Short introduction to the Flying Machine
The Flying Machine were an English pop band active between the late 1960s to the early 1970s. Hailing from market town of Rugby in Warwickshire, the Flying Machine formed around the nucleus of Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours (or The Pinkertons) in 1969. The group were made up of members Tony Newman, Steve Jones, Sam Kempe, Stuart Coleman, and Paul Wilkinson. They were made famous in the US for their single “Smile A Little Smile For Me” in 1969, where it registered at the Hot 100’s top 10 singles rankings that year. This was followed up by “Baby Make It Soon” which also entered the Hot 100 but on the lower rungs. Wanting a change of musical direction, the group seemed to manifest this with their third and final single “The Devil Has Possession of Your Mind”; however, The Flying Machine soon disbanded following the single’s release.
From Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours to the Flying Machine
The Flying Machine isn’t to be confused with the other Flying Machine (with James Taylor in it). The Flying Machine was an English band formed in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1969. The group was created as a studio band by producers Tom Macaulay and Geoff Stevens as a reincarnation of a previously-named band Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours — sometimes called as “Pinkertons” or “Pinks” and often labeled as “Pinkerton’s (Assort.) Colors.” Its members were Tony Newman (guitar/vocals), Steve Jones (lead guitar/vocals), Samuel “Pinkerton” Kempe (vocals), Stuart Colman (bass), and Paul Wilkinson (drums).
It was Macaulay who gave Pinkerton Assorted Colours their new name The Flying Machine, in hopes that it could bring some hits to the group. The band had experienced some chart drought since their first single “Mirror, Mirror” came out.
The band’s only major hit with “Smile a Little Smile for Me”
The Flying Machine’s first record came out also in 1969, the year where the band was formed. Interestingly, their first single was “Baby Make It Soon,” their cover of a Marmalade original. “Baby Make It Soon”‘s flipside was the ballad “Smile a Little Smile For Me.” However, it was “Smile a Little Smile for Me” that was gaining momentum on the charts, ending up at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 that same year. It also went to #6 on the Billboard’s adult contemporary singles chart. Curiously, although the single was released on UK’s Pye label, it didn’t make any impact on the national charts. In the US, the single was released on Congress label. “Smile a Little Smile for Me” was written by producers Macaulay and Stevens.
The single’s A-side “Baby Make It Soon” charted relatively lower, peaking at #87 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Flying Machine’s self-titled LP was issued also in 1969, on Janus label.
“Smile a Little Smile for Me” is The Flying Machine’s only major hit, leading them to be considered as a one-hit wonder.
The band’s final moments
The band was reportedly feeling stonewalled by their pop-oriented music they were playing. So in their next move, they released their second (and last) single “The Devil Has Possession of Your Mind” to suggest a shift of musical style, but the band called it quits after its release. Their second (and final) studio album, Down to Earth with the Flying Machine came out on Pye in 1970.
In 1998, all of the Flying Machine’s recordings were compiled in a two-CD set entitledFlight Recorder. The compilation was released on Sequel imprint.