Friday, 27 November 2020

Ce n'est rien que nous n'ayons vu auparavant

I've woken up to the sight of the first air frost on the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers - it was foggy overnight and the moisture froze onto leaves and pots, giving a sparkly sheen to everything. Winter drawers on, methinks...

As we crawl ever closer to the weekend, however, we need to get ourselves into the mood for a party [and we're actually having one tonight, via Zoom of course], thermal underwear or no. As the Timeslip Annual 1971 above hints, I am taking a little trip down memory lane; to #adecadeago again [a sort-of-memey-thing I half-heartedly entered into a while back at the suggestion of Ms Scarlet, who is unashamedly recycling her own back-catalogue at the mo] revisiting posts I did ten years ago - and came up with a corker.

From this week in 2010, a double-bill of campery - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

As you, dear reader, will no doubt already know, here at Dolores Delargo Towers we are passionate for most things 80s - the hairdos, the overblown power-ballad dry-ice-laden videos, the padded shoulders, the gradual handover from punk to New Romantics to Madonna to Stock Aitken & Waterman to rave, the almost complete lack of rappers... And of course, in the middle of all this - HiNRG/Italo Disco!

This particular song was a favourite of mine from gay clubbing days in Wales. Like so many dance numbers of that era (notably Voyage, Voyage and Ella, elle l'a), it probably benefited from being sung in its native language (French), so you didn't need to concentrate on how silly the lyrics may be.

Of course, unless a song was American or British we would never get to see the video. And in the case of this remarkably artless effort by Début de Soirée (for it is they), it was probably a very good thing indeed...

Not content with just leaving it at that I just had to share another recent discovery, courtesy of our friends in Brittany. You thought the original was bad? Try this marvellous Korean lady-boy karaoke version:

I can smell the poppers from here.

Have a great weekend, peeps!

Thursday, 26 November 2020

And it's not so bad, it's not so bad

Over the pond, the Yanks are giving thanks for... something or other.

Here, it's just another day. However, it does provide us with a perfect excuse to play a little classic from (gulp) twenty-two years ago. Here's Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong, better known as Dido...

My tea's gone cold, I'm wondering why
I got out of bed at all
The morning rain clouds up my window
And I can't see at all
And even if I could, it'd all be grey
But your picture on my wall
It reminds me that it's not so bad
It's not so bad

I drank too much last night, got bills to pay
My head just feels in pain
I missed the bus and there'll be hell today
I'm late for work again
And even if I'm there, they'll all imply
That I might not last the day
And then you call me
And it's not so bad, it's not so bad

And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life

Push the door, I'm home at last
And I'm soaking through and through
Then you handed me a towel
And all I see is you
And even if my house falls down now
I wouldn't have a clue
Because you're near me

And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life
And I want to thank you
For giving me the best day of my life
Oh, just to be with you
Is having the best day of my life

Happy Gobbling Day to our American chums!

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Swinging the axe

On the weekend came the news that Graham Norton is leaving his long-running Saturday morning Radio 2 magazine show - to be replaced by that professional irritant, Claudia Winkleman. 

Last night (as I listened to her show on catch-up) came even worse news - the BBC has cancelled one of our favourite hours on radio, Clare Teal's Swing and Big Band Show!!

From The Telegraph (via Yahoo):

Radio 2 has axed its shows dedicated to swing music and early rock’n’roll as the station concentrates its attention on “the next era of pop”.

The Swing and Big Band Show with Clare Teal, and Bill Kenwright’s Golden Years, have been fixtures of the Sunday night schedules for a decade.

But the programmes will have no place in a “refresh” by the station’s new controller, Helen Thomas.

Kenwright hosted his last show on Sunday and bade his listeners an emotional farewell. Teal will leave the station in January, and told the Daily Telegraph that she was sad to leave.

“The swing and big band community in this country is really strong. It saddens me that the show is going. We’ve built up this audience and it’s a real sharing experience,” she said.

They are the latest specialist shows to disappear from Radio 2. The cull began in 2018 with the end of programmes devoted to brass and military band music and organ music.

