Saturday, 30 November 2013

Retro Vinyl: Hey Jude/Hey Bing! - Bing Crosby (London Records,1968)

Hey Jude/Hey Bing!
London Records
This LP from 1968 finds Der Bingle getting down with the hipsters and turning out renditions of popular songs of the day including Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell), Those Were The Days (Mary Hopkin), The Straight Life (Bobby Goldsboro) and Hey Jude! (The Beatles).

Much has been written about this LP on the internet. It certainly doesnt appear to be regarded as one of Bing's high points, particularly for his apparent lack of enthusiasm for the title track Hey Jude!. I've given this find a few spins in recent weeks and I have to be honest - I quite like it!

It's fair to say Bing's voice is maturer than a few decades earlier (he was well into his 60s by the time he recorded this) but there still seems to be a sense of fun in performances of songs such as Livin' On Lovin' and Little Green Apples and sentimentality in Both Sides Now and Those Were The Days.

Bing's cover of the fab four's Hey Jude opens the album, and its not a bad version. In fact when you get to the chorus he just offers his traditional "Bom, Bom Bom Bom B Bom Bom" in true Crosby fashion. Some people might suggest that Bing isn't really that enthusiastic with his delivery here, I suggest this is just the legendary crooner putting his own mark on the song, and I'm even thinking he had a mischievous twinkle in his eye when he did it...

Co-incidentally Bing covers the first two singles released on The Beatles Apple Records label, Hey Jude and Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days on this album.

Hey Jude/Hey Bing has never had an official CD release and I see Amazon have MP3 versions of the album although these appear to have been dubbed at the wrong speed. So its a dig through the charity shops I'm afraid... happy hunting!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stars on 45RPM: Columbia Records Easy Listening Stars Of The 1950s

Here's two recent charity shop finds on the UK Columbia Records label...
Nina and Frederik - EP Columbia, 1959
Nina And Frederik EP (SG7926) 1959
Danish-Dutch Popular music duo of the late 50s and early 60s Nina and Frederik cornered a market in folk, calypsos and Christmas standards. 

This early EP release was released in late summer of 1959, so no Christmas songs in sight although Listen To The Ocean would appear as a single within months. Contains a great version of Oh Sinner Man!

Norrie Paramor - Marianina/Enchanted April, Columbia 1958
Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra: Enchanted April (The Olive Grove) / Marianina (DB 4229) 1958

Despite producing Number One hit records for Cliff Richard, The Shadows and Frank Ifield among others during the 1950s and 60s Norrie Paramor also recorded several records with his Orchestra in his own right.

Enchanted April/ Marianina was released in December 1959. Although the single didn't chart the A-Side was picked as one of trumpeter Eddie Calvert's Desert Island Discs when he appeared on the BBC Radio show in 1960.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Doctor Who's Early Years Revisited In An Adventure In Space and Time

Its probably not escaped your attention but Doctor Whocelebrated its 50th anniversary this week, 50 years since two school teachers concerned about a teenage pupil followed her into a London junkyard and into space-time machine that resembled a Blue Police Box owned by a crotchety white haired old man who as it turned out over the years was so much more…

The events surrounding that 1963 episode and its star William Hartnell were revisited in a touching drama written by mark Gatiss entitled an Adventure in space and Time on BBC2 last Thursday evening.

As viewers we followed from start to finish how Sidney Newman (a wonderful eccentric performance by Brian Cox) and Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine) overcame stiff opposition at the BBC to bring this new science fiction series to life.

Newman himself was an eccentric but radical character, larger than life and colourful, not unlike The Doctor he was about to create. His appointed producer, Verity Lambert was full of “piss and vinegar” and a woman, unheard of in such a role at a then male dominated hierarchy in 1963. Assisted by young director Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan) the pair chase character actor William Hartnell (David Bradley) for the lead role of The Doctor. However, Hartnell is far from happy with the path his career is taking and having only recently departed a long standing role in a comedy series has doubts about the role of The Doctor.

The story unfolds with a very moving performance from David Bradley who gives more depth to Hartnell’s character beyond his surviving appearances as the Doctor.

When Hartnell takes on the role, it becomes clear he struggles with the series concept but quickly falls in love with it and warms to the fact that he becomes a hero for millions of young fans. However he develops an illness which prevents him from memorising his lines correctly and from here on in the story confronts his loneliness as Doctor Who rings in the changes with new cast and production team.

Jessica Raine and Sacha Dhawan are equally wonderful as Verity Lambert and Waris Hussein, overcoming stiff opposition for different reasons to make a mark in the world of television.

There are some stunning recreations of early Doctor who moments created by a cast that looks and sounds like the originals, the recording of the first episode, The Daleks early appearances and the build up to the first regeneration scene, spelling the end of Hartnell’s reign as The Doctor but the rebirth of the series that ultimately lead to its constant reinvention, itself a moving moment as well as featuring an awesome big reveal.

Check out The Doctor Who Website for exclusive clips and further information on An Adventure In Space and Time

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Celebrating Forty Years With The Marmalade - Sandy Newman Interview

Sandy Newman
The Sensational 60s Experience is currently touring the UK with an appearance at St David's Hall tonight featuring  such notable chart legends as The Marmalade, Herman’s Hermits, Chris Farlowe & Steve Ellis’ Love Affair.

Described as being unpretentious and irresistibly commercial Glasgow’s the Marmalade scored in the UK charts in May 1968 with Lovin' Things and later, number one with the Marmalade anthem Ob La Di Ob La Da, another classic  Reflections Of My Life. Then followed in quick succession, Cousin Norman, Back On The Road, Radancer and Falling apart At The Seams

Lead singer Sandy Newman toured with the Marmalade during their 60s heyday in the Chris McLure section, “The Marmalade was the first band to really go for it,” he says, “ to be poor and go to London which was a huge thing in those days. You could have bands that were international and lived in Scotland they were always in London.” 

