There’s a long story behind this mid-Sixties song – the debut single by an obscure British freakbeat band called The Living Daylights. And an unlikely connection with both Elton John and Ian Dury.
The bass guitarist, and singer, is Norman Watt-Roy, who would end up a decade or so later in Ian Dury & The Blockheads.
And the single was produced by future Elton John sideman Caleb Quaye.
It started life in 1966 as an Italian song called Piangi Con Me (Cry With Me), the music written by English musician David Shapiro, with words by Italian lyricist Mogol.
Shapiro’s band The Rokes, a minor English beat group, had relocated to Italy in 1963 where they had a series of hits with Italian-language covers of popular British and American songs.
By 1966, though, they had started writing their own songs – still in Italian – and this was one of the first examples.
It became their biggest hit yet, and was translated back into English with a different title – Passing Thru Grey.
The Rokes planned to re-record it for release in the UK, but the publisher, Dick James Music, didn’t like the lyrics.
An in-house songwriter, Michael Julien, came up with the new words, and a new title – Let’s Live For Today.
In a blow to The Rokes, before they could release their own version, a Newcastle group called The Living Daylights – led by Norman Watt-Roy and his guitarist brother Garth – recorded it and released it as their debut single.
Neither was a hit but it found its way to America where it was recorded yet again by another group called The Grass Roots.
Released in May 1967, it quickly caught the imagination of the American public.
Its sentiments struck a chord with US servicemen in Vietnam, echoing the message in their letters home, helping it to sell two million copies on its way to No.8 in the singles chart.
The song has since been recorded by several bands including The Lords Of The New Church, and now The Living Daylights version has finally seen the light of day on a new archive release of their complete recordings.