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Playlist: Listen, my friends ~ November/ December 2016

November 5, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Anita Harris ~ Dream A Little Dream Of Me (1968)

Lalo Schifrin ~ Shifting Gears (1968)¹

Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Billy Preston ~ Games People Play (1970)

George Benson ~ California Dreamin’ (1972)

801 ~ Tomorrow Never Knows (1976)

Suzi Quatro ~ If You Can’t Give Me Love (1978)

Van Morrison ~ Bright Side Of The Road (1979)

Mike Oldfield ~ Blue Peter (1979)²

Liza Minnelli ~ Copacabana (1979)³

Joe Fagin ~ That’s Livin’ Alright (Theme from Auf, Wiedersehen Pet) (1984)

David Foster ~ Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)

Lisa Stansfield ~ In All The Right Places (1993)4

Tears For Fears ~ Break It Down Again (1993)

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¹ Now this is what you call driving music… for any enthusiast of cinematic vehicular chases and any fan of Steve McQueen, this should be instantly recognisable as from the score of the one, the only Bullitt (1968)

² The Hornpipe Blue Peter (or the ‘Sailor’s Hornpipe’) was, of course, adopted in the 1950s as the theme for the BBC’s legendary children’s magazine show Blue Peter (1958-present); this is instrumentalist supreme Mike Oldfield’s take on the classic tune

³ As featured on a Liza Minnelli-guest starring episode of The Muppet Show that first aired on November 30 1979

4 From the soundtrack of the bonk-for-a-million-dollars blockbuster movie Indecent Proposal (1993)

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Playlist: Listen, my friends ~ October 2016

October 7, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Tsai Chin ~ The Ding Dong Song (1959)¹

Herbie Hancock ~ Cantaloupe Island (1964)

David McWilliams Days Of Pearly Spencer (1967)

P. P. Arnold ~ God Only Knows (1968)

Leonard Bernstein conducts the New York Philharmonic Orchestra ~
Overture from The Marriage Of Figaro (1968)

The Carpenters ~ Superstar (Live) (1971)

Ross McManus ~ Secret Lemonade Drinker (1973)²

Caetano Veloso ~ For No One (1975)

Kate Bush ~ The Saxophone Song (1978)

Modern English ~ I Melt With You (1982)

Kenny Loggins ~ Playing With The Boys (1986)³

Madonna ~ Into The Groove (Remix) (1987)

John Williams ~ Toy Planes, Home and Hearth from Empire Of The Sun (1987)

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¹ Something of a novelty hit (topping the charts in Asia), this jolly tune was written by the musical theatre legend-to-be Lionel Bart and recorded by Tsai Chin (or Irene Chow), whom would later star in two Bond films You Only Live Twice (1967) and Casino Royale (2006); her brother is Michael Chow, whom also starred in Twice and is the man behind the Mr Chow restaurants

² Despite the fact actor Julian Chagrin (whose most impressive big screen credit is appearing as one of the tennis mimes at the end of 1967’s Blow Up) appears to sing the theme to this much loved UK TV ad, he actually mimed it, as it was really sung and performed by its writer McManus, whose son – believe it or not – is one Elvis Costello, whom sang the backing vocals

³ Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone may be the more recalled tune of his from the soundtrack of US-Air-Force-recruitment-video-as-box-office-blockbuster-movie Top Gun (1986) – not least for being Archer’s favourite song – but this one (which plays over the film’s notorious beach volleyball scene) boasts a video that has to be seen to be believed – not only does it have an unexpected ‘girl power’ theme, but also showcases Loggins’ mullet-and-trimmed-beard combo to great effect and his uncanny ability to acquire an electric guitar out of thin air (see at 1.27 – you wont be disappointed); Top Gun celebrated its 30th anniversary this summer.

