Monday, 24 February 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Tex Ritter - The Texas Cowboy (Music For Pleasure,1970)

Here's another recent vinyl find, again on the diverse budget Music For Pleasure label...

Tex Ritter was well known for his country flavoured cowboy songs, his best known hit perhaps been his recording of High Noon, his recording career carried on well into the 1970s, and MFP recognised his appeal with a reissue of his 1960 album Blood On The Saddle around 1971 this time renamed The Texas Cowboy (MFP 5245) .

Evidently the cover art was a modernised approach to the original with a nameless cowboy sitting by a campfire, but the atmosphere was set to revisit such tracks as Boll Weevil, Billy the Kid and Bury Me Not On The Lone Prairie.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Revisiting The Early Years of Doctor Who

When trying to fill in an hour one evening around a month ago to settle my youngest down I thought I'd show him the first ever episode of Doctor Who, An Unearthly Child. To be honest, I didn't think it would be of much interest, but as Thomas and myself settled down to watch the unbroadcast first episode, then episode one proper I was surprised by the response it got. Tom started to point out the differences between the two episodes like a spot the difference game, while getting furthermore drawn into the plot...

... so we worked our way through An Unearthly Child and the subsequent Tribe of Gum storyline, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the characters of The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara unfold. 

The Daleks was up next, and it was many years since I saw this all the way through. Due to a busy week there was quite a break between Tom and myself watching episode 3 and 4. Tom however, retained the cliffhanger and continued to ask me when we would watch the next episode...

So we followed The Daleks with The Edge of Destruction, that glorious two parter that sees The TARDIS malfunction and redefine the relationship of the Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara...

As Marco Polo no longer exists we moved straight on to The Keys Of Marinus, an exciting escapade which sees The Doctor and his friends relocating six keys that will bring harmony to the planets inhabitants, despite the threat of the oncoming Voord. This is a bit of an overlooked Doctor Who classic and an  very enjoyable story, Tom especially enjoying the pace of the episodes...

As we hadn't seen Marco Polo I was curious how Tom would respond to The Aztecs which in essence is a historical adventure. Tom found these episodes particularly educational, The Aztecs tradition of making Cocoa (funnily lampooned in an accompanying animated featurette on the DVD) certainly captured his imagination.

I was even more surprised when Tom declared this story the best so far and William Hartnell as his favourite Doctor at the conclusion of watching this... just goes to show that although 50 years old these episodes till carry immense appeal.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Joe Orton's What The Butler Saw at The Dolman Theatre, Newport reviewed

Joe Orton's final full length play What The Butler Saw is featured at The Dolman Theatre, Newport until February 22.

I went along to review the production on Wednesday evening...
The society’s latest presentation Joe Orton’s 1967 play What the Butler Saw takes them into new territory mixing a politically incorrect comic scenario with surrealism and dark humour...
...Much of What the Butler Saw’s deep rooted dark humour allows the audience to re-evaluate the concept of farce, and as illustrated in Wednesday night’s opening performance, that doesn’t always mean the jokes have to be laugh out loud.

To read the full review visit The South Wales Argus' website 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Golden Hour Of Donovan

Here's another charity shop find I recently found for 20p which formed part of Pye records Golden Hour album series from the early 1970s, the subject of this release was 1960s British folk-rock singer Donovan.

Golden Hour of Donovan features recordings from Donovan's early releases including such gems as Catch The Wind, Universal Soldier, Colours, Candy Man and To Sing for You.

The embossed cover artwork is an interesting and colourful piece of art featuring Donovan's image on a jigsaw puzzle.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Retro Book Find: The Best Howlers by Cecil Hunt

Cecil Hunt originally complied a collection of British schoolchildren's  unintended errors  from written work  and school examination papers in 1929.

Some still make funny reading almost  a century later, here are some of my favourites:
  • Man power. Someone or something that is very strong. When a man has much more strength than a woman.
  • A republican is a sinner mentioned in the Bible.
  • A widow is a wife without a man.
  • The first book of the Bible is Guinessis.
  • An epistle is the wife of an apostle.
  • Moths eat least of all because they eat holes.

