Tag Archives: the beatles

May 16th 1975 (V)

“John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” theatre programme continued…

Proof, as if it were needed, that society has gone through quite a change with regards to its relationship with cigarettes and smoking in the last 35 years.

Two full-page – colour – ciggie ads in the space of a tiny 16-page theatre programme shows just how invasive advertising for this filthy habit were way back when. (Yes, I was a smoker for a long time… but didn’t start – crazily – until I was in my 20’s!)

Benson & Hedges are marketed as something redolent of the “Golden Age”, complete with a cigarette holder, fancy lighter and… erm… cufflinks, whilst Lambert & Butler distinguish themselves in a classy silver box.

Please note that recommended price…. just 40p for 20! (Last time I was in England I seem to remember noticing a pack of 20 were over six quid?!!)

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May 16th 1975 (IV)

The “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” programme continued…

Alan Dossor‘s subsequently helmed for TV shows such as “Johnny Jarvis“, “Bergerac“, “The Governor” and “A Touch of Frost

Bernard Hill‘s acting career leapt into the stratosphere on the back of his bravura performance in the TV drama series “Boys from the Blackstuff“, where he played “Yosser” Hughes, an unemployed tarmac layer who angrily rails against the social unfairness of the Thatcher administration. Two of his lines became catchphrases, still used to this day… “Gizza Job” and “I can do that”

After “…Blackstuff” he appeared in Richard Attenborough’s award-winning “Ghandi” and films such as “The Bounty

In 1989 he returned to a Willy Russell script, playing the boorish Joe in “Shirley Valentine“. He is probably best known these days for his appearances in “Lord of the Rings” and as the fated ship’s captain in “Titanic

After playing Paul McCartney for a year at the Lyric Theatre, Trevor Eve was cast as Jonathan Harker in John Badham’s UK/USA-produced “Dracula” movie where he starred alongside such luminaries as Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasance and Frank Langhella.

In the late 70’s and into the early 80’s he was famous for playing the title role in “Shoestring“, a hugely popular TV show about  private investigator with his own show on “Radio West”, a fictitious station located in Bristol. (Peculiarly enough a few years later a REAL Radio West started broadcasting, the result of some new broadcasting franchise opportunities)

He is now (even better) known for playing Detective Peter Boyd in the BBC drama series “Waking the Dead

Philip Joseph‘s post-play career seems sketchy but he does appear to have appeared in TV shows like “Great Expectations”, “Soldier Soldier” and “The Bill“. Sorry to say, I wouldn’t recognise him at all.

Antony Sher is now Sir Antony Sher, knighted by the Queen for his services to the theatre in 2000.

Although he has appeared in a few movies – “Mrs Brown” and “Shakespeare in Love”  to name but two – the main body of his career has been spent on the stage where he has won many awards and plaudits. He has been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1982.

George Costigan didn’t allow being born in Portsmouth hold him back from enjoying a very succesful TV and Movie career.

He gained proper public recognition after his stand-out performance as the serial adulterer in the 1986 hit film “Rita, Sue and Bob Too

His TV roles include shows like “Kavanagh QC“, “London’s Burning“, “The Bill“, “Holby City” and “Doctor Who“, and he has just signed up to play a part in the popular UK soap opera “Emmerdale

Anthony Blackett, who, as the programme states got his stage break in “J.P.G,R… and B”, changed his name to to the simpler Tony Blackett and after a seven-year stint in the UK and USA – where he appeared in shows such as “The New Avengers” and “Return to Eden” – went back to live Australia.

Robin Hooper appears to have had a mixed career, his high spot doubtless being a recurring role as Malcolm in Ricky Gervais’ observational comedy smash “The Office

Barbara Dickson was already a well-known face on the English folk circuit before Willy Russell asked her to perform the music in “J,P,G,R… and B”. It has been said that it was her unique interpretation of the Beatles songs which made the show so succesful.

She attracted the attention of  Robert Stigwood (co-producer of the play) who promptly signed her to his RSO Record label, where she made the album “Answer Me“, the title track from which became a Top 10 hit single for her in 1976.

She also recorded the song “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” for the Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s musical “Evita” and enjoyed yet another hit. More hits followed in 1980; “Caravan Song” and “January, February

In 1982 she returned to the West End, starring as the mother in Willy Russell’s hugely succesful “Blood Brothers“. A role which won her an “Actress of the Year” award.  She was then cast in Tim Rice’s musical “Chess” which included a duet with Elaine Paige. The subsequent recording of “I Know Him So Well” was massive hit and is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling female duet of all-time.

