Monday 30 November 2015

A class beyond compare

It's foul out there, and yet again we have to haul ourselves reluctantly out into it to earn our crust...

Who better to cheer us up on this Tacky Music Monday but tomorrow's birthday girl Miss Mary Martin and The Master himself Noel Coward?

It does the trick for me!

Get Out Those Old Records
They Didn't Believe Me
'S Wonderful
Time on My Hands
I Didn't Know What Time It Was
Anything Goes
Dancing in the Dark
I Won't Dance
Papa, Won't You Dance with Me?


Have a good week, peeps!

Sunday 29 November 2015

I'll live a lush life, in some small dive

We have a centenary to celebrate today - that of one of the greatest of all composers from the Swing era, Mr Billy Strayhorn!

Described by Duke Ellington as "my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head", Billy composed many of the Duke's standards, including Isfahan, Passion Flower, Chelsea Bridge and Satin Doll:

And he also composed the Duke Ellington Orchestra's "theme tune", Take the "A" Train:

Mr Strayhorn (whose nickname was "Sweet Pea") was not merely significant for being the linchpin of a three decade professional partnership with Ellington. He was proudly and openly gay during a highly homophobic era (and an early supporter of the civil rights movement in America, to boot). Cultured, intelligent and well-travelled, a friend described him as “a miniature, black Noel Coward.”

As his biographer David Hajdu writes: “In Pittsburgh, who he was had inhibited Billy Strayhorn from doing what he could do; in New York, what he could do enabled him to be who he was.” And what he was was a young gay man who loved the finer things in life, and was able to set up home with his boyfriend secure in the knowledge that - unlike many employers back then - his sexuality, and his openness about it, would not be an issue with Ellington, who treated him as one of the family.

Indeed, it was through the Duke that Billy met his first partner (and fellow musician) Aaron Bridgers, with whom he lived until Bridgers moved to Paris in 1947.

Billy's absolute masterpiece (often considered a "gay standard") - and eternal favourite here at Dolores Delargo Towers - is, of course, the magnificent Lush Life. I have documented my personal favourite version of this song - surprisingly the rendition by Queen Latifah - before. [See my previous blog about Mr Strayhorn for that.]

Today, however, it is to the very first documented recording of this absolute classic that we turn by way of tribute - showcasing the lovely vocals of Kay Davis (and with Billy himself at the piano):

I used to visit all the very gay places,
Those come-what-may places,
Where one relaxes on the axis,
Of the wheel of life,
To get the feel of life,
From jazz and cocktails.

The gals I knew had sad and sullen grey faces,
With distingué traces,
That used to be there.
You could see where,
They'd been washed away,
By too many through the day
Twelve o'clock tales.

Then you came along,
With your siren song,
To tempt me to madness.
I thought for a while,
That your poignant smile,
Was tinged with the sadness,
Of a great love for me.
I guess I was wrong.
Again, I was wrong.

Life is lonely again,
And only last year everything seemed so sure.
Now life is awful again.
A trough-full of hearts could only be a bore.

A week in Paris will ease the bite of it.
All I care is to smile in spite of it.

I'll forget you I will,
While yet you are still
Burning inside my brain.

Romance is mush,
Stifling those who strive.
I'll live a lush life,
In some small dive.

And there I'll be,
While I rot with the rest
Of those whose lives are lonely, too.

Utterly remarkable when you consider that Mr Strayhorn was just nineteen years old when he wrote that.

A documentary about Billy Strayhorn, also titled Lush Life was made in 2008. From it are these two clips:

[2019 UPDATE: Clip #1 gone from YouTube, but available via the Internet Archive]

We unfortunately missed a centennial tribute to Mr Strayhorn that featured the divine David McAlmont at the Cadogan Hall in Mayfair last weekend. Just today New York's Jazz at Lincoln Center marked Billy's centenary with a series of performances - including a surprise pop-up concert on the subway!

He deserves every tribute going.

