Sunday, 30 June 2013

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending June 29, 2013

This weeks reading matter...
Saturday afternoon in the back garden after
a long week
Saturday evening beverage
Robot Wars relic spotted at Newport Leisure Centre
Children's Healthy Planet book finds from Saturday
Another Ebbw Bridge view from this week
Hoodlums Meet The Band interview made
Most Shared on Argus website on Saturday morning
My wrap for the Campaign newspaper promoting
the Bigger and Better South Wales Argus
Picture: Ceri Garner-Jones

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Abertillery Blues Festival Interviews

Nick Pini
Over the month of June I've interviewed four headlining music acts that will appear at this years Abertillery Blues Festival which takes place July 12 and 13 at Abertillery Park, Abertillery, South Wales.

The acts interviewed were Nick Pini, Henry's Funeral Shoe, Mud Morganfield and Grainne Duffy.

Nick Pini is recognised in the music industry for his distinctive guitar sound he has played alongside many greats including BB King and Chris Farlowe, and he was once described by Eric Clapton as the legitimate successor to Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green. 

Nick who told me "The Blues nothing but the Blues" inspired him to take up music back in 1960 answered a brief Q and A for me recently. 


Henry's Funeral Shoe
Aled Clifford of Henry's Funeral Shoe  has visited Abertillery Blues festival many times in the past as a member of the audience. 

On this occasion, Aled and his brother Brennig will be playing to fans: “Abertillery Blues Festival is something I’ve gone to for a couple of years, so to go as an artist is going to be really enjoyable,” he says, “We’re going to be playing some new songs, we’ll be playing old songs, we’ll be playing some crowd pleasers.”


Mud Morganfield
Mud Morganfield is not only the son of the legendary Muddy Waters but also a recording artist in his own right.

Mud will be performing some of his fathers songs as well as his own: “ There will be a bunch of young people who never got chance to see my father live, so this is a great opportunity to give them a glimpse of what it might have been like,” he says.

Grainne Duffy
Irish singer/songwriter Grainne Duffy will be performing songs from her second album Test Of Time

Grainne feels the title track sums her up the best: “It displays what the band sounds like live. If you listen to that you’ll have an idea what you’ll get when you come to see us, soul, blues and rock.”

Read The Interviews In Full:


Other acts featured at the 2013 Abertillery Blues Festival include The Blockheads, Marcus Bonfanti, Jo Harman and The Nightporters. Check out the full schedule plus booking details at The Official Abertillery Blues Festival website.

Retro Vinyl: The Stars Sing Lennon & McCartney (Music For Pleasure, 1970)

By 1970, several pop groups and singers had material reissued on EMI's budget Music For Pleasure label, the one exception being The Beatles.

Music For Pleasure were not laid back in doing tie-in releases with Beatles material. Albums of Lennon/McCartney compositions by other artists such as Count Basie and a Tijuana Style LP were often popular releases.

The Stars Sing Lennon & McCartney (MFP 5175, Mono) however was a neat if different compilation culling together several tracks (mainly singles) recorded by several of The Beatles early chart contemporaries such as Cilla Black, Billy J Kramer, Peter and Gordon and The Fourmost. In most cases songs recorded by these artists had never been recorded or released by The Beatles themselves (indeed if they had they wouldn't be released for several years). 

The remainder artists that make up the album are Kenny Lynch, David and Jonathan and Bernard Cribbins, all performing songs that were notably covers of previously issued Beatles material (in two cases songs from Sergeant Pepper).

The Stars Sing Lennon and McCartney displays how great John and Paul were at knocking out tunes for other artists and is a fine example of how as songwriters they maintained a stronghold on the UK charts outside The Beatles during 1963 and 64. Love Of The Loved and Hello Little Girl were debut chart hits for Cilla Black and The Fourmost respectively while Bad To Me and World Without Love were UK chart toppers for Billy j Kramer & The Dakotas and Peter and Gordon.

