Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Find:The World Of The Brotherhood of Man

Think of The Brotherhood Of Man and you are immediately taken back to 1976 and the groups British Eurovision Song contest entry Save Your Kisses For Me. However, that was not the beginning of the group by any means. 

The group was put together in 1969 by record producer and songwriter Tony Hiller and featured Roger Greenaway, Tony Burrows, Sue Glover, Sunny Leslie and Hiller's co-writer John Goodison. Roger Greenaway was also an established songwriter having penned hits for Gene Pitney and Blue Mink as well as forming half the singing duo David and Jonathan with Roger Cook. 

Sue and Sunny were sisters and very much in demand backing vocalists that had already had a taste of success providing backing vocals for Joe Cocker on the 1968 Number One With a Little Help From My Friends.

The World Of Brotherhood Of Man found in a Carmarthen charity shop a few weeks ago for 50p is a compilation piece from Decca's successful World of series originally released in 1973. 

It was the groups third album, featuring single and album tracks from permutations of the  groups  original line-up except Maybe The Morning which featured the new line-up that still exists in 2014, Martin Lee, Lee Sheriden, Nicky Stevens and Sandra Stevens.

United We Stand, perhaps the best remembered track on this album and Where Are You Going My Love? would later go on to be re-recorded by the new line-up for a 1978 20 Greatest Hits album which also contained later successful hits Save Your Kisses For Me, Angelo and Oh Boy (The Mood I'm In).

The Brotherhood Of Man Official Website
Tony Hiller Website

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Four-Star Entertainment! (Sounds Superb,1975)

Ever been browsing through a collection of old vinyl in a charity shop and come across two of the same albums you've never even seen before?

Well that happened to me recently when I came across this release from 1975 put out by Music For Pleasure's Sounds Superb label in order to benefit a named charity.

Sacha Distel, Cleo Laine, Roger Whittaker and Clodagh Rodgers all submitted three tracks for this 12-track release which included (among others) renditions of Go Away Little Girl (Sacha), From Both Sides Now (Cleo) Talk To The Animals (Roger) and I Who Have Nothing (Clodagh).

Saturday, 26 April 2014

CD Review: Live at The Cellar Door by Neil Young

Live albums are a bit of a dying art in 2014. The age of the DVD has put paid to quality live music performances been committed to audio.

The rarity of Neil Young’s live performances at The Cellar Door, Washington DC from 1970 including Only Love can Break Your Heart and After The Gold Rush is therefore refreshing and beautifully raw.

All the tracks were new to Young's repertoire at the time of recording and Young himself was still keen to experiment further even swapping a guitar for a piano on some numbers.

1970 doesn't get much better than this.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Playing The Blues - Interview with Blues Band Bassist Gary Fletcher

The Blues Band: Dave Kelly, Tom McGuinness,
Gary Fletcher, Paul Jones & Rob Townshend
The Blues Band featuring Paul Jones, Tom McGuinness, Dave Kelly, Gary Fletcher, and Rob Townshend have remained one of the most popular touring music acts since the 1970s.

I chatted with  Bass Guitarist Gary Fletcher last autumn who discussed the bands current shows and the release of a new CD/DVD package recorded back in 1980 .
“We're focusing on a DVD / CD package which has just been released by our label of a show we played at the Rock Palace in 1980, says Gary, “it did a lot for us in Germany although I don’t think our bit was broadcast in the UK. It bears no physical relationship to any of us now – except Paul!” 
Gary of course is referring to the ever youthful Paul Jones who is also well known for his work with 60s R n B band Manfred Mann along with fellow Blues Band guitarist Tom McGuinness. Both Paul and Tom decided to form the Blues Band in 1979 with Hughie Flint, Dave Kelly and Gary Fletcher. 
“Dave Kelly had a call from Tom McGuinness if he’d be interested in combining with Paul and him,” remembers Gary, “Dave and I were playing on a Sunday at The Bridge House over in Canning Town with a guy called Wilgar Campbell. We were driving back one night and Dave said he’d got a call from Tom saying "Do you know a bass player?" Dave put me in the frame, there was never an audition and I just turned up for the first rehearsal.” 
The popularity of The Blues Band has endured over the last 34 years, with only one change in the line-up when Rob Townshend replaced Hughie Flint in 1981. Over the years each individual member has also continued with solo projects.   
“Dave always says that a band that stays together travels separately and I think that’s very true," says Gary, "We don’t spend so much time when we’re not on stage or in the dressing room together, so we don’t get bored with each other to the point of it causing a descent”. 
“I’ve only really done live shows outside The Blues Band in my own right since 2004,” continues Gary, “before that I'd done a lot of recording projects, I finally plucked up the nerve to go live, I'd like to do more but it has to fit in around the Blues Band. I love doing it.”
The Blues Band tour across the UK at regular intervals, visit their official website for the latest tour dates. For the latest news on Gary Fletcher including solo releases and concert dates visit Gary's Official website.

