23 June 2020

Episode One of Rock'n'Roll America back on iplayer ... but hurry!

For readers in the UK the first episode of the 2015 BBC documentary series is temporarily available once more on BBC iplayer - but only until Monday 3 July, so hurry.

I couldn't say whether it's particularly innovative but it tells the story well and clearly, and has a poignancy not present in some earlier series by virtue of the fact that those involved are considerably older than in Tony Palmer's groundbreaking seventies series All You Need Is Love or even series of more recent vintage like Dancing in the Street.

Before providing a link to my original review of the episode allow me to draw your attention to a section around thirteen minutes in, featuring the Spaniels singing an acapella version of Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight and a rather too brief interview with their bass singer and current leader Billy Shelton.

Billy has described himself in an interview as "a prehistoric Spaniel" because he taught Pookie Hudson and another schoolmate how to sing during their schooldays in Gary, Indiana and formed a trio with them called the Three Bees. Much later - as in forty years - Billy took the place of Spaniel Ernest Warren, then a minister, when the original group reformed; some UK readers may remember seeing this group in London or Liverpool in the early nineties. I do, anyway - their appearance was the highlight of a 1992 Alan Freed-style rock'n'roll package show at Wembley Conference Centre.

Billy will be the subject of a forthcoming piece of writing which may appear in this blog or as an ebook. I can't give a precise date as yet but I'm close to finishing a second draft. Which prompts me to observe that whoever said "writing is rewriting" couldn't have been more wrong: in my experience it's rearranging - physically, I mean, all nasty and fiddly. Good job I'm not allergic to Pritt Stick.

It looks like all three episodes of Rock'n'Roll America are going to be taken off iplayer at the same time, early morning of Monday 29th June, so if you are in the UK and can access them, don't hang about is my tip.


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