Sunday, 27 March 2011

Retrospace Top Ten Sundays: Gentleman Broadcasters

After a few weeks off, Retrospace Top Ten Sundays is back with it's first guest top ten.

This post on Gentleman Broadcasters  is provided by fellow blogger Andy Walmsley who's excellent blog Random Radio Jottings and Other Gubbins features lots of memories on radio broadcasting and programmes - so be sure to check out Andy's Blog after reading his Top Ten:
David Jacobs - Gentleman Broadcaster
"In recent tributes on BBC Radio 2 to the “veteran” presenter David Jacobs he was referred to as a “Gentlemen Broadcaster.” 
This set me thinking: ‘What is a gentlemen broadcaster?’
He will be urbane, well dressed, well spoken - perhaps covering a trace of accent - have perfect manners and be knowledgeable about his subject. He will treat his guests with courtesy and respect. You can almost imagine them broadcasting from their club in a smoking jacket sitting in a leather wing chair in front of a vintage BBC microphone.

So here are my Top 10 of Gentlemen Broadcasters: 
  1. David Jacobs – dapper DJ who each week invites you to listen to “our kind of music”
  2. Roy Plomley – long-time presenter of ‘Desert Island Discs’ whose unchallenging approach was more akin to an after dinner conversation than an interview
  3. Richard Baker – avuncular newsreader and presenter, well-versed in classical music (‘These You Have Loved’ and ‘Face the Music’)
  4. Alistair Cooke – the master storyteller who held listeners rapt with his weekly ‘Letter from Americabetween 1946 and 2004
  5. John Dunn – the definitive radio all-rounder over 40 years with the BBC: DJ, quiz master, concert presenter, sports presenter and newsreader
  6. Alan Whicker – well-travelled broadcaster best known for ‘Tonight’ and his ‘Whicker’s World’ and occasional radio presenter
  7. Desmond Carrington – no commute to work for our Desmond who broadcasts ever week from his home in Perth
  8. Robert Robinson - erudite quizmaster on ‘Ask the Family’ and ‘Brain of Britain’ (“This next question is for Mr Jones”)
  9. Hubert Gregg – who at the end of ‘Thanks for the Memory’ on “Wireless 2” would remind  listeners to tune in again in a “sennight”.
  10. Humphrey LytteltonEton educated ex-guards officer who was the convivial and witty presenter of ‘The Best of Jazz’ and ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’. 
  • Of course with only ten allowed on the list I had to leave off the likes of Brian Johnston, Alan Dell, Raymond Baxter and Ned Sherrin.
Thanks to  Andy Walmsey

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

The news has been quite impacted this week by the death of screen icon Elizabeth Taylor. Tributes have appeared worldwide from actors and friends that knew her over the years.

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were THE couple papers loved to write about for years, Elizabeth Taylor was the original British female icon.

No doubt there will be showings of National Velvet and Cleopatra in coming weeks and hopefully a resume of Burton and Taylor's work together.

Keith Fordyce 1928-2011

Keith Fordyce - Presenter of Ready Steady Go
It's been another sad week for showbiz departures, and even sadder when its a voice that has given millions pleasure over many decades.

Keith Fordyce, for many years was a broadcaster on Radio Luxembourg and BBC Radio 2 presenting programmes from Late Night Extra to Sounds Of the Sixties.

However, he will probably be best remembered as the front man of Associated Rediffusion's iconic sixties pop show Ready Steady Go! which he presented from 1963 to 1966 with Cathy McGowan. Keith's cool calm approach was ideal when interviewing the likes of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Kinks.


Several episodes of Ready Steady Go! still survive and some edited highlights were repeated on Channel Four in the 1980s - lets hope these will one day see release on DVD or at least be repeated.

Andy Walmsley has posted a full tribute to Keith with lots of sound bytes from his radio shows here.

Saturday Superstore: Rowntrees Fruit Gums

Rowntrees Fruit Gums - TV Comic 1973

Guaranteed to keep any child quiet on those long laborious trips to the shops on a Saturday in the 1970s were a packet of Rowntree's Fruit Gums.

The longest lasting Fruit Gums in the world tag was more in reference to how long you could chew one rather than how long people have been buying them - and yes I still occasionally buy them for me or my children nearly four decades after this ad appeared in TV Comic.

Paul Jones (not to be confused with the singer from Manfred Mann) aged 13 at the time, could apparently chew an orange flavoured one for 9.25 minutes according to this advert. I bet he had plenty of challengers in the playground the day after this was published...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Badge Friday: Julian Lennon

Julian Lennon Badge - 1985
Here's another 80s pop star for this weeks Badge Friday.