Sandy joined the band full time in November 1973 prior to them recording their international hit Falling Apart at The Seams, and has continued to be a driving force within the group for the past forty years. 

More recently, the band have been back in the studio recording their latest album Penultimate which features 6 brand new songs , three of which Sandy has written with his son, John James Newman. “At the moment I'm kind of excited about whats going on in the current band.  We’ve started to get the old band vibe back. Its never necessarily always about the songs, theres a bit of visual,  action and energy.” 

Sandy says of the set they will perform on the current tour, “ We're going to be doing a few teasers from the new album, but they will be teasers because it’s a 60s show.”

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Fifty Years Of Doctor Who: An Evening With Steven Moffat

Steven Moffat in conversation
As the day of The Doctor's 50th anniversary gets closer, can I point you in the direction of The Doctor Who website once again where there are lots of anniversary goodies and sneak previews of the anniversary special.

As I mentioned the other day there is a great look back at the shows history with series show runner Steven Moffat.

Recorded at Wales College of Music and Drama, Steven's thoughts are both candid, informative and entertaining.

If that's still not enough, the rediscovery of nine Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s may also whet your appetite.

Starring Patrick Troughton The Enemy Of The World and The Web Of Fear had previously been thought lost.

The Doctor doing battle with The Yeti in the underground was a lifelong dream for me to see and I wasn't disappointed, this marvellous collection of episodes really catches Troughton on top form and also features the earliest visual record of Colonel Lethbridge Stewart (later Brigadier of UNIT)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Retro Vinyl Finds: Russ Conway, Peter Sellers and Tolchard Evans


Three recent 45RPM finds from Newport included a Russ Conway EP (mentioned in Saturday's post) and two single releases from Peter Sellers and Tolchard Evans and his Singing Piano.

Russ Conway, Columbia Records
This Russ Conway EP appears to date from around 1967. A bit odd as the title track Always You And Me was released as a single in 1962.

Peter Sellers, Parlophone Records
Goon Show star Peter Sellers was very proactive releasing singles in the 1950s and 1960s. I'm So Ashamed was released in 1959, on the eve of the last regular Goon Show and Sellers conquering the cinema!

Tolchard Evans, Decca Records

Tolchard Evans and His Singing Piano's rendition of Singing piano was a popular instrumental track from the late 1950s. Evans rendition of Singing Piano featured a dreamy female chorus (or was that meant to be the piano?).


Sunday, 17 November 2013

Nutcracker On Ice Interviews and Reviews

Nutcracker On Ice -
Picture: Andy Howells
Last week I had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of The Imperial Ice Stars production of The Nutcracker On Ice performed at The Wales Millennium Centre.

Over the last eight years, The Imperial Ice Stars have performed to almost four million people across five continents, at some of the world’s most prestigious venues – London’s Royal Albert Hall and Sadler’s Wells, Singapore’s new Marina Bay Sands Grand Theatre, Montreal’s Place des Arts and Moscow’s Red Square.

This award-winning troupe has built up a worldwide following and established an unrivalled reputation for their sophisticated portrayals of classic works, and for executing the most complex and daring manoeuvres on the ice.  Their previous world tours (Sleeping Beauty on Ice, Swan Lake on Ice and Cinderella on Ice) have been greeted with nightly standing ovations and five-star reviews.


For their latest production, The Nutcracker on Ice, acclaimed Artistic Director, Tony Mercer, – the world’s leading creator of contemporary theatre-on-ice - has once again teamed with four-time figure skating World Champion and dual Olympic gold medallist, Evgeny Platov, and dual World Champion, Maxim Staviski, to create choreography that further raises the bar, with ever more breath-taking high-speed leaps and throws, and awe-inspiring acrobatics, coupled with the most graceful and sublime ice dancing.

Nutcracker article fourth most
shared on Argus website -
November 17, 2013

To Tchaikovsky’s most famous score, the 26-strong cast of Olympic, World, European and National Championship skaters astounded and mesmerised audiences with their adrenaline-rich, dramatic performance, in the intimate setting of a frozen theatre stage. The team feature TV's  Dancing On Ice's Olga Sharutenko along with special guest performer Keith Chegwin.


Here are my interviews and reviews for the Cardiff run of the show...

Doctor Who - The First 50 Years

It's 50 years since Doctor Who was first broadcast on television, and as well as a TV special entitled The Day Of The Doctor been broadcast on both TV and selected cinemas on November 23 there are several chances to catch other special programmes this week on line and on radio and television.

Of my favourites so far are a minisode starring Paul McGann entitled The Night of The Doctor and Doctor Who producer Steven Moffat looking back on 50 years of Doctor Who in An Evening With Steven Moffat, a programme I had a privilege to see been filmed the other week!

Check out the links to these online episodes and much more at the BBC's official Doctor Who website.

Retro Vinyl Finds: Russ Conway EP's

A month or so after finding a few Russ Conway albums I found a few further releases by the 50s/60s piano star in EP format. The first Happy Days (no,1) from 1961 turned up in an Oxfam shop in Cardiff for £1.59.

I wouldnt usually pay that much for a release except I liked the colourful 60s cover and the record itself was in a lovely clean condition.

Two days later, I found a further Conway EP entitled Always You and Me.

Despite the fact Russ recorded the title track in 1962 this EP seems to have been released a few years afterwards.

On this occasion the EP cost me 20p!


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