She continues to act and sing and worked again in 2003 with Willy Russell on his album “Hoovering the Moon”. In 2006 she released a collection of her versions of Beatles songs “Nothing’s Gonna Change My World” – which almost takes her career full circle – and has recently published her autobiography “A Shirtbox Full of Songs

My observations on the “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” theatre programme concludes in the next post…

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May 16th 1975 (III)

“John, Paul, George Ringo… and Bert” programme continued…

Recognise any names from the acting or music establishment there? (The Beatles’ excluded, obviously)

More stuff about them later.

Meanwhile…

Rumour has it that George Harrison went to the opening night of “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” in Liverpool, and was so appalled by it he refused permission for his beautiful “Here Comes the Sun” to be used in the play, forcing the producers to use “Good Day Sunshine” instead

I’m not sure I ever want to know what “Oo-ee Bopper” or “Oo-ee Whacker” sound like. Seems pretty evident to me that it’s Willy Russell’s attempt to nurture royalties from that RSO Original Cast Recording mentioned at the bottom of that second scanned page. But who wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with Lennon & McCartney eh?

More tomorrow….

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May 16th 1975 (II)

… continued from last post…

John, Paul George, Ring0… and Bert” Programme from 1975

What do you think a “movement consultant” does? I wonder if that is the equivalent of a stage director? It sounds awfully vulgar… “Hello, what do you do?”…. “Oh, I consult people on their movements”…. “Ewwwwwww!” (The Gillian McKeith of his era perhaps? *heh-heh*)

Willy Russell’s play started life at Liverpool’s Everyman Theatre in May 1974 before moving to London’s West End a few months later.

The chairmen and managing director of the Lyric Theatre were all well-known entertainment impresarios.

Sir Lew Grade (real name: Lev Winogradsky) had been involved in the inception of ITV (Independent Television), was part owner of Associated Television and ran ITC, a hugely succesful television corporation responsible for bringing such hits as “Thunderbirds”, “The Saint”, “The  Persuaders” and “The Prisoner” to our small screens.

Toby Rowland had produced plays in London since 1955 and was a highly influential theatre owner whose biggest ‘public’ claim to fame was that he discovered treasured Yorkshire playwright Alan Bennett

Louis Benjamin was also managing Director of the famous London Palladium and had brought the Royal Variety Performance to that stage for years. He was also the chairman of the succesful Pye Record label and was instrumental in developing the careers of singers such as Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield.

That “Robert Stigwood” is the same Robert Stigwood who kickstarted the recording career of Cream and was later responsible for a couple of movie musicals you may have heard of: “Saturday Night Fever” and “Grease”. He IS the “R.S. in RSO Records.

The Lyric Theatre sits on London’s prestigious Shaftsbury Avenue in London’s West End district and still retains many of its original features. It first opened in 1888. It is the oldest existing theatre on the street. It was built behind an original 1767 house facade, and backs onto Great Windmill Street. The building was Grade II listed by English Heritage as early as 1960, showing its importance to the city of London. It seats a modest 967 on four levels and still uses an electric pump to operate its iron curtain. Yes, iron.

More “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” programme nonsense tomorrow…

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Cockney Rebel

One of the huge drawbacks of EFA70sTRO 1974’s diary being ‘light’ on entries – particularly in the latter half of that year – is that we’ve missed out on several of my musical discoveries during that time.

I therefore feel it necessary to offer an ‘aside’ post about Cockney Rebel, one of the very few acts in my lifetime with whom I have shared a relationship bordering on ‘fandom’.

There have been many other acts I have abjectly raved about over the years – Bill Nelson, Captain Beefheart, Bowie, Ian Dury, ELP and more – but only a tiny handful where I have been drawn in a little bit further. Prince is one such act, Eno is another. But if I LOVED an act as an impressionable teenager it would have been Cockney Rebel. Or more correctly, Steve Harley.. because when all’s said and done he really was Cockney Rebel.

My first exposure to Cockney Rebel was back in February 1974 when I saw them on BBC’s “Old Grey Whistle Test“. I think they performed the track “Hideaway“? If memory serves me correctly, Harley sported heavily applied dark eyeshadow, slightly rouged cheeks and an ugly velvet suit. (VERY glam in other words!) Then, in May 1974,  their hit single “Judy Teen” was all over the radio. The band appeared many times on Top of the Pops and I always found Harley to be something of of engaging character.

