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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ January 2017

January 25, 2017

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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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Larry Kert ~ Something’s Coming (1957)¹

Burt Bacharach ~ The Look Of Love (Instrumental)  (1967)

Children ~ Girl Of Tender Means (1971)

The Rolling Stones featuring Eric Clapton ~ Brown Sugar (1971) 

Shirley Bassey ~ Bridge Over Troubled Water (1971)

Art Garfunkel ~ 99 Miles From L.A. (1975)

John Belushi ~ With A Little Help From My Friends (1975)²

Rita Moreno and Animal ~ Fever (1976)³

Jon and Vangelis ~ I Hear You Now (1979)

Meco Monardo ~ Empire Strikes Back (Medley) (1980)

ABBA ~ The Piper (1980)

Phil Lynott ~ Yellow Pearl (Remix) (1981)4

The Doug Wood Band ~ Drag Racer (Theme to BBC Snooker) (1982)

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¹ From the original cast recording of Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s classic revolutionary musical West Side Story – this year marks the 60th anniversary of its debut on the Broadway stage

² A classic moment from the legendary Saturday Night Live satire show par excellence (in fact, from just its third ever episode, which originally aired on October 25 1975) – the late, great John Belushi impersonating his soul singing idol Joe Cocker’s unmistakeable take on The Fabs’ Sgt. Pepper hit

³ A truly marvellous musical skit from the first episode of The Muppet Show, first broadcast in the US in September 1976

4 This version of the Japanese digital technology-referencing tune from the Thin Lizzy frontman (co-written by Midge Ure) featured over the chart rundown on Top Of The Pops from 1981-86

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Retro Crimbo 2016: George’s ultimate Christmas Day TV schedule

December 23, 2016


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All ident for Christmas is you: the UK BBC1 channel’s Christmas idents from 1977 through to 1991 (the last being an alternate to the second last for the Christmas Day network premiere of 1989’s Batman) 

So, it’s just a couple of days away now from the thing itself and, having taken a look at the telly schedules, you may have concluded (in the UK at least) that Christmas TV this year – as so often nowadays – somehow isn’t really cracked up to what it used to be. So many channels and so many viewing options, but when you plough through it all and find the diamonds in the rough, you realise there aren’t actually that many of them and, to watch them, they don’t quite cut the mustard in the way a seasonal special back in the day from, say, The Two Ronnies, Mike Yarwood or even Top Of The Pops did.

Which inevitably leads you to wonder – what, if you could have your way, would you really want to sit down to watch on Christmas Day? Which shows, movies and marvellous moments would you want to be tickled, teased, gripped and delighted by? Well, you may disagree with me, fair dos; but below follows a schedule that would pretty much be my pick (along with clips of the different entries – or even the whole programmes; lucky you!). Either way, take a look, have a watch and, by all means, let me know what you think by leaving a comment at the bottom. Now where’d you leave that darn remote…?

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7.00am TV-am Good Morning Britain (1985)

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What better way to kick-off Christmas Day than a visit to the classic ITV breakfast bods at TV-am – not least when it was hosted by the diamond pairing (geddit?) of sexy-would-be-wife-next-door Anne Diamond and he-of-the-plastic-grin Nick Owen? A viewing of the short clip below (it begins proper 50 seconds in) reveals that their co-hosts’ll include random TV-am regular of the era Jimmy Greaves (who’s bringing in his grandkids for some reason; it’s a funny old game), while weather girl d’hier Wincey Willis will be visiting the largest children’s hospital in Surrey. Which is nice. Plus, Anne and Nick are baking mince pies, even though neither of them like them. And Nick’s wearing a jumper with bananas on it, even though neither we nor Anne surely like it. Ah, Christmas in the ’80s…

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8.40 The Noel Edmonds Live, Live Christmas Breakfast Show (1985)