This time it's Beatle John's son Julian, who was a pretty big deal when he released his debut album Valotte in 1985.

Featuring the single Too Late For Goodbyes it really seemed at the time that Jules might take the same path of pop stardom as his father, he certainly made great singles including Say You're Wrong and a cover of the Dave Clark Five's Because which featured in the musical Time.

Alas, hits became sporadic, his follow up album The Secret Value Of Daydreaming featured some great tracks but Joe Public didnt seem to be listening.  Julian has continued to release new material over the years, keen to focus on quality rather than quantity.

I have to admit to been out of touch with Julian's output, though strangely enough, a new album Everything Changes is set for release in 2011.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Early 1900s (10)


Roy Orbison - The Monument Singles Collection Reviewed

Back To Mono With The Big O
I've been fortunate enough to listen to a  review copy of the forthcoming Roy Orbison compilation from Legacy Recordings: The Monument Singles Collection 1960-64 over the last few days.

Released to coincide with what would have been The Big O's 75th birthday the compilation features all the original mono masters of his greatest hits including Only The Lonely, In Dreams, Oh Pretty Woman, Running Scared and It's Over.

Roy Orbison - The Monument Singles Collection Review

Had he lived, Roy Orbison would have celebrated his 75th birthday on April 23rd, 2011. His early death in 1988 robbed the world of a musical hero particularly in his native America and Great Britain where he enjoyed much success in the early 1960s.

Roy Orbison's popularity in the United Kingdom was assured from the moment Only the Lonely hit number one in 1960. His vocal style and quick guitar playing earned him the affectionate name of 'The Big O' and a multitude of fans including Elvis Presley and The Beatles.

When the Great Britain beat boom exploded in early 1963, the popularity of pre Beatlemania solo singers was affected. Roy Orbison, was the exception to the rule. Unlike Elvis he came to the UK and shared the bill on concert tours with The Beatles and Gerry and The Pacemakers earning kudos with his admirers and pushing two further singles It's Over and Oh, Pretty Woman to the top of the music charts.

New Roy Orbison Compilation Includes Original Mono Masters

Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection (1960-64) not only recognises the diamond anniversary of The Big O's birth, but repackages for the first time the original mono mixes of all his A and B sides recorded for the Monument label in the early 1960s.

Such an extensive collection is a dream come true for 1960s pop aficionados. Most of these tracks for many years stayed exclusive to the 45 RPM single format, with the notable exception of tracks that eventually found their way onto hit compilations. However, by the 1970s most albums substituted the original mono recordings for the more hi-fi friendly stereo versions and it is these mixes, which have found their way onto compilations in recent years.

The notable difference with going back to the original mono masters is that the final mixes are considerably tighter productions than the stereo takes. Orbison's vocal doesn't have to fight for prominence with heavily mixed backing singers or musicians as it does in the stereo versions.

The mono masters also encompass all the energy and rawness that defied the fading radio airwaves of Radio Luxembourg and the pirate radio stations when broadcast to their original audience back in the early 1960s. It is these versions that ultimately pushed Roy Orbison into the hit parade. Further to this on modern technology such as an iPod the recordings still sound excellent, bringing the music of Roy Orbison firmly into the 21st century.

Roy Orbison Compilation Features Hits and Forgotten Classics

All the great hits are featured in The Monument Singles Collection, from the sympathetic Only The Lonely, via the drama of Running Scared, the lovelorn angst of In Dreams, the hurt of It's Over and the bounce back confidence of Oh, Pretty Woman! With the inclusion of overlooked and forgotten hits such as Blue Bayou and Working for the Man, Roy Orbison¹s back catalogue of hits develops in maturity before the listener’s ears.

The second disc in the collection comprises B-Sides that are equally enjoyable as well as familiar. Several of these songs became airplay hits in their own right, including Mean Woman Blues and Candy Man. Candy Man later scored a big hit for Brian Poole and The Tremeloes in early 1964.

Also included is Orbison's frequently overlooked version of Distant Drums, a dramatic interpretation of a song which would eventually become a posthumous hit for Jim Reeves in 1966. Arguably, Roy Orbison¹s version is the definitive cut with heartfelt vocals from The Big O and prominent drum rolls.

Roy Orbison Compilation Is A Musical Masterclass Of Monumental Greatness

It¹s a strong enough testament that all 39 tracks featured on this release stand up in their own right, be they chart hits or relegated as they were for many years, to B sides. The Monument Singles Collection is a musical masterclass of monumental greatness and is a great example as to why Roy Orbison¹s music will continue to be enjoyed for many years to come.

Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection 1960-64 will be released by Legacy Recordings on Monday 11 April 2011 as a 2CD/1-DVD set and will also be available as a single CD release.

  • This post was updated on April 6, 2013 to accommodate the original review

Monday, 21 March 2011

Those Radio Times! (BBC TV and Radio Selections for 21 March 1972)

Budget 72 Illustration from Radio Times by Nigel Holmes
Tuesday March 21 1972 was one of those days that struck fear (and probably still does) to many television viewers and radio listeners up and down the United Kingdom but no doubt had everyone paying attentively to their Television and Radio sets. That's right - it was Budget Day!

Budget Special 1972 coverage Introduced by Brian Widlake began in glorious Colour at 3.20pm. So kids, forget any television programmes today, even if they have been moved over to BBC2, because Peter Woods will be serving half hour budget news summaries on BBC 1 from 4pm.

The Chancellor, Anthony Barber, proposed a tax reduction of £1.2m in this 'Dash For Growth' budget and the setting up of an Industrial Development Executive to inject millions of pounds into new industrial developments.

Chancellor Of The Exchequer's Anthony Barbers ‘Dash for growth’ budget aims were:
  • Encourage industrial efficiency
  • Improve economic growth and reduce unemployment (then standing at 900,000) 
  • Continue taxation reform
  • Boost demand to prevent slowdown in investment and consumption
  • Output to grow by 5% between late 1971 and early 1973
  • Pensions to increase by 12.5% in autumn
  • Total cost was £400m in a full year. To pay for these National Insurance contributions were increased.
Mr Barber told Parliament his budget would add 10% to the UK's growth in two years, and he dismissed concerns about his forecast £3.4bn public sector borrowing requirement.

Events would prove him wrong. With soaring inflation, he was forced to bring in a deflationary budget within months and a pay freeze that eventually led to a confrontation with the miners. 

Budget News updates interrupted Terry Wogan's afternoon show on Radio 1 and there was also dedicated programming on Radio 2 and Radio 4.

If you still hadn't quite had enough of Budget news , Radio 4 featured  a special It's Your Line presented by Robin Day at 7.30pm while The World Tonight would feature Barber's address again at 10.0.

Barber's address was also repeated on BBC1 and 2 in colour at 9.20pm and 11.0pm respectively.

Other TV and Radio Highliights from BBC TV and Radio on March 21, 1972

If you could pull out of Budget mode for a moment or two today TV highlights included part 2 of Spy Trap starring Julian Glover (BBC1, 7.5pm), The Hollywood Premiere of Deadlock starring Leslie Nielsen (BBC1, 7.30pm)  and the evening play Horace  featuring Barry Jackson and Talfryn Thomas (BBC2, 9.20pm)

On Radio, Anne Nightingale spun new releases What's New (Radio1, 5pm), John Peel presented Sounds of The 70s (Radio 1, 10pm), Alan Dell presented Big Band Sound (Radio2, 9pm) and Keith Fordyce presented Late Night Extra (Radio 2, 10.2pm).

If you needed some Classical music , Radio 3 had  Mozart Concertos in two parts to help you unwind from 7.30pm while back on Radio 4 Isobel Barnett, Eleanor Summerfield, David Nixon and Richard Murdoch were hazarding guesses on Steve Race's tune twisters as Roy Plomley presented another edition of Many A Slip (6.15pm).

Further Reading:
National Archive
BBC - On This Day Website

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Saturday Superstore: Players Whiskey Flake

Players Whiskey flake - Radio Times 1968

While pop stars and all the young dudes were experimenting with LSD and other mind altering substances back in the late 1960s isn't it reassuring to know that Dad or Grandad were content and happy to puff away on the likes of Players Whiskey Flake?

As this Radio Times advert from 1968 displays, Whiskey Flake apparently gave off the aroma that gave smokers satisfied grins. It probably did, as a small boy I remember the delightful aroma of pipe tobacco from another room or alternately a passer by in the high street.

Alas times have changed, people now preferto smoke stuff that smells like horse manure in varying forms. The Government Health warning has never been more applicable.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Jet Harris MBE 1939-2011

Jet Harris
The first album I ever got was The Shadows 20 Golden Greats. I always remember this because my mum was a staunch Cliff Richard fan for many years and when I was younger I listened to a constant diet of Cliff Richard records. These were frequently Cliff's early albums in particular his movie soundtracks but invariably always featuring accompaniment by The Drifters or as they later became known The Shadows.

"Are you sure you want this album?" my mother exclaimed, "There's no singing on it!". I can't even remember why I wanted an album for my ninth birthday. Though I'm rather proud I picked such a great compilation as my first record.