I bought “Judy Teen” and the accompanying album, “The Psychomodo”. Not longer afterwards I tracked down the band’s 1973 debut album, “The Human Menagerie” (which – over the years – has proved itself to be my out-and-out fave) as well as shelling out for the band’s next hit single”Mr Soft” (a marvellous carnival piece of earworm-worthy pop fluffiness) and the follow-up flop, “Big Big Deal” (So much of a flop it was actually withdrawn from sale after just a few weeks!)

(It would feel criminal if I didn’t do EFA70sTRO reviews of the bands first two albums… so expect them soon!)

 The weekly music press I was reading back then seemed to have a love/hate relationship with Harley, his own journalistic background evidently giving him a keen eye for what would represent a good ‘quote’. The statements he made seemed to purposefully wind people up, and whilst the press seemed to find favour with his music they treated him personally with a certain disdain. I can’t explain why, but this dichotomy appealed to me somehow, so I then wanted to find out more about the band.

Steve Harley started life as Steven Nice, born in Deptford, London in 1951. He attended Hatcham’s College in the 1960’s, lucky to be attending an establishment where music was a speciality. He started writing songs and began performing them as a busker on the London Underground, often accompanied by his friend, violinist John Crocker.

He got the aforementioned job as a music journalist, simultaneously forming a touring band with Crocker (now known as “Jean-Paul Crocker”), drummer Stuart Elliott, bassist Paul Jeffreys (who would later be one of the victims of the Lockerbie Air Disaster) and keyboard player Milton Reame-James. Harley named the band Cockney Rebel, doubtless a cheeky nod to his own disruptive nature. They played just FIVE gigs before they were spotted by EMI Records and signed to a multi-album deal.

They toured on the back of “Human Menagerie” and (even after 35 years) I remain disappointed that I never caught them at Southampton University in early 1974 whilst Harley was just starting his career. (If that OGWT performance had been a month or two earlier I think I would definitely have trekked to the gig)

My 1974 diary didn’t mention it – hell, it didn’t mention much at all – but I seem to remember Cockney Rebel played either the University or Southampton’s Top Rank later on in the year too. Maybe I have that wrong? I can’t find reference to it anywhere online, so there’s every possibility I am just imagining it.

At the end of 1974 Harley broke up the original band, egotistically renamed it “Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel” and started recording a new album with, again, Alan Parsons (of Pink Floyd, Beatles and…erm… Alan Parsons Project fame) on production duties. This album – and one of its cuts in particular – would prove to both make and break Harley’s career. EFA70sTRO will be covering it at a later date.

My utter fandom for Steve Harley has not remained in place into my middle-aged life. I still adore all those early albums but it turns out his ego eventually got the better of him and his output started to drift downhill fast thereafter.

However, the phrase “Cockney Rebel” stuck with me and has become something of a personal legacy. After moving to the USA in the late 90’s I joined an online message board affiliated with a radio station my wife worked for. I was invited to chose a user name and “Cockney Rebel” popped into my head. From then until now I am known by many people more as “Cockney Rebel” or “CR” than I am my real name!

1975 and beyond will doubtless refer to Steve Harley and/or Cockney Rebel many times. I can only apologise in advance.

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(1974 Albums) Various Taped Recordings

I have reported in some detail all the records I bought during 1974.

The back pages of the diary also shows a selection of taped recordings I owned – many of which have already been discussed in my 1972 and 1973 entries.

However, there is a tiny handful of other albums I apparently recorded to C-90’s in 1974 that certainly seem worthy of a mention or two….

Clouds – Scrapbooking
Clouds were a Scottish Prog Rock band, unique in not having a lead guitarist amongst its line-up. They signed to Chrysalis Management around the same time as Jethro Tull but never enjoyed the support or public acclaim that Ian Anderson’s one-legged flute antics nurtured.

“The Clouds Scrapbook” was a concept album marketed as being some kind of a companion piece to The Beatles’ “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. I think we all know how that marketing idea went?

I’m pretty certain I borrowed this album from Tim B who I worked with at Lancaster & Crook. Years later I believe I also bought the LP for 69p from Woolworth’s clearance racks. I never hung onto it and would/could not recognise one single track from it these days.

Leo Sayer – Silverbird
Leo Sayer’s first claim to pop fame was as co-writer of Roger Daltrey’s debut solo single, “Giving It All Away“.

His own career was launched by 60’s pop idol turned actor, Adam Faith. Sayer’s second single “The Show Must Go On” – which Leo performed (strangely) in a Pierrot clown costume – reached Number 2 on the UK chart, a feat which then kickstarted a run of no less than seven consecutive Top 10 singles, including the worldwide #1 smash “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing

“Silverbird” was his debut album and it reached Number 2 on the UK Album Chart. It remains a fixture in my collection and a track or two occasionally pops up on shuffle. The songs are a little bit dated but still well composed and performed. “Oh Wot a Life” is a favourite of mine.

