Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Music I Love - 'F'

We come to the sixth letter of the alphabet and as always I have had to think carefully about who to leave out. Sadly George Formby will not therefore be making an appearance... ("Yah! Never touched me!" - George)

We'll start with folkies Fairport Convention and in particular, this album which was one of a tiny few that got played over and over again in the Sixth Form common room when I was a mere stripling at Heywood Senior High. Half the population of England have been members of this group at one time or other and I still enjoy listening to them. (I can't stand the rubbish the other half churn out though...)

Adam Faith was one of the voices of my early childhood. We didn't have any of his records then, but I have several of them now. A highlight of the year was watching the NME Musical Awards show on TV in the early 1960s. Grainy images, music obscured by the screams of girls in the audience and a pre-teen me, thinking how much I wanted to be up there on that stage...

Whilst everyone thinks of Pop music whenever the 1960s are mentioned, there was an absolute explosion of Easy Listening music that came out not only on LP albums but as singles too. Percy Faith's classic Theme From A Summer Place is the ultimate in a warm lustrous mix of orchestral instrumentation. It's buzzing round in my head now, just by writing about it.

The deep husky voice of Marianne Faithfull was almost a direct descendant of that of 1940s screen siren Lauren Bacall. As Tears Go By was the big hit with Come And Stay With Me and the cracking but quite short This Little Bird following it. She was discovered at a Rolling Stones party, became Mick Jagger's girlfriend for four years or so and branched out into acting as well as singing. She will be 70 in December. It has been anything but an easy life through the years.

The girl group Fanny was one of a handful of girl rock bands to emerge in the USA in the early 1970s. Filipino-American sisters June and Jean Millington played guitar and bass respectively. Nickey Barclay played keyboards and Alice de Buhr was on the drums. The name Fanny was meant to imply a female spirit (in America even the slang word "fanny" does not mean the same as it does in the UK). The 1972 album Fanny Hill included the singles Ain't That Peculiar and Blind Alley which were my own main reasons for buying it. It also contains a good cover of The Beatles song Hey Bulldog. They toured the UK several times supporting Slade and Jethro Tull to name just two. June Millington left the band and was replaced by Suzi Quatro's sister, Patti Quatro.

Let's divert over to my 78 rpm collection for a moment. Ella Fitzgerald is represented in it on a couple of records.

One of them is sublime in my book. Manhattan with the flip side being Every Time We Say Goodbye is just a treat for the ears. If your ears are in need of a treat, just have a listen to this. If you haven't got it and can't find it online then have your tea at Frankie and Bennies - it's bound to come on sooner or later!

Fleetwood Mac. I'm going to include a couple of albums because they transformed into a very different group after their first success. Their first Greatest Hits album from the Peter Green era has such wonderful hits as Albatross, Man Of The World, The Green Manalishi (don't you just hate the green ones...) Need Your Love So Bad and Black Magic Woman.

Then Peter Green left and in came Lyndsey Buckingham and the distinctive voice of Stevie Nicks. Somehow I missed buying Rumours but bought this one from 1987 - Tango In The Night which hit the No.1 slot no less than three times over the course of twelve months. Some great tracks on this one and it was the first album I bought on CD rather than on vinyl.

Moving Waves was the second album from the Dutch progressive rock band Focus. The single Hocus Pocus was a series of fast fuzzed chords interspersed with riffs from a flute, whistling, yodelling and high-pitched wordless singing. It sounds better through speakers than it does in text...

This is featured here for The Four Seasons, rather than Frankie Valli who would rightly come under 'V'. The Jersey Boys have recently undergone a resurgence in popularity thanks to a film and stage musical and richly deserve it. It will however be a while before you catch me including high-pitched falsetto hits such as Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry and Walk Like A Man amongst the songs I play on stage with Creeping Bentgrass...

Back to the 78 rpm collection for Connie Francis, though her biggest hit for me - Lipstick On Your Collar - I have on both 78 rpm and 45 vinyl. Stupid Cupid was coupled with Carolina Moon as a double A side, Carolina Moon being about the only song I remember my Grandma playing on the piano that I actually enjoyed listening to. The rest of her (my Grandma, not Connie Francis) repertoire seemed to be either hymns or hits from Rodgers and Hammerstein...

I don't have this record I have to admit. In fact I had no Billy Fury records at all during his lifetime. I mentioned on my website way back before this blog started in 2007 that we were introducing Halfway To Paradise into our act and I got a missive from super-fan Moya Gleave who was a close friend of Billy's and who ran the Manchester-based fan club and who now runs the Billy Fury Fan Club of New Zealand from her home where she lives upside down. She gave me a severe talking to when we passed the letter 'B', but here is his rightful place! It's a wonder to me that he never reached the coveted No.1 spot, but he came close to it a couple of times, Jealousy hitting No.2 and Halfway To Paradise was one of three that reached No.3. Billy had more Top Ten hits during the 1960s than The Beatles did... And before they became famous they once auditioned to be his backing group.

One of Billy Fury's releases that I do have! He was born Ronald Wycherley in Liverpool in 1940 and contracted rheumatic fever as a child which contributed to a tragically early death in 1983. Despite this, he still has a hugely committed and faithful following and several excellent artists doing tribute shows in theatres all round the country. Because of Moya Gleave's email message all those years ago I've had the pleasure of meeting many of those fans, becoming friends with lots of them, playing alongside many of the artists and meeting and playing in front of Billy's mother, Mrs Jean Wycherley, who in her 90s, still sings herself at any "Billy Do" she attends. Moya - I luv ya, but no, Billy will not be appearing again under 'R' or 'W'... x

Fuzzbox - or more properly, We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It were another all-female band this time from the mid 1980s. Big Bang! was their third album and was something of a transformation album from rock to dance pop. It included two top twenty singles in the form of Pink Sunshine and International Rescue. Guitarist Jo Dunne sadly died shortly after being diagnosed with cancer, aged just 43 in 2012.

Well you may not have been mentioned other than briefly, George Formby, but it did "turn out nice again"...

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments must be passed by moderator before appearing on this post.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...