Friday, 15 February 2013

80 in the 80s

A couple of early 80s oddities for you today, both from female singers in their 80s (well, almost) and both all but forgotten today.

First up is an odd little slice of whimsy and nostalgia which came via two gentleman who themselves have a combined career in showbusiness of more than a century - Chas and Dave. Chas Hodges (piano, vocals, banjo, guitars) and Dave Peacock have been around since the 60s: Hodges was a member of Joe Meek's house band (and is portrayed in Telstar, the rather wonderful film about Meek's life) and he and Dave have worked together since the dawn on the 70s on tons of studio sessions (the even appear on Eminem's My Name Is: the hook was taken from a Labi Siffre song, I Got Theon which Chas and Dave performed) .

Throughout their career as a duo they've scored a number of chart hits in their 'rockney' - pop/rock/cockney singalong - style, most notably Rabbit and Ain't No Pleasing You. They've also been responsible for some of the UK's most derided chart entries, like the terrible Snooker Loopy and Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur. They even opened for Led Zepplin at Knebworth! Sadly, after Dave's wife passed away in 2009 he decided to retire, although there were 'final' tours from the pair in both 2011 and 2012. We've not heard the last of them yet.

But at the height of their fame, whilst mining a thick seam of nostalgia, they teamed up with the unknown octogenarian Rosie Murphy to record and release a one-off single Cup of Tea/Alice Blue Gown.

Issued by Sniff records (an imprint of Towerbell, the company that issued C&D's records) it's horrible: poor old Rosie might have been ripe for appearing as the befuddled but cuddly granny on TV shows like That's Life, but she can't carry a tune in a proverbial bucket. She sounds like Mrs Miller, but Mrs Miller as a frail old lady about to expire, not as a strong, vibrant performer enjoying her moment in the spotlight.

Next we turn to another old lady for a completely different take on how the aged should act. Gerty Molzen was a German cabaret star of the 30s and 