Two bits of Leo Sayer trivia… The first is that Leo now lives in Australia and became a fully fledged Australian citizen in 2009. The second is that “Leo Sayer” is cockney rhyming slang for “all dayer”… an all day drinking session. No wonder he feels like dancing!

Alan Hull – Pipedream
Straight off the bat I will state that “Pipedream” remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Alan Hull was a member of Newcastle-based folk rock band Lindisfarne who, in the early seventies, enjoyed a run of singalong hits including “Lady Eleanor“, “Meet Me on the Corner” and “Fog on the Tyne

Ructions amongst the band around 1973 resulted in the band breaking up. Three members went off to form Jack the Lad, whilst Alan Hull recorded and released “Pipedream” before eventually agreeing to be part of an “all-new” Lindisfarne. (It didn’t last long, he disbanded the group again in 1975)

“Pipedream” is an album chock-full of lovely gentle little songs all featuring Hull’s pretty unique and pleasing vocal style. Personally, I don’t think there is a bad tune on it and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who likes singer/songwriters. I think my favourites are “I Hate to See you Cry“, “Justanothersadsong”, “Country Gentleman’s Wife” and the opener, “Breakfast”

Hull died suddenly at the age of just 50 – of a heart thrombosis – in 1995. A real loss to the musical firmament.

Funnily enough, as much I like this album I have never even been vaguely tempted to investigate his other solo work. Perhaps it’s about time I did?

Yes – The Yes Album
Although “Fragile” will always remain my favourite Yes album, I’ll admit that (and despite the whole ELP vs Yes rivalry that existed back then) I have also frequently dabbled in their others… “The Yes Album” being a case in point.

For a start it kicks off with “Yours Is No Disgrace“, perhaps one of the best prog-rock album openings of all time. I love the way the Hammond slips in round the back of the drum and guitar intro… it almost gives me goosebumps.

Then there’s the almost hillbilly-esque Steve Howe guitar solo “Clap“, and I suppose “Starship Trooper” can’t be considered too shabby can it?.. even if I personally feel it’s a little too rambling for its own good.

Side Two offers the earworm of “I’ve Seen All Good People” and… well, precious little else as far as I am concerned.  (I’m sure there will be die-hard Yes fans who will disagree with me.)

I’ve never actually owned “The Yes Album” on any format (other than the recording I made in 1974… that counts, right?) although when my wife and I merged our transatlantic CD collections I was happy to see it amongst hers and duly ripped the songs mentioned above across to my i-tunes

Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things
If we ever wanted to know what kind of singing route Bryan Ferry – and thus Roxy Music – would eventually take, we only have to listen to this 1973 solo album of ‘classic standards’ crooned by the man himself.

It’s as eclectic a choice as it is good. There are certain songs that I heard for the very first time when Ferry sang them (“It’s my Party“, “Don’t Ever Change”, “Loving You is Sweeter than Ever” & “River of Salt”) whilst there are others (“Sympathy for the Devil“, “Don’t Worry Baby” & “Piece of my Heart“) which I actually prefer over the originals!

His cover of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” was and remains peculiar, whilst the magnificently crooned title track, “These Foolish Things“, cemented Ferry’s by-then reputation as a “lounge lizard”

What’s amazing about this album is that the concept – covering old standards – is as succesful today as it was in 1974. Hell, Rod Stewart’s entire post 1999 career has been founded on doing just that with, and I hope Rod won’t mind saying this, pretty lacklustre results.

Do I still like this album? Yes I do. My caveat is that I think Ferry honed the idea to perfection with the second set of solo covers, “Another Time, Another Place” a year later… an album which I am sure will turn up amongst these diary pages in due course.

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Number One Singles of 1974 (Part 1)

As I have mentioned before, the first two weeks of 1974 found Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” riding the crest of the UK singles chart. Quite the worthy achievement for a seasonal ditty.

By contrast, the most recent (2009) “Christmas Number One” (previously a massive badge of honour) – an offering from grunge-metallists Rage Against the Machine – couldn’t even stay there beyond a  single week, despite heaps of hype being lavished upon it. A sign at how far the music industry has changed since the last century and why, to be honest, I have a hard time getting ‘into it’ these days. 

Slade’s 1974 tenure at the top of the heap was finally usurped by the New Seekers with  You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me, a warbling lightweight pop song which gave the group their second UK number one. (Their first, EFA70’sTRO-documented here). 

