Saturday, 11 December 2010

Breakfast Special aka We Are the Eggmen

In the interests of Lennon-McCartney or McCartney-Lennon balance in this blog, I am impelled to include what purports to be the first live outing of Macca's dummy lyrics for Yesterday - although after the first couplet I suspect there has been some more recent updating. A case of Macca once again taking his lead from Brian Wilson, who finally finished an old project, Smile, after so many years?

Well, not really, as it's more about Macca declaring that his finished work is so established he can play about with its origins should he wish.

That reference at the end to onion rings reminds me of a spoof radio series, The History of Rock by Roger Planer, which had music written by Steve Brown and Phil Pope, and imagined Lennon working with Macca on his new song - actually suggesting onion rings in place of scrambled eggs.

And Phil Pope is the composer of the Beatles pastiches on the Harry and Paul show.

Might Macca have heard that radio spoof and had it lodged in his head? No, stop - like Neil Innes having the Threetles sing Ouch! back at him, it's all too much for me to bear.

But while we're in this worlds-within-worlds mode, I do wonder whether Pete Wingfield, a respected English musician who has backed many fifties rock'n'roll greats and indeed played with Macca at the slightly-shifted sort-of-real Cavern, drew some inspiration from Macca's initial makeshift lyric for an album track which resembles the thumbs-aloft one in Jim McCartney-style Honey Pie mode.

In the seventies Wingfield wrote a pastiche doo wop song originally intended for the mighty Dells, 18 With a Bullet, which he was eventually obliged to record himself, and gained a sizeable hit in the process.

There was an accompanying album, Breakfast Special, which displayed a range of soul-related styles, plus a Macca-type twenties (or thereabouts) ditty entitled Shining Eyes, including the deathless line:
As sure as eggs is eggs I loved your legs and you
This was much prized by Big T, a friend of my immediate elder brother. But what I chiefly retain is a  couplet later in the song, which was presumably set in wartime:
I thought it strange that you never replied -
Wasn't too much trouble to do -
But then came that moment of sickness inside
When instead of your house, only rubble. No you.
And I think the song concluded
Shining Eyes, you're the phantom in my past.
It's not on spotify nor on youtube, so I can't share it with you, but I do recommend it unto you. It seems to have been left off a CD on Cherry Red of his Island recordings which, as he seems to have been involved in the reissue, may suggest he is not all that proud of the song, or feels it doesn't fit with the more soulful numbers. A pity, if so.

Actually make that pastiche a little later, as the first couple of lines ran:
It seems like yesterday we grinned at Groucho Marx
You liked talkies and dancing in the dark.
Could it be Wingfield's Laughing Gnome? Did he agree to write sleevenotes for the CD on condition it was quietly dropped from the tracklist?  Was he a Macca trapped in a Lennon's body? It all adds up: a career devoted to backing rock'n'roll legends, the whimsical songlet written out of history ...

Oh, and Honey Pie was covered by Alan Klein. What with that and the glancing Bowie reference, maybe this ought technically to be in the Gnome Thought series. But I'm hoping to get some more Klein info, so will wait for that.

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