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ September 2016

September 13, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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James Ray ~ Got My Mind Set On You (1962)¹

Caterina Caselli ~ Tutto Nero (1966)

The Scaffold ~ Thank You Very Much (1967)

Head Machine ~ The Girl Who Loved, The Girl Who Loved (1970)

Yvonne Elliman ~ Can’t Find My Way Home (1972)

Highly Likely ~ Whatever Happened To You (Theme from Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads?) (1973)

Ike and Tina Turner ~ Whole Lotta Love (1975)

Bernard Hermann ~ Main Title from Taxi Driver (1976)²

Diana Ross ~ Love Hangover (1976)

The Jam ~ And Your Bird Can Sing (1980)

Blancmange ~ Living On The Ceiling (1982)

’Til Tuesday ~ Voices Carry (1985)

Paddy Kingsland ~ Theme from Around The World In 80 Days (1988)

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¹ The original version of this oh-so familiar tune (which can be heard on UK television at present in an HSBC ad) – oh-so familiar? Yes, it was memorably covered by George Harrison in 1987, of course

² Martin Scorsese’s classic, scorching, Robert De Niro-starring, urban decay thriller Taxi Driver celebrates its 40th anniversary this year; the score was the last the great movie maestro Hermann wrote – its recording concluded just a day before he died on Christmas Eve 1975

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50 years of Revolver: the album on which The Beatles emptied the chamber

August 28, 2016

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Eagle-eyed followers of this blog (come on, I know there’s one or two of you out there; erm, aren’t there?) may have noticed that each of this year’s monthly playlists have featured a rare cover of a song from The Beatles’ Revolver album. Why? Because this year – this month, in fact – marks its 50th anniversary. Worth commemorating, indeed; for it’s not just The Fabs’ best album, but (in this blogger’s humble opinion, at least) the best album ever recorded.

Yes, I did just write that. For me, more than any other (even say, The Beach BoysPet Sounds), Revolver is a perfect storm of an album. A select few albums may contain a flawless collection of tracks, sure, but no other surely features the variety of styles; dynamism, audacity and creativity; innovation and (studio) experimentation and all-round quality and entertainment that Revolver does. Think its terrific, but hampered by the ‘nonsense song’ Yellow Submarine? Think again; for that tune features the first ever example of sampling. Not sure it can truly be that good when Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road have always been talked about more? Listen to them and you discover, brilliant though they are, there’s more filler on both of them.

If the band’s previous album – its superb sixth, Rubber Soul – saw them experiment and start to mix things up, then this trend continues and is only deepened on Revolver. Less burdened – and maybe creatively freed up – by their recent decision to give up on touring and performing live, its recording marked the point when they (and ace producer George Martin) began to seriously explore all that the modern music studio technology could offer; merging the beat rock and pop balladry of their early years with drug references, the influence of LSD-use, Indian mysticism/ music and out-and-out psychedelia (in the shape of head-swirling closer Tomorrow Never Knows). I once read somewhere that Revolver is where The Beatles started to ‘turn up at the corners’; that’s an excellent way of putting it, I think.

Anyway, as a celebratory blog post, don’t worry, this one’s not going to delve into each of the album’s 14 tracks in detail (that’s been done before and surely better than I ever could); no, instead it’s going to share rarely seen shots from the album’s recording and some lesser-known facts about its making and legacy. So, please do scroll down and enjoy what follows – and then, should you not be familiar with it, download Revolver itself and give it a listen. Trust me, you’ll feel like you’ve shot and scored…

 

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Fab fact

Revolver’s album cover was created by artist and old friend of the band Klaus Voorman, whom drew each of the Beatles from memory and, despite his efforts winning a Grammy, was paid just £40.

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Fab fact

Backing vocals – all uncredited – were provided by Brit rock movers and shakers of the era, such as Rolling Stone Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, George Harrison’s model wife Pattie Boyd and Donovan (whom also contributed to the lyrics of Yellow Submarine).

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Fab fact

Amazingly, The Fabs weren’t under contract to regular publisher EMI at the time they recorded the album, which sort of means the latter received it for nothing; moreover, the band initially wanted to record it in the United States (possibly Memphis) and not at EMI’s iconic Abbey Road Studios.

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Fab fact

Revolver could have been – but wasn’t – called ‘Abracadabra’, ‘Beatles On Safari’, ‘Pendulums’, ‘Magic Circle’, ‘Four Sides Of The Circle’, ‘Four Sides Of The Eternal Triangle’ and ‘Fat Man And Bobby’ (the latter influenced by the US atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII, perhaps?).

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Fab fact

The album took a humongous 77 days to record (April 6-June 21 1966), but made it into the record shops just six weeks after it was completed; going on sale on August 5.

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Fab fact

Ray Davies, lead singer and creative leader of Fabs contemporaries The Kinks, was enlisted by the magazine Disc And Music Echo to review Revolver – he concluded that Yellow Submarine is ‘a load of rubbish, really’.