William Thomas "Billy" Strayhorn (29th November 1915 – 31st May 1967)

Saturday 28 November 2015

Thinking of going on holiday..?

...choose carefully; and always take a map!

See more from Vargic's Miscellany of Curious Maps, courtesy of The Independent.

Friday 27 November 2015

Ev'rybody take it to the top

It feels like it's been a long time coming, but the weekend is almost upon us...

Despite the rain and cold, we're gearing up for that party mood. You've heard of "double denim" - how about "double lurex"? Let's take some fashion tips from the Brothers Johnson, and Thank Disco It's Friday!

The heat is on
And the funk just won't leave us alone
Ev'rybody take it to the top

We're gonna stomp
All night
In the neighbourhood
Don't it feel all right
Gonna stomp
All night
Wanna party
'Til the morning light

Have a great weekend!

Thursday 26 November 2015

Got my sun-roof down; got my diamonds in the back

Among a raft of birthdays today - including such odd bedfellows as poet William Cowper, "Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, playwright Eugene Ionesco, Pat Phoenix ("Elsie Tanner"), George Segal, DJ Paul Burnett, Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn, John McVie, La Cicciolina, Jean Terrell and Queen Maud of Norway - one name stands head and shoulders among the rest.

Just today, one of our Patron Saints paid tribute to another, as Cher said:
“Tina Turner was, is, and always will be, a Goddess to me‼️ It's impossible to stand next to her on stage, and not feel a little bit eclipsed.”

And here they are together with Shame, Shame, Shame:

Don't stop the motion
If you get the notion
You can't stop the groove
Cause you just won't move
Got my sun-roof down
Got my diamonds in the back
So put on your shaky wig baby
If you don't I ain't comin' back!

Many happy returns Mrs Tina Turner Bach (nee Anna Mae Bullock, born 26th November 1939)!

Wednesday 25 November 2015


Sod that dread American export "Black Friday" - today is shopping day!

And all for me!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

On Her Majesty's Human Resources Service

Bloody brilliant.

And for those among us who are, like me, "public servants" - so true...


From Dazed magazine:
“Over the years I’ve been asked a lot of questions about what makes Icelandic people so special. I used to talk a lot about things like elves and isolation, but as I get older I think, especially with what’s going on in the world today, I think perhaps what really makes us stand out is the lack of religion. Give me a few bottles of red wine and I could probably go into that one all night. It’s just amazing talking to friends, especially from the States, who will tell you that half of their teachers at school were religious fanatics. I never had any religion imposed on me, I went to church maybe twice as a child.

“I find that when a lot of foreign people go through problems, like messy divorces, they suddenly start going to church more. In Iceland you wouldn’t do that, you’d start going in to nature more. The difference is as you grow up you don’t expect anyone else to sort out your problems – a priest or a president or a god or any kind of authority to surrender to or seek punishment or guilt from. If you are in trouble, you have to sort it out yourself. There are plenty of things we’re not good at, though. We’re hopeless at teamwork because everybody is so independent.”
Belated 50th birthday wishes to the eternally crazy Björk!

Here's my favourite of her choons - her inimitable cover of Betty Hutton's It's Oh So Quiet:

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (born 21st November 1965)

Monday 23 November 2015

Every moment's a day; every day seems a lifetime

It was a really busy weekend (a verrrry late drunken Saturday following our friend Alex-the-Journo-slut's birthday bash, and a hungover visit yesterday to the V&A for an LGBT-themed examination of the museum's collections - more of that in due course, no doubt), so it feels especially stressful having to get up and out to the office (particularly in this freezing weather).

It's been ages since I have played this "house favourite" here at Dolores Delargo Towers, but, on this Tacky Music Monday only the Kessler Twins can possibly lift this miserable mood...

It's Quando, Quando, Quando time again!

I'd be doing the dance moves round the living room if I wasn't in danger of spilling my coffee or dropping my fag.

