Friday, 31 May 2013

10 Music For Pleasure Album Covers

Here's a selection of 10 Music For Pleasure album covers I've recently featured on Instagram. Although Music For Pleasure was EMI's budget record label they frequently pushed the boat out with several sleeve designs covering a variety of genres in the 60s and 70s. 

Stardust  - George Melachrino
Stardust is a light orchestral album from the 1960s released shortly after Melachrino's tragic death. It had originally been released under the Regal label in 1960 and features a starscape image from the California Institute of Technology.

I'll See You In My Dreams - Max Jaffa
Max Jaffa was a regularly featured musician on BBC Radio in the days before they went pop. I'll See You In My Dreams is a reissue of an earlier Columbia LP featuring show tunes and pop standards.

Songs of A World At War -
Janet Webb & The Naafi Singers
Forever remembered as the lady who came down at the end of The Morecambe and Wise Show to thank the audience for watching, it appears Janet Webb also took part in the recording of an album songs recalling the days of World War II.This release neatly tied in with Thames TV's World At War documentary series.

The Most Of The Animals
-The Animals
The Most Of The Animals was one of MFP's most enduring releases from their The Most Of... series. Featuring The Animals 1964 smash it The House Of The Rising Sun, it originally surfaced in 1971 and was still available well into the CD era.

Pat Boone sings Irving Berlin
- Pat Boone
Several American crooners were snapped up for reissues on the Music For Pleasure label in the late 1960s, Pat Boone's 1959 tribute to the music of Irving Berlin been the case here.

The Hollies -
The Hollies
Popular music acts had been mainstays of Music For Pleasure budget releases from the mid-1960s, by the early 70s some albums got straight reissues with new covers. Such was the case for The Hollies 1967 Parlophone album Evolution, simply retitled The Hollies.

Walkin With The Shadows
- The Shadows
Music For Pleasure releases were also popular abroad as was this Shadows release from Germany, which had several cover variants. The Shadows were depicted here as cartoon birds!

The Stars Sing Lennon & McCartney
-Various Artists
Although Music For Pleasure didn't obtain any rights to actual Beatles material until 1980, they did release several albums celebrating Lennon and McCartney as songwriters. The Stars Sing Lennon and McCartney culled together many hits by the likes of Billy J Kramer, Peter and Gordon and Cilla Black.

Big Bond Movie Themes -
Geoff Love & His Orchestra
Geoff Love possibly carries the record for releasing the most albums on the MFP label. Here's a release from 1975 focusing on the world of Big Bond Movie Themes. The album sleeve got into a bit of trouble for not acquiring permission to use images of film stars, it was later withdrawn.

The Big Swoon Of The Thirties -
Al Bowlly
A fabulous example of 60s art meeting popular culture of decades previous, as 1930s crooner Al Bowlly gets a retrospective on MFP in the mid 60s. This cover has to be one of the most creative even though the title The Big Swoon Of The Thirties doesn't seem to have been retained for the record label in which its called So Many Memories.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Look Who We Met At Newport Shopping Centre Today

The Doctor and his new companions
The Doctor and his TARDIS
It was a bit overwhelming for Tom
We made a special trip along to Newport Shopping Centre this morning as we heard a Doctor was in the house... not quite The Doctor but almost!

We entered a draw to win a stand-up of The Doctor's very own TARDIS but more incredibly posed for a couple of photographs with The Doctor Who Matt Smith look-alike who was promoting the event!

You have to admit he's quite close to the original, and ten minutes after this picture was taken there were queue's of people ready to meet The Doctor and even asking for autographs!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Retro Vinyl: Gracie Fields - Stage and Screen (World Record Club, 1978)

Gracie Fields was always a bit of a legendary character as I was growing up in the 1970s, I particularly remember her for her older persona and singing her famous song Sally on various special appearances on television.

Gracie however had been entertaining audiences since the early 1900s and was known for a mix of a soprano singing style with cheeky Northern delivery (which tied in neatly with her Lancashire roots).

"Our Gracie" as she became affectionately known was a huge draw on stage and screen in the 1930s and 40s and this collection released by World Records in 1978 entitled Stage and Screen is a fine example of her work in both mediums.