My personal favourites on this LP have to be I'll Be On My Way (a  Billy J Kramer B-Side) and Peter and Gordon's I Don't Want To See You Again. Both could easily have been Beatles songs themselves, yet evidently John and Paul felt they were better suited for the artists they gave them to and in both cases how right they were, the latter possibly been the most bittersweet of Peter and Gordon's single releases.

The Stars Sing Lennon and McCartney was released with  photographic images of the composers themselves John (circa 1968) and Paul (circa 1966) set against a starry background.

The label, true to form of many MFP album releases from this era (in blue, reflecting the Mono release) doesn't retain the same title on the sleeve, in this case its called Lennon & McCartney - Songwriters.

I found my copy of the LP on Darlington market in the late 80s for a mere 50p. I find it particularly fascinating as the reverse of the LP seems to have the tracks ticked and crossed in red pen by a previous owner - who evidently didn't like several tracks driving a line through them in red pen and putting a cross next to them!

The Stars Sing Lennon and McCartney (MFP 5175, 1970, Mono)

Side 1
  1. Bad To Me - Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas
  2. World Without Love - Peter & Gordon
  3. Hello Little Girl - The Fourmost
  4. When I'm Sixty Four - Bernard Cribbins
  5. I'll Be On My Way - Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas
  6. She's Leaving Home - David & Jonathan

Side 2 
  1. Love Of The Loved - Cilla Black
  2. Nobody I Know - Peter & Gordon
  3. I'll Keep You Satisfied - Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas
  4. Misery - Kenny Lynch
  5. I Don't Want To See You Again - Peter & Gordon
  6. I'm In Love - The Fourmost

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Recalling 1963: John Lennon on Juke Box Jury

John Lennon on Juke Box Jury
Last Saturday was the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles playing their only gig in Abergavenny in South Wales, however its a well known fact that all four Beatles  didn't arrive together to play in the Welsh town.

John Lennon’s appearance In Abergavenny on June 22 1963 was delayed by a recording of BBC TV’s Juke Box Jury which would be broadcast the following Saturday. It would be his first solo TV appearance without other members of The Beatles

The programme, presented by David Jacobs also featured TV personality Katie Boyle, actor Bruce Prochnik and actress Caroline Maudling on the panel deciding which new record releases would be hits or misses. 

In John’s case every release had a criticism even at one point comparing his music hero Elvis Presley’s new single Devil in Disguise to sounding like Bing Crosby.

Following the show’s recording at Television Centre in London, John was driven to Battersea Heliport where he boarded a helicopter with Beatles manager Brian Epstein  to join Paul, George and Ringo in Abergavenny.

Unfortunately John's appearance on Juke Box Jury was not retained in the BBC archive although a sound recording is known to exist.

All four Beatles would later appear together on Juke Box Jury on December 7 1963.

Read a transcript of John's comments on Juke Box Jury at The Beatles Ultimate Experience

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Retro Vinyl: The Sound of Music (Music For Pleasure, 1965)

The second best selling album of the 1960s was the original movie soundtrack for the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music featuring the movie cast of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. It stayed on the album charts for an incredible three and a half years appearing in June 1965 and finally falling away for Christmas 1968.

The Sound of Music's popularity endured so much that while the original soundtrack album did so well on the main album charts Music For Pleasure enlisted a young record producer David Gooch (whose work also included recordings with Alma Cogan and Vera Lynn) to put together a new cast recording of the musical soundtrack with session musicians and singers.

Along with two other popular musicals Carousel and South Pacific a new version of The Sound of Music (MFP1007) was produced and released early in Music For Pleasure's existence on mono format.

I am not familiar with the credentials of many of the contributors to the album (indeed googling most names turns up little info except work on this album), although The Mike Sammes singers were regularly used on Cliff Richard's recordings and even appeared on recordings by Ronnie Hilton and Helen Shapiro. 

Singer Maureen Hartley hits all the right notes as Maria Von Trapp performing  Do Re Mi, The Lonely Goatherd and of course the title song while Charles West, Shirley Chapman, Richard Loaring and Heather Chapman also turn out popular renditions of the shows greatest songs. The rendition of So Long Farewell is performed effectively by the children of the Aida Foster Theatre School.