Sunday 22 November 2015

I'm in heaven with the maven of funk mutation

Scarily, Miss Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads celebrates her 65th birthday today...

Any excuse, really, to play my all-time fave from her "side-project" the Tom-Tom Club!

What you gonna do when you get out of jail?
I'm gonna have some fun
What do you consider fun?
Fun, natural fun

I'm in heaven
With my boyfriend, my laughing boyfriend
There's no beginning and there is no end
Time isn't present in that dimension

He'll take my arm
When we're walkin', rolling and rocking
It's one time, I'm glad I'm not a man
Feels like I'm dreaming but I'm not sleeping

I'm in heaven
With the Maven of funk mutation
Clinton's musicians such as Bootsy Collins
Raise expectations to a new intention

No one can sing
Quite like Smokey, Smokey Robinson
Wailin' and skankin' to Bob Marley
Reggae's expanding with Sly and Robbie

Ipsimama, ipsimama
Ipsimama, ipsimama

All the weekend
Boyfriend was missing, I surely miss him
The way he'd hold me in his warm arms
We went insane when we took cocaine

Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow
Who needs to think when your feet just go?
With a hiddity-hi and a hipitty-ho
Who needs to think when your feet just go

Bohannon bohannon bohannon bohannon
Who needs to think when your feet just go
Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon Bohannon

James Brown, James Brown
James Brown, James Brown

If you see him
Please remind him, unhappy boyfriend
Well, he's the genius of love
He's got a greater depth of feeling
Well, he's the genius of love, he's so deep

I'm in heaven

Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow
Who needs to think when your feet just go?

Well, he's the genius

Happy birthday, Martina Michèle "Tina" Weymouth (born 22nd November 1950)

Saturday 21 November 2015

Hate Mail

The Daily Mail in an alternate universe where Hitler won the war is absolutely identical, it has been confirmed.

Scientists created a window into another dimension to view the newspaper, in the hope of gaining insight into how history had developed differently, but instead it was just the Daily Mail.

Professor Helen Archer said: “At first we were appalled by the nightmarish world of deep-seated paranoia, hatred of everyone and unwavering faith in war as the solution to everything, then we realised how familiar it seemed.

“Page for page, comma for comma, not a single difference. The British monarchy are likely a puppet regime installed as a smokescreen for Nazi despots, but you’d never know it from the Mail.

“One researcher believed he’d detected a sinister undercurrent of Aryan supremacy in the depiction of the Kardashians, but it turned out he’d been looking at the one from our universe by mistake.

“We’re working on a new theory which posits that the single constant in an infinity of parallel universes is that the Daily Mail is just as vile in all of them.”
Truth hurts.

The Daily Mash

Of course.

Friday 20 November 2015

Not like the first time

Ahh... Another long, and increasingly, depressingly, dark week is staggering to its close.

To celebrate, we need a dose of the fancy footwork of Shalamar to help get us in the party spirit.

It's their Second Time Around, it seems. Lord knows what went wrong the first time.

Thank Disco It's Friday! Have a good one...

Thursday 19 November 2015

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Let it come into your heart and carry you away

It's a timeslip moment again.

We've materialised in this week twenty years ago - a week when the Bosnian war trials began, ecstasy took a sinister turn (with tabloid coverage of the death of Leah Betts), Princess Diana's "there were three of us in this marriage" interview was broadcast, Ken Saro-Wiwa became a human rights martyr in Nigeria, the US budget was in meltdown and the Rose West murder trial was reaching its conclusion; GoldenEye, Ace Ventura and Leaving Las Vegas were in our cinemas; and Hollyoaks, The Thin Blue Line and Mr Bean were on telly.

In the charts in November '95? That most incomprehensible of hit-making duos Robson & Jerome were top of the tree, and Queen Madge, Oasis, Everything But The Girl, Tina Turner, Enya, Sean Maguire and Coolio were all there - but, among a raft of great dance classics all hitting the charts in this week, so were the Happy Clappers and the wonderful I Believe!

