Friday, 30 August 2013

Retro Vinyl: Cliff Richard Live! (Music For Pleasure 50307, 1977)

 Cliff Richard Live!

Although I didn't realise it when getting this album back in 1977 this was an original LP for Music For Pleasure (MFP50307), (well as in not a reissue of an album previously released in the UK) although it had been released as an LP outside the UK.

Recorded in Japan during 1972, the album features backing vocals from Olivia Newton-John and Pat Carroll and musical accompaniment from Hank Marvin, John Farrar and Brian Bennett.
I played this album a lot when I purchased it back in the 1970s - it was my first Cliff Richard LP, and apart from featuring many classic hits such as The Young Ones, Summer Holiday and Move It! there are also some great diversions of Cliff performing a medley of Walk On By/ The Look Of Love by Burt Bacharach and Hal David and a combination of Good Old Rock N Roll including Jailhouse Rock and Great Balls Of Fire.

Cliff is also on form with introductions "Do you remember Living Doll?" he asks his adoring and appreciative Japanese fans, whilst making the standard "Once in a lifetime a really great song comes along but until it
does I'll sing one of his" jokes about Hank Marvin's The Day I Met Marie.
This is a great album to seek out if you want to hear a Cliff Richard live performance from the early 70s. Cliff actually produced several live albums, this remains one of the best ones, featuring a good range of his early material and not afraid to present the listeners with something new.

It also features three Shadows and Olivia Newton John, great friends to have around on a live album!

Final note, I purchased the album from Asda just off Dovecot Street in Stockton On Tees for £1.25 back in 1977, what a great buy!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Stars On 45RPM : The Seekers

The Seekers
Here are two releases from the 1960s by the Australian folk-pop group The Seekers of which I found on Saturday. Both appear to be in their original Columbia Records paper sleeves with advert artwork on the rear for Morphy Richards Hair Dryers and shampoo - evidently a lot of girls washing their hair in the 60s!
Columbia DB8273
The Seekers: When Will The Good Apples Fall / Myra , Columbia DB8273, 1967
When Will The Good Apples Fall was the story of a rich mans daughter who cannot find true love and sung with beautiful conviction by Judith Durham reached Number 11 in the UK charts in 1967. The release was coupled with the uplifting folk song Myra.
Columbia DB7532
The Seekers: A World Of Our Own / Sinner Man, Columbia DB7532, 1965
Having recently topped the UK charts with Tom Springfield's  I'll Never Find Another You, The Seekers followed the hit up with another Springfield composition A World Of Our Own. This cosy upbeat song featured all The Seekers hallmarks including Judith Durham's beautiful vocal, close harmonising and Athol Guy's steady double bass line. A World Of Our Own coupled with Sinner Man reached No.3 in the UK chart.

Seekers Links:
The Seekers Official Website
Judith Durham's Official Website

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Draw Tom and Jerry Challenge

Pencil Sketch
Pen Drawing
Final Sketch
I came across James Howard's @themooks challenge to draw Tom and Jerry on Twitter the other morning and thought I'd have a crack at the challenge myself. Its very sketchy but was great fun to do this evening and a great chill out!

As I always associate watching the cartoon characters with television I thought it might be cool having Tom the cat leaping out of a TV set to surprise Jerry the mouse.

See some great examples on Twitter from this challenge #drawtomandjerry

My interviews with X Factor stars Jedward, Matt Cardle and Diana Vickers

Compiling copy for The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide finds me interviewing an interesting batch of celebrities.

Some of these have found their way through The X Factor series over the years and are still going strong with their careers...


 John and Edward Grimes AKA Jedward have had a diverse career since appearing on The X Factor and judging by responses to my recent tweets have a very popular following. They are currently touring again and appear at St David's Hall in Cardiff next month.

“We tour with what we want to do and always have the support of the public and our fans,” Edward told me last week, “No matter what we do they are always there to cheer us on.”

Read more of my interview with Jedward here: Jedward set to bring their style to Cardiff

Matt Cardle

Matt Cardle won the seventh series of X Factor and is currently preparing a new album of which a duet with former spice Girl Mel C has recently been released.

"We basically met at the Isle of Wight Festival last year. Mel was playing on the same stage as me so we had a quick chat then," says Matt.
 "I then met her this year at a Cancer Research fundraiser. We swapped numbers and I invited her to my concert in London in May. We spoke after the show about writing together. I then had an idea with my manager to rewrite a song I had been working on for over a year and turn it into a duet. We worked on it and then sent it to Mel. She loved it and the rest is… well, history!"

Diana Vickers

Blackburn born Diana Vickers had a chart-topping album with Songs From The Tainted Cherry Tree and recently released her second album Songs To Make Boys Cry.

“It’s been a long process but well worth it," Diana recently told me, "We’ve took the inspiration from Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Blondie and lots of 80s artists. I’m particularly proud of the first single from the album Cinderella.