If anyone has any further information on any of the performers I'd be delighted to hear from you.

There are even a few sound effects in places including chiming bells and thunderstorms demonstrating that no stone was left unturned to create an authentic soundtrack.

Despite the fact this early MFP production into musical soundtrack was done so well it was quickly superseded with a new recording of The Sound of Music produced by Norman Newell (MFP1255) which was available well into the 1970s and featuring the voices of Anne Rogers and Patricia Routledge.

It appears this album hasn't received a CD reissue so a scout around charity shops or on line may turn up an original vinyl copy.

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending June 22, 2013

Fathers Day Present No.1: An awesome Dad's Army
T Shirt from Jonathan
Fathers Day Present No.2:
Colourful Muppet socks from Tom
Fathers Day Present No.3:
Cool Beer Glass from Seren
Rachel made Lasagne for lunch on Fathers Day
Even though its June, BBC Breakfast's Carol
Kirkwood forecasted not great this weekend!
My Interview with Rod Davies of The Quarrymen,
made No.1 Most read on South Wales Argus
website on Saturday morning
Ysgol Gymraeg Casnewydd celebrated its
20th anniversary with a school fair and cakes
Heini from Cyw turned up at the school fair
and got the children to join in some dance fun
Saturday was kicked off with a
Big Breakfast at Morrisons
We sat down to watch Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
on Saturday night with Popcorn

Further Reading:

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending June 15, 2013

Another Ebbw Bridge scene
from early in the week
A vintage find from Healthy Planet on vinyl which
I transferred to MP3 and find myself humming along to!
My interview with Volente from a few months back
was in the Top 5 most read on The Argus website this week
American band Hollis Brown gave my review for their debut
album a shout out on their Twitter feed
A great retro find at the Newport comic fair on Saturday
12 DC Thomson titles from the 70s for £2
I also found two Batman comics
the UK and US versions of the same story
A great ad found in a 1971 Hotspur featuring Tony
Blackburn - I featured this over on Retrospace
Myself with Never Say Dai cartoonist
Tim Harries pictured for The South Wales Argus
My Legoland review featured in
The South Wales Argus edition of Escape from June 11

Some links connected to these posts:

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Recalling 1963: The Beatles in Abergavenny

It was 50 years ago tonight The Fab Four played one of their few gigs in Wales, Abergavenny Town Hall to be exact. Of course back then they had literally only just released their first album and on the verge of Beatlemania but as many people have remembered they were still brilliant.

Barrie Herbert, guitarist with The Fabulous Fortunes, who supported The Beatles on the evening of their Abergavenny Town Hall gig told me:“Without a shadow of a doubt, they were absolutely fantastic. It was a magical time for anybody I think.”

Abergavenny has remembered The Beatles visit this weekend with two special concerts at The Borough Theatre.

Last night four members of John Lennon's original Quarrymen played there while tonight it was the turn of The Cavern Beatles.
Last week I interviewed Rod Davies of The Quarrymen who shared some great memories from the 1950s and his Quarrymen days and also a non-memory - ironically the famous day when John Lennon met Rod's Quarrymen successor Paul McCartney:

“I don’t even remember Paul on the famous day when John and Paul first met,” laughs Rod. “People always say, ‘where were you?’ and I always used to say, ‘I must have gone home for my tea’. Later, for a joke, I started to say ‘I must have gone for a pee’. There’s this moment in rock ’n’ roll history and I went for a pee!"

 You can read my full interview with Rod Davies here: Meet The Band: The Quarrymen - Rod Davies Interview

You can read more memories of Barrie Herbert's meeting with The Beatles here: Fabulous Fortune Barrie remembers The Beatles Abergavenny gig

Monday, 17 June 2013

Comic Fair Fun

Pictured with Never say Dai cartoonist
Tim Harries on Saturday
As I descended on the Newport Comic Fair on Saturday morning I wasnt quite expecting to be featured in a photograph with resident Argus cartoonist Tim Harries.

