Monday, 6 October 2014

Jake Thackray and Songs DVD now out

For those who don't yet know and would benefit from knowing, I bear the happy news that a DVD of extracts from the series Jake Thackray and Songs has just been issued. I have ordered it but have not yet seen it. This is from the product description on am*zon:

At last Jake Thackray's legendary television series, 'Jake Thackray and Songs', is released on DVD, by arrangement with BBC Music. ....  'Jake Thackray and Songs', broadcast in 1981, captures him at the height of his powers; it paints an intimate portrait of Jake as a live artist, playing to audiences in the small venues where he felt most comfortable. This DVD features all of his performances from the series: thirty of his greatest songs, along with his inimitable between-songs chat and storytelling. Also included are previously unreleased performances by three outstanding guest artists: Ralph McTell, Alex Glasgow and Pete Scott. 
If you haven't read my posts relating to Jake Thackray, the main one is here followed by two related post which also discuss Ralph McTell here and here.

Looking at the Jake Thackray website, I see that a great deal of his TV output appears to have survived. No indication, alas, of the appearances on the show Tickertape which have stayed in my mind (in particular a song which may have been called Sophie and William), but I was glad to see this note:

This is a half hour film with visuals by Philip Bonham-Carter (lots of countryside scenes to match up with the music) and music by Jake Thackray (very different versions of familiar songs featuring piano and brass band accompaniment). It was first broadcast on 28/12/73.

The songs are as follows: The Rain on the Mountainside The Brigadier The Poor Sod The Cenotaph Old Molly Metcalfe Country Bus Little Tommy Haverley 
I recall seeing it and really enjoying it. If you saw the documentary about Jake, you may have seen the performance of Kirkstall Road Girl with a light, jazzy arrangement very different from, and far superior to, the record. That, and many other recordings from the Bernard Braden era, have survived. Victor Lewis-Smith's original radio documentary, which led to the TV one, included a bit of audio from an edition of Braden's Week I recall watching at the time in which Jake, as it were, strung out his part, prompting Bernard Braden to congratulate him for getting eight minutes out of a three minute song. (The Thackray website page with details of surviving TV appearances is here.)

There is also a page of radio material. Sadly, it's long gone, but I used to have a reasonable off-air recording of the Pete Drummond show featuring The Jolly Captain, Sister Josephine and some others. I still remember some of Mr Drummond's patter after The Jolly Captain. This isn't precisely word for word, but fairly close. If you are familiar with song you will know (SPOILER ALERT) that the captain's wife is a "whey-faced old nagbag" and when she dies he promptly marries "an apple-cheeked girl". Warned that he has remarried too soon and that his first wife will come back to torment him:
She'll scratch and she'll claw her way up from the grave,
Hacking her way back again with furious fingernails ...
the captain replies: "I buried her face downward, she's a long way to go."

Mr Drummond then said something along the lines of: "Which reminds me, I was scrambling around Box Hill with my girlfriend the other day - well, not scrambling, I was genteelly walking - when I saw a grave which said so-and-so was buried here face downwards. He was an eccentric." Could this become the equivalent of the Eleanor Rigby gravestone in Woolton Parish Church? Will Box Hill similarly become part of a Jake Thackray landmarks tour? There's a page about that resident of Box Hill here.

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