A version of this interview previously appeared in The South Wales Argus supplement The Guide in November, 2013

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Spotlight: The Seekers

Roving With The Seekers - Music For Pleasure
To celebrate the beginning of The Seekers 50th Anniversary farewell tour in the UK next week, today Retrospace pays homage to the Australian quartet with a selection of my personal Seekers vinyl finds from the past 12 months. 

These have included a few albums and several of their original run of UK singles. Roving With The Seekers was the groups second Music For Pleasure release from 1970 and a reissue of a 1964 album.

Seekers Vinyl Collage

The above collage features several releases on vinyl , their first MFP release The Four and Only Seekers, a 1968 Columbia compilation The Best of The Seekers and a collection of early tracks released on Fontana Records, The Seekers Golden Collection.

Seekers Vinyl Collage Singles
Finally, here are four Columbia singles from the 1960s, I'll Never Find Another You, Walk With Me, Morningtown Ride and A World Of Our Own.

For the latest news on The Seekers visit their official website.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

CD Round-Up: Turner, Eliza Doolittle, Chas and Dave, Dr Feelgood, Jethro Tull and Ultravox

Here's a round-up of several new release CD's I've had immense pleasure listening to recently...

A single can sometimes say too little and an album too much, yet Louise Turner AKA Turner gets the balance right her debut mini-album release This Is Turner. With roots erring in 60s soul and beat pop (This World Without You) and even a nod to Bowie Oh! You Pretty Things, Turner is one to watch!

Some artists struggle to deliver the goods with a second album, but not the case for Eliza Doolittle whose second offering In Your Hands has already done well in the charts. Sunshine pop fans will find Let It Rain irresistible while the R and B influenced Waste of Time and the funky beats of Back Packing demonstrate Eliza as a music force to be reckoned with.

Chas and Dave delighted fans of all ages when they hit the road once again in 2013, and are currently touring with their new album That’s What Happens. This album features a nod to the duos rock n roll roots including a tribute to Lonnie Donegan and a re imagining of their biggest hit Ain't No Pleasing You.

Purveyors of old fashioned rock n roll will also welcome Get Rhythm The Best of Dr Feelgood 1984-1987. Lee Brilleaux’s 80s line-up catches Feelgood  at their best on a 44 track collection including Close But No Cigar, Rough Ride  and Mad Man Blues.

If your tastes are slightly broader an expanded reissue from Jethro Tull’s back catalogue Benefit captures an early incarnation of the band in 1970 shortly after their first chart successes. Steven Wilson’s 2013 Stereo Mixes beautifully clean up tracks such as With You There to Help Me, Teacher and Witches Promise in stereo and mono formats. For the purists there is also a bonus DVD with the original Flat Transfer Masters.

Finally 80s electro fans who have well- worn out Ultravox vinyl in their collection will welcome the release of The Albums 1980-2012. A 9 CD package housed in a clam shell box featuring all releases from the classic line-up of Midge Ure, Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann. Vienna is the classic everyone remembers but the bands ability to paint dramatic story lines into songs such as Lament, The Voice and Reap the Wild Wind display why their music has remained timeless.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

CD Review: Foreverly by Billie Joe and Norah

Foreverly arrived on the review desk before Christmas and inevitably before the passing of Phil Everly, so although it was recorded as a tribute by Green Day's Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones it will no doubt take on an ever deeper meaning now to those who hear it.

