Friday, 7 October 2011

Dirty Hippy

Devotees of the bizarre will already know that the French-born actor Peter Wyngarde (a.k.a Cyril Goldbert), famous for his roles in 60s action dramas Department S and Jason King and infamous for hanging around the gents loos in Gloucester bus station, an incident (and subsequent arrest) which pretty much killed his career overnight, released a rather odd album on RCA in 1970.

Titled Peter Wyngarde (and more recently reissued by RPM under with a new cover under the name When Sex leers Its Inquisitive Head) the album, unusually for the time, does not feature Peter crooning his way through a series of standards but rather contains more than a dozen mostly spoken word tracks with a range of different backings, from folk to country and western.

What's most notable about the album is how utterly bonkers it is. A concept album of sorts, it begins with Monsieur Wyngarde inviting you into his home, offering you a drink and asking you to relax as he slowly build up the seduction. The centerpiece of the album, Rape, is easily one of the most peculiar tracks ever committed to vinyl - three minutes of racist jokes to a go-go backing and someone constantly howling RAPE in the background. It doesn't get much better, but often gets worse: an odd, jazzy rendition of The Attack's 1968 single Neville Thumbcatch, the terrible mess that is Jenny Kissed Me and/or Jenny Kissed Me And It Was... and the track I present for you today - the perverse, peculiar and downright puddled Hippie And The Skinhead.

It's clear that the three men responsible for this self-indulgent nonsense, Wyngarde and producers Vic Smith (who, under his own name and his nom de plume of Vic Coppersmith-Heaven also produced The Jam, Black Sabbath, Cat Stevens and others) and Hubert Thomas Valverde had a grand old time putting this together. What isn't clear is who it was intended for. Today's track, Hippie and the Skinhead (here in an edited version, ignoring the rambling intro) is full of gay innuendo: the line 'then one night he went to troll the Dilly' translates, for those in the know, as 'one evening he went off looking for sex, probably with a bit of rought trade, in Picadilly Circus'. Wyngarde's sexuality, although no great secret in acting circles - he was known off-stage as Petunia Winegum apparently - was kept hidden from his adoring female fans, which is why his arrest for cottaging (in my home town! I'm so happy!) put paid to his TV career. Yet listening to this it almost seems that he's begging to be outed.

Still, if you like this get along to your nearest independent record store (or Amazon if you must) and buy a copy. I promise you won't regret it.


  1. I take partial responsibility for possibly reminding you of this in answer to your plea (?) for anniversary suggestions. May have jogged the memory or whatever passes for one. And now of course, seeing the facts you have unearthed, wholeheartedly wish I hadn't. Apologies to all if that's the case, but if not - what about the 'B' side of 'Hello Hello' by Tiny Tim on the Reprise Label: 'The Other Side'....

  2. Not being familiar with Department S or Jason King, I'm now rather intrigued by this actor. Terrific voice; not sure how his hair, head and facial, was considered sexy even then, though...

  3. I thought he looked familiar--he was No. 2 in one episode of "The Prisoner."

    That track is just ... well, words fail me.

  4. This one just makes me feel queasy for some reason. I have to go listen to W.L. Horning's Rockin' And Rollin' now to clear my head.


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