Release date: 4 Jan 1973 (UK)
Strawbs' greatest hit, originally recorded by John and Hud (with some help from Blue and Lambert) and intended for release under the name of "The Brothers", it was included on Bursting At The Seams instead, and pulled for release on 45 by the record company. Dave Cousins would have preferred to release "Stormy Down" as the second single, but "POTU" was the record company choice, and, finding its moment in the industrial unrest of the early 70s, it stormed up the UK charts to reach number 2. The Brothers version was later released on Disc 2 of A Taste Of Strawbs.
The intention in choosing a traditional song (from the Strawberry Hill Boys' old repertoire), was that all the band members would get a share of the publishing royalties on the B-side. Unfortunately "Will You Go" is not in fact traditional, but was written by the famous McPeake family. Oops! It's still a great track, not released on album until UK Halcyon Days CD; it also appears as one of the bonus tracks on the re-issue of Bursting At The Seams. It was always a great crowd pleaser on the '73 tour, with Blue strapping on the accordian and coming up front to pose with Dave C; its return at Chiswick '98 and on the '99 tour was most welcome indeed.
"This is a studio acetate, which may well be the recording of "Part Of The Union" intended for release as "The Brothers", but it has the B-side of Hudson-Ford's "Pick Up The Pieces" on the back, so that must have been around in 1972 as well, though they hadn't then settled on the final title.
Dave Cousins has suggested that this was recorded by the others whilst he went into the studio to record Two Weeks Last Summer.
UK promo release
The promo release is dated 4 Jan 1973.
The scan below is my original copy, much played. Far less divergence, I think, between pressed-up copies of this than for Lay Down.
Presentation silver disc
Not certain whether this was a contemporaneous item, or something pulled together later on, but a nice thing to own nevertheless. A framed mounted silver single with a UK label - it looks like a release copy with the vinyl sprayed silver.
US promo stereo/mono release
US full release/promo kit release
A real treasure from the US is a promo kit containing the released single version (not a promo), complete with 22cm x 22cm lavish foldout cover (folding out to 44cm x 44cm).
Front cover when folded, flap for the single
US full releases
Thought to be later releases - blocky text c. 1974/1975 45 releases. One comes in 1975 style A&M sleeve.
Canadian promo mono/stereo release
Copies spotted online with release date stamp.
Canadian full release
Canada also put "Tomorrow" on the B-side. Note: it was thought that the single wasn't released until later in the year in order to coincide with Strawbs 1973 tour in North America, but given its brown label, this may have been pressed earlier in the year.
Canadian silver label release
A silver label release. A&M adopted the silver label design sometime in 1973. The "spiky" typography matches early album reissues of eg Grave New World, Two Weeks Last Summer and Bursting At The Seams - all three came out with a brown label release but then was repressed with this silver label format, I'm guessing mid-1973 when Strawbs were touring Canada. Nice clean company sleeve.
European and Scandinavian releases
Sonet, Strawbs' original record label, released both "Lay Down" and "Part Of The Union" in really attractive picture sleeves.
A fairly tatty sleeve in dull green, yellow and black, the band vignette photos pulled from a "band File" feature in an issue of Melody Maker. The back of the sleeve is the same as the front except for some wording "hoes: arno van ofsouw - amsterdam" (cover/sleeve by ..... ). (This wording is also on the sleeves of the Dutch releases for "Shine On Silver Sun" and Hudson Ford's "Pick Up The Pieces".) Van Ofsouw was a prolific graphic designer in Netherlands - look him up on Discogs!
A Roy Lichtenstein inspired cartoon fist "adorns" this German release. There are two versions: one copy matches the UK release with "Will You Go" as the B-side, the other has "New World". If you can read anything into the matrix numbering (those numbers in the run-out groove of the record itself):
POTU - A4
Will You Go - B3
POTU - A5
New World - B7
it seems possible that the "Will You Go" release was the earlier. But I'm guessing ...
There was a later reissue for the German market as part of the "Hits Come Back series". See Part Of The Union reissues.
Garish orange, featuring the "tweed" photos. The rear cover notes the single's achievement in the unofficial NME chart in the UK (where it got to number 1) and advertises "Lay Down". "Part Of The Union" was obviously untranslateable ....
The fist motif a popular one, it also resurfaces on the French release.
The Italians backed the single with "Lay Down" which they must have missed out on first time round, and lifted the five piece design from the cover of the album Bursting At The Seams. The printed cover has a date of 1972, but that refers to the registered trade mark logo; the label has a date 1973. The back of the cover is the same as the front.
Recently acquired. Very similar typography to UK release on brown label but with additional data relating to Greek release. Comes in striking orange A&M company sleeve.
These Polish flexi-discs have to be the strangest Strawbs 45s. The surface is clear plastic and the details only show up against the light.
The first one looks like a piece of Granny's wallpaper and the band name is mis-spelled as "The Stawbs". The whole of the track is played on the second disc which has a more appealing tree and cockerel design.
Asia Pacific releases
All copies of the Australian release of POTU that I'd seen till recently had "Tomorrow" as the b-side. However copies have come to light with "Will Ye Go" instead, same catalogue number, no changes to the A side as far as I can see. Wasn't certain which came first, but I'd have guessed that it was "Will Ye Go", as more copies of "Tomorrow" are around. Discogs lists it as "withdrawn".
Will Ye Go release (withdrawn)
New Zealand release
Japanese promo and full release
Packaging for the promo and full release are the same. The insert has the "goldfish bowl shot, also used for the Spanish version of "Lay Down". The lyrics on the back of the insert contain a couple of curiosities, and missing off the last verse line "makes me some kind of Superman!"
The A-side label promo misprints the title as "Past Of The Union", but this is correct on the full release. The Japanese picked "Heavy Disguise" to back the release. Wonder what they made of our boys' union frolics ....
Thailand EP 1
Can only presume that the cover featured artists were the Grassroots - certainly not Strawbs, Wizzard or Thin Lizzy who were the other artists on this Thai special, probably a bootleg.
Thailand EP 2 (*)
The Stylistics and Steeley Dan accompany Wizzard and Strawbs on this one.
A straightforward picture sleeve for this release in Turkey (both sides the same). Also spotted online in a Turkish EMI company sleeve.
Just as for their release of Lay Down, the Israelis chose a gloriously anachronistic photo, again of the Antiques & Curios team, all kaftans and duffel coats, and NOT the glam-rock ensemble that they had transformed themselves into by this stage. The back of the sleeve is identical to the front.
Guatemalan release (AB)
Plays at 33 rpm, which is the standard for Brazilian singles. One copy (with writing on the label) came in a nice Odeon company sleeve, with logos of the companies it releases for - A&M on the back sleeve, bottom right. The clean one didn't.
Plain sleeve, may not be original, stamped Radio Capital, so may have been in some radio station library.
South African release (AB)