Sunday, 1 November 2015

Adventures in Vinyl: Steptoe & Son

I was only thinking on Thursday evening, as I played my second Steptoe & Son album in as many weeks how few of those vinyl comedy gems I have chanced upon over the years. Next to Tony Hancock and The Goons, several exploits of Harry H Corbett (Harold Steptoe) and Wilfred Brambell (Albert Steptoe) as the father and son rag and bone men were available for fans to listen to again and again during the 1960s over several LP releases.

Following the end of Tony Hancock's Hancock series on BBC TV in 1961, writers Ray Galton and Alan Simpson wrote a series of one-off comedy shows for The Comedy Playhouse series in 1962. The success of one show from the series, The Offer, about a father and son rag and bone business  proved to be such a hit that it was developed into the series Steptoe & Son.

By 1963, Steptoe was as popular on television as The Beatles were to popular music, so much so, several clips of dialogue were taken from the TV series and transferred to a long playing album on Pye Records.

The album, titled simply Steptoe and Son, featured the soundtrack to the 1962 TV episode The Bird as well as excepts from The Diploma, The Econimist and The Holiday. No doubt, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's superb knack of writing comic dialogue for the series (and several years of writing radio for Tony Hancock before that) enabled the smooth transfer of the TV soundtrack to the vinyl album format. This was also an age before the Video Recorder, and as Tony Hancock and Goon Show recordings had already proved popular with record buyers, so why not Steptoe & Son?

At the end of 1963, both Corbett and Brambell were asked to appear on the prestigious Royal Variety Performance. The show that gave the royal seal of approval to Beatlemania equally hailed Britain's favourite Rag and Bone men as the crown jewels of British comedy. In fact the performance, Steptoe & Son at Buckingham Palace, penned again by Galton & Simpson was released as a 45RPM single on Pye Records and raised proceeds for the Variety Artistes Benevolent Fund.

Another album, More Junk, featuring two further recordings, The Stepmother and The Musical Evening from the 1963 series, also followed. Both this and the original Steptoe & Son album would later be reissued on Pye's Golden Guinea label, while soundtracks from other episodes would subsequently get released on both EP and LP formats.

In fact, it was a mid-60s reissue of More Junk on Pye Golden Guinea that I found on Darlington market back in 1987. I recall getting the album home and not checking the state of the grooves as it jumped all over the place. A quick check revealed it had clearly had something spilt on it in the past, after cleaning it up it proceeded to play perfectly (and I'm pleased to say, still does!).

Some 15 years later, I would regularly peruse the charity shops in Dursley, Gloucestershire during my lunch hour and turned up gold with the first Steptoe album (again on a Pye Golden Guinea) . The years in between also saw me snag a copy of The Steptoe & Son at Buckingham Palace single at a Carmarthen record fair.

So there I was on Thursday evening, giving More Junk a listen for the first time in many years. Loving the script of how Albert was thinking of remarrying and how Harold was attempting to embrace culture with a classical record collection. "How odd, I've never found more of these," I thought knowing that Steptoe albums were reissued on several occasions and there were at least six different ones available during the 1960s.

Visiting Bristol on Friday morning, my wife went to help fit our daughter with her first ballet point shoes, while I took the boys on a perusal of the neighbouring charity shops. In the Mind shop, I found several great titles on vinyl, however many were sadly scratched. My heart leaped though when I spotted a Steptoe album I didn't have. This title, just called Steptoe & Son on the World Record Club label.

This LP was issued in 1970, just as the colour series was launching on BBC1 (according to the sleevenotes). Released in enhanced (or fake) stereo, the album consists of previously issued material The Facts Of Life, Lets Go To The Pictures and The Holiday. The album opens with the 1963 single release Steptoe & Son at Buckingham Palace.