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Fab fact

For Tomorrow Never Knows, John Lennon’s trippy climax to the record, he fancied sounding like the Dalai Lama on a hilltop; this effect was ‘achieved’ by having his voiced recorded through a rotating Leslie speaker and using  automatic double-tracking – just one of the album’s many innovations.

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Fab fact

Like Tomorrow Never Knows, Taxman and I’m Only Sleeping include backwards recording techniques, while Eleanor Rigby is the first Beatles song to feature no guitars at all and its lyrics were contributed to by all four band members – although only Paul and Ringo performed on For No One (Ringo the drums obviously; Paul everything else, apart from the French horn solo).

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Fab fact

It’s been postulated that at least 11 of the album’s 14 tracks are patently influenced by and/ or reference drug use – not least Doctor Robert, which is effectively about Manhattan celebrity doc Robert Freymann whom liked to offer patients B12 shots blended with speed.

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Fab fact

Those seagull-like sounds on Tomorrow Never Knows weren’t derived from examples of the supreme seaside scavenger at all – they’re actually a repeated electronic distortion of Paul McCartney laughing.

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Fab fact

Good old sunny Good Day Sunshine has been deployed to wake up astronauts and cosmonauts on numerous tours on the International Space Station; in fact, Macca himself performed it for this purpose live in 2005 – the album version’s piano solo was played by producer George Martin.

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Fab fact

John Lennon made his ‘bigger than Jesus’ comment around the time of the album’s recording (March 1966), which unsurprisingly was publicly denounced by The Vatican – yet, years later in 2010, the record was named ‘Best Pop Album’ by L’Osservatore Romano, its official newspaper. Go figure.

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ August 2016

August 21, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Love ~ Hummingbirds (1967)¹

Tammi Terrell ~ Sinner’s Devotion (1967)

Roy Redmond ~ Good Day Sunshine (1967)

Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and The Trinity ~ Season Of The Witch (1968)

The Kinks ~ Waterloo Sunset (1973)²

Quincy Jones ~ Summer In The City (1973)

Matt Monro ~ And You Smiled (1973)³

Blue Swede ~ I Didn’t Sing (In The New York Subway) (1974)

Basil Brush and Petula Clark ~ I Remember It Well (1979)

Elton John ~ Imagine (1980)4

Patrick Gowers ~ Theme from The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes (1984)

Sarah Vaughan featuring the London Symphony Orchestra ~ Bali Ha’i (1986)

ABC ~ Viva Love (2016)5

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¹ A bonus track to be found on re-releases of the band’s absolutely seminal, ‘anti-Summer of Love’ album Forever Changes, which is effectively an acoustic (early demo) version of that album’s tune, The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This 

² A quite lovely and lilting performance on BBC TV (from January 1973) of the classic 1967 Kinks hit

³ Yes, this is the theme to 1970s TV detective-drama-series-and-a-half Van Der Valk (1972-77 and 91-92) – with added lyrics

4 The piano-key-thumpin’ one’s tremendous dedication to his friend, former Beatle John Lennon, at his free concert held in Central Park on September 13 1980, which was attended by an astonishing 400,000-plus adoring fans; Lennon, of course, at the time lived in the Dakota Building, just across the road from the park and would, tragically, be murdered in front of the building just eight weeks later

5 The lead-off track on The Lexicon of Love II, the just released, new album from Sheffield’s finest and suavest New Romantic band, a sequel to the original Lexicon of Love album – itself released all of 34 years ago

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ July 2016

July 30, 2016

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Lonnie Donegan ~ World Cup Willie (1966)¹

Sarah Vaughan ~ 1-2-3 (1966)

Georgie Fame ~ Sunny (1966)

Sally Ann Howes ~ Lovely Lonely Man (1968)²

Asterix ~ If I Could Fly (1970)

Dusty Springfield ~ You’ve Got A Friend (1970)

Redbone ~ Come And Get Your Love (1974)

Cloud One ~ Atmosphere Strut (1976)

Lone Star ~ She Said She Said (1976)

Otis Clay ~ The Only Way Is Up (1980)³

Zack Laurence ~ Peak Performance (Theme from Treasure Hunt) (1982)

Spandau Ballet ~ Lifeline (1982)

Bryan Adams ~ Everything I Do (I Do It For You) (1991)4

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¹ The official anthem performed by the early ’60s skiffle king for the 1966 football World Cup, won of course by Alf Ramsay’s England 50 years ago today

² From the soundtrack of that family musical movie masterpiece with the magical car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

³ The original version, performed by blues and soul legend Otis Clay, that in summer 1988 became a five-week UK chart-topper for Yazz and the Plastic Population

4 The incredibly familiar video to the Groover from Vancouver’s humongously successful single from the soundtrack of medieval box-office blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991), released 25 years ago this summer; the tune topped the UK charts for a (still) record 16 consecutive weeks between July 7 and October 26 1991.