I played it to death, I still rate The Shadows as THE instrumental group of the sixties, of course there were others,  but many were imitators and frequently doffed their caps in respect to Hank, Bruce, Tony and Jet. Even The Beatles first recorded self composition (the only one credited to John Lennon and George Harrison) was an instrumental entitled Cry For a Shadow, a homage to The Shadows.

The Shadows in 1961
The Drifters came together to support Cliff Richard on his early hits Living Doll, Mean Streak, Never Mind and Dynamite, all featuring Jet's strong bass line. The Drifters then changed their name to The Shadows to avoid confusion with the American group of the same name.

By 1960 The Shadows were making records away from Cliff as well as with him and succeeded in knocking their boss off the top of the UK charts in July 1960 with their instrumental record Apache.

Jet Harris provided a hard bass line to many of those Shadows early hits, Apache, Man Of Mystery, FBI, Kon-Tiki and The Savage while his defining moment lay on the bass solo on Nivram (Hank Marvin's surname spelt backwards).

Jet left The Shadows in 1962 and teamed up with former Shadows Drummer Tony Meehan for a succession of hits  including Applejack and Diamonds.  Jet's chart career took a decline in the mid-60s, mainly due to alcohol addiction, a battle he struggled with for many years.

It's good to know that in the final years Jet got the recognition he deserved as one of the early rock n roll pioneers in Great Britain. He was awarded the MBE in 2009. I still love listening to all those early Shadows recordings and will continue to do so for years to come.

Thank you Jet for all the joy you have given and continue to give us!

Listen to a recording of Jet presenting Sounds Of The Sixties in 1985 on BBC Radio 2


Support Comic Relief!

Clare's divine cup cakes raising money for Comic Relief
I always try and support Comic Relief even if its buying a pin badge red nose tee shirt or just making a donation. It seems really crazy that in the world we live in, there is still so much hurt and suffering in some countries where people don't have money and resources to heal the sick or even know where there next meals are coming from.

So it's always great to see people raising money in the best way they can. Be it doing something funny for money, something really daring (have you see Helen Skelton from Blue Peter's Tightrope walk?) the children wearing something red for school, or people like my friend Clare at work who makes wonderful cup cakes to raise money for Comic Relief!

Seren Wore Red At School Today For Comic Relief
One can't help be moved seeing the stories unfold on tonights Comic Relief and I've hugged my daughter a few times already - even if our country has problems there are still many worse off than us!

If you want to know more about Comic Relief or donate visit www.comicrelief.com

Badge Friday: Tiffany

Tiffany Badge - 1988
Okay - maybe I should be slightly embarrassed about this badge - a freebie if I remember rightly from Smash Hits magazine.

Tiffany scored with a British Number One in 1988 with I Think We're Alone Now and promptly followed that up with several chart hits including Could've Been  and a cover of The Beatles' I Saw Her Standing There but with the "Her" replaced subtly with a "Him".

Tiff frequently battled for the pop princess crown with fellow American girl Debbie Gibson between 1989 and 1991, their records often timed to coincide each others release dates. Debbie was  regarded the superior as she wrote her own songs but when it came down to it did anyone really care?

Twenty odd years on, both Tiffany (now an actress) and Debbie Gibson (also an actress!) seem to have kissed and made up over their chart wars and have teamed up for a ScyFy B Movie entitled Mega Python V Gatoroid which also features a guest appearance from Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees. In a strange sort of way, I'm looking forward to that one!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Online Sketchbook: Doctor Who - The Celestial Toymaker

The Celestial Toymaker
I've created this piece in Photoshop from a scan from an old black and white Doctor Who promo photo featuring William Hartnell and Michael Gough. The effects are quite funky and I added a  quote from the story as used by the late Michael Gough as the Celestial Toymaker.

You can read my mini tribute to Michael Gough over on Retrospace!

My Interview With Searchers Legend - John McNally!

The Searchers (from left to right)  Frank Allen,
John McNally, Scott Ottaway and Spencer James 
Picture courtesy of  Jean Levy
Last week I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with The Searchers guitarist John McNally. The Searchers scored many hits in the 1960s including three Number Ones Sweets For My Sweet, Needles and Pins and Don't Throw Your Love Away.

John has been with the band right from the beginning and gave me some very interesting insights into one of the most popular and enduring pop groups from the 1960s.

To find out about John's early interest in music, The Searchers climb to fame and what they've been up to recently check out An Interview With John McNally.

This will be the first in a few features on The Searchers I will include in coming weeks. Check back regularly for further updates!

Further to this, also check out The Searchers Official Website for current tour dates.

