up considerably for their second record, interpreting The Small Faces’ ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ and 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ to fine effect.
The B-side of their third single 'I Need You' ... was banned by the NZBC for containing "unsuitable lyric content".
A cover of an old R&B song written by Slim Harpo, ‘Got Love’ was the B-side of their third single 'I Need You' (written by Thompson and White) for the conservative La Gloria Records, and was banned by the NZBC for containing "unsuitable lyric content".
Recordings for an unreleased album, including versions of ‘Sorry She’s Mine’, ‘Little Girl’, ‘The Hammer Song’, ‘Tired of Trying’ and ‘Naggin’ Woman’ also exist.
A new, rockier Tom Thumb, fronted by Bruce Sontgen from Auckland’s The Layabouts, gathered around Rick White in mid-1968. Guitar ace Mike Farrell and double kick drumming Tom Swainson soon joined them, pricking the ears of a young producer at HMV Records in Wellington. Peter Dawkins did his best to push the group into the country’s top tier, but a string of great sounding covers left them short of a permanent sonic calling card, until their inspired take on ‘If I Were A Carpenter’ in 1969.
By then, they’d been one of the first groups at new Wellington club, Ali Baba’s, alongside The Avengers. Their parting recording, Ludgate Hill (1970), written by Dick Le Fort and Martin Hadlow, was a prog-rock mini-epic and issued on 7-inch EP. Its inspiration was the 1666 Great Fire of London but it failed to sell, thus making original copies amongst the most collectable New Zealand records from the era.
Tom Thumb reunited without Swainson for shows in Wellington in 1996. Mike Farrell died in May 2000, aged 51. Tom Swainson died in October 2016.
Guitarist Mike Farrell played with Midge Marsden during the 1980s and wrote Midge's songs Carry My Blues Away and Burning Rain.
Drummer Tom Swainson joined Quincy Conserve in 1970.
Got Love, the B-side of Tom Thumb's third single I Need You, was banned by the NZBC for containing "unsuitable lyric content".
Jayrem Records issued a compilation of all the band's singles in 1992, plus several unreleased track from the La Gloria era.
'Got Love', 'You're Gonna Miss Me', 'Whatcha Gonna Do About It', and 'I Need You' were re-released in the late 1990s on 7-inch vinyl by Action! Records.
Sammy Shaw - drums
Graeme Thompson - guitar, vocals
Warren Willis - organ, vocals
Paul Newton - bass
Dave Orams - bass
Dave Chappell - bass, vocals
Mark Trethaway - bass
Rick White - bass, guitar, vocals
Bruce Sontgen - vocals
Mike Farrell - guitar
Tom Swainson - drums
Paul Reid - bass
Noel Koskello - bass
Kevin Frewer - organ
Brian Mason - guitar