The majority of Side 1 is culled from a 6-sided 78 release of a 20 minute act recorded at The Holborn Empire, London in 1933.

Gracie At The Holborn Empire is a slice of music hall entertainment capturing Gracie at her peak belting out classics like Stormy Weather and Sally ("I'll still be singing this when I'm 70!" a young Gracie exclaims - she was right!) as well as making the audience laugh with comic routines and gestures.

The remainder of the album is made up of songs from her films including Sing as we Go and Wish Me Luck (As You Wave Me Goodbye).

The sound quality appears to be pretty good considering the vintage nature of the material and in some cases (comparing later CD releases) sounds better. Wish Me Luck sounds muffled on certain CD issues but is quite clear on this release giving it a definitive energy, maybe that's how we should continue to listen to Gracie!

Another Light Goes Out In Walmington - Bill Pertwee

Myself pictured with
Bill Pertwee in 1998
It's with sadness we have to report the death of Dad's Army and Round The Horne star Bill Pertwee who has died at the age of 86.

Read more on Walmington-On-Sea 333: Another Light Goes Out In Walmington - Bill Pertwee

Other Bill Pertwee Links:
BBC Website - Dad's Army Star Bill Pertwee Dies Aged 86
Treading The Boards: Bill Pertwee in Cinderella (1967-68)
Treading The Boards: Bill Pertwee in Old Tyme Music Hall (1966)
Treading the Boards: Bill Pertwee In Habeus Corpus (1988)

Another Light Goes Out In Walmington - Bill Pertwee MBE 1926-2013

Myself with Bill Pertwee in 1998
Its with great sadness Walmington-On-Sea 333 has heard that Bill Pertwee has died.

Known to Dad's Army fans as the eternal thorn in Captain Mainwaring's side, ARP Warden Hodges, Bill portrayed the role on television, radio, film and stage and was a strong supporter of The Dad's Army Appreciation society having been its President for many years.

Bill was also well known for his appearances on BBC Radio's Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne.

He wrote several books including Dad's Army - The Story of a TV Legend and his autobiography A Funny Way to Make a Living.

Bill's wife Marion McCleod died in 2005 and he was made an MBE for his charity work in 2006.

He died on May 27, 2013 aged 86, he is survived by his son Jonathan.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A Week In Pictures: (Week Ending May 25, 2013)

Seren watering plants
Playing Tumbling Towers in the garden
Last episode of Arrow  broadcast on Monday evening
 - I didn't get to see it till Tuesday as I was working late
Saw The Specials at Newport Centre on Thursday 
despite feeling  extremely tired
Doctor Who ended last Saturday so it was back 
to the beginning of Christopher Ecclestone last night
Tom made an angry face out of a wrap yesterday
Kids waiting for a bus after swimming on Wednesday

Doctor Who ended last Saturday -great cliffhanger!
Some of last weeks donations to Healthy Planet
Bonnie Tyler representing us on Eurovision
Two book finds by Kenneth williams
located at Healthy Planet last week

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My Interview With A Comedy Ninja - Lucy Porter

Lucy Porter
Several weeks ago I sent comedienne Lucy Porter a questionaire ahead of a concert date in Abergavenny.

I asked Lucy several questions including how she balances been a comedienne with been a mother.

Lucy replied: "Luckily my husband is an angel and my family are very supportive. I feel guilty about leaving the kids when I’m away doing gigs, but then I get to spend a lot more time with them during the day than most parents, so I console myself with that. Sometimes I get to put them to bed, then go out and do a gig, and get back before they wake up.

They don’t even know I’ve been out of the house – it’s like being a superhero or a comedy ninja."

Read my Q&A with Lucy Porter at The South Wales Argus website: Get Ready For The Lucy Show - Lucy Porter Interview

Monday, 13 May 2013

Theatre Review: Entertaining Angels by Richard Everett

I recently reviewed Newport Playgoers production of  Richard Everett's comedy Entertaining Angels.

The directional debut of Catherine Morgan who has also acted in several Playgoers productions in recent years this was an impressive production.

"Its eye catching set design of the Vicarage Garden immediately pulls the audience into the unfolding story.