Read on: There's No Stopping Diana Vickers

Max Boyce all set for 40th Anniversary Celebrations

Welsh entertainer Max Boyce is celebrating 40 years in show business, yet even Max  is quite taken aback by how much time has elapsed since albums like Live At Treorchy and All The Doctors Papers reached the charts. Songs like Hymns and Arias have endured and not only become his signature tunes but found their way as anthems of popular Welsh culture.

" 40 years ago I wrote that. Frightening really!", Max recently told me, "Its quite incredible that  Flower of Scotland (by Roy Williamson) and Fields of Athenry (written by Pete St John)  have all become sort of anthems, because they were all written at the same time I wrote Hymns and Arias.They were written in late 60s, early 70s and I know the people that wrote them."

“I was writing topical songs at the time,” Max says . “I didn’t know it was going to be an anthem, I just wrote it because Wales had beaten England at Twickenham and I was moved to write this little song about the trip."

“Little did I think that 40 years later it would be sung at football matches. When Swansea played Manchester United, it was ringing out at Old Trafford.”

Max will perform a special concert at Chepstow Castle next weekend along with the Treorchy Male Voice choir and Shan Cothi. He will also be recording a live TV special on BBC1 Wales this September to celebrate his 40th anniversary.

Read more from my interviews with Max Boyce:

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Retro Vinyl Finds: The Seekers, Frankie Vaughan with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly

It gave me a bit of a giggle when Seren and I visited the local Shaw Trust charity shop in Newport earlier today. Seren began thumbing through a vintage batch of  45RPM singles while I said "Stop!" when my eye caught something of interest!

I had four finds at 50p a shot, I could have probably bought 6 but the loose change in my pocket didn't stretch that far!

All thanks to my 10-year-old helper!

The single finds were
  • The Seekers - A World Of Our Own
  • The Seekers - When Will The Good Apples Fall (On My Side Of The Fence)
  • Bing Crosby & Grace Kelly - True Love
  • Frankie Vaughan - Swingin' with Frankie Vaughan EP

Friday, 23 August 2013

Retro Vinyl: Children's TV Themes by Cy Payne and his Orchestra (Contour, 1972)

The world of budget LP releases could be a very busy one if you were a musical director in the early 70s.

Picture the scene, you head over to the recording studio on Monday morning, having the week before arranged the score for the next big hit for the Brotherhood of Man. "What will the label want me to do this week?" thinks Musical Director, "strings on the new T Rex offering or maybe a classical piece?".

"No" says the Executive Producer, "Contour Records want us to put together an album of Children's television themes, Thunderbirds, Blue Peter, Rupert the Bear, Star Trek, Doctor Who..."

"But," says Musical Director, "Doctor Who isn't a children's programme.."

"For this album it is, I've already commissioned the cover artwork and its got that Navy Lark bloke Jon Pertwee with a pink Dalek on it, so we're doing it..." snaps the Executive Producer.

"Oh...", says Musical Director.

A look at Children's TV Themes by Cy Payne

In all honesty, I know very little about Cy Payne, except that he regularly produced music on CBS Records and arranged several popular hits (including Brotherhood of Man's United We Stand) in the late 60s/early 70s.

I picked this Children's TV Themes LP up for 50p in the mid-80s particularly as I was drawn towards the cover artwork featuring characters from Doctor Who, Star Trek, UFO and Rupert The Bear.

The LP itself on Contour Records dates from 1972 and is a fair representation of the type of television programmes children would see during this period. Themes from yet to be cult TV classics such as Doctor Who, Star Trek, UFO and Thunderbirds happily rub shoulders with Blue Peter, Champion The Wonder Horse and Rupert The Bear.

In comparison to other albums of similar content, the versions here are pretty good. The Doctor Who theme which opens the album keeps the momentum of the original but seems to be an electric keyboard version a year ahead of the aborted Delaware theme.

Payne also tackled a few themes largely ignored by other musical directors including Rupert The Bear, Champion The Wonder Horse (a 50s series which BBC1 repeated continually on  Saturday mornings throughout the 70s), and The Magic Roundabout (here heard with a rather elaborate but fun middle section - bring on the dancing girls!).

Worth seeking out on vinyl and long overdue a CD release.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending August 17, 2013

On a trip to Cardiff Bay on Tuesday to see Joseph and
The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
we saw
this unusual Braces Bread van
The children prior to seeing Joseph
Some new CD reviews
A visit to Ikea on Wednesday inspired some jobs
Lush light effect inside old flower vase
Billy Wall Unit assembled in boys bedroom from Ikea

A trip to Burger King on Saturday
Finally, under the stairs is organised!
Five records for a £1 in charityshop haul
on Saturday morning

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Retro Book Finds: James Bond, Alan Whicker and Sherlock Holmes

Whicker's New World, 1985 Edition
To many he was the James Bond of  journalism, Alan Whicker was one of the few documentary makers who captured my imagination in younger years. Whickers New World accompanied an 80s TV series about America through the eyes of resident Brits.