The New Seekers were formed out of the ashes of the popular Australian folk combo The Seekers who, with sweet-voiced Judith Durham at the helm, enjoyed a string of nine HUGE hit singles in the 60’s including “A World of Our Own“, “The Carnival is Over“, “Morningtown Ride” and the title track to the movie “Georgy Girl” 

Given the ubiquity of the Beatles and the Stones people often overlook the harmonies and folk-pop stylings of the Seekers, but I personally feel their songs stand up with some of the very best the sixties had to offer. 

Melanie (Safka), whose songs would be hits for the New Seekers and... erm... The Wurzels

I think it’s fair to say that the New Seekers were nowhere in the same league, but they still enjoyed a string of successes in their own right, starting in 1970 with their cover of Melanie’s “What Have They Done to my Song, Ma” and including their 1972 Eurovision hit “Beg, Steal or Borrow“. 

“You Won’t Find….” would prove to be the New Seekers’ final Number One and they seemed to struggle with chart success after it. The band fractured internally – arguments over money forcing members to leave – and whilst it still exists (for touring purposes), the 2009 New Seekers bears little relation to the one that had the hits back in the seventies. 

Pop Songwriting duo Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman (mentioned before in these hallowed pages) racked up their third Number One hit single with Tiger Feet by Mud, which – peculiarly – appears to have stood the test of time as a good-time ‘party record’ 

Mud formed back in 1968 and once toured as a support act to American crooner Jack Jones. They suffered years in the ‘pop wilderness’, releasing a succession of failed records. Then they met producer Mickie Most and signed to his RAK Records label, where they were introduced to Chinn & Chapman and had an almost immediate Top 20 success with “Crazy” 

The band adopted a mock “glam Teddy Boy” image and often created a silly dance to accompany many of their songs, the one for “Tiger Feet” (which can be seen in that 1974 Top of the Pops performance) no less irritating than any of the others. 

“Tiger Feet” would turn out to be the biggest-selling single of 1974, but it would not turn out to be Mud’s biggest song of the year… as a future EFA70’sTRO page will testify. 

Mud’s personable lead singer Les Gray succumbed to throat cancer in 2004. Drummer David Mount sadly committed suicide at the end of 2006, whilst bassist Ray Stiles joined (of all the bands you could possibly imagine) The Hollies – yes that Hollies – as a touring member. 

Kylie. Yes, I know, ANY excuse, right?

Trivia fans will doubtless already be aware that Mud’s somewhat effeminate and toussle-haired guitarist, Rob Davis, is now a succesful songsmith in his own right, having penned a handful of classic modern pop hits including Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” 

If they indeed possessed laurels Chinn & Chapman certainly didn’t sit on them. 

Their number one hit from Mud was followed by… a Chinn/Chapman-written number one hit from leather clad pop rocker Suzi Quatro. “Devil Gate Drive” was the second Quatro number one for the duo, the first, “Can the Can”, written about here 

The number one spot was then passed from one leather-clad rocker to another, although this new one snazzed it up with a diamond-crusted glove which he seemed to be permanently pointing at the camera! 

Alvin Stardust had already enjoyed a minor pop career back in the sixties – when he was known as Shane Fenton – but a leather ‘overhaul’ and new name (given to him, allegedly by Lord Levy, who owned Magnet Records) kickstarted everything again. 

Jealous Mind turned out to be Alvin’s only chart-topper, but his singing style – and unique way of holding the microphone – was parodied for years after. 

More recently Alvin (Do his friends know him as Alvin, Mr Stardust, Shane Fenton or Bernard… his real name?) he has moved – like many 70’s performers of his ilk – into musical theatre, starring in London West End shows such as “Godspell”, “David Copperfield” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” 

Paper Lace were a band from Nottingham who – like a few others in the 70’s – first found fame following an appearance on ITV’s talent show Opportunity Knocks (which I have talked about before

Billy Don’t Be a Hero was the band’s debut single, immediately topping the chart for three weeks. The band sadly missed out on capitalising on the song’s success in the USA, especially given its anti-Vietnam sentiment. Another group – Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods – released their version first, and enjoyed the BIG American hit (A Billboard #1 no less) with sales of Paper Lace’s completely cannibalised. 

Paper Lace enjoyed a couple more hit singles – “The Night Chicago Died” (which somewhat made up for their earlier failure, itself reaching Number 1 in the USA) and “The Black-Eyed Boys” – before falling off the public’s radar and disappearing into obscurity. 

[“Number One Singles of 1974” continues in Part 2…]

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