Everybody and their Dogg

“What’s going on here?” I thought to myself over Boxing Day breakfast as Sounds of the 60s played Zabadak.

Dip into Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’s extravaganza at around 1.11 and you’ll hear the start of a vocal counter-melody later taken up by strings.  Now listen to the chorus of Family Dogg’s A Way of Life.  Is there not quite a similarity?

Zabadak dates from 1967 and A Way of Life from 1969.  The songs had different writers, with Zabadak constructed (and I think that’s the right word) by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley and A Way of Life written by Cook-Greenaway.

Nevertheless, there is a link between the two – Steve Rowland produced DDDBMT and was the lead vocalist of Family Dogg.  What that says, I don’t know but it’s a curious point of interest.

The Family Dogg: A Way of Life: Anthology 1967-76
The Family Dogg: It’s Just a Way Of Life

Bee Gees’ covers: Three in a Row

Good to hear three Bee Gees’ covers in the ‘Three in a Row’ slot on today’s Sounds of the 60s.  But only one improves on the original.

I Started a Joke – Heath Hampstead (1968)

This offers an even bigger take on I Started a Joke but who could surpass the splendid isolation – and, most importantly, the fragility – of Robin’s masterpiece?

All Our Christmases – The Majority (1968) 

The Majority’s final single emerged in January 1968 which must surely have scuppered its chances of success.

Written in the brothers’ early swinging psychedelic style (Sir Geoffrey Saved the World) , The Majority add tuba and glockenspiel but lose something of the original’s skewed weirdness (the Bee Gees’ fairly basic template is titled All My Christmases).  They also take the song at a faster pace, clocking in at 2.24 as against the Bee Gees’ 3.02 though theirs does segue into what sounds like the start of another song.

Craise Finton Kirk – Johnny Young (1967) 

Craise Finton Kirk adds a creakily eccentric, Victorian tailpiece teaser to Side One of Bee Gees’ 1st.  

Johnny Young’s version (a No 14 in his native Australia) fleshes out the arrangement, accentuates the rhythm and allows us to hear the lyrics.

The Bee Gees original is more lovable and works perfectly within the context of 1st but with Johnny Young ‘Craise Finton Kirk’ emerges as a fully realised, self-contained song.  His probably gets my vote – just.

The Tyranny of Pop

Tyranny of Pop

Being forced to listen to endless pop in pubs and restaurants…

In Friday’s A Point of View Roger Scruton said it a lot better than I ever could but then unfortunately he goes on to say a host of other things besides, like the old fogey’s dislike of ‘like‘ – like it’s a symptom of short attention spans amongst young people (I suspect it is more a slightly staged expression of stunned inarticulacy in the face of something deemed really amazing, to get the sheer awesomeness across).

More importantly I don’t agree with his implied narrowing of the musical canon to Bach, Beethoven and Brahms – otherwise why would anyone ever try to write, let alone listen to, anything else?  His theory on ‘the vast change in the human ear brought about by the mass production of sound’ is a genuinely interesting one though.

It seems strange for a blog ostensibly about ‘pop music’ to link to a Point of View that is pretty much down on all pop music.  But I would estimate I don’t like 95% of all pop ever produced  – a foolish claim, I know, since I haven’t heard even 50% of it but in a way, that’s my point.  There’s just too much of the stuff.  Everywhere.  And we have it inflicted on us whether we like it or not.

Right on Roger!

A Point of View • tx.13.11.15. 8.50-9.00pm /15.11.15. 8.48-9.48am • BBC Radio 4

Photo credit: Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL) via Compfight cc

iPlayer also BBC Magazine

Music to Eat Food By

Singing Together: Archive on Four

Tx 29.11.14. 8.00-9.00pm, BBC Radio 4

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If traditional songs like ‘Donkey Riding’, ‘Bushes and Briars’ and ‘Tree in the Wood’ ring bells for you, the chances are you might have first heard and sung along to them on BBC Radio for Schools’ Singing Together broadcast for over five decades on Monday mornings at 11am.  Sprightly, rousing and, above all, jolly summed up its approach to singing.

Saturday’s Archive on Four allowed Jarvis Cocker a fascinating trawl through a history of the series prompted by a personal quest to unite his 1974 pupil’s pamhlet with broadcast recordings of the songs.  He does so thanks to a cassette tape in the back of an old school music cupboard.

‘Singing Together’ survived for so long because it was well loved by generations of children.  It fought off BBC bigwigs’ criticisms that it was insufficiently erudite and later adapted, sometimes awkwardly, to schools’ ethnic diversity and the constraints of the national curriculum.  But ultimately, ‘Singing Together’ died because its inherent simplicity was regarded as old fashioned, too straightforward for the demands of a changing world.

As Jarvis says – “Singing always helps” and at the end of the documentary, there’s a chance for you to do just that.

Singing Together on BBC iplayer
BBC Magazine feature
Lightstraw – a selection of charming covers to pupils’ pamphlets  from the 60s

Paul Nicolas as Oscar: Holiday

It’s always good to hear ‘new’ covers of Bee Gees‘ songs (there are so many).

This morning’s Sounds of the 60s gave us two – Samantha Sang‘s full-on The Love of a Woman and – the one which caught my attention – Paul Nicolas‘s take on Robin Gibb’s Holiday.

Paul recorded ‘Holiday’ in 1967 as Oscar, a name he maintained across five singles made under the charge of Bee Gees’ manager Robert Stigwood between 1966 and 1968.

Robin’s own ‘Holiday’ highlights the song’s miniaturist strangeness. Paul’s is a thoroughly decent orchestrated version.  You can hear a career in musical theatre beckoning (Hair was a year away).  Paul’s voice seems to want to break free of the song, his voice inhabiting it perhaps a little too fully.  This is especially so during the ‘dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee’ section which Robin sings with a quiet, musing quality.

It would be interesting to hear Paul’s other Oscar material.  It seems Castle may have put something out.