His Last Bow, 1971 edition
Sherlock Holmes the farmer? Well we all need a retirement plan! Eight further cases of Sherlock Holmes to read!

Moonraker, 1964 Edition
Years before we had man on the moon, Ian Fleming was firing 007 in to the stars, although Moonraker apparently bares little resemblance to the later film starring Roger Moore.

Steps 100% Unofficial Special, 2000
My daughter wasnt even born when Steps originally hit the charts yet shes a huge fan now having seen them twice last year as well as meeting Faye Tozer after a performance in Rhinestone Mondays and seeing H in Josephand The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat last week. This might be an unofficial book, but is stil an essential read for a Steps fan who wants to find out why Lee Latchford Evans might want to be Han Solo for a day!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Retro Vinyl Finds: Matt, Pet, Danny, Billy and Adge

Saturday morning can always be a bit of a toughie to fill with three children in tow for an hour after swimming lessons but not an impossibility.

I opted last year after several visits to the library and one mislaid library book  too many there had to be other options and the Healthy Planet bookshop with an endless choice of recycled and unwanted books has certainly filled that void.

However still with time to spare on Saturday morning I dragged the children into a few charity shops (not a pastime they particularly favour) and came out of one shop with five vinyl LP's for a £1.

The titles I favoured on this occasion were:
  • Matt Monro Sings Hoagy Carmichael (Music For Pleasure)
  • The World of Billy Cotton Vol.2 (Decca)
  • The Best Of Danny Kaye (MCA)
  • Petula Clark Live In London (Polydor)
  • Dont Tell I, Tell Ee - Adge Cutler and The Wurzels (Starline)
Keep an eye on future Retro Vinyl posts for subsequent reviews/features...

Friday, 16 August 2013

Retro Vinyl: The Four And Only Seekers - The Seekers, (MFP, 1969)

Here's a find from a Red Cross Shop in Carmarthen, located whilst travelling back from Tenby last week.

I actually owned a copy of The Four And Only Seekers before but for reasons unbeknown to me, my original copy seemed to have got lost. Still for 50p I was quite happy to obtain another copy of the album which was originally released as Hide and Seekers on Columbia Records in 1964.

This version actually has the album's original title Hide and Seekers written on the inner label and  follows on with MFP's usual practice in the late 60s of featuring different titles on the label than on the album cover.

The album consists of several recognisable songs performed by The Seekers in the 60s including This Little Light Of Mine, Kumbaya, Blowin In The Wind, We're Moving On and What Have They Done To The Rain. Also featured is Morningtown Ride which would be a Christmas hit for the group in 1966.

In all cases the performances are tight, melodic and tuneful while remaining timeless, while the choice of the material shows

The Seekers clearly had their finger on the pulse when recognising current trends in material (a Bob Dylan composition and a protest song that would soon be a hit for The Searchers are featured).

The Four and Only Seekers (AKA Hide and Seekers)
Music For Pleasure MFP 1301

Side 1
  1. This Little Light Of Mine
  2. Morning Town Ride
  3. The Water Is Wide
  4. Well Well Well
  5. Lady Mary
  6. We're Moving On
Side 2
  1. Ox Driving Song
  2. Kumbaya
  3. Blowin' In The Wind
  4. The Eriskay Love Lilt
  5. Chilly Winds
  6. What Have They Done To The Rain

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Retro Book Find: Fragments by Marilyn Monroe

When all the books have been read and the films have been see there sometimes seems little left of some of our late lamented film stars to enjoy.

This book of poems, intimate notes and letters by Marilyn Monroe, (published in 2010), seems to be a bit of a treasure trove displaying there was greater depth to the film icon's personality than that seen on screen.

A nice find in a YMCA charity shop in Carmarthen for £1.99!

Monday, 12 August 2013

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending August 10, 2013

Stay at Kiln Park, Tenby got off to a wet start
Seren practicing hooping skills at a morning session
Peter Capaldi announced as 12th Doctor Who on Sunday
Sun came out on Tuesday for Tenby Beach Fun on Tuesday
Tom in the Tenby sea
Annual Knickerbocker Glory treat at Fecci's, Tenby
Kids display their 2p Machine prizes
A Tenby beach scene from Tuesday
Vinyl Find: The Four And Only Seekers, located
in Red Cross Charity Shop, Carmarthen, Saturday

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending August 3, 2013

Just bought Despicable Me On DVD and
got these awesome goggles
Waking up in Carmarthen on Saturday prior
to Tenby
Two Thomas's - Tesco, Spytty Park, Newport
Just seen Despicable Me 2 at Vue Cinema, Cwmbran
Found old Cliff Richard book in my loft

On Saturday, We arrived at Kiln Park, Tenby
Tom getting ready for a Papa John Pizza,
Kiln Park, Tenby
Sketching out some Tenby memories


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