Fans of The Everly Brothers will no doubt recognise many of the songs featured on Foreverly from the Everly’s album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us.

It’s fair to say that both Norah and Billy Joe haven’t strayed to far from the original arrangements of the The Everly’s but is that a good or bad thing?

Undoubtedly, an Everly Brothers homage is long overdue and this is clearly what the featured artists have intended displaying the influence The Everly's have had on them whilst serving to introduce a further generation of fans to the Everly Brothers music and the track I'm Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail still produces a lump to the throat today as it did over 50 years ago.

Zoinks! - Scooby Doo Live! - Reviewed!

Scooby Doo Live! The Mystery of the Pyramid
New Theatre, Cardiff

Okay, let’s stop all this “it’s for the kids” nonsense, few cartoon series around at the moment span the generation gap quite as well as cartoon canine sleuth Scooby Doo and his friends can.

Their spooky adventures are up there with the best and have been since Hanna-Barbera put out the first cartoon series towards the end of the 1960s.

Almost five decades on, Scooby and his friends have taken to the stage in a new musical show and it was this very show I witnessed with my three children at Cardiff's New Theatre on Good Friday.

The Mystery of the Pyramid featured the gang in familiar territory, on the trail of mysterious mummies in an Egyptian pyramid and facing the wrath of a Pharaoh who threatened to transform anyone who approached his tomb into stone.

Josh Little (Fred) , Julia Cave (Daphne), Louise Wright (Velma), Eddie Arnold (Scooby Doo) and Danny Stokes (Shaggy) breathed life into their cartoon counterparts and successfully pulled the audience’s attention into a whirlwind of slapstick shenanigans  and musical choreography.

Echoes of “it’s behind you!” when a menacing mummy appeared unified grown ups and children in their enjoyment. I even passed quite a few parents on the way out with  broad grins like they’d just realised a lifelong ambition seeing their cartoon canine hero live on stage, and it was all thanks to those meddling kids!

A version of this review has appeared on The South Wales Argus Website.
For further information on the Scooby Doo tour visit Scooby Doo Live!

Stars on 45RPM: Far Away / My Faith by Shirley Bassey (Columbia, 1962)

Here's another retro vinyl 45RPM find, again from Shirley Bassey, discovered in a charity shop box of singles in Narberth last week (The same shop I found the Norrie Paramor LP).

Far Away was a Lionel Bart composition from the musical Blitz!. No doubt Shirley was hoping to emulate the success of her 1960 hit As Long As He Needs Me, another Bart composition from Oliver!.

However, Far Away coupled with My Faith  only reached No.24 in the charts, although for 1962 that was still a lot of copies sold to reach that position in the charts!

More Shirley Bassey on Retrospace:

Retro Vinyl Finds: Great Film Themes by The New Hollywood Orchestra (Music For Pleasure, 1967)

A few years before Geoff Love and his Orchestra started putting out albums on Music For Pleasure, The New Hollywood Orchestra ran a series of Great Film Themes on the label.

The first of these appeared in 1967 with Great Film Themes No1 (MFP1204) and No2 (MFP1218).

There was no real premise to these albums except that the music had to be featured in a popular movie.

The first album featured music from Lawrence of Arabia, Gone With The Wind, Exodus and Bridge on The River Kwai while the second release featured The James Bond Theme, Alfie, A Man Could Get Killed and Black Orpheus.

Although the series ran to five volumes (the last appearing in 1969), I have no idea who The New Hollywood Orchestra were or indeed what happened to them.

From 1969 onwards most film theme albums were recorded by Geoff Love and His Orchestra so it seems The New Hollywood Orchestra soon became redundant.

The name of The New Hollywood Orchestra sounds fairly generic, so I'm assuming the releases were compiled by Music For Pleasure in order to give an identity to the album series, but if anyone knows anymore information or indeed if you knew of someone who worked on these releases I'd be more than pleased to hear from you!

