Thursday, 29 December 2011

Spencer Leigh On the Beat Christmas Special and Clarke Davis and the Big Show Pt 43


Have just been listening to Spencer Leigh's Christmas Special On the Beat and wanted to recommend it while it's still available on BBC iplayer (until 8pm GMT Saturday evening). Click on the link here.

As ever, an eclectic mix of music - he says he wanted to open up with Louis Armstrong's version of The Night Before Christmas but couldn't find it anywhere on the internet, so there's a version by Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns instead. I think I heard it a while back on Russell Davies' programme - Louis Armstrong's recitation, that is. Tracks follow by Kate Rusby, Anthony Newley, James Taylor, Perry Como - and a beautiful version of Pretty Paper, the Willie Nelson recorded by Roy Orbison, sung live by My Darling Clementine. Oh, and I should mention that the Kate Rusby song is a carol sung to the tune of On Ikley Moor - and, as he must, Spencer makes the connection with Bill Oddie's spoof of Joe Cocker. The programme ends with what may be a 1971 rehearsal of a bluesy Christmas ditty by Elvis, in very good form. Re the future of On the Beat, he says:
All the submissions to the BBC Trust have gone in now about the future of local radio. I hope that I'm going to be doing this show throughout 2012 but who knows? But I'm definitely going to be here next week - we've got a big show next week, from 5 to 8, New Year's Eve Special. I've got a lot of guests coming in and I've given them all a rock book for Christmas, so we'll see what they make of them.

As radio has been on my mind in recent posts I'd also like to put in a plug here for Clarke Davis, whose forty-third show devoted to the music of 1963 has just been uploaded to the Rock-It Radio site, findable here. You can download it as an MP3 or a realplayer file. (And if you are new to this blog, you can read our dialog[ue] about doo wop music by clicking on "Steve's Kewl Doo Wop Shop" above.)

Clarke's shows are sheer joy for me: although a great deal of American pop filtered through to Britain, I've discovered through these broadcasts just how much didn't: and hearing such a broad spread of pre-Beatles riches has been an education.

Clarke did play a Beatles track in a recent programme but really the British Invasion (and I speak as a Brit - a Scot, even) was the beginning of the end. I reviewed a documentary about doo wop a while back (full review here) and still remember the sense of resignation when one deejay was speaking, several decades on, about the effect of the Fabs on the music he loved:
"Things changed," he says, simply - and again you have a sense that the afficiandos have had a long, long time to accept the fact that while this music may never go away it is unlikely ever to be a huge force again.
And the beauty of Clarke's shows is that it's not all trashy-but-loveable pop: there is doo wop, soul and so much else still being made at that time. Which ties in with Spencer Leigh's Christmas show: there ought to be room in our hearts for Perry Como and for Elvis, especially when the latter is in such fine form.

And not just at Christmas.

Oh, and I see that I can now embed the Orioles' Oh Holy Night, as referred to in the previous post, so here it is. Bit late but a thing of beauty. And if you tell me that Elvis Presley never heard this, I must beg to differ.



Postscript: The On the Beat New Year's Eve Special has just aired and will be available on BBC iplayer here, until next Saturday evening. The second track played was this:

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