Needless to say, I am rather overjoyed with a further Steptoe and Son find, (as Harold might have been with discovering a collection of classical albums on his rounds or Albert a half drunk bottle of Malt Whisky in the back of a cupboard), and at £2.50 it was good to find the cover and vinyl in excellent condition. It just goes to show how coincidental record collecting can be!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Instagram October Vinyl Challenge

The #octoberinylchallenge was presented on Instagram during October by @stagebanterpodcast.
Here are my wonderful vinyl choices for the month...
  1. Heaviest Album : Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Brain Salad Surgery (Deluxe edition)
  2. 10": John Laurie & Robert King - Words & Music Of Scotland (1950s)
  3. Etching: We've Got a Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It - Rules & Regulations (12" EP) (1985)
  4. Hip Hop: Neneh Cherry - Buffalo Stance (7" single, 1989)
  5. Comeback Album: Shirley Bassey - Something (1970)
  6. Favourite Label: Columbia Records (UK) (1960s)
  7. 7" Sunday: The Bible - Honey Be Good (7", 1990)
  8. Latest Purchase: Shirley Bassey - The Fabulous Shirley Bassey (1959)
  9. Sophmore Release: Altered Images - Pinky Blue (1982)
  10. Sexiest Album: Harry Mortimer and The Men O' Brass - Massed Brass Spectacular (1967)
  11. 5 or More Members: Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass - !!Going Places!! (1965)
  12. Purchased At A Show: Paul McCartney - Flowers In the Dirt (1990 Tour Pack)
  13. Comedy Album: The Two Ronnies - The Best Of (1981)
  14. Live: The Shadows - Live At The Paris Olympia (1975), The Shadows Live (1981)
  15. Food On The Cover: Bananarama - Shy Boy (7" Single, 1982)
  16. Midwest Album: Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman (1974 Sounds Superb compilation)
  17. Emo: Them - Historia De La Musica Rock (1982, Decca Records)
  18. Impulse Buy: Mantovani - The World of Mantovani (1968), Mantovani - Hollywood (1967), Vera Lynn - The Vera Lynn Collection (1970s), Manuel & The Music Of The Mountains - Mountain Carnival (1961), Manuel & The Music Of The Mountains - Blue Waters (1966), Manuel & The Music Of The Mountains - Beyond The Mountains (1968), Ralph Dollimore - Piano Dimensions (1965)
  19. Got As A Gift: The Shadows - 20 Golden Greats (1977)
  20. Instrumental: Sir Adrian Boult & The London Philharmonic Orchestra - The Planets (1966)
  21. Costumes On Cover: The Manhattan Transfer - Live (1978)
  22. Wildcard: The Flying Pickets - Live At The Albany Empire (1982)
  23. Rough Condition: Various record labels from scratched records
  24. Most Valuable: Madonna - Like A Prayer (1989, 12" Picture Disc)
  25. Overpaid: Tyrant - Dirty Minds (R U Sexy?) (1997)
  26. Ebay Victory: Kenickie - Punka / Nightlife (7" Picture Discs, 1997)
  27. RIP: (Jim Diamond) PHD - I Won't Let You Down (7" 1982)
  28. Favourite Variant: Russ Conway - At The Movies (Columbia, 1961 and WRC, 1966)
  29. Beatles: The Beatles - A Collection Of Beatles Oldies (1966)
  30. Now Playing: Donovan - Golden Hour Of Donovan (1971) / More Junk - Steptoe and Son (1963)
  31. Spooky: Andy Williams - Honey (1968)

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Instagram September Vinyl Challenge