Interview With John McNally From The Searchers Now Online!

Last week I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with The Searchers guitarist John McNally. The Searchers scored many hits in the 1960s including three Number Ones Sweets For My Sweet, Needles and Pins and Don't Throw Your Love Away.

John has been with the band right from its very outset and gave me some very interesting insights into one of the most popular and enduring pop groups from the 1960s.

To find out about John's early interest in music, The Searchers climb to fame and what they've been up to recently check out An Interview With John McNally.

This will be the first in a few features on The Searchers I will include in coming weeks. Check back regularly for further updates!

Further to this, also check out The Searchers Official Website for current tour dates.

Michael Gough 1917-2011

The Celestial Toymaker - 1965
I always enjoyed Michael Gough's appearances on TV and film. In a career that stretched over some 65 years he has made countless appearances across several mediums. He will probably be best remembered as Bruce Wayne's servant Alfred Pennyworth in Tim Burton's Batman movies, but to generations before he was the ideal villain of the piece in several cult TV shows including The Avengers and Doctor Who.

In The Avengers he played scientist Dr Clement Armstrong, creator of the dreaded Cybernauts while in Doctor Who he portrayed The Toymaker opposite William Hartnell in the Bill Sellars directed Celestial Toymaker in 1965.

The adventure in which the Doctor gets caught up in a deadly game of survival is perhaps one of the most memorable from the 1960s, not only for its surreal design but for its striking performance from Michael Gough.

Gough's rich vocal tones make the Toymaker's character enthralling and its hardly surprising that at one point in the mid 80s there was talk of The Toymaker's return to the series with a rematch opposite Colin Baker's incarnation of The Doctor. Unfortunately, the series and the story were cancelled and we were denied the pleasure of seeing The Doctor rematched against this formidable enemy.

Only one episode of the original Celestial Toymaker story still exists, the final episode, and its well worth tracking down to view but only a small highlight of Michael Gough's illustrious career.

Check out The final episode of The Celestial Toymaker on the Doctor Who - Lost In Time set and a further appearance opposite Peter Davison as Hedin in Arc Of Infinity.


What a Sauce - Happy St Patrick's Day!

HP Guinness Sauce
I wanted to add a touch of the Irish to my blog today and as Guinness is one of my favourite drinks that fits the bill perfectly - except this isn't a drink and i haven't got a drop of Guinness in the house (isn't it interesting how the price of it suddenly shoots up on St Patrick's Day?)

Rachel brought this HP Sauce with a wonderful twist of Guinness back from the shops the other week.  It goes particularly nice with sausages!

So, Happy St Patrick's Day!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Make A Fireman Sam Mask!

Jon with the Hero Next Door
Really proud of Jon today as he's made his own Fireman Sam mask by printing it out from the Cartoonito Fireman Sam website and sticking it to card and of course asking a grown up to do the cutting out bits!

Sam and the Pontypandy team are almost like family in our home at the moment - as are the Numberjacks, no doubt we'll be talking about them in future posts!

Audiobook and Ebook Features Listed on Online Scribblings

Here's something which Retrospace readers may find useful if you like audiobooks from the past to the present.

I've compiled a list of my favourite sites on the  audiobook scene as well as several features I've written myself which you may find useful!

Read On: Favourite Sites: Read The Latest On Audiobooks and Ebooks

Desert Island Discs

Kirsty Young - Current Presenter
of Desert Island Discs
What great news that  classic episodes of BBC Radio's longest running institution Desert Island Discs is to gain some extra repeats when BBC Radio 7 becomes Radio 4 Extra next month.

I always felt this show has been a long overlooked document of changing trends of popular public figures since the 1940s.

Roy Plomley began the show back in 1942 and I have memories of hearing him interviewing guests on Saturday evenings on Radio 4 back in the 1970s.

I did used to get a bit disappointed when the choices always leaned towards the classical but with hindsight, given the stature of the guests of that era I can see why. Dad's Army's Arnold Ridley told Roy Plomley in 1973 "The classics never die..." and he was right!

Roy Plomley - Creator and
Original Presenter of Desert Island Discs
In recent years, I've often been on the look out for vintage episodes of  Desert Island Discs and have obtained only a handful, although I have maintained a steady collection of recent shows featuring Kirsty Young in the interviewers seat.

Anyone who has any Desert Island Discs from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s featuring Roy Plomley as the interviewer I'd love to hear from you! Hopefully I can feature articles on vintage editions of the show in future posts!

In the meantime, I can recommend two great books written by Roy Plomley:

Desert Island Discs (William Kimber, 1975) documents the early years of the show, its creation and some of the memorable guests who appeared (and didn't quite appear) on the desert island.