One suspects that if Hunt was still around today he could probably plunder many blog posts for similar Howlers...

Another book you can read at leisure and find something different every time. This edition (thank you Healthy Planet) was published by Ernest Benn Ltd in 1949.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Concert Review: Ultimate Rhythm And Blues, St David's Hall, Cardiff

It’s so easy for critics to write off bands whose heyday was back in the 60s. Golden oldie rock n roll tours featuring solo singers and the few remnants of band members that have continued to play venues in the UK and abroad can be critiqued before they’ve even stepped on the stage for not retaining the original band members,

But let’s face it, there are few acts that were around in the late 1990s that still retain all or any of their members, so let’s brush all this musical snobbery aside when reviewing The Ultimate Rhythm and Blues Show which visited Cardiff’s St David’s Hall on January 31.

Each act had their origins firmly in the 1960s and certainly could have kept the audience entertained with a show of their own for two and a half hours, but The Ultimate Rhythm and Blues show ensured each act had an opportunity to deliver the very best of material.

Animals and Friends featuring original Animals drummer John Steel and 60s keyboard player Mickey Gallagher kicked off the evening with a set comprising classics such as Don’t let Me Be Misunderstood and Baby Let Me Take You Home. Lead vocalist Pete Barton did an impeccable job of recreating vocals originally put down by Eric Burdon back in the 60s.

Animals and Friends also provided accompaniment for solo stars Dave Berry and Maggie Bell in their slots.

Berry (standing in for Spencer Davis) is a familiar face on such tours and always provides an eclectic and entertaining set, this was no exception with renditions of JJ Cale’s Cajun Moon and his own big hit The Crying Game. Similarly Maggie Bell formerly of Stone The Crows treat fans to renditions of Erma Franklin’s I’d Rather Go Blind and the duet Hold Me with Pete Barton.

The second half brought even further treats kicking off with The Yardbirds featuring original 60s drummer Jim McCarthy and Eric Clapton’s predecessor Top Topham.

It was the inclusion of the bands younger members however that displayed why The Yardbirds are still a live band to savour. Guitarists Ben King and Dave Smale tore through tracks such as Heart Full of Soul and Shapes of Things with passion and energy while vocalist and harmonica player Andy Mitchell was the perfect front man who clearly was having a blast on bongo drums for the rendition of For Your Love.

The Zombies featuring Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent brought the evening to an incredible close with a set list featuring a backbone of Zombies Classics including Time Of The Season and She’s Not There as well as Argents own Hold Your Head Up and Blunstone’s I Don’t Believe In Miracles all guaranteed to have the audience out of their seats and joining in.

Ultimate Rhythm and Blues was certainly no exaggeration.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Roving With The Seekers

Recently found for 20p in a Newport charity shop, Roving With The Seekers (MFP 5842) is a 1971 stereo reissue on Music For Pleasure of the 1964 Columbia album The Seekers.

The cover artwork captures Bruce, Keith, Athol and Judith in a playful mood from 1966, while the sleeve notes are written by Verity Stevens.

Album featured 12 tracks including Lemon Tree, Gotta Travel On, Waltzing Matilda, Five Hundred Miles and With My Swag All On My Shoulder

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Treading The Boards: Barefoot In The Park starring Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson (1981-84)

The 1981 cast for Barefoot in The Park at The Churchill Theatre
Churchill Theatre
Interestingly enough, these two theatre programmes of Barefoot In The Park featuring Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson offer up an interesting scenario.

Davison was appearing on stage at Bromley's Churchill Theatre in the show from February 18 to March 7 1981, merely a few weeks before making his debut as the fifth actor to play Doctor Who.

The second programme finds Davison on stage again this time at The Richmond Theatre, Surrey over three years later from June 11 to June 16, 1984, months after ending his stint on Doctor Who.

Accompanying Davison in Barefoot In The Park by Neil Simon was his then wife, the actress, Sandra Dickinson.

Illustration from
Richmond Theatre programme
Dickinson is now perhaps best remembered for her appearance as Trillian in the TV version of Hitch-Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, but has kept a strong presence in TV roles since the 1980s.

Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson are also the parents of actress Georgia Moffett.