Monday, 21 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Hollies Live Hits (Polydor, 1976)

With The Hollies hit The Air That I Breathe bringing the band to prominence once again in the mid 70s, it probably seemed a natural decision to put out a greatest hits type package on the back f such a popular single. 

With The Hollies  no longer signed to EMI with whom they had their biggest hit output in the 1960s, their then label Polydor evidently figured it was a good idea to record the band live singing  highlights from their back catalogue.

Hence the release of Hollies Live Hits featuring mid 70s renditions of I Can't Let Go, Just One Look, Carrie Anne, He Ain't Heavy He's My Brother and I'm Alive. The album was a success reaching No.4 in the album charts.

EMI went one better a year later by releasing 20 Golden Greats and featuring all original recordings as well as The Air That I Breathe, again that album charted and reached No.2 proving that there was still a hunger for The Hollies music.

This recent 20p find was a nice addition to the collection.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: The Manhattan Transfer Live (Atlantic Records, 1978)

"Chanson D'Amour, Brat a tat a tat!" those words still haunt me some 35 years on from originally hearing them performed by The Manhattan Transfer in 1978.

So different from the punks and disco divas of the 1970s The Manhattan Transfer recalled the sounds and styles of decades previous in songs such as Operator and Tuxedo Junction.

The group also gained a music guest spot on the 1978 series of The Two Ronnies ensuring that they gained maximum exposure in the UK for their recordings on a top light entertainment show.

Therefore with such fond memories, I couldnt resist this recent 20p charity shop find - great stuff!

When Music Meets Art - Fabulous Cover Art From Music For Pleasure

Best Of The Bossa Novas - Duncan Lamont
I'm indebted to fellow tweeter and blogger James Gent for sharing some of his Music For Pleasure album covers from his collection with me earlier this week.

As many of you are probably aware Music For Pleasure budget priced albums were mainly sold through Woolworths and other high street stores from the 1960s through to the 1990s and contained a broad selection of music styles.

Constellation - An Introduction To Essential Stereo
Many of these albums turn up in charity shops today and while some people may disregard these releases as not very important they do have a certain charm and collectible in their own right from interesting if not unusual compilations through to exciting album covers.

Music From The Sensational Hair - The Jason Ryder Sound
Certainly many of the MFP albums from the 60s and the 70s weren't afraid of peddling a degree of eye candy on their album covers in order to sell cover version albums. The label's Hot Hits albums were already doing this successfully and a few examples here including Music From The Sensational Hair and Non Stop Pepsi Party continue the trend.
Non Stop Pepsi Party - Denny Wright and The Hustlers
Similarly, themes albums by Geoff Love and His Orchestra are remembered as affectionately for their striking artwork covers as they are for Love's frequently differing approach to the themes he covered.

This theme followed through on album artwork with blatant plagiarism of film poster art (see Big Terror Themes) via getting slapped wrists from James Bond producers for not getting permission to use actors likenesses on a Bond homage album to virtually rejigging familiar images on Star Wars and Other Space Themes to a degree that they are so wrong they are actually still quite good.
Star Wars and Other Space Themes -
Geoff Love & His Orchestra
Then there's Music For Pleasure's liaisons with stereo sound, with a variety of albums featuring a cavalcade of artists that bore no relation to each other, but at 72p in 1971 nobody really cared when it came to proving how great your new stereo system was to your pals.
Stereo Galaxy - A New World of Quality Sound
Well known chart acts of a few years previous also got a new lease of life via MFP. In the mid 1960s recording artists such as The Temperance Seven, Billy J Kramer and The Dakotas and Adam Faith all had albums out on MFP giving people the chance to buy albums they might have missed a few years previously.
The Temperance Seven
So there we are, a general overview of a few great album covers highlighting The Art of MFP. Of course the covers themselves speak louder than any words I can write about them and that should always be the case, particularly as these examples prove the pleasure wasn't always just in the music...
Big Terror Movie Themes - Geoff Love and His Orchestra
If you have any interesting album covers be they from the Music For Pleasure series or others please don't hesitate to get in touch!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Message From Martine!