Roy Plomley's Autograph  in my signed edition of 
Plomley's Pick Of Desert Island Discs
Plomley's Pick of Desert Island Discs (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1982) features several interviews transcribed from original shows including Peter Sellers (since lost from the archive), Lauren Bacall, Paul McCartney, Russell Harty, Jeffrey Archer, Les Dawson and David Niven among many others.

I would imagine Roy Plomley could have written many books in this mould and I'm amazed he didn't do more. Hopefully the forthcoming repeats on Radio4 Extra will allow us to once again enjoy more of this great broadcasters work.

Saturday Superstore: Pye Music Centre

Pye Advert - TV Times, September 1978
A combined stereo music system enabling you to tape record vinyl albums and radio broadcasts in the late 70s was a big deal if you could afford one.

Gone were those lone tape recorders with built in microphones... well not quite in our home - we'd just acquired one of those and wouldn't actually get a music centre until 1982...

Thankfully many music enthusiasts did get some of these systems and recorded some great shows from comedy to music for posterity keeping their treasured C60 and C90 cassettes long after the BBC and broadcasting equivalents junked many of their recordings.

No doubt the music centre gave birth to the mix -tape and increased the sales of audio cassettes generally, a new era in home recording was born and so was the war on audio piracy as the record companies started to feel a knock on effect to their sales due to these wonderful systems!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Badge Friday: Blancmange

Blancmange Badge
I read recently that Blancmange - that ultra cool 80s synth duo who had hits with Living On The Ceiling and Blind Vision were making a comeback with a new album Blanc Burn.

I have a feeling this badge originated from my sister as although I was a fan of Blancmange - I can't ever remember buying it!

I still have two Blancmange albums kicking about on cassette - a greatest hits collection and their final 80s album Believe You Me which featured a great track called I Can See It.

Their tracks often bring back great memories of Top Of The Pops and Sunday Afternoon Radio One Chart Show's particularly Neil Arthur's cheeky use of the word "Bloody" in the lyric of Living On The Ceiling.


Blancmange were less poppier and slightly more edgy than Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark or Heaven 17 which probably didn't give them as much chart success as they deserved,  but they remain truly one of the great chart acts of the early 80s.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Art Attack: How To Make A Worm Calendar

Tom looks on as Dadi paints the details in
When I was a kid I used to frequently get my knuckles rapped from my parents for drawing on the wall - mainly because I'd seen Rolf Harris doing a similar thing on television the day before.

Tom, Seren and Jon All Have a Part To Play
Neil Buchanan is an inspiaration to todays kids, although he seems to lean more towards the wonderful Tony Hart than Rolf - but undoubtedly has inspired my children to use a shed load of Sellotape in their art projects.

The Finished Components Of The Calendar
Here we all are having a crack at a worm calendar that Neil featured in an edition of Art Attack last weekend - and yes their was some sellotape, a split pin and cardboard and paint involved - all great fun.
Tom and Jon Happy with the Finished
Product before 7am on Monday Morning
The boys were very happy when they found their calendar was ready to put together after drying overnight on Monday morning.


Those Radio Times! (BBC TV and Radio Selections for 7 March 1969)

Friday night comedy featured two well loved stars of a bygone era on BBC1 this day in 1969.

Dick Emery starred in his popular series The Dick Emery Show at 7.55pm. Emery featured prominently as a regular in Granada TV's The National Service sit-com The Army Game in the early 1960s before landing his own show with the BBC. Emery became known for a wide series of characters and his familiar catchphrase "Ooh You Are Awful.. But i Like You!".

At 8.20pm popular actor Robert Morley starred in a self penned comedy series called Charge! Here he played Todhunter with strong support from the likes of Robert Raglan, Julian Orchard, and Richard Wattis. In This episode, a much delayed train journey to town causes Todhunter to demand to be taken to the stationmaster.

Robert Morley appeared in many classic British films of the 50s and 60s and also featured in two Cliff Richard movies. I wonder if there are any episodes of Charge! still around? - I'd love to see one!

Vince Hill Was The highlight of BBC2 Entertainment
Over on BBC2 at 8.25pm, Middle of the Road Pop Star Vince Hill sang his own type of music in Vince Hill at The Talk Of The Town. No doubt, the songs Vince sang included his memorable late 60s chart hits Edelweiss, The Roses Of Picardy and The Importance Of Your Love.

Sport featured prominently on Radio's 1, 2 and 4 this day in 1969 in the form of Cricket featuring Pakistan V England: Third Test at Karachi, This would result in the second and final days play. Matches would be abandoned on the 3rd day and cancelled on the 4th and 5th. For further details read here.