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Over to the Beeb for mid-morning because, on the same day, BBC1’s go-to-man of the ’80s/ ’90s had transferred his Saturday early-evening precursor to the House Party (namely the Late, Late Breakfast Show) to London’s British Telecom Tower for some sort of live-charity-telefon thing. He was ably assisted by the likeable, sadly late Mike Smith (the lucky Mr Sarah Greene) and a guy in Leeds called Tudor Nash Jones (great name). He was also joined by charlies running up the Tower to set a new world record and The Krankies and Feargal Sharkey on a 747 (obviously), while a ‘brand new’ charity named Comic Relief was launched (yes, that one) and a live prize draw was conducted via computer (exciting!). Unlike everything on this schedule, I remember this being broadcast and seem to recall it feeling like genuinely dynamic TV. Er, yes. If you really want to, you can watch the whole thing below…

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10.45 Film: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

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For millions around the globe, Christmas simply wouldn’t be Christmas without this golden slice of do-good Americana from the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood. It stars a career-best James Stewart as an everyman who itches to see the world but is tied to his home town to responsibly see it through bad times and good. A tiny slip one festive season, though, puts him and all around him in jeopardy, until he’s visited by the most unlikely guardian angel he could ever imagine. Utterly charming and beguiling, romantic and dramatic, funny and compelling; this has to be the perfect way to revv up to Christmas lunch. See for yourself via the clip below…

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1.00pm A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

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Good grief! Poor old Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas amidst all his pals and iconic pet dog Snoopy, of course, in this all-time classic – actually anti-commercialised-Christmas – US TV animated special. Featuring all the smarts, sass, wisdom and off-kilter greatness of the Peanuts universe and the marvellous jazz-inflected music of Vince Guaraldi, the whole thing follows here…

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1.25 Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970)

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Narrated by Fred Astaire himself, this rather awesome origin tale of good ole Santa Claus (neatly working in the tune from which it takes its title) may just be the greatest of the spate of late ’60s/ early ’70s stop-motion animated specials produced by the Rankin Bass studios for American TV. It’s adored just as much – if not more – today than when first broadcast, so discover the magic of Kriss Kingle and co. by watching the whole thing below…

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2.15 Top Of The Pops 73 (1973)

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A staple of BBC1’s Christmas afternoon schedules for decades (it still is; even though the regular pop-chart-tune-featuring show itself no longer exists), the edition from ’73 has to be the all-time festive classic. Why? Because it would have featured Slade performing Merry Xmas Everybody (#1 that Crimbo), Wizzard doing I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (#4) and possibly Elton John inviting everyone to Step Into Christmas (#7). Admittedly, footage of that particular show’s hard to come by, but what a glam rockin’, toe-tappin’ party it must have been – here’s Slade doing their thing from an episode a week or two before…

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3.00 The Queen (1957)

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A real timepiece here, the very first television-shown message from Her Maj, the likes of which forever after (apart from one year that is, 1969) have been broadcast on BBC1 and ITV every Christmas Day at 3pm. Yes, so very much has changed since then – Ghana and Malaysia only gained independence from Britain that year (as she mentions) and the little boy in that photo nearest her is Prince Charles (yes, really!), but much hasn’t changed at all; take note of what she says about disregarding the good values and traditions of ‘the past’ in the face of the uncertainties of the future. Watch the full thing below…

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3.10 The James Bond Film:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

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And what better to follow The Queen than a Bond film? Yes, it could only be Bond really, couldn’t it? (Certainly on this blog at least, haha!) And here’s a real stonker – for two reasons. First, it’s an unashamedly snowy and seasonal one (Bond says ‘Merry Christmas’ at one point and Blofeld even decorates the tree!); second, its one of the very, very best. Yep, its the one with that Aussie feller George Lazenby, but he makes a more than decent 007, plus there’s Diana Rigg as the Bond Girl, Telly Savalas as the villain and Gabrielle Ferzetti, Joanna Lumley, Catherine Schell and Angela Scoular all in supporting roles, as well as lashings of terrific action, real Swinging Sixties style and cool, genuine romance and one hell of an ending you’ll never forget. Here’s just a snippet…

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5.30 The Snowman (1982)