Mel Edwards is majestic as the put-upon vicar’s wife/ widow, who feels that in return for making countless cups of tea and two tons of short crust pastry in 40 years of marriage has been robbed of her intimacy with her husband Bardolph..."

Read the full review of Entertaining Angels over on The Argus website...

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Billy Fury Years Reviewed

To coincide with the 30th anniversary of the passing of 60s pop icon Billy Fury, singer Michael King has taken a show out across the UK paying tribute to the sound of Fury.

I caught Michael's show in Cardiff the other week and was impressed by the Mike and his band's ability to recreate the sound of the late singer whose voice I heard quite frequently growing up listening to my mum's record collection.

An excerpt from my review:
"The experience was enhanced with a multimedia screen depicting highlights from Billy Fury’s musical career with an array of TV clips and album covers, while the band performed in the foreground. At one point the screen featured the legend performing in a leather jacket a similar poise reflected on stage by King highlighting his likeness to Fury. 
Highlights included a power performance of Run to My Lovin’ Arms and a rocking delivery of Just Because which saw King catch Fury’s personality whilst bringing his own charm to the proceedings."
After the show I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Michael and his band who kindly signed my programme.

Michael informed me they are planning to tour again with the show next year, so if you get the chance to see Michael performing as Billy Fury, it will be a magical experience!

Read my full review for The Billy Fury Years. St David's Hall, Cardiff

Prior to the concert, I also interviewed Billy's former drummer and ex-Tornado Clem Cattini who gave me some first hand recollections of the man himself:
“Funnily enough he was quite a shy guy,” says Clem.“Then when he got on stage he was outgoing. People say he was the British Elvis Presley. He was Billy Fury, he didn’t copy anybody.”
Read my interview with Clem Cattini :  Billy Fury remembered in new tribute show - Clem Cattini interview

A Week In Pictures (Week Ending: Saturday, May 11)

Here's a selection of  my Instagram pictures from week-ending: May 11, 2013

A frame from a Star Wars comic book Tom found
in Healthy Planet on Saturday
I reviewed Suggs at Newport Riverfront on Friday
evening (May 10)
A pint of ice-cold Guinness which I drank at The Stonehouse
after gardening for 6 hours on Bank Holiday Sunday
Thursday evening feel good food
A great CD find in Sainsburys:  The Animals
A's B's and EP's
A scene from Newport's Ebbw Bridge on Bank Holiday
Monday (spot The Shopping Trolley!)
Jon imitating a May Day Wilkinson's advert before
swimming on Tuesday
Tom posing on Tuesday
A collection of stars Tom brought home from school
on Tuesday

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Music Interviews: Paper Aeroplanes and Balthazar

Paper Aeroplanes
This week saw a year from when I took over designing The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide.

Its been a fun year and an interesting experience as its given me a great opportunity to get creative with my design skills again in a subject I'm passionate about - entertainment.

The latest Meet The Band feature profiles Welsh band Paper Aeroplanes whom I featured last May. I interviewed singer Sarah Howells (no relation) a few weeks ago in which she discussed the bands new release Little Letters and their current tour.

Describing the sound of Paper Aeroplanes, Sarah told me: “I think it’s really hard to find people to compare us to, I can never put my finger on it. It’s not like its crazy Avant-Garde or new sound or anything. It’s partly growing up in west Wales before the internet was a huge deal, there was not much external influence as far as music was concerned – it was all about your parents’ record collections and what you could find.”

Read my full interview with Sarah Howells of Paper Aeroplanes on The South Wales Argus website: Meet The Band Special: Paper Aeroplanes' Sarah Howells Discusses Little Letters

Another interview featured this week is  with Maarten Devoldere from Balthazar who tells me about the bands  most interesting live experience:

"In South Africa we played a festival where the stage was built over a small lake.During our concert the stage broke down and we lost some of our backline in the water. 

We could fish the bass guitar out of the water and for some miraculous reason it sounded completely different and way better after the incident.We recorded our two records with it and still use it every show."

Balthazar are currently touring the UK and recently released their album entitled Rats.