Items of interest today included The Tony Blackburn Show (Radio 1, 7.0am) and  The Dales (Radio 2 11.15am & 4.15pm) starring Jessie Matthews and featuring appearances from future EastEnder Bill Treacher and future Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs.

Album Time was presented by Desmond Carrington (Radio 2, 6.40pm). Desmond is still going strong on Radio 2 over 40 years later presenting The Music Goes Round on Friday evenings.

The evening rounded off with Late Night Extra presented by Terry Wogan (Radio 1 & 2, 10.0pm), Jazz At Night presented by John Dunn  (Radio 1 & 2 12.5am) and Night Ride With Pat Doody (Radio 1& 2, 12.35am).

Close Down occured at 2.2am


Sunday, 6 March 2011

Gerry Cross The Mersey at Newport Riverfront Reviewed

Gerry Cross The Mersey 
Photograph: Robert Pratt 
Chimes International Ltd
Last night I spent a pleasant few hours watching sixties legends Gerry and The Pacemakers live in concert at Newport Riverfront.

Gerry Marsden regaled many anecdotes and jokes between hits including It's Gonna Be Alright, How Do You Do It, I'll Be There, Ferry Cross The Mersey  and You'll Never Walk Alone.

You can check out a magical moment I experienced at the gig over on Retrospace while you can  read my full review for Gerry Cross The Mersey here: Concert Review: Gerry and The Pacemakers at Newport Riverfront
  • Check out news and 2011 tour dates for Gerry and the Pacemakers at their official web site.

Review: Gerry and The Pacemakers, Newport Riverfront

Gerry Cross The Mersey
Last night I spent a pleasant few hours watching sixties legends Gerry and The Pacemakers live in concert at Newport Riverfront.

Ever the consummate showman, Gerry regaled many anecdotes and jokes between hits including It's Gonna Be Alright, How Do You Do It, I'll Be There, Ferry Cross The Mersey  and You'll Never Walk Alone.

A Proud Moment With Gerry Marsden!

My favourite moment had to be when Gerry tried to get the audience to guess who had originally performed the next song since many of the previous performers including Elvis and Roy Orbison had already moved onto the great beyond.

He described the singer as still alive, short and played the piano. After several answers from the audience including Stevie Wonder, Little Richard and Leo Sayer (!), I shouted out "Fats Domino!".

"Who Said that?" shouted back Gerry, "Stand Up!".

I dutifully stood up, "Well Done Son!" he replied before launching into an excellent version of Blueberry Hill. A proud moment indeed!

You can read my full review for Gerry Cross The Mersey here: Concert Review: Gerry and The Pacemakers at Newport Riverfront
  • Check out news and tour dates on Gerry and the Pacemakers at their official web site.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Saturday Superstore: TCP Pastilles

TCP Pastilles Advert - Radio Times, 1969
I have a bit of a bad throat at the moment and have been fighting a potential flu bug off for weeks.

No doubt, had I suffered like this back in March 1969 (some 42 years ago), I might have nipped down to the local supermarket to purchase some TCP Pastilles.

Well, no I wouldn't. In March 1969, I was 8 months old, in a pram and would probably have had to suffer like any other baby of that age.

Still, if I ever do get a TARDIS and find myself back in 1969, I might try them out, this girl certainly looked like she was enjoying them!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Memories From The 60s: "Sgt Pepper Knew My Father..."

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club
Band 
Inner sleeve by Peter Blake
Here's my first guest post on Retrospace.  

I recently invited a friend of mine, Nigel Corten, to share some of his personal memories of the 1960s and particularly key moments.   

Today, Nigel remembers the release of The Beatles groundbreaking album Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: 

"It's not a sign of old age, but remembering where I put the car keys, or anything ten minutes ago, have always been a problem, who doesn't share that one? But remembering buying records and the music from all the bands and soloists way back in the Sixties is no problem for me. 

After She Loves You, and still my favourite Fab Four 'B side, I'll Get You, I was hooked on the Beatles big time, and I always made a point of being outside Maurice White's record shop in Skinner Street, Newport, Monmouthshire, before he opened at 9am on Fridays, which were the new release days back then, to buy the latest single or album.

Sgt Peppers was released on June 1, 1967, a Thursday, which was not unusual, as, if memory serves, a lot of records were released in all the big cities in the UK a day before places like Newport ­ this feels right, but I can¹t be too sure.

