Monday, 3 September 2018

Fiddler's Green and other adventures in sitcom

The discussion in the previous post of a sitcom which didn't make it to pilot stage has reminded me of one which did pass that hurdle at least, even though it was never broadcast. Fiddler's Green, starring Donald Sinden, was recorded in Teddington in July 1987 - not 1989, as The British Television Pilot Episodes Research Guide (above) has it; I can state this with some authority because I was present as a student observer throughout rehearsals and recording.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Sid and Rich: the sitcom that never was

According to a new biography, when Sid James died in April 1976 he had been just about to finalise plans to record a sitcom pilot for Thames Television in which he had been slated to appear with ex-Beatle Ringo Starr. It's a sad tale of what might have been - and, author David Hamm suggests, so very nearly was.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Kickstarter page for Peter Skellern's Complete Decca Recordings needs pledges before September 19th

[update: this Kickstarter project did not meet its target.]

If you have read my forever unfinished piece about the recordings of Peter Skellern, findable here, you may remember this lament:

Monday, 6 August 2018

Jeffrey Holland as Stan Laurel now at the Edinburgh Fringe

For readers who might be visiting the Edinburgh Fringe Jeffrey Holland is currently appearing in Gail Louw's play ... And This Is My Friend Mr Laurel at the Pleasance Courtyard at 11.30am. Here are my notes about the show from its 2016 London run:

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Hello Goodbye to Berlin: How the Beatles Peppered the Melting Pot (new book by David Hamm)

Scan the famous faces who populate the Sgt. Pepper album cover and one may seem conspicuous by his absence: Irving Berlin, regarded by many as the father of twentieth century American popular song, fusing together elements of a range of musical genres to pen the opening pages of what we know today as The Great American Songbook.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

It was fifty years - oh, alright, fifty years and one day - ago today ...

50 years ago yesterday, the talent show Opportunity Knocks was the last programme to be broadcast from ABC's studios in Didsbury, a Manchester suburb, before the company merged with Rediffusion to become Teddington-based Thames Television, home to Hughie Green's show for a further ten years.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Gnome Thoughts ... 39 (Liltin' Hilton or Wherefore to Bradfooord?)

I thought this blog's series of posts about the early David Bowie, entitled Gnome Thoughts, had come to a natural end but today I heard Ronnie Hilton's version of The Laughing Gnome, recorded in 1967, for the first time, and could not stay silent.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

My Old Man's a Fireman/Soldier/Dustman (strike out whichever is not applicable)

Some time ago I looked into the origins of My Old Man's a Dustman, the 1960 song by Lonnie Donegan which helped broaden his appeal.

I didn't look hard enough.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Dick Lester's It's Trad, Dad! on Talking Pictures TV, 5th July

For UK readers, the happy news that Dick Lester's It's Trad, Dad! is to get a rare television airing on Thursday the 5th of July at 6.05pm on Talking Pictures TV. Made before A Hard Day's Night, it fizzes with the same kind of inventiveness and fun, and can be seen as a kind of dry run for the later film, as Lester plays around -  a more appropriate verb than "experiments" - with different ways of presenting pop and jazz performances.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Reposted Notes From Nowhere Boy

Having written recently about Michael Hill, author of a memoir about the young John Lennon, this seems a good time to repost my earlier piece about the film Nowhere Boy.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

New musical about Deborah Chessler and the Orioles


If you happen to be within reach of West Chester, Pennsylvania, a new musical about the Orioles and Deborah Chessler, entitled Soul Harmony, is running at Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center until July 1st. As the show's publicity notes, after the success of Jersey Boys and Million Dollar Quartet, maybe now could be the moment for a doo wop musical; I certainly hope so. Chessler is undoubtedly worth the attention as she wrote It's Too Soon to Know, which started off the doo wop boom in 1948.

Soul Harmony was workshopped in 2015 but it was a 1993 article in Rolling Stone by Greil Marcus which sparked off the idea, as cowriter Alan Berg recently told journalist Denny Dryoff:

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

But I do know something about the record labels ... (Michael Hill and John Lennon)

If you aren't already familiar with the longrunning Something About the Beatles podcast, it can be heartily recommended - always assuming that you are the kind of person likely to be drawn to a regular programme about that much-discussed group.

One of its cofounders, Richard Buskin, left the show a few months ago, and I miss the give-and-take between him and Robert Rodriguez, now presenting solo, which was a considerable part of the podcast's appeal: the effect was of an occasionally spikey conversation between two friends, each acutely aware of the other's predilections and never above some affectionate mockery.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

How George Benson Was Banjoaxed By Bird

Such is the magic of onlinery that the above photograph, tweeted last night by Kliph Nesteroff, swiftly led to an explanation of a piece of musical jargon which had long puzzled me in Johnny Keyes' memoir Du-Wop. It's a good read, as described here and here, and is one of the few books that I know of which contains a detailed first hand account by a doo wop group member of the experience of recording and performing.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Inez Andrews

Discovering that this great 1965 gospel record by Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes is, at long last, on youtube has prompted memories of when I first heard it - on the double album Black Gospel, released in the UK in 1985 to coincide with the book of the same name by Viv Broughton, and presumably compiled by him.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Come to the Sabbat or Crossroads in My Life

I can pinpoint the moment I succumbed - at least, I think I can.

When I call the details to mind they seem fantastical: a young couple atop a scooter in various shades of white and gray - the overall fuzzy picture, I mean - are haring off to attend, or more likely prevent, some sort of Satanic ceremony. And as they drive off the bottom right of the screen and the already familiar theme starts to swell, something changes in me.