Maybe its the fanboy in me but it was so cool to see the lovely Martine McCutcheon had read, favourited and retweeted my review of From Hackney to Hollywood: The Don Black Songbook via her @martineofficial account on Twitter.

The show of which she featured alongside her husband Jack McManus, Gary Wilmot, Ria Jones and Ricardo Alfonso and toured the UK recently.

Lets hope its not too long before Martine is on the stage again with another show!

Read the review here!

Retro Vinyl Find: My Personal Choice by Norrie Paramor & The Midland Radio Orchestra

A visit to a Narberth charity shop in West Wales on Wednesday uncovered this recording for 50p gathering together 11 tracks recorded by record producer and conductor Norrie Paramor in the 1970s.

Norrie was responsible for producing many big names in the 1950s and 60s including Cliff Richard, The Shadows, Helen Shapiro and Frank Ifield and for a time held the record for producing the most number one singles until he was overtaken by Sir George Martin.

This release from BBC Records pulls together 11 tracks Paramor recorded across four albums with the Midland Radio Orchestra in the 1970s including |Ebb Tide, She and Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head. 

A 12th track represents Paramor's own writing talents with a rendition of The Frightened City, originally a hit recording for The Shadows in 1961.

The British Invasion: Looking Back At 1964 With Animals Drummer John Steel

The Animals in 1963
Wikimedia Commons
As part of Record Store Day, The Animals self-titled second 1964 EP The Animals is getting a debut release on vinyl in the USA on 10 inch vinyl,  featuring Boom Boom, Around And Around, Dimples and I've Been Around.

I recently chatted to the original Animals drummer John Steel as he undertook The Ultimate Rhythm N Blues Tour with Animals and Friends.
John, along with Eric Burdon, Alan Price, Chas Chandler and Hilton Valentine formed the original incarnation of The Animals in 1963. The band's version of The House of the Rising Sun hit the top of the charts in the UK and USA in 1964. “64 was a big year for so many bands,” recalls John.
There has been much controversy over the years as to who did what on the record, particularly as keyboardist Alan Price was credited with arranging it. John recalls all band members had an active part in the songs success, including late guitarist Chas Chandler who would  manage rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix three years later. 
“Chas, I have to say back then, must have really had his business head on, long before Jimi Hendrix,” says John, “ I can remember him distinctly saying “Everyone’s going to be trying to out-rock Chuck Berry. We should try to stand out with something that’s different. We weren’t consciously trying to create the first ever folk-rock crossover single or the first single that broke the 3 minute barrier. We just did the song as we felt it. Hilton introduced this beautiful guitar intro, Eric rewrote the lyrics to be about a gambler because we’d never have got a song about a prostitute played on the BBC and I was always a jazz influenced player. I picked up that vibe from Jimmy Smith’s Walk On The Wild Side." 
The Animals EP
 The House of The Rising Sun topped the UK charts in the summer of 1964 and for a while The Animals were seen as the next serious challengers to The Beatles pop crown.
“We were always talked about in the same breath as The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.” says John, “When we went into a studio to record a single we’d knock off half a dozen or so tracks with almost one take on every one of them. A lot of them were a live performance just recorded live.” 
“We got left behind because The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had very successful writing teams and wrote original material. The Animals unfortunately never got that act together.” 
Despite not writing their own material, The Animals raw energetic appeal was strong enough to capture the imagination of the American audience where the similarly topped the charts and appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. 
 “When we were kids in the 50s America was our inspiration,” remembers John,  “everything came from across there, blues jazz, rock n roll, movies, everything! Britain was hard and grim especially in the North East.  America on the big silver screen was like another planet. For five working class Geordie lads flying across the Atlantic and landing in JFK we were driven into Manhattan in individual sports cars with models dressed as tigers and police escorts riding on bikes with sirens on, we couldn't believe it, it was our promised land.”  
  • A version of this interview previously appeared in The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide in January 2014 
  • Find out more about Record Store Day events around the world at the official website.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Classic Who On Horror Channel

Anyone with their eye on the Horror Channel tonight couldn't help but notice the launch of classic Doctor Who episodes with the rerun of all four episodes The Doctor's debut adventure An Unearthly Child starring William Hartnell.