I remember the day I bought Sgt Peppers, it was a Friday, and was very hot.  This time I couldn't make it to Maurice's shop for the much-awaited album, as I had to be on my way to Bristol early to join up with my mate from Pontypridd and go ten-pin bowling somewhere in the city, but I still bought it on the day, courtesy of a record shop in the city, who benefited from my one pound thirty shillings (£1.50 pence) this time.  

I drove myself to Bristol in my beat-up old Ford Consul, and I remember wishing for the day to be over, as I just wanted to get home and play the album.

When I arrived back home, about 6pm-ish in the evening, my mam and dad were getting ready to go out to the Ebbw Bridge Club in Newport for a show.

My parents were typical of the day, they just liked some of the 'modern music', but that was putting it politely, as they must have suffered mightily from my constant commandeering of the family Bush record player, mainly belting out the Kinks and the Beatles' wonderful stuff.

The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Album Was Released on June 1 1967
My dad, Humphrey, had a soft spot for John Lennon, as he thought he was a bit of a cheeky lad, always smiling and doing that wide-legged bobbing up and down stance and roaring out Twist and Shout and Rock and Roll Music from other albums.

I put Sgt Peppers on as quickly as I could, and I remember it didn't last long, must have been the magic of the moment.  I remember the songs being instantly brilliant, save for George's Indian epic, sorry George. But it was the final track, A Day in the Life, which grabbed the attention of me and my dad, as he was spellbound by it, and they were late leaving for the show because of it. I well remember the look on his face and him passing some approving remark about it.

If memory serves, when he came home from his Saturday morning shift at the docks the next day, he specifically asked me to put on A Day in the Life, even though I was in the middle of another track. This was very, very unusual for my dad, and testimony to me what a brilliant track it was.

I remember that sublime and lingering phrase by Lennon, "I'd love to turn you on". It was a very American term at the time, and very new. We sort of knew what it meant, but they were very innocent days and only thought it meant that you¹d like to impress a girl you fancied.

The Mono Version Of Sgt Pepper's
Lonely Hearts Club Band
Another thing from the album was Ringo's drumming, unbelievable for the times, especially on the opening and closing Sgt Peppers pieces.

Bang up to date, I've recently acquired a mono version of Sgt Peppers, and, hearing it on modern earphones, found that the sound really came at you in one big surge, track after track, and all the 'impurities' of the original recording only add to the brilliance of the album, that what was way beyond groundbreaking back then.

Hearing it on the earphones also confirmed my belief that McCartney is the greatest and most innovative electric bass player of all time.

A few might laugh at that, but you had to be there. Trust me; he brought a whole new dimension to records with his contributions brilliantly just walking around inside each track. For me he really led the way for other bassists to make their mark in all the bands that were to follow.

They were great days back then, and music like Sgt Peppers were the soundtrack to everyday life, be it for a humble apprentice printer like myself, or a battle-hardened Second World War soldier, and docker, like my dad. - Says it all, really."

Nigel Corten

Badge Friday: Lyonzade I Am A Quenchie

Here's another badge which I got from my Grandfather's shop in the Yorkshire Dales back in the 1970s.

The badge itself was in an old box and I suspect originated from the 1960s and obviously promoted a Lyonzade drink product.  I always loved the little drink container cartoon character which always had a bit of charm to it!

I know little more about it after that; though I would be delighted to hear from anyone who can give me any background information on the badge!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd Vinyl Album Release

An Introduction To Syd Barrett featuring tracks with and without Pink Floyd is to be released on vinyl on April 16th 2011 to coincide with Record Store Day.

The album will feature early Pink Floyd hits Arnold Layne and See Emily Play as well as tracks from the bands debut release Piper At the Gate's Of Dawn and Barrett's two solo albums. The album is produced by Barrett's friend and Pink Floyd band member David Gilmour.

An Introduction to Syd Barrett is already available on CD and download from Amazon and iTunes.

You can read more about this album in my Suite101 article here:
Pink Floyd Visionary Syd Barrett's New Album Released On Vinyl

Wordless Wednesday: Early 1900s (7)


Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Jane Russell 1921-2011

Jane Russell
More sad news today, with the passing of Hollywood Legend Jane Russell at the age of 89.

I've re-acquainted myself with quite a few of Jane's films again in recent months, particularly her first film directed by John Hughes, The Outlaw, a wonderful B movie Western that was certainly saved by her appearance as the love interest. The film itself was deemed too hot for censors, and was banned for several years before been released.

One thing that struck me is that she certainly enjoyed parodying her sex bomb image and anyone who wants to see a great example of this should check out Son Of Paleface in which she stars with the great Bob Hope.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was the popular movie she did with Marilyn Monroe but as she proved in it's sequel that Gentlemen (also) Marry Brunettes she herself was the shining star!

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