Last year the BBC announced the new role of Controller of Pop, appointing Lorna Clarke to oversee the musical direction of Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 1Xtra, the BBC Asian Network and 6 Music.

When she advertised the Radio 2 head of station job in March, Clarke said that she was looking for someone to “help me shape the next era of pop from the BBC”.

However, Teal said swing and big band music do constitute “pop” for her listeners, particularly older listeners who grew up with it.

She said: “This music is popular music of a different era - a soundtrack to people’s lives. It is so memory-linked. I hope older audiences will still be served. Older people don’t all like classical music and they’re not all going to head off to Radio 3.”

Teal hopes to produce a version of her show on the Anchor podcast platform in the New Year.

A Radio 2 spokesperson said: “We would like to thank Clare Teal and Bill Kenwright for bringing such passion and commitment to their shows.

"We are always exploring new ways of reflecting a broad range of genres across Radio 2 and the music they featured will continue to be heard, whether in forthcoming series Top Brass with James Morrison and Barry Humphries’ Forgotten Musical Masterpieces, and within our regular shows, weekly strands such as Sound of the 60s and Jamie Cullum, plus specials. We very much hope to work with both Clare and Bill on future projects."

"Reflecting a broad range of genres" - what utter bollocks. When the genial Don Black retired this year, himself a replacement for the late David Jacobs, what did Radio 2 think was a suitable replacement for their style of laid-back, easy listening music, the "comfort zone" that traditionally ended Sunday nights? Why, a show of generic pop pap, of course, presented by Anneka Rice (of all people), generally best known for her cheesy grin and for wobbling her arse at the camera while seeking the prizes in 1980s adventure game show Treasure Hunt. Of course. A natural fit, NOT. A whole "genre" of music, lost.

The above-mentioned Miss Winkleman's first appearance in the Radio 2 schedules was itself during a previous reshuffle after the retirement due to ill health (he died soon after) of the station's longest-serving and beloved DJ, purveyor of classic showtunes, standards and gentle music Desmond Carrington. Her brash style of presenting and banal playlist-pop content sat uncomfortably as his ostensible "replacement", and disrupted the flow of Sunday evenings with a jolt.

The world's longest running music radio show Friday Night is Music Night has also been treated shoddily by the once-proud BBC. Ostensibly in a "temporary move" when radio schedules were being "simplified" in response to the coronavirus pandemic earlier in 2020, the show was shifted to Sunday evenings and "temporarily" re-titled Sunday Night is Music Night. Long before any hint of COVID existed, there had been little in the way of new programming in its normal tradition, however - one of the great "perks" of this publicly-funded network was that audiences could attend recordings of these generally Light Music (and Big Band) concerts for free; and over the years we successfully got tickets (in their draw) for several of these - and its output began to rely heavily upon repeats of old shows, unless there was a concert for which the Beeb could charge, of course, which would then be broadcast in its place. Lately, and perhaps understandably, repeats are all that occupies its Sunday slot, and the entire programme is unceremoniously dumped altogether if another music-themed event comes along such as BBC Live Sessions, the Olivier Awards or, shamefully for a nation which has no such music in its national canon, America's Country Music Awards. This is the British Broadcasting Corporation, in case anyone in charge of scheduling has forgotten.

Miss Teal, in her statement above, makes a very good point that Swing and Big band music is a genuine part of older people's memories and lives - it was their "pop music", as she says - and fears that generation is being sidelined by the decision. I would argue further that there are millions of people - ourselves included - for whom this type of music is not a personal memory-jog, but a matter of musical taste. We love not only the eternal back-catalogue of British dance bands, US swing bands, jazzy singers and Latin orchestras that were at their height in the early to mid 20th century (before "our time"), but also the modern inheritors, conservationists and innovators of this style - not least the likes of Max Raabe, Joe Stilgoe, Matt Dusk, Michael Feinstein, Claire Martin, Puppini Sisters, Michael Buble, Tricity Vogue or Kansas Smitty's House Band (and even Nina Hagen, Robbie Williams, Brian Setzer of the Stray Cats and Matt Goss of Bros have embraced it). Let us also not forget our own "house bands" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, Pink Martini and Scott Bradlee's Postmodern Jukebox...