An Unearthly Child preceeded a weekend of episodes handpicked from the classic era of Doctor Who broadcast between 1963 and 1989 and starring William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy.

As much as I have loved the new series since its return, its nice that these classic era episodes have found a new home on satellite television particularly as its been some years since they were featured on Gold or Watch.

Horror have welcomed Classic Doctor Who with a fabulous set of eye catching animated promos and a dedicated part on their website including a fan Q&A with Tom Baker and interview with presenter Emily Booth.

Forthcoming episodes to be seen on the channel will include The Daleks, The Three Doctors and The Seeds of Death.

Visit the Horror channel website for more information on the Doctor Who schedule and don't forget to post your comments on Twitter #WhoOnHorror.

From Hackney to Hollywood: The Don Black Songbook Reviewed

From Hackney To Hollywood: The Don Black Songbook
St David's Hall, Cardiff

From Hackney to Hollywood:
The Don Black Songbook
As five silhouetted figures stepped on to the stage of St David’s Hall on March 29 and opened a two hour show with an a cappella version of the theme to Born Free, everyone in the audience knew they were in for a real treat.

Gary Wilmot, Martine McCutcheon, Ricardo Afonso, Jack McManus and Ria Jones kept the audience attention with an intimate look at the life and work of Hackney born lyricist Don Black reading extracts from Don’s diary and performing the cream of the many songs he has written for film, television and stage over the last fifty years.

As the show revealed, it all began with a family outing to the Hackney Empire when Don was merely a boy to see a James Cagney movie followed by a Max Miller performance. Don initially wanted to become a comedian, but although comedy was in Don’s blood, it wasn’t in his act.

Years later, striking up a friendship with the singer Matt Monro, Don penned the hit Walk Away and before he knew it, the likes of Tom Jones, Lulu and Shirley Bassey were performing his songs.

Martine McCutcheon
Although we didn’t have any of those stars present on the night, it was a refreshing if not fabulous twist to have stellar performances including Walk Away by Martine McCutcheon, Thunderball by Ricardo Afonso, On Days Like These by Gary Wilmot, I’ll Put You Together Again by Jack McManus and To Sir with Love by Ria Jones.

There were some incredible duets too, particularly Martine and Ria taking the lead on a Tell Me On A Sunday medley, while Gary, Ricardo and Jack presented a spectacular performance of Here’s To The Heroes from Dances With Wolves.

Of course, it’s perhaps Don’s best known work, his collaborations with John Barry on the James Bond films that received a special section to itself. This section opened with The Don Black Orchestra’s version of The James Bond Theme before Ria delivered a captivating version of Diamonds are Forever and Martine performed a gutsy version of The Man With The Golden Gun.

With musical reminders from Elsa the Lion to 007, as the show displayed The Don Black Songbook really is Oh! Oh! Heaven.

Jethro Tull Frontman Ian Anderson Releases Homo Erraticus

Legendary prog pioneer and Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson released a new studio album Homo Erraticus earlier this week in North America. The album continues with the story of Anderson's favorite enfant terrible Gerald Bostock.

Ian and his band (guitarst Florian Opahle, bassist David Goodier, keyboardist John O'Hara and drummer Scott Hammond, and singer Ryan O'Donnell) will tour the United States from September through to November.

In 1972 Ian's band Jethro Tull released the iconic concept album Thick As A Brick, based on a poem by the then eight year old Gerald Bostock in 2012. As many fans wondered what might have befallen the character, Ian Anderson decided to explore the different paths Gerald's life might have taken in his 2012 album, Thick As A Brick 2.