"If I'd have known I was going to have my picture taken I'd have had a shave" I said.

"So would I" said Tim.

The photo taken by Argus photographer Mike Lewis, appeared in today's South Wales Argus, you can read the full story here: Argus cartoonist Tim Harries is a special guest at Newport Comic Book Fair.



Sunday, 16 June 2013

A Week In Pictures: Week Ending June 8, 2013

We arrived at Legoland's Windsor 
resort on Sunday morning (June 2)
Tom and I getting ready to watch 
a fun filled pirate show
Seren getting friendly
with a lego character
Back to work on Tuesday and 
saw the new masthead
of Stroud News & Journal 

designed by me on
front of previous weeks paper
A view from Ebbw Bridge 
this week matched with sunshine!
BBC Breakfast's Carol Kirkwood
forecasting bright spells for the week!
Spinning some vinyl onto 
MP3 format
Cover of this weeks Guide
featured Ellie Goulding
and my collage of the
cast of Trainspotting
On Saturday, Tom was invited to a
birthday party at Pizza Hut,
so we decided to have a
great pizza there 

Retro Vinyl: Al Bowlly - The Big Swoon Of The Thirties (Music For Pleasure, 1967)

The launch of EMI's budget label Music For Pleasure in the mid-60s allowed the label to plummet a wealth of material from bygone eras for subject matter for their albums, an approach that kept them in good stead well into the 1990s.

The Big Swoon Of The Thirties is an early example of the label providing a compilation featuring one of the first ever "pop" stars Al Bowlly (before Bowlly the stars were merely the band leaders).

Mozambique born Bowlly was a popular singer/bandleader of the 1930s who met an untimely death in London during 1941 when his flat was hit by a Luftwaffe parachute bomb.

This album revisits 12 of Bowlly's most popular songs including Love Is The Sweetest Thing and Goodnight Sweetheart, both which have since very much became standards.

I actually enjoyed listening to Bowlly's singing on this album finding his voice both dramatic and passionate while gentle.

Its easy to see why he was so popular in the thirties and a shame to learn he died so young.

As well as the wonderful music there is also great packaging, including a tiled art inspired cover which is almost Victoriana meets pop art, wonderfully retro and certainly in keeping with the albums original 60s release.

There are also detailed sleeve notes by Roger St Pierre and an attempt to date most of the original recordings. Interestingly, the album label carries the title So Many Memories rather than the title The Big Swoon Of The Thirties.

Al Bowlly: The Big Swoon Of The Thirties
(Music For Pleasure, Mono, MFP 1178)


Side 1
  1. Love Is The Sweetest Thing
  2. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
  3. Marie
  4. In My Little Red Book
  5. Something To Sing About
  6. Goodnight Sweetheart
Side 2
  1. Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind
  2. It Was A Lover And His Lass
  3. Have You Ever Been Lonely?
  4. You're A Sweetheart
  5. I'll String Along With You
  6. Only For Ever
This track listing has been adopted and adapted for subsequent Al Bowlly releases over the years.

A further compilation from 1983 on EMI's Golden Age label entitled The Golden Age Of Al Bowlly  rejigs the track list with the addition of two further tracks, and featuring a revised writing of Roger St Pierre's sleeve notes.

Al Bowlly: The Golden Age Of Al Bowlly,
(Golden Age, Mono, GX2512)


Side 1
  1. Love Is The Sweetest Thing
  2. Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen (Means That You're Grand)
  3. Marie
  4. In My Little Red Book
  5. Something To Sing About
  6. Walkin' Thru Mockingbird Hill
  7. My Melancholy Baby
Side 2
  1. Blow Blow Thou Winter Wind
  2. It Was A Lover And His Lass
  3. Have You Ever Been Lonely?
  4. You're A Sweetheart
  5. I'll String Along With You
  6. Only For Ever
  7. Goodnight Sweetheart
Both The Big Swoon Of The Thirties and The Golden Age Of Al Bowlly  are currently available as MP3 downloads from Amazon.

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