Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Music I Love - 'D'

Welcome to the fourth letter of the alphabet! Right, let's find a few singers or groups to talk about...

I know they were retro and I know just about all the songs had been done before, but there was something about Darts that (a) provided good music and (b) was lots of fun. Singer Den Hagarty, totally OTT - I remember him walking from the stage on the upheld hands of the audience in the Grand Theatre in Blackpool until he reached the Royal Box which he climbed into and returned to the stage via the corridors... The break-out hit was Daddy Cool/The Girl Can't Help It and the B-side was a song called Shotgun which the band performed on TV in a beer advert at the time (1977/78). There were nine of them in the band - how did they ever make any money??? They had five Top 10 hits and a further 7 chart appearances.

I have to be honest - most of my records of Harold Davidson and his Orchestra are on 12" 78 rpm and are all of the Old-Tyme dancing genre. This 10" 33⅓ rpm LP is the only album I have of his. His records were mostly imprinted as ear-worms during several years working as a DJ as a teenager because my daytime job was so appallingly low-paid.

Doris Day also is represented only in my 78 rpm collection. But there are quite a lot of them! All the main ones are there: The Deadwood Stage, Secret Love, Que Sera Sera, Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered... I always wondered really why she was so popular. I always thought of her as pretty rather than beautiful and despite a slim figure I never - even in those desperate teenage years when almost anyone wearing a skirt up to a certain age seemed sexy (including somewhat disturbingly Bugs Bunny when he dressed as a girl - was that just me???) Anyway, moving right along...

To make some attempt to regain my dignity... This was one of a quite limited number of LPs to get played over and over again in my 6th Form common room. I had to get to like it really as a defence mechanism. I still have it but it's seldom I listen to anything other than Speed King these days or Black Night (which didn't appear on the original vinyl album but is included on the CD I currently have).

Sandy Denny's album Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz is a bit of a mixture. The title track is a haunting ballad with some lovely strings building up to a great finish and it has a very simple version of Whispering Grass which came out as a single around the same time as the Windsor Davies/Don Estelle version. The same jazz guitar solid rhythm is given with far greater effect to Until The Real Thing Comes Along which I can listen to again and again.

I never bought any Neil Diamond albums either. It's all the singles that I remember and loved so well. And with songs like Sweet Caroline, Cracklin' Rosie, I Am I Said, Love On The Rocks, etc. plus songs written for others like I'm A Believer for The Monkees he's a talent recognised by many.

Hands up if this was the first CD you ever bought. It was for a huge number of people. I bought the vinyl album first. There's hardly a track on it that isn't great. And how many hours had I already devoted to this band as a guitarist learning the riffs to Sultans of Swing...?

Not strictly an artist - well not of the musical sort anyway - but there are so many knockout Disney songs that I can't really not include him here. Just when I was starting to get over this strange compulsion, my granddaughter came along and I got to know them all over again... And more new ones too... Just Let It Go...

Singles time again. I'm not sure why I liked this band. Let's face it he comes across as obnoxiously smug about himself (given a short time as a member of Bucks Fizz he tried to lay claim to the group name!) and on one of their songs, Give Me Back My Heart, all the echo is taken off Thereza Bazar's voice at the end, revealing how much she owed to technology. But at the time they stood out amongst some of the dross that littered the 80s charts. And I still think Videotheque was an excellent single. Sorry...

This might have been a short-lived musical romance, but the album did have the magnificent Warwick Avenue on it.

Duran Duran (pauses for a moment to savour unintended memory flash of Jane Fonda floating with bits of clothing coming off and floating away...) came across my conciousness with their singles from the second album, starting with Hungry Like The Wolf. The videos produced by this band were of far greater quality than most of their rivals at the time. They were shot on 35mm cinema quality film rather than cheap videotape like most others. Exotic locations for videos like Rio etc. made sure they would be noticed. There are a good ten or eleven tracks on this album of greatest hits that I could happily listen to at any time.

Darude. I only know one tune - Sandstorm which I heard on a recorded show off either MTV or VH1 and liked it that much I made an mp3 of the track from the nicam stereo VHS tape. Ah - now if that isn't as esoteric as playing 78s I don't know what is. It's a long instrumental with a dog barking halfway through it. Whether that was just for the benefit of the video or whether it was on the record I've no idea.

Ready Or Not, Here I Come... The Delfonics had a sound all of their own and it was good to be reminded of their hits in the film Jackie Brown. Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time?

Not everything they did, obviously, but Xanadu, The Wreck of The Antoinette and especially Last Night In Soho - awesome. And he's still doing the rounds too in Sixties revivals.

My parents used to run a "record unit" as these things were known in the early 1950s before the phrase Mobile Disco was coined. They had (wait for it!) a twin turntable deck with 78 rpm turntables and a gizmo for sharpening fibre needles which wore out after playing a single side (track)! Anyway they had and now I have half a dozen 78s by the Danceland Ballroom Orchestra which wasn't an orchestra at all, but a collection or coming together of a different set of musicians who recorded copyright-free records for the exclusive use of Mecca dance halls. I'm not sure how my Mum and Dad came to be in possession of them. Playing on these recording sessions was enough to get a musician banned from the Musicians' Union as Mecca were able to play the records for free once the cost of having them made was taken into account, instead of hiring dance bands to play live at their many venues.

Of all those I have, most of these records - all, except this one in fact - are bland dross but played in impeccable time. This one (just the one side not the other) has an unnamed female vocalist who drips sensuality into this waltz much in the same way that actress Dorothy Lamour did in her recordings. Ooh... shiver!

And finally... Agh, no... I got you!!!


  1. Denice Williams

  2. There were certainly a couple of hers that I liked. She would come under 'W' for 'Williams' though.


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