The Strawbs had presented their shiny new album to Gil Friesen of A&M US - and were roundly rejected! The Boys went back into the studio to record some new tracks more in keeping with the wishes of their label, in the meantime, they released "Jesus" as a single to keep things on the boil.
In 1975 Cousins recalled:
"'The Man Who Called Himself Jesus' should have been a hit single, but unfortunately we had problems with the BBC. ... When 'Jesus' came out, 'Jesus Christ Superstar' came out about the same week, and I considered that equally as controversial. Being a fairly spiritual/religious person, I found it a little bit offensive to me, 'Jesus Christ Superstar, who in the world do you think you are' whereas I found my own 'Jesus' song more sympathetic ... than that particular idea. Once you got the whole idea of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' in context, the song wasn't so offensive."
They even delivered a copy to Spike Milligan - in person!
I think the single versions were all slightly remixed for radio play - none of them include the spoken word Richard Wilson intro which is the sole remaining evidence of the spoken links which were a prominent feature of the original version of Strawbs first album.
UK promo release
The promo version is dated 22 Nov 1968. The sleeve scan is from Alison Brown's collection - my copy recently acquired came in a plain sleeve.
UK autographed copy
A nice autographed copy. Side 1 has Ron Chesterman's signature and "Best wishes from the Strawbs" in his handwriting. Side 2 has Cousins and Hooper's signatures. I think this is probably contemporary (reference to "The Strawbs") and may even have been a copy sold to a fan at the White Bear or at a gig somewhere else, around when the single was first released.
US promo release
US release ??
Not certain whether this made it to full release. Anyone got a release copy?
Danish Sonet release
A nice wraparound for the Sonet release, picture same on both sides.
Australian promo release (AB)
A promo copy from Australia (looks like a release copy but with a little circular red sticker, so that may be the only way the released version differs). From Alison Brown's collection
Australian release (*)
This was supposed to be a minor hit "down under".
A&M Argentina picked up on this release (albeit a few months later than other places, probably to coincide with the release of the album in June 1969). Wonder what the Argentinian record buying public thought of this one ....
From the Alison Brown collection
Now got hold of this, with a nice multi-source licensed sleeve, following the A&M circular black ring model.