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Originally broadcast for UK Channel 4’s first Christmas – and a national institution by the mid-’80s thanks to choirboy Aled Jones’ near-chart-topping rendition of its theme Walking In The Air – this is an irresistible, unforgettable old-school pastel-like animation that tells the tale of a lonely boy’s snowman magically coming to life and whisking him off on an adventure one Christmas. It’s like a British answer to E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Sort of. (Warning: the ending’s just as heart-melting):

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6.00 Bruce Forsyth
And The Generation Game
(1973) 

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Life is the name of the game and he wants to play the game with you! Who could forget the Generation Game, honestly! All those clueless yet loveable members of Britain’s great unwashed making fools of themselves under the BBC studio lights playing daft games and trying to win a ‘cuddly toy’ and other prizes, while a – back then – sprightly and sarky Brucie took the p*ss and his squeeze (on off the screen), the toothy beauty Andrea Redfearn, ‘did a twirl’. It was very un-PC, admittedly, but top Saturday night telly entertainment – and here’s the first few minutes of a Crimbo special from its heady heyday…

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7.00 The Good Life (1977)

Silly But It’s Fun

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The one-and-only festive special of the ’70s-suburban-self-sufficiency sitcom par excellence (which featured the outstanding thesp quartet that was Richard Briers, Penelope Keith, Paul Eddington and sexy Felicity Kendal); it’s defined by the episode’s title above there, with drunkenness, parlour games, class-ish comedy and crap presents throughout. Silly but oh-so classy fun. Watch the whole thing here…

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7.30 Family Ties (1983)

A Keaton Christmas Carol

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Yes, its Marty McFly as Scrooge, folks! Before he headlined Back To The Future (1985), Michael J Fox was the breakout star of one of the best sitcoms of the ’80s, the wonderful Liberal-vs-Conservative-America comedy that was Family Ties – and in this Christmas special from its second season, the Reagan-worshipping eldest son Alex (Fox) to a pair of hippie-ish Dem-lovin’ parents gets the Dickensian treatment in order to learn whats truly most important this time of year. Watch it all below…

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8.00 Only Fools And Horses (1996)

Time On Our Hands

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Before it was brought back for a trio of festive specials in the early Noughties (which, in retrospect, lacking in the old magic as they were, probably shouldn’t have happened), this is where the Only Fools journey concluded – with Del Boy and Rodders finally making it and becoming mill-yonaires in this third of three hour-long specials shown across Christmas 1996. This one, the last and best of the three, was actually broadcast on Sunday 29th December, but still brought in more than 26 million viewers, as it utterly deserved to. Relive below the moment at the end when, having realised their dream at long last, they finally face up to the fact that Trotters Independent Traders (TIT) has ceased trading – all the fine acting, perfect timing and pathos that made it maybe the greatest ever British sitcom is right here…

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9.00 The Morecambe And Wise
Christmas Show
(1971)

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Let’s face it, for any British TV watcher who knows and appreciates their stuff, no perfect Christmas Night would be complete without an hour-long seasonal special from the still (surely forever) unparalleled comic double act that was Eric and Ernie. And, let’s face it, it’s far from easy to choose which of their nation-halting, festive BBC extravaganzas that aired every December 25th (apart from one) between 1969 and ’77. There’s the Upstairs, Downstairs take off from ’75, the high-kicking of Angela Rippon from ’76 and the roster of newsmen hoofin’ it up to There’s Nothing Like A Dame in ’77 (the show that was watched by more than 27 million avid viewers). However, I’ve gone for the classic from ’71, which featured that year’s Best Actress Oscar-winner Glenda Jackson, Shirley Bassey singing Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (as Eric and Ern sort out errant props and her footwear) and the magnificent sketch of Morecambe’s ‘performance’ with the LSO of Greig’s Piano Concerto ‘by Greig’ – overseen by Andrew Preview, sorry André Previn. Watch the following clip for more on that oh-s0 brilliant bit…

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10.05 Bernard And The Genie (1991)