The September Vinyl Challenge on Instagram was put up by Vinylbox at the end of August. There were a few on here that did prove a bit of a challenge. Here are my choices!
  1. Debut Album: The Shadows - The Shadows (1961)
  2. Westcoast Wednesday: The Monkees - More Of The Monkees (1966)
  3. Weapon On the Cover: Clive Dunn - Permission To Sing Sir! (1970)
  4. Picture Disc: Debbie Gibson - Only In My Dreams (45rpm, 1987)
  5. Animated Cover: Lene Lovich - Say When (45rpm, 1979)
  6. Defunct Label: Contour Records (1970s)
  7. Metal Monday: Anthrax - Got The Time (45rpm, 1990)
  8. Bootleg: The Beatles - The Lost Pepperland Reel (Compact Disc, 1994)
  9. Prince: Alphabet Street (45rpm, 1988)
  10. Gatefold: Harry Secombe - Secombe's Personal Choice (1968)
  11. Colored Vinyl: Kenickie - Nightlife (45rpm,1997)
  12. Compilation: Constellation (1969)
  13. Starts With a Q: Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (45rpm, 1991)
  14. Soundtrack: Tommy Steele - Hans Andersen (1974)
  15. Duo: Nina & Frederik - Nina & Frederik (1969)
  16. Last Purchase: Lulu - The Most of Lulu (1971)
  17. Favorite Record Store: Pink Panther Records, Carlisle (1990s paper bag)
  18. Guilty Pleasure: Pandora Orchestra - Top TV Themes (1972)
  19. 80s Album: All About Eve - All About Eve (1989)
  20. Jazz Album: Nat King Cole - Sings With The Nat King Cole Trio (1969)
  21. Released In The 90s: Belinda Carlisle - Do You Feel Like I Feel (45rpm, 1991)
  22. Fictional Band: The Backbeat Band - Money (45rpm, 1995)
  23. Wildcard: Arthur Lowe - Bless'Em All! (1969)
  24. Detroit Artist: Bill Haley & The Comets - Rock Around The Clock (1968)
  25. Car On The Cover: Mike Vickers - A Day At The Races (1976)
  26. Went Solo: George Harrison - Somewhere In England (1981) / Gone Troppo (1982) / Cloud 9 (1987)
  27. Best Of: The Seekers - The Best Of the Seekers (1968)
  28. Sophmore Album: The Beatles - With The Beatles (1964)
  29. Country Album: Jeannie C Riley - Harper Valley PTA (1971)
  30. You And Your Records: Me and My Records (2015)
  • Follow me on Twitter @retrospaceandy

Friday, 14 August 2015

"I'll Get You Butler!" - Looking Back At On The Buses Star Stephen Lewis

Probably one of the most identifiable British sitcom characters of the early 1970s was Inspector Cyril Blake AKA Blakey in London Weekend Television's On The Buses. As a child I probably identified with Blakey's character more than any of the others in the show.

I don't know if it was that look of disdain when bus driver Stan Butler or cheeky conductor Jack tried to pull another skive on their bus route or Blakey's wide eyes and funny little Hitler moustache that quivered as he yelled "I'll Get You Butler!" when he found the cuprits out on yet another mishap but there was always something really funny and appealing about the character which Stephen Lewis created on screen.

Several years ago I revisited On The Buses and was disappointed that my memories of the show were not as good as watching it as a child. Many of the actors appeared to shout and yell their way through the scripts, and although the majority weren't as good as I remembered, Stephen Lewis's portrayal of Blakey still remained brilliant. It's Blakey who remains the butt of the jokes, the one who gets his comeuppance and usually the character that gets the genuine belly laughs.

Its interesting that when On The Buses came to a natural end in 1973, Stephen Lewis' Blakey character would go on to get his own spin-off series Don't Drink the Water, indicating the comical success of the On The Buses character that would constantly re-emerge in TV guest slots in everything from The Generation Game to a promotional film for bus passes in Wales over the following thirty years.

Lewis who also wrote the screenplay for the 1963 film Sparrows Can't Sing and also had recurring roles in sitcoms Last Of The Summer Wine and Oh! Doctor Beeching died at the age of 88 this week.

My favourite Blakey memory has to be  in the On The Buses movie which sees him as an unwitting passenger as Reg Varney takes a double-decker Routemaster onto a skid-pan. This scene was emulated to a degree in a Look-In cartoon strip in the 1970s, a scan of which I include here.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Andy Howells' Glastonbury 2015 File

Here's three performers that I've recently interviewed that are putting an appearance in at this years Glastonbury Festival. Keep up with all the latest Glastonbury events via the BBC website.