Read the full Q&A with Maarten on The South Wales Argus website: French rockers on the road - Maarten Devoldere interview

Check out other articles from The Guide here

Retro Vinyl: Music For Pleasure Index

Here's a list of releases I've featured on Retrospace from the Music For Pleasure label.

It is by no means a comprehensive list of Music For Pleasure releases but might prove useful if you want some more information on the albums...

    Retro Vinyl: Most Of The Animals (Music For Pleasure, 1971)

    In the early 1970s Music For Pleasure released a collection of vinyl albums under the title The Most Of ...

    The Most Of... celebrated the production of EMI producer Mickie Most who during the 1960s worked with many celebrated acts including Julie Felix, Herman's Hermits, Lulu and The Animals.

    The title The Most Of Animals was used on several compilations featuring the 1960s Newcastle-Upon-Tyne beat combo from as early as 1965.

    However, this compilation originates from 1971, and was such a popular seller on the MFP label, it avoided the deletion axe well into the late 1980s (when I purchased my copy).

    Most Of The Animals features four fabulous singles including 1964's The House Of The Rising Sun (a chart-topper in the UK and US) and the essential 1965 smash We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place as well as the bands versions of Bo Diddley's Roadrunner and Ray Charles' Hallelujah I Love Her So. 

    There are also two stunning Eric Burdon compositions including I'm Gonna Change The World and the incredible For Miss Caulker, a song which appeared as a B Side on Bring It on Home To Me.

    I particularly love this albums raw energy and as far as blues groups go from the 60s I think they were up there with the best, House Of The Rising Sun, particularly is still one of the greatest singles ever recorded (and groundbreaking at the time for been over 4 minutes long).

    The album later got a reissue on Music For Pleasure on CD with additional tracks, however some fans might also be aware that another worthy Animals collection is also available entitled A's B's and EP's which features a lot of the bands early singles and EP output and a large majority of tracks featured on The Most Of Animals.

    Check out more on The Animals past and present at The Animals Official Website

    Sunday, 5 May 2013

    Retro Vinyl: The Voice Of Winston Churchill (Decca Records,1965)

    The 1960s was a decade for variety as far as the long play record was concerned.

    1965 particularly was a year where releases by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones alongside the soundtrack to The Sound of Music ruled the album chart supreme.

    However one of the most unusual chart entries that year was undoubtedly  a recording featuring the voice of a former Prime Minister which headed to No.6 in the album charts following Winston Churchill's death in January 1965.

    Decca records had previously released a 12 LP anthology of collected speeches and narrative by Churchill, however this release culled from that collection consisted of several of Churchill's speeches made between 1940 and 1944  including Fight On The Beaches, Some Chicken.. Some Neck and The Infernal Combustion Engine.

    Nearly half a century after Churchill's death,  several of these speeches still make rousing listening, while Churchill's appointment to form a government in the event of World War II is almost humorous as it is dramatic.

    The historical events of five years is squeezed into some 45 minutes with dramatic classical music bursts provided with dramatic effect by Cyril Ornadel's orchestra. The musical bursts almost give a flavour of what would come much later with Jeff Wayne's War Of The Worlds and almost create a storytelling feel to the album.

    No doubt this LP commemorating Churchill proved popular amongst anyone old enough to remember the heady days of two decades previous. It proved a keepsake to those who felt they knew Churchill through the medium of radio during World War II and the albums peak at number 6 in the LP charts in 1965 proved a momentous occasion, if only for the fact that it paved the way for  speech albums and audio books in the future.
    • On the recent passing of  former PM Margaret Thatcher, current UK Prime Minister David Cameron referred to the Iron Lady as the greatest Prime Minister of the 20th Century. I would suggest Mr Cameron digs a copy of this album out and listens to how Mr Churchill spearheaded Great Britain through the darkest hour of the 20th century,  a reminder of the darker days the UK faced during the 1940s.

    Thursday, 2 May 2013

    Finding The TARDIS in Cardiff Bay


    Boys posing

    Who's Your friend?

    Wish I had one of these...

    Brotherly Love

    Still not been to the new Doctor Who exhibition, maybe will get a chance in The Summer but heres some instagram shots of when the boys and i went searching for The TARDIS in Cardiff Bay recently...


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