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Between the days of Blackadder and transforming Hugh Grant into a global film star in Four Weddings And A Funeral (1994), comedy writer par excellence Richard Curtis turned out this all-too-little-seen, far-too-little-repeated Christmas comedy special-and-a-half, which sees shy nice guy Bernard Bottle’s (a pre-fame Alan Cumming) Christmas turned upside down but also salvaged by a Biblical-era genie (Curtis’s Comic Relief pal, Lenny Henry; on effervescent best form). With a gaggle of great, often knowing gags, the always terrific Rowan Atkinson on villain duties, something of a cinematic feel and an irresistible seasonal atmos, it’s easily one of my favourite slices of festive TV. Watch it in full below…

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11.15 Julie’s Christmas Special (1973)

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What better way to pass Christmas Day’s late-night than by being serenaded by Mary Poppins herself, Julie Andrews? This ’70s-stylish US TV special’s a real treat. It sees her and guest Peggy Lee (as the Sugar Plum Fairy) perform various seasonal favourites and swingin’ tunes, while Peter Ustinov provides fine support as Santa Claus (perfectly cast). Mind you, the highlight has to be Julie’s mellifluous rendition of In The Bleak Midwinter. Heart-melting. Watch the whole thing below…

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12.05am Film: Trading Places (1983)

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Finally, for those still awake despite the day-long onslaught of turkey, rum truffles and too much sherry; yes, they and the night owls out there will be rewarded with a pseudo anti-Crimbo comedy classic from the early to mid-’80s that sees the (then) unlikely pairing of Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd – both at the peak of their powers – unwittingly switch roles as part of a scheme by a pair elderly tycoon codgers (who are sort of Scrooge-cum-Trump hybrids), only to plan the latters’ comeuppance with their accomplices Jamie Lee Curtis (sexy) and Denholm Elliott (dry as a non-British summer’s day). Merry Christmas!

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Retro Crimbo 2016/ Playlist: Listen, my stocking rockers and plum-pudding popsters!

December 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 never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, sip a glass of mulled wine, munch on a mince pie and listen away; for in the words of Noddy Holder, ittttttt’s… well, I’m sure you know what comes next…

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CLICK on the track titles to hear them

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Enrico Caruso ~ Cantique de Noël (1916)¹

The Barron Knights ~ Merry Gentle Pops (Parts 1 and 2) (1965)

Simon & Garfunkel ~ 7 O’Clock News/ Silent Night (1966)

Original Broadway Cast of Promises, Promises ~ Christmas Day (1968)

Nancy Sinatra ~ It’s Such A Lonely Time Of Year (1968)

Isabelle Aubret ~ Savez Vous Ce Qu’il Faut au Sapin de Noël? (1969)²

Bert Jansch ~ In The Bleak Midwinter (1974)

Dick Shawn and George S Irving ~ The Snow Miser/ Heat Miser Song (1974)³

Electric Jungle ~ Funky Funky Christmas (1974)

Greg Lake ~ I Believe In Father Christmas (1975)4

Basil Brush ~ Christmas Wishes (1977)

Piotr Tchaikovsky ~ Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy (1977)5

Jerry Goldsmith ~ The Gremlin Rag (from Gremlins) (1984)

Elaine Paige ~ Father Christmas Eyes (1986)

Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem ~ Jingle Bell Rock (1987)6

Dina Carroll ~ The Perfect Year (1993)

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt ~ What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? (2011)

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¹ A version of the truly awesome carol O Holy Night from the 20th Century Italian opera superstar, recorded – yes – exactly a century ago

² An exquisite French-language take on John Barry and Hal David’s Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown? from the soundtrack of festive-themed Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

³ From, of course, the Rankin-Bass Claymation Christmas favourite, The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)

4 Prog rocker Greg Lake’s critique of the increasing commercialisation of Christmas, which reached #2 in the UK festive chart in its year (memorably, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was the runaway #1); its video gives us something of an anti-war message too, featuring as it does footage from the then very recently concluded Vietnam War. Lake passed on December 7, aged 69. RIP, Greg.

5 From the American Ballet Theatre’s sumptuous and sublime version of The Nutcracker featuring the legendary Mikhail Baryshnikov in the title role, originally broadcast on December 16 1977

6 As featured in the 1987 TV special A Muppet Family Christmas – it actually marked a rare crossover, involving characters from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and even Muppet Babies.

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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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