Enter Shikari are playing several festivals this Summer and played Glastonbury on Friday evening. Here's my Q&A with Rou Reynolds.

Lulu is as popular in 2015 as when her career began over 50 years ago, she still looks and sounds fabulous too. Here's my interview with the Scottish singing legend from late last year.

The Cadbury Sisters have just completed a UK tour and play Glastonbury today. Here's my recent Q&A with Jess Cadbury.

Celebrating Patrick Macnee - John Steed of The Avengers (1922-2015)

It was on Thursday evening whilst watching the 1968 Avengers episode Look - (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers... that I learned of the passing of British actor Patrick Macnee at the age of 93. I sadly never met Patrick Macnee, but since I first saw him in his warm, glowing portrayal of bowler-hatted stylish super sleuth John Steed in The New Avengers during the mid 70s I have been a fan.

One of Channel 4's greatest acquisitions when it started up in the early 80s was its regular Saturday night reruns of the Emma Peel episodes of The Avengers. This was my introduction to them and on viewing them, I was smitten! What an incredible chemistry between Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee as Emma Peel and John Steed as they fended off colourful villains on a weekly basis from Cybernauts to a Positive Negative Man, each episode featuring an equally captivating guest star, among them Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Peter Bowles.

As for Steed and Emma Peel’s on-screen chemistry, there was never a question of a will they or won't they romance, the chances are the characters had already been there and done that, they'd got it all out of their systems and were now channeling their energies into saving the world!

I have rediscovered those Emma Peel episodes several times over the years, on TV reruns and video purchases, they still have a great timeless energy and flair to them, as I recently discovered with my 8 year old son as we found these shows once again on the True Entertainment channel recently. "These are much better than those other Avengers" he observed referring to the Marvel film franchise and  I have to agree, John Steed and Emma Peel still rule.

Of course Patrick Macnee was a very diverse actor on film and stage as well (in fact I only came across a programme of his appearance at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in The Grass is Always Greener in my theatre programme collection the other night). He played Watson to Christopher Lee's Holmes in two television films and co-starred with Roger Moore in A View to Kill while also playing the band manager in This Is Spinal Tap.

John Steed is whom Patrick Macnee will be remembered for and ultimately will go on giving so much pleasure with, as The Avengers continues to enthral generations in the coming years.

Certainly the next glass of champagne I sample will be raised to this incredible actor's legacy. Thank you Patrick Macnee!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Andy Howells' Tremeloes Interview File

Those of you who have followed me for a while or are aware of my writing work will know that I have had the opportunity to interview several well-known actors and musicians in recent years.

The real joy for me is usually getting to interview 1960s pop stars or groups. One such group that I have managed to interview three members of is The Tremeloes, well known for their 1960s hits including Do You Love Me, Silence Is Golden and Call Me Number One.

One of my first interviews was with Dave Munden, founder member and drummer of The Tremeloes back in 2012 who at the time was promoting The Tremeloes topping the bill on The Sensational 60s Experience. Over the next 18 months I would also interview two other time-served Tremeloes members, Chip Hawkes (father of the one and only Chesney) and original Tremeloes frontman Brian Poole for appearances on similar shows.

When interviewing such people I always try and get a few anecdotes about the artists career and usually these are greeted with favorable responses and replies. Naturally I accumulate a lot of material, usually too much to squeeze into a 700 word article, so maybe one day I'll put all the other interesting bits online too.

In the meantime, here's links to three interviews which I've uploaded over on my Entertainment South Wales blog.

Dave Munden interview from 2012
Brian Poole interview from 2014
Chip Hawkes interview from 2013

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Guide Featuring Nina Jones, Dr Robert, Eggsy, Tayo Aluko, Mark Newnham and Sir Bruce Forsyth

This weeks e-edition of The Guide culminated a very busy week for me writing up interviews, reviews and previews, however I felt there was some good content here.

Musically there was a Q&A with Newport singer songwriter Nina Jones, an interview with the legendary Dr Robert (Howard) from The Blow Monkeys and another Q&A courtesy of Eggsy from Goldie Lookin' Chain.

