However, The Poets were now about to face one of the biggest challenges of their career so far when it was announced that lead vocalist and chief melody / lyric writer George Gallacher would be leaving the group. Those management problems mentioned earlier, and a genuine lack of support – while down in London to promote the latest single the group and roadies had to live for a fortnight or so in their two vans parked in a small housing scheme near to Euston station – were the biggest factors in his decision to quit the group he had founded.
Andi Mulvey, singer with East Kilbride group The Spirits – themselves dedicated fans of The Poets – was brought in as George’s replacement. Before his complete departure from the group, some gigs in the north-east of Scotland were undertaken with the group featuring two lead vocalists, George and Andi. This was ostensibly so that Andi could learn the set, but also so the group could have a bit of fun on the road, with no real pressures or demands on them.
With Gallacher out of the picture, Andrew and Immediate withdrew further into the shadows and the group’s time on the label came to an end. But more upheaval was just around the corner as bassist and co-founder John Dawson also decided to leave. This was followed shortly after by the group’s lead guitarist / chief songwriter Hume Paton.
Norrie McLean was brought in on bass, and Ian MacMillan, formerly of Glasgow’s The Boots, was the group’s new rhythm guitarist. As the old guard was relinquished so The Poets were now making way for the new. The 12-string sound the group was renowned for was gone, and Fraser Watson took charge of the lead guitar position, a role which he had been establishing more and more in the months leading up to Hume’s departure. It was still a very busy schedule for The Poets, but the gigs were now mostly played out in their native Scotland.
Fellow Scot, the songwriter/producer Eric Woolfson wanted them to try out some of his newest material, specifically a song called ‘Wooden Spoon’ that he wanted them to record for a single. The group thought they’d give it a shot, but weren’t too sure about it being a single. After much tomfoolery in the studio, and some pre-session window-smashing madness from Stuart Mackenzie (he replaced Jim Breakey on drums, who either left or was fired after an ugly argument about money) that ended with the new drummer’s incarceration in a remand centre for a fortnight or so, thus eschewing his chances of any further action with The Poets. The Marmalade’s drummer Raymond Duffy came to the band’s rescue, and played a blinder into the bargain.
It was reported at the time that The Poets were involved with the Polydor label, but at the last minute Decca stepped in and released ‘Wooden Spoon’ / ‘In Your Tower’ (F12569) as the final major label single to carry The Poets’ name.
Although the group didn’t think too much of it, ‘Wooden Spoon’ remains an amazing, hard-edged psychedelic-soul styled rocker, much beloved of mod-garage dancers the world over. The group’s own ‘In Your Tower’ was something altogether different, with a raga-esque drone running through it, and an overtly flower-psych-pop mood. Although very much capturing the essence of the times, once again a Poets single failed to register with the Great British record-buying public. Confusion and tiredness once more reigned within the group’s ranks, and Fraser, now the longest-serving Poet, was offered the guitarist slot in The Pathfinders, a successful soul-beat act from Glasgow that were considered by many to be the country’s great musical hope for the future.