I believe in love and live baby
Let it come into your heart and carry you away,
And I believe that all the people should be free,
To live the way exactly to the lovers standing unity.

Oh listen people it's getting harder each day,
Just to know who you are, just to find your way.
And I believe we're equal whatever colour or creed,
I cant deny the truth - well its the love that I believe!

And who could disagree with that?

Monday 16 November 2015

Turkey lurkey, loosey goosey

Oh bum. Back to work again.

Never mind, at this time of year everyone's starting to put together the plans for their office Xmas party. And that's always something to look forward to. Groan.

I can absolutely guarantee that ours won't be anything like the one that today's birthday girl Donna McKechnie (with Baayork Lee and Margo Sappington) is throwing! On this Tacky Music Monday, it's Turkey Lurkey Time...

Donna McKechnie (born 16th November 1942)

Sunday 15 November 2015

Ooh, baby love


Her Serene Highness Princess Reuss, Countess of Plauen - better known to you and I as Frida Lyngstad from Abba is seventy years old today!

Her phenomenal success as one-quarter of one of the world's most successful bands of all time, as well as her rocky love life with Benny (prior to becoming a solo singer and a Princess, to boot), is well-documented.

Less well-known, perhaps, is the fact she was a major star in her own right long before the foursome ever recorded together. Here she is in 1970, performing a selection of Swedish hit songs of the 20th century:

Here, having just won the Swedish "New Faces", is Frida's first television appearance:

And finally, her hilarious version of Baby Love - with two of the campest backing singer/dancers ever to grace a stage!

Many happy returns, Miss Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad (born 15th November 1945)

Saturday 14 November 2015

I have two loves; my country and Paris

There are very few words to say on a day like this, when our hearts go out to our compatriots across the water.

Let's leave it to Josephine Baker to affirm what we all feel.


Friday 13 November 2015

Bang-nam style?

Jihadi John’s novelty Christmas single has been shelved after a successful drone strike.

Come On Baby (Join the Global Caliphate) was set to launch on next weekend’s Strictly Come Dancing, with ‘John’ on vocals, Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on sleigh bells, and three backing dancers forbidden to dance, sing or move.

Manager Bill McKay said: “John’s ambition, apart from killing the prime minister, had always been to go on Top of the Pops and the Christmas one is the only one left.

“We had it all planned out. He was turning on the Christmas lights in Derby next week and then he was supposed to be doing Saturday Kitchen.”

McKay said that working with Jihadi John had been ‘challenging’ as the psychotic terrorist was clearly desperate to be famous while simultaneously rejecting celebrity as a symptom of corrupt western decadence.

He added: “It’s such a shame as the song is quite catchy. We really thought this could be the next 'Gangnam Style'.“
The Daily Mash

Of course.

Let the music play; he won't get away

"Is it the weekend already? Oh dear," said nobody. Ever.

As storms roll in across the Atlantic, we don't care. Our "look" this weekend is all silver eye make-up, hair-braids and robotic-dancing safety gays - just like the sassy Shannon!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Love put us into a groove
As soon as we started to move


Have a fab weekend, everyone!

Thursday 12 November 2015

Dicks, sausages and holes

Brits were horrified by news earlier this week that Americans have never heard of the meaty treat known as the sausage roll. And it made us worry about what else you could be missing out on on the other side of the Pond. So here are some tips and recommendations...

We begin with a warning – just as we Brits do not always say what we mean or mean what we say, the names of our foodstuffs can be confusing to the initiated. Take, as exhibit one, the Scotch egg. These have nothing to do with Scotland. The fantastic idea of encasing a hard boiled egg in sausage meat and then covering it with breadcrumbs came from Fortnum & Mason, one of our top London food stores, some 300 years. The creators decided this would be a perfect pocket-sized snack for aristocrats travelling by horse-drawn carriage.