In the land of theatre, I put questions to the brilliant Tayo Aluko about his one-man show Call Mr Robeson, speak to Mark Newnham who plays Cookie in Return To The Forbidden Planet and there's a sneak preview of my interview with Sir Bruce Forsyth!

Read this weeks e-edition of The Guide here.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Guide Featuring The Mono LPs, Albert Hammond , Jessica Williams and Centrestage Cymru

This weeks edition of The South Wales Argus online entertainment Guide is now available to view online.

There's a lot crammed into The Guide this week but much happening including My music Q&A's with Liverpool's rising stars The Mono LP's (love that name and their music) and legendary singer/songwriter Albert Hammond (who has written hits for everybody from Leapy Lee to Whitney Houston).

There are also two theatre stories with two strong Wales' links. I chat to Bargoed dancer and actress Jessica Williams who stars in The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-Time at Wales Millennium Centre this week and Newport based musical group Centrestage Cymru who are about to tread the boards in Godspell The Musical...

You didn't know I wrote so much did you?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Stars On 45: When I Fall In Love / Calypso Blues by Nat King Cole (Capitol, 1957)

Nat King Cole was only 45 when he passed away in the mid-1960s. One of the 20th century's greatest music voices, his legacy of recordings have gone on to win newer fans since Nat's own heyday.

I've known and loved several of Nat's greatest hits and Christmas songs over the years and have more recently started listening to some of his earlier work as part of the Nat King Cole Trio.

I was delighted to make a couple of Nat King Cole finds in Carmarthen last weekend, two singles and a CD in fact!

Here's the first release I came across, an original 45RPM of Nat's 1957 classic When I Fall In Love on Capitol Records covered with Calypso Blues on the B Side.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Book Collection: The Beatles Book No.39

I was well-pleased when my former work colleague Nigel Corten contacted me last week and asked if I'd like some old editions of The Beatles Book Magazine he'd found in a cupboard. I cant say I own every edition of The Beatles Book Monthly so I welcomed these back copies for my collection.

I've always been a huge Beatles fan and I used to try my hardest to pick up copies of this particular publication from a newsagent in Darlington indoor market back in the mid 1980s, some months I'd be lucky and get several editions (including back copies) other months they wouldn't have it - there's a lot to be said for ordering magazines!

No.39 (July 1979) contains a reprint of the October 1966 edition of The Beatles Book which features a period interview with George Harrison which gives an insight into how creative The Beatles were at the time, playing with tape recorders in the studio while been interviewed.

George reveals in the interview that since he began songwriting he has thrown over 30 songs away. "They may have been alright if I'd worked on them, but I didn't think they were strong enough," George told the magazine. "My main trouble is the lyrics. I can't seem to write down what I want to say - it doesn't come over literally, so I compromise, usually far too much I suppose. I find that everything makes a song, not just the melody as so many people seem to think, but the words, the technique - the lot."

Monday, 30 March 2015

Stars On 45: Little White Bull / Singing Time by Tommy Steele (Decca, 1959)

Its back to the 1950s with another 50p 45RPM Newport charity shop find (located on March 14, 2015) ...

I missed the 1950s by nearly a decade but was always aware of the music of Tommy Steele during my formative years in the 1970s with frequent TV appearances of the star in various variety shows and reruns of his film Half a Sixpence...

One film which I only recall seeing once on television however was his 1959 movie Tommy The Toreador which also featured Sidney James and Bernard Cribbins and finds Tommy as a sailor arriving in Spain and been mistaken for a famous bullfighter.

Possibly modern attitudes that now encourage an aversion to bullfighting have prevented this 1950s pop and comedy crossover from been rerun on our TV screens for the last three decades but Tommy's hit single from the film, Little White Bull coupled with Singing Time (Decca F11177) is still fondly remembered.

Little White Bull was written by Lionel Bart (who had also penned Living Doll for Cliff Richard), Jimmy Bennett and Mike Pratt (who would later go on to star in the 1960s ghost sleuth drama series Randall & Hopkirk Deceased).