The 1981 presentation of Barefoot In The Park also starred Ewen Solon and Margery Mason, while the 1984 version featured Gerald Flood and Marcia Ashton.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Retro Book Find: Treasure Island According To Spike Milligan

Heres another recent Healthy Planet book find...

The last in the series of literary pastiche novels by Spike Milligan, Treasure Island According to Spike Milligan was published by Virgin in 2000.

The cover of the hardback edition features Robert Newton from the Walt Disney film of the same name and in the distance Mr Milligan himself.

The price of the book was originally £10.99.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Ultimate Rhythm and Blues 50th Anniversary Tour Autographs

I had the privilege to go along to the Ultimate Rhythm and Blues 50th Anniversary Tour at Cardiff's St David's Hall on Friday night and witnessed some fabulous performances from The Animals and Friends, Dave Berry, Maggie Bell, The Yardbirds and The Zombies.

I always love seeing 1960s bands and singers perform on stage, even if there have been several line-up changes, the spirit of the originals is usually retained and I have to say in the cases of the bands featured on this tour that is very much the case.

My review of the concert will appear later in the week, but in the meantime here's some autographs I obtained from several of the featured acts on Friday night...

The Animals and Friends Autographs
The above collection of autographs were obtained from the current UK line-up of Animals and Friends featuring original Animals drummer John Steel and 60s band member Micky Gallagher who replaced original keyboardist Alan Price in 1965.Both John and Micky also kindly signed my copy of The Animals A's B's and EP's CD.

Dave Berry and Maggie Bell Autographs
The Animals and Friends were joined by fellow Rhythm and Blues artists Dave Berry and Maggie Bell (autographs above) in their set, both acts gave fabulous performances and all joined together for a rendition of Boom Boom at the end of the first set. 

Yardbirds Autographs
The final set of autographs were obtained from the current line-up of The Yardbirds. The Yardbirds have always been one of my favourite 60s bands and it was great to see them with founder members Jim McCarty on drums and Top Topham on guitar. The energy of the band's music is certainly driven on with the inclusion of Ben King, Andy Mitchell and Dave Smale. Jim McCarty also kindly signed my Yardbirds Heart Full of Soul CD.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Retro Book Find: No Turn Unstoned - The Worst Theatre Reviews Compiled by Diana Rigg

It seems incredible that when actress Diana Rigg (AKA Emma Peel in The Avengers) compiled the book No Turn Unstoned back in the early 1980s, it was left largely ignored.

Diana had bravely asked friends and colleagues in the acting profession to submit their worst ever theatrical reviews for inclusion in the book, the result a humorous collection which gains more egg on the face for the acidic comments of the press rather than the subject matter of the persona of the actors on stage.

Apparently the title wasn't a success when launched by Elm Tree Books in 1982 but subsequently developed a cult success for a paperback reprint almost a decade later...

For me, its a pick up and browse book, illustrated with lots of delightful Punch drawings. I think its a volume Dame Diana could certainly follow up a few decades on, there are all too many reviewers who love to twist the knife in this world...

This edition was published by Book Club associates in 1982 and was a great Healthy Planet find.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Treading The Boards: Matthew Waterhouse in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Here's a piece of theatrical ephemera I found in Tenby a few years ago...

A programme for Matthew Waterhouse's one-man show The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn performed at The Duke's Head Theatre Club, The Vineyard, Richmond, Surrey, very simple in been a folded piece of photocopied paper but containing details of cast and director the actor Murray Melvin.

Matthew is probably best remembered for his role as Adric in Doctor Who which he played from 1980 to 1982.

More recently, Matthew released his memoir Blue Box Boy.

I'm not entirely certain which year this particular programme originates from.

The dates on the programme are from October 24th to November 13th and imply the performances are from Tuesday to Sunday.

The programme also features a yellow insert flyer for a performance of John Godber's Shakers at the same venue. Laura Fielding, Heather Gillespie, Desne Gobie and Joceline Powter are named as the performers.

Shakers ran from Nov 15 to Dec 4 with a preview on November 14.

If anyone can shed any light on the year this programme originates, I'd love to hear from you.


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