Following a forty year political career, Gerald Bostock reunited with Anderson taking the role of tour manager on a string of shows. ‘Homo Erraticus’ marks Gerald's return to songwriting, and is based on an unpublished manuscript by amateur historian Ernest T. Parritt (1865-1928).

In Homo Erraticus, Parritt examines key events of British history with a string of prophecies stretching to the current day and the future. Visions of past lives caused by the delirium of malaria generate the characters through whose eyes the stories are told, including a nomadic Neolithic settler, an iron Age blacksmith, a Christian monk, a turnpike innkeeper and even Prince Albert.

The album release will be followed by an extensive UK tour, where Homo Erraticus will be performed in its entirety followed by a selection of Tull classics updated with video and theatrics.

For the latest news on Ian Anderson tour dates visit Jethro Tull's Official website

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Spotlight: Shirley Bassey

45RPM: With These Hands - Columbia, 1960
This week's Retro Vinyl Spotlight focuses on some recent finds featuring one of Wales' greatest vocalists. Dame Shirley Bassey's recording career spans back to the 1950s so its probably not surprising I've discovered a few of her recordings on my travels around charity shops. With These Hands was released by Columbia Records in 1960 and preceeded her big hit As Long as He Needs Me.
Something - United Artists
In 1970, Dame Shirley covered George Harrison's composition Something. It was a successful album, which also saw her cover The Doors' Light My Fire.
20 Golden Love Songs - Note Records
EMI's Note Records focussed on Dame Shirley's ability to deliver a great love song in the late 1970s by releasing 20 Golden Love Songs including All Of Me, Let's Fall In Love and All The Things You Are.
It's Magic - Starline
EMI's budget label Starline released a collection of early Shirley Bassey songs in the early 1970s on the album It's Magic. Including versions of Don't Rain On My Parade and Somewhere.
Goldfinger OST - United Artists

One of Dame Shirley's most famous recordings is the theme tune to the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger which was also included on the soundtrack album.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Vinyl Finds: Nina and Frederik (Music For Pleasure 1401, 1970)

Nina and Frederik - Music For Pleasure 1401
To follow up the review of Nina and Frederik's Collection CD review from earlier today, here's a Nina and Frederik album I found in Newport last Saturday for 20p. This Music For Pleasure release seems to take the stance of most Nina and Frederik albums and EP releases by just calling the release erm... Nina and Frederik!
Drastically reduced sale sticker - 1970s
One thing I usually do when purchasing old LP's is trying to remove stickers or residue that the charity shops may have left on, however in this case there is a sticker on there indicating the albums original price, which I'm more than happy to leave on (after all, ithe original owner couldnt be bothered to remove it over 40 years ago).

I'm suspecting that given the age of the album it must have been purchased around the time decimal currency came in at a drastically reduced price! There's no indication at which shop it was bought (although it was likely Woolworths) but love the fact it was reduced from 72p to 29p - talk about a budget album!
Track listing for Nina and Frederik LP
Finally, this LP (consisting of 10 tracks from 1959 and 1960) says on several places its mono, although on the back it says this stereo record can also be played with a suitable mono pick-up... - confusing!

CD Review: The Nina and Frederik Collection - Listen To The Ocean (Jasmine Records)

The sleeve notes to The Nina and Frederik Collection: Listen to the Ocean open with Paul Pelletier's stark observation "Where are they now, people might ask, but sometimes it is better to remember how they were then..."

Indeed, Frederik Van Pallandt's story didn't have the happiest of endings, an untimely demise in 1994 cast a dark shadow over Nina and Frederik's Pre-Beatle era safe image of some three decades previous despite the pair divorcing in 1976.

The Danish music duo gained quite a popular following  in the late 1950s with their interpretations of folk inspired songs which occasionally swayed into the world of calypso and popular standards.

The Nina and Frederik Collection: Listen to the Ocean recalls no less than 24 tracks in mono (except a stereo take of Listen To The Ocean) featuring accompaniment from the Jorn Grauengarrd Orchestra and John Barry and his Orchestra from the duos Columbia and Pye Records output.

