Dec 04

PETER AND GORDON – “A World Without Love”

Popular16 comments • 3,887 views

#167, 25th April 1964

The Beatles fallout continues: Peter here is Paul McCartney’s girlfriend’s brother. Gordon is Peter’s schoolfriend. Public schoolfriend, which makes this record a touchstone of social flux for some – the class system dissolving in the white heat of the popnological revolution.

I find it interesting because it’s a glimpse at a world where the Beatles didn’t make the step up from national to global phenomenon. In this alternate universe the surges of band creativity don’t neccessarily happen, because there’s no immense cultural pressure to see what the Beatles will do next. Instead they ride the wave of British fandom until it breaks, and pursue a profitable sideline and afterlife as a superior pop songwriting team, doling out pleasantly ‘Beatle-esque’ pop songs to the likes of Peter and Gordon who sing them as if Merseybeat never happened. Pop drifts back to its early 60s status quo.

You can hear this potential drift in “A World Without Love”, which is a rather earnest exercise in Everleys-style spooning. In fact the first few seconds, with a lovely echoing bass and a shard of jangle, are by a distance the most interesting. By the time a sedate Hammond organ solo appears you know that the game is pretty much up.



  1. 1
    Anonymous on 30 Jan 2006 #

    Doctor Mod says:

    This is an early example of a Lennon-McCartney song without Lennon. We all know that a lot of the songs were written by one or the other and not as a joint effort.

    Tom observes that “Peter and Gordon . . . sing [it] as if Merseybeat never happened. Pop drifts back to its early 60s status quo.” Perhaps for Brits it did, but in the US we’d never heard anything like it before, and it was actually exciting–organ and all. (Hammond? Sounds more like a Farfisa to me. I could be wrong.)

    Still, in retrospect, the suggestion that it might be a throwback (in the overall scheme of things) seems conceivable. But perhaps it’s really a matter of “back to the future.” By 1970, McCartney would be showing just what he could do without Lennon–only the results were rarely up to the standard of “World Without Love.”

  2. 2
    Matthew on 12 Jan 2009 #

    I don’t think this song is any worse a song than Can’t Buy Me Love. Whether or not you like the performance is another matter. Personally I think it takes all sorts of approaches to make the early Sixties interesting – if every #1 was Beatles-fronted, compelling performers though they were, I’d be finding this exercise pretty grim.

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 12 Feb 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: Peter & Gordon performed ‘A World Without Love’ on Top of the Pops for six consecutive weeks!;

    25 March 1964. Also in the studio that week were; The Applejacks and The Bachelors, plus two specially prerecorded studio performances from The Beatles. Jimmy Saville was the host.

    1 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Millie, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Applejacks and The Bachelors. Alan Freeman was the host.

    8 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Millie, The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Four Pennies. Pete Murray was the host.

    15 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Gerry & The Pacemakers, Millie and The Migil Five. David Jacobs was the host.

    22 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Millie, The Four Pennies, The Mojos and The Searchers. Jimmy saville was the host.

    29 April 1964. Also in the studio that week were; Gerry & The Pacemakers, Manfred Mann, The Migil Five, The Fourmost, The Merseybeats, The Rolling Stones and The Searchers. Alan Freeman was the host.

    None of these programmes survive.

  4. 4
    rosie on 22 Jul 2009 #

    So it’s farewell, then, to Gordon Waller who died last Friday.

  5. 5
    wichitalineman on 23 Jul 2009 #

    Thanks, Rosie. Gordon Waller features a couple of times in the forthcoming John & Gary Walker autobiog, always glass in hand, clearly the bon viveur of the duo. Peter and Gordon have always seemed peculiarly enigmatic as post-Mersey UK pop stars – can anyone recall either of them as talking heads?

    I’d urge anyone with a slight orchestrated pop inclination to search out his Seventh Hour, a Parlophone 45 (b-side) from 68/69, written by Gordon, richly produced, and properly gorgeous.

  6. 6
    wichita lineman on 15 Jun 2011 #

    Peter Asher is talking at the South Bank – QEH, I think – this saturday, and by all accounts he is a raconteur not to be missed.

    Here’s a rarity – an obscure Lennon/McCartney giveaway . I Don’t Want To See You Again was their third single after World Without Love and Nobody I Know (no.10), but didn’t even make the Top 50.

    Oh, and I’ve always been very fond of World Without Love, a Family Favourites regular when I was a kid. I can hear Del Shannon in there too, but also the Macca stylings of I’ll Follow The Sun. The Beatles were always keen to nod to the pre-Beatles era (if that makes sense), with originals like I’m Down, as much as they looked to the future. Proper modernists, they could take the best bits of the immediate past and craft something clearly of their own making.

  7. 7
    punctum on 16 Jun 2011 #

    It’s New Pop as well in that the chirpy melody hides a lyric which would not have disgraced Ian Curtis.

  8. 8
    wichita lineman on 16 Jun 2011 #

    Shame that they went all Boyzone on our asses in ’65 with gloopy hit versions of True Love Ways (no.2) and To Know You Is To Love You (no.5). Their 67 (or 68?) album Hot Cold And Custard is a pretty solid pop psych collection, though.

    On the whole I prefer their twinnies, Chad & Jeremy, who oddly never made it in Britain. Their swoony Summer Song (a US no.7) is prominent in the Rushmore soundtrack and their ’69 album The Ark is a quite beautiful example of how to grow up in pop without getting hairy or wearing shades.

    Plummy voiced English boys. Not really a problem for me. Quite proto indie isn’t it?

  9. 9
    Mark G on 16 Jun 2011 #

    Chad and Jeremy, their biggest hit in the UK was their “Batman” appearance.

  10. 10
    wichita lineman on 16 Jun 2011 #

    Jeremy’s wife was a big hit with me – she sang a VERY proto indie duet with him on Hullabaloo or Shindig (not on youtube, bah) and they were BEYOND cute.

    Chad & Jeremy and Julie Newmar in the same episode of Batman. I think… I…. need to see it.

    Here are C&J doing a ten out of ten version of Van McCoy’s Before And After – and it’s a re-edit, would you believe:


  11. 11
    wichita lineman on 9 Oct 2012 #

    Here’s a complete 1964 Pick Of The Pops with Peter & Gordon at no.1. From the days when they had different ‘units’, unit 4 being the Top 10.


  12. 12
    enitharmon on 11 Oct 2012 #

    Ah yes, IIRC

    1) New releases
    2) New Entries
    3) LP track
    4) Top 10

    I can’t remember it being any other way but then I’d lost interest in PotP by the late 60s.

  13. 13
    David Sim on 23 Jan 2014 #

    Back in my blogging days, I declared that the song that was number one on the day you were born could define the rest of your life. Mine was A World Without Love. My boyfriend at the time was Hot Love. It was destined to fail. My subsequent loves were Kung Fu Fighting and Use It Up And Wear It Out.

    I rest my case.

  14. 14
    hectorthebat on 20 Mar 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (USA) – 500 Songs That Shaped Rock (1994?)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  15. 15
    lonepilgrim on 17 Mar 2015 #

    Peter Asher plays a 12 string guitar in the “video” for the song which contributes to the jingle-jangle folk rock feel to this song. It sounds very well behaved in retrospect but there is a residual sense of edges being blurred and expectations being challenged by the relative emotional openness – something about it reminds me of early Paul Simon who (with Art Garfunkel) released ‘The Sound of Silence’ later that year.

  16. 16
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    Reasonable stuff from Peter and Gordon here. I agree with Tom’s mark of 5/10.

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