Little White Bull reached No.6 following its release in December 1959 and stayed in the charts for a total of 17 weeks continuing to sell well into 1960.

Issued in a picture sleeve featuring a cartoon of Tommy and a Little White Bull, the single cover states: Tommy Steele's Royalties From The Record Will Be Donated By Him To The Variety Club Of Great Britain Fund For A Cancer Research Unit For Children. A great example of how buying records to support a charitable cause was around long before 1984's  Band Aid and Do They Know It's Christmas?

Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Guide Featuring Simon & Garfunkel Story, The Drop and Tigercats

This weeks e-edition of The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement The Guide is currently online featuring a Q&A with Tigercats and an interview with Dean Elliott who stars in the show The Simon & Garfunkel Story which is currently touring the UK.

There are also some reviews including albums Meghan Trainor's Title and Menace Beach's Ratworld and the Tom Hardy DVD The Drop.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Book Collection: Ronnie In The Chair by Spike Mullins

"My great grandfather was killed at Custer's last stand - he didn't take any part in the fighting, he was camping nearby and went over to complain about the noise."

Words that may be familiar from the voice of Ronnie Corbett, delivered from that oversize chair in his wonderful solo spots in The Two Ronnies but written by comic script-writer Spike Mullins who compiled some thirty four witty monologues for Ronnie In The Chair (Michael Joseph) in 1978.

This book is a nice "pick up at any time, open up a page and dive in" title, fusing memories of Ronnie Corbett's great comic delivery with some cleverly constructed comic scripts (and some lively illustrations from Bristow cartoonist Frank Dickens).

Monday, 23 March 2015

Stars On 45: Monsoon - Ever So Lonely (The Mobile Suit Corporation, 1982)

Monsoon - Ever So Lonely, 1982
This weeks Stars on 45 is another recent Newport Charity Shop find (March 14, 2015), again for 50p.

When the New Romantics were battling for chart space with the Electro-Pop pioneers in the early 1980s it would usually be quite refreshing when something different entered the charts.

Such was the case when progressive rock trio Monsoon's combination of Indian-Western pop fusion Ever So Lonely (The Mobile Suit Corporation, CORP 2) broke into the UK Top 20 after its release in April 1982. 

With ithe combination of Sitar sounds,  a driven beat  and vocals from Sheila Chandra (at the time well known for her then recent regular role as pupil Sudhamani Patel in the BBC TV series Grange Hill) the record was exciting and mesmerizing and ultimately peaked at No.12 in the chart.

Chandra continued to record with producer Steve Coe and Bassist Martin Smith but Ever So Lonely 
would prove to be Monsoon's biggest hit, the release still sounds strong over three decades later, and still remains one of the most exciting singles of the early 80s.

Above is Monsoon's Top Of The Pops appearance from 1982.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The Guide Featuring Purple and Robot Wars

This weeks South Wales Argus Guide e-edition features my Q&A with Hanna from Texas rockers Purple and a chat I had earlier this week with Robot Wars Live Tour Technical Director John Findlay.

You can also read the interviews over at the Entertainment South Wales blog:

Monday, 16 March 2015

Stars on 45: The Dave Clark Five - Good Old Rock N Roll (Columbia, 1969)

A Charity shop find from a few years ago in Newport for 50p, The Dave Clark Five Play Good Old Rock 'N' Roll (Columbia DB8638)from 1969 is a bit of a mammoth release for the 45 RPM format.

Firstly, rare for the 1960s (especially in the UK) this single comes in a picture sleeve featuring cartoon characters of the DC5. Secondly, the single itself features a medley of seven songs on the A side comprising the tracks Good Old Rock N Roll, Sweet Little Sixteen, Long Tall sally, Chantilly Lace, Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On, Blue Suede Shoes and Lucille. The B side features a medley of two fuller recordings of Reelin' and Rockin' and Memphis Tennessee.