So who is this embarassingly-titled "Controller of Pop" Lorna Clarke, anyway? On investigation, it seems her main pre-BBC experience was at Kiss 100, the former urban pirate radio station specialising in Hip-Hop, R&B and dance music, from where she progressed to BBC Radio 1Xtra, the digital urban contemporary and Black music radio station. No "swing" there, methinks. As for her appointee as Head of BBC Radio 2/Axeman, Helen Thomas appears to have experience producing mainstream output such as that channel's shouty Drivetime and Breakfast shows, and is on the committee of something called the Young Audio Awards. Both started their careers in radio news rather than music. I feel my life flashing before my eyes at the thought of what this pair have in mind next for the UK's biggest radio station.

Very sad.

Let's have some of "our kind of Swing" to cheer ourselves up, shall we?

And finally, proving that it's not just for oldies...

That's what we want!

Monday, 23 November 2020

Shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax

The time has come, the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax,
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.

- Lewis Carroll "The Walrus and the Carpenter"

In what little daylight I actually saw on the weekend [I am a complete "night owl" and treasure my long lie-ins on Saturday and Sunday], the weather was lovely and mild with blue skies, perfect for a bit of pottering and basking. Now, like a flash, it's over again, and I am reaching for the bloody work laptop...

Never be despondent however, dear reader, when on this Tacky Music Monday there's the utter madness of Miss Heather Parisi [singing about sealing wax for some fuck-knows-why reason], lots of glitter and spandex, safety gays and bizarre almost-but-not-quite-right frenetic dancing to save the day!

Italian television spectaculars. They never fail to deliver, even if our jaws are now on the ground.

Have a good week...

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Everybody lives for the music-go-round

Speaking of blondes... was Kim Wilde's 60th birthday last week! Lordy, that really makes me feel old.

Let's take a little trip down memory lane to her very first hit, from way back in Spring 1981. I was still in school.

Looking out a dirty old window
Down below the cars in the city go rushing by
I sit here alone and I wonder why

Friday night and everyone's moving
I can feel the heat but it's soothing, heading down
I search for the beat in this dirty town

Downtown the young ones are going
Downtown the young ones are growing
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
Everybody live for the music-go-round

Bright lights, the music gets faster
Look, boy, don't check on your watch, not another glance
I'm not leaving now, honey, not a chance

Hot-shot, give me no problems
Much later, baby, you'll be saying never mind
You know life is cruel, life is never kind

Kind hearts don't make a new story
Kind hearts don't grab any glory
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
Everybody live for the music-go-round

Come closer, honey, that's better
Got to get a brand new experience, feeling right
Oh, don't try to stop, baby, hold me tight

Outside a new day is dawning
Outside suburbia's sprawling everywhere
I don't want to go, baby

New York to east California
There's a new wave coming, I warn ya
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
We're the kids in America (Whoa)
Everybody lives for the music-go-round

We're the kids
We're the kids
We're the kids in America
We're the kids
We're the kids
We're the kids in America
We're the kids
We're the kids
We're the kids in America

Loved it at the time, and love it now. To finish, however, here's a little joy Kim released earlier this year - despite the fact that on first glance I thought that was June Whitfield, I think this is fab!

Kim Wilde (born Kim Smith, 18th November 1960)

Saturday, 21 November 2020

No-so-dumb blonde

"I had a tremendous amount of gay friends, so my whole life was basically like that... I never noticed who was gay or who was straight."

"Don't tell me I can't do that. Watch me. Don't tell me I can't direct this movie. Watch me."

"During the era when women were burning their bras - which, by the way, they never actually did - but when women were first becoming liberated, I was 23. And I met a woman who asked, 'Don't you feel bad because you're sort of acting like the stupid airhead blonde?' And I totally surprised myself. I said, 'Liberation can also come from the inside.'"

"It's nice for a woman to go out and have her own money and her own ability to do what she wants."

The magnificent, effervescent Miss Goldie Hawn is 75 years old today!

All hail.

Goldie Jeanne Hawn (born 21st November 1945)