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Euro look-backs: Dutch masters at Euro ’88

July 10, 2016

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Ruud awakening: captained by Gullit and boasting both van Basten and Rijkaard in their ranks, the funky Dutch came to Euro ’88 full of promise – but would they at last prove to be tournament victors? 

Yes, we’re just hours away from it now, peeps; the biggest – and last – kick-off of Euro 2016. Yup, before this evening’s out, we’ll know whether the favourites, those French fancies spearheaded by the new Gallic superhero Antoine ‘The Griezmann’, have equalled the record of most Euro wins by any nation (that would be three) and also won a third major tournament on home soil, or whether the admittedly so far underwhelming Portuguese, led by their captain fantastic Cristiano Ronaldo, have managed to put the kybosh on what would have been a gigantic Parisian party.

And to get you in the mood for the main attraction across the continent tonight, why not indulge, er, me by casting your eyes down this blog post, the final offering in the short but hopefully sweet, soccer-friendly series of efforts reliving former glories, stories, victories, defeats and draws-resulting-in-dramatic-penalty-shoot-outs from football’s European Championships past.

And, should you be wondering just where the sun’s gone this weekend (almost certainly if you live in Blighty you will be), then this post may prove doubly fitting tonight, because with a decidedly Dutch theme, it promises to lend a very summery orange tan to, well, at least the few minutes it’ll take you to read it, sweeping you back to 28 years ago at Euro ’88, as it will, and the likes of Jack Charlton standing in the dug-out, the England team trying to dig themselves out of yet another hole, Rudi Völler’s disagreeable perm and Marco van Basten’s peerless volleying. On y va…?

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When, where and who?

June 10-25 1988/ West Germany/ Participants were Denmark, England, Italy,
Netherlands, Republic of Ireland, Spain, Soviet Union and West Germany (hosts)

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The champs

Netherlands

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The runners-up

Soviet Union

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The final

Netherlands 2 : 0 Soviet Union

Goals: Gullit 32 mins; van Basten 54 mins

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The semi-finals

Netherlands 2 : 1 West Germany

Goals: Matthäus (pen) 55 mins (0 : 1); Koeman (pen) 74 mins (1 : 1); van Basten (88 mins) (2 : 1)

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Soviet Union 2 : 0 Italy

Goals: Lytovchenko 58 mins (1 : 0); Protasov 82 mins (2 : 0)

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The low-down

Revered as the tournament at which the Dutch finally made good on their totaalvoetbal promise, Euro ’88 is less well recalled for its opening match – perhaps because, book-ending the competition nicely, it was contested by the same two sides that met in the final, only with a reversed result. Yes, in this opening group fixture, the Netherlands lost to the USSR 1 : 0. And similarly forgotten in the mists of time is the fact that it was another side in that group whom were favourites not just to make it to the final, but lift the trophy come end the of the tournament –  England, believe it or not. Why’s this been forgotten? Well, probably because England endured surely their worst ever performance at a tournament this time out. And, yes, given recent tournament performances, you might conclude that’s saying something.

Much indeed was expected from a team blessed with the likes of Gary Lineker, Bryan Robson, John Barnes, Chris Waddle and Glenn Hoddle (not least because it looked stronger than that which had been narrowly knocked out by Maradona in Mexico’s World Cup two years before). Yet, in a now familiar tale, a side made up of superstar talent of the English game completely and utterly failed to live up to the hype – so much so it tasted defeat in every one of its group games. The biggest embarrassment came in an opening 1 : 0 loss to a qualifying-for-the-first-time-for-anything Republic of Ireland (see video above), jam-packed full of ‘lesser’ English-born/ based players as it was, thanks to a super looping header from Ray Houghton, a goal that’s understandably still look back on with enormous affection in the Emerald Isle. Mind you, given England endured 3 : 1 defeats in both their other matches, as to which 90 minutes of football was actually their worst here is a good question, when it comes down to it.

