Saturday, 12 June 2010

Why is he living?

Today's piece of sheer hokum comes from the world's cheesiest pop star, the inimitable Jess Conrad, with the flip side of his 1961 release This Pullover - an all-time classic bad record Why Am I Living?

Born Gerald James in 1935 (although for many years his official biography would claim that he was born in 1940), young Jerry held down a variety of jobs before deciding that acting was what he wanted to do, scoring extra work in some late 50s British movies, a spell in repertory (when he settled on his stage name), the lead in a television play Rock-A-Bye Barney, about a rock and roll performer.

The legendary promoter Jack Good encouraged Jess to go into the studio to cut some sides, even though singing was not one of the rising star's strong points. The song chosen for his first recording, a cover of Skip And Flip's US hit Cherry Pie crept in to the bottom of the Top 40, but his third single, Mystery Girl, managed to break Top 20 in 1961. Jess managed to scrape into the charts with one more 45 the following year, but after that his chart career was at an end - although he has since managed to carve out a very unique career for himself.  This very track appeared in the film Rag Doll (1962), a crime drama (released in the US as Young, Willing and Eager) in which Jess played the role of Shane. In 1963 he landed a major role in TV series The Human Jungle, a weekly drama which starred later Pink Panther actor Herbert Lom in the lead role of psychiatrist Doctor Corder. In the second episode of the series Corder was called in to deal with the problems of rock and roll star Danny Pace, played by Jess. Several numbers were recorded specifically for this programme, released as a Decca EP in 1963. These days Jess is still active, appearing regularly on TV, on stage (he's played Jesus!) and even at the occasional rock'n'roll or 60s revival show. He's also recorded albums with a bunch of pals under the name The Showbiz XI, the same name of his long-running (more than 40 years now) charity football team.

The recording I present for your delectation today is the b-side to his fourth Decca single. Many of you may think you already know it, featured as it was on the late, great Kenny Everett's Worst Records album, but the three Jess Conrad cuts on that compilation were in fact later re-recordings. This is the original, and the best (or worst!).



  1. This gets bonus points for the usage of marimba doubling the melody line (a rarity!) and the ridiculously cheesy backing vocals (an all-too-common occurrence!). Hilarious!

  2. When Jess performs this in the movie he is backed onscreen by none other than The Dave Clark Five still a year or so away from finding success in their own right.

  3. Youtube link:


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