Among the tracks featured are the popular single Listen To The Ocean as well as renditions of Carnival (from Black Orpheus), Man Smart, Woman Smarter, Nine Hundred Miles and a 1961 vocal version of Sucu Sucu. However, Nina and Frederik are probably best remembered for their popular recordings of Christmas songs and there's a fairly liberal sprinkling of those here including Mary's Boy Child, Away In A Manger, Silent Night and their biggest hit recording Little Donkey.

Nina and Frederik's contribution to the popular music scene has undoubtedly been overlooked in recent years, but as this Jasmine Records CD proves there's a lot more to their musical legacy than those well remembered Christmas recordings.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Searchers at Newport Riverfront Review Now Online

My review of The Searchers appearance at Newport Riverfront last Friday night is now online:
"...Over two hours of excellent music featuring a mix of Searchers hits, album tracks, rarities and live favourites were performed including a rousing rendition of Twist and Shout and a warmly received impromptu performance of Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue. 
The band also performed a stunning version of  Neil Sedaka’s Solitaire which was released as a single by the band over 40 years ago. The single didn't chart and it was Andy Williams that had the hit, but the audience were united in their mutual appreciation of The Searchers version.  “Did you enjoy that?” asked Frank Allen when the band finished performing it, when everyone replied witha resounding “yes!” Frank jokingly responded “well, why didn’t you buy it then?”..."
Read my full review at The South Wales Argus website.
Read my interview with Frank Allen of The Searchers.

Treading The Boards: Deirdre Dee in Dick Whittington (1976-77)

A while back, I featured The Congress Theatre Eastbourne's pantomime production of Dick Whittington from 1976-77 which starred Anita Harris, Harry H Corbett and Dora Bryan.

I was delighted to hear from a member of the cast, Deirdre Dee, who left a message to the post:
"This was interesting, my daughter happened to come across the page by chance. I did indeed play Alice Fitzwarren opposite Anita Harris in this panto!" 
Thanks to Deirdre for getting in touch and here's a copy of Deirdre's profile from that very programme.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Retro Vinyl Find: Anita in Jumbleland by Anita Harris, (CBS, 1970)

Whilst looking through various vintage vinyl albums recently I've been fortunate to come across what I consider to be vinyl gems. Here's an LP I recently found in Newport's Scope shop from 1971 featuring music from Anita Harris' 1970 Children's TV series Anita in Jumbleland.

If I was old enough to have a television crush in the early 70s Anita Harris was probably my first, I always associate her with appearances on shows such as Anita In Jumbleland and David Nixon's magic programme and definitely periods of time when the family sat around the box to watch light entertainment!

This CBS released LP features songs evidently with a lighter slant including Right Said Fred, I Can Sing a Rainbow, Flash Bang Wallop and a cover of The Beatles' Maxwell Silver Hammer!

Anita Harris On Retrospace:

Sunday, 13 April 2014

45 RPM Find: With These Hands / The Party's Over by Shirley Bassey (Columbia, 1960)

Shirley Bassey - With These Hands (DB4421)
This recent single find from a Newport charity shop was Shirley Bassey's second single release after signing to UK's Columbia label in 1959. 

With These Hands coupled with The Party's Over is strong enough to be considered a double 'A' side although if you look at the chart statistics, the single didn't fair too well, only making No.38 in the UK charts in early 1960. By  today's standards, it probably sold enough for the single to reach No.1 in 2014!

Shirley Bassey - The Party's Over (DB4421)
With These Hands had previously been popularised by Eddie Fisher while there were already notable versions of The Party's Over by Nat King Cole, Doris Day and Lonnie Donegan. The Party's Over was also the final track on Shirley's first Columbia LP The Fabulous Shirley Bassey. 

The Love Album, MFP 1990
Both songs are particularly strong ballads and were well and truly on the road to standard status by the time Shirley recorded them in 1959. Prior to finding the single for a mere 50p, I found both tracks on  Music For Pleasure's 1990s Bassey compilation, The Love Album (ironically, I only paid 25p for that from a Narberth charity shop, but with quality music both the CD and a single are still a snip to find for under a pound!)


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