Another great British food that originated as a convenient meal-on-the-go (long before America introduced us to fast-food restaurants) is the Cornish pasty. This features seasoned meat and veg inside a shortcrust pastry semicircle with a crimped edge. Pasties were popular with Cornish tin miners who loved their ability to keep warm for hours and be eaten without cutlery. Cutlery, you will note, is a minefield when it comes to etiquette in our country (thanks to our young people adopting some American ways) so anything that avoids using it makes good sense. You do have versions of pasties in American mining towns, but they are not real Cornish pasties, which have a protected status under EU law and must not be imitated.

Perhaps our least appetisingly named meal, Toad in the Hole, a dish of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, is said to have gained its unusual moniker because it looks like toads popping their heads from a hole. Along with our other weirdly named dishes, it tastes better than it sounds.

Following on the topic of confusingly named dishes, we turn next to the Spotted Dick. This has nothing to do with men named Richard, or any kind of unfortunate medical condition. It is in fact an old-fashioned steamed pudding filled with dried fruit, usually served with custard. Many Brits have happy childhood memories of eating them as part of their school dinners.

The Yorkshire pudding is a baked batter dish that accompanies another great British dish, the roast dinner, which we eat at lunchtime on Sundays. Yes, we have a habit of referring to lunch as dinner, especially in the North of England (just to confuse you further). The Yorkshire pud was first invented in the 18th century as something to fill up those who could not afford much meat. It was baked under the meat so as to soak up the dripping, and in Yorkshire is traditionally served as a starter covered in gravy, with the meat and veg to follow.

Crumpets are fluffy and light griddle cakes, served dripping with butter for breakfast and at tea time. Since anything served dripping with butter is a Very Good Thing you can see why we love them. They are our equivalent of your pancakes and maple syrup. They are also delicious with (proper) cheese. Please be careful how you ask for them though, as “crumpet” is also old-fashioned slang for an attractive woman. You have been warned.

For the full list, including such esoterica as Bovril, Bubble'n'Squeak and the "Full English" Breakfast, visit The Telegraph.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Underneath the lantern, by the barrack gate

Today is Remembrance Day (Armistice Day) - and yesterday (coincidentally) it would have been the birthday of one of WW2's greatest (and possibly less remembered) singers, Miss Anne Shelton.

By the tender age of twelve, in the early days of pre-war mass-entertainment, Miss Shelton's admirable (and remarkably mature) vocals had already landed her a slot on the BBC Home Service radio show Monday Night at Eight - and by age 15 she had a recording contract. She was a top entertainer all through WW2, performing with the likes of Ambrose and his Orchestra, Glenn Miller and Bing Crosby, and was the very first person to sing the English translation of the now-legendary wartime classic Lili Marlene. Her star was somewhat eclipsed by the likes of Vera Lynn, unfortunately, as well as by the influx of "Americana" that came during and just after the war. However, to us here at Dolores Delargo Towers, hers is the voice of that era - that should never be forgotten...

I think, as a mark of respect on all counts, we should revisit some of that lady's classics from all those years ago.

First up, her most rousing of wartime numbers:

That aforementioned première of Lili Marlene:

Accompanied by a typically weird'n'wonderful clip from Dennis Potter's Lipstick On Your Collar (the series during which I, and so many others, first fell in love with Mr Ewan McGregor), Miss Shelton's biggest commercial hit:

And finally, my particular favourite. Can't imagine why.

Daddy, let me stay out late
For tomorrow is our wedding date
Let the Baby kinda celebrate
Kiss the boys goodbye

Daddy, let me wear the mink
What's the difference what the neighbours think
Let the Baby linger on the brink
Oh, kiss the boys goodbye

And while I'm kissing them sentiment'ly
Keep the liberal point of view
Because I'm breaking it to them gently
That my heart belongs to you

So, Daddy, please remember this
That tomorrow starts a life of bliss
Let me show them what they're gonna miss
Kiss the boys goodbye!

Anne Shelton OBE (born Patricia Sibley, 10th November 1923 – 31st July 1994)

Armistice Day