Released in time for Christmas 1969 and capitalizing on the then current Rock N Roll Revival trend, these medleys are fully of boundless energy and appear to be recorded in the studio with girls screams overdubbed to create a live effect.

Both tracks are also well over the five minute length mark proving great value for money at the time and displaying the Dave Clark Five were well ahead of their time as the medley single format would prove popular once again in the early 1980s with releases from Starsound, Gidea Park, The Beatles and The Hollies.

No doubt this release went down particularly well at Christmas parties in 1969. Good Old Rock N Roll peaked in the UK chart at No.7 and proved to be The Dave Clark Five's final chart hit of the 1960s.

Check out the above YouTube video to hear the song...

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Guide Featuring Laura Wright, Demob Happy and Spamalot

This weeks edition of The Guide, The South Wales Argus entertainment supplement I compile and write for published on Friday and is available to view as an online e-edition every week.

This weeks highlights include a Meet The Band Q&A with Demob Happy, my interview with sporting soprano Laura Wright as she embarks on a headline tour and my personal recollection of having a walk-on role as Sir Not Appearing in Monty Python's Spamalot...

Vintage Vinyl: Redesigning Russ Conway

The original EP Cover from 1967
Following a recent post I made on the Facebook Russ Conway public group regarding Russ Conway's 1967 EP Always You And Me, I thought it might be a nice idea (for fun) to attempt a quick redesign of the cover.

Reverse of the original EP Cover
The only elements I've retained from the original cover are Angus McBean's portrait of Russ and the Columbia/EMI Records logos.

My 2015 redesign for Russ Conway's
Always You And Me
My redesign includes the much more simplified use of a single font Copperplate and I've recreated the background of the portrait to flesh it out across the sleeve more naturally. Naturally Photoshop wasn't available to the original designer back in 1967 but I'm quite proud of my new look which still manages to retain a retro feel to it...

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Retro Scrapbook: The Bangles File - Part 1

The Bangles as they featured on the cover of Look-In in 1986
Although they had been recording since the early 1980s, American band The Bangles didn't actually make much of an impression on the UK chart until they released the Prince composed track Manic Monday from their second CBS LP Different Light in 1986.

Racing to No.2 in the UK chart Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson and Michael Steel quickly became familiar faces on the television screen and were quick to follow with UK gigs and regular TV appearances.

I was particularly drawn to Manic Monday and the B side In A Different Light (still one of my favourite Bangles tracks) and quickly found myself amassing cuttings of the band from papers and magazines.Nearly three decades on I've scanned in much of what I have left from these clippings and will post them among others in coming months. This particular cutting is from a 1986 edition of the childrens comic magazine Look-In which featured The Bangles as cover stars and poster stars. The poster is accompanied by an article looking at the bands history and featured a title  Now They Know What They Want which tied in with their second UK hit If She Knew What She Wants.

Vicki Peterson is quoted in the article about The Bangles simpler sound: ""We're trying to recapture a sound that was popular before the laser rock and big stadium acts of the 70s. It's a simpler sound. And we arent the only band doing it. Right here in Britain you have The Smiths."

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Vintage Vinyl: James Last In The 1960s

Anyone around in the 1970s will remember the name of band leader James Last.

His happy sound certainly set him above many of his musical contemporaries from the 1960s onwards as he brought up to date many of the classics as well as his own classical renditions of contemporary pop.

His hit albums were as regular as number 10 buses in the UK between the mid 60s and mid 80s and it was one such pile I came across in my local Healthy Planet today.

My selection of three all come from 1966, 67 and 68 respectively and look like they represent different styles of Last. Hammond A Go Go Vol.II (organ), This Is James Last (classical and contemporary) and Non Stop Dancing 68 (contemporary hits).

Last's albums are frequently popping up in charity shops these days and admittedly I usually pass over them for other sought after titles, however a few tracks on these caught my eye as well as the wonderfully Kitsh album covers so I thought I'd bring them home and give them a spin.

I'll update with mini reviews as I get around to playing them..


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