Anyway, enough of the failures of the Three Lions, for this tournament was the glorious triumph of the Oranje Leeuw, of course. And, following that opening loss to the Soviets, their team – led and driven by their terrifically talismanic, dreadlocked and moustachioed skipper Ruud Gullit (who’d both won the Ballon d’Or and been named World Footballer of the Year in 1987) – got their act together and finally cruised their way through the group and to the last four. They claimed a 1 : 0 victory against the plucky Irish (whom following a draw against the USSR, sadly couldn’t qualify for the next round, but had firmly established themselves on the international stage) and thoroughly dismantled the English via a splendid second-half hat-trick from the boot of striker extraordinaire Marco van Basten.

But the Dutch were just getting warmed up. For, in the semi they met their greatest foes, the West Germans, which for both nations then, was as a big a deal as they come. A repeat of the final of the 1974 World Cup (which had been snatched away from a dream of a Dutch side featuring Cruyff, Neeskens and co. by the supreme poaching of Der Bomber himself Gerd Müller), the Dutch desperately wanted revenge; the Germans, whom as in ’74 were hosts, wanted victory just as much – not least to recapture the European crown they’d won in 1980 but lost to the French in ’84. And, remarkably just like 14 years before, the tie ended 2 : 1 with the first two goals traded between the sides via the penalty spot.

The result was different this time, though; van Basten proved the hero with an opportunistic sliding shot that Müller would have been proud of to book his nation a place in the final and knock its huge rivals out. Admittedly, a low point was struck following the final whistle when Dutch defender (and scorer of their penalty) Ronald Koeman, in front of his side’s jubilant fans, used a swapped German shirt to simulate wiping his backside; however, to be fair, this provoked nothing like the furore generated by the antics of Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler when the teams met again in the World Cup two years later.

You might think that, after that semi, the final would disappoint. Not a chance of it. Having defeated Italy (whom were building towards the next World Cup which they’d host), the Soviet Union were, as mentioned, the somewhat surprise package awaiting there. And yet, although this would be the last big-time tournament tie in which the USSR would play a part (major change for Europe was just around the corner, of course), the Soviet krasnota couldn’t pull off a fairy-tale finale; for the Dutch oranjes flexed their muscles – first via a Gullit bullet header and then via one of the greatest goals ever scored thanks to that man van Basten (see video below) – and, at last, the ghosts of the 1970s near-misses were laid to rest. Not least for their coach Rinus Michels, the man who’d not only led them to oh-so almost glory back in ’74, but had also masterminded ‘Total Football’ in the first place.  At last then, Rinus – and his fellow countrymen – had enjoyed a rich summer to savour. And they’d clogged it to the Germans too.

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Fantasy football, favourite son and feeling the Bern: Rinus Michels with the trophy (left), Marco van Basten wins the tournament’s best player and top striker awards (middle) and West German coach Franz Beckenbauer looks like he wants to hop away as he meets mascot Berni the rabbit (right) 

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The most valuable player

Marco van Basten

Honourable mentions: Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard
and Jan Wouters (Netherlands); Lothar Matthäus (West Germany)

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The top scorer

Marco van Basten ~ 5 goals

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The turkeys

England

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The unforgettable moment

It has to be – and is – that impudent and incredible near-sideways volleyed goal Marco van Basten netted in the final against the USSR to seal the Dutch their first (and, so far, only) major football title.

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The abiding memory

If you’ve orange blood coursing through your veins, Euro ’88 is surely the greatest summer of football – nay, maybe of all sport – the world has ever witnessed. Featuring the AC Milan defence-midfield-attack axis that was the Rijkaard-Gullit-van Basten triumverate and kitted out in maybe the greatest soccer shirt ever to grace a game, the Dutch weren’t just worthy winners of this tournament they were truly glorious victors, putting right the ‘wrongs’ they – and possibly many purists of the football fraternity – had endured in 1974 and ’78. For the West Germans, though (whom also wore one of the best ever football kits), this was a rare contest to forget; failing to get to the final and beaten by bitter rivals. And for England? Well, nobody of an English persuasion ever really wants to think about, let alone mention Euro ’88. However, for both these nations’ teams, sunny times lay ahead and would be enjoyed very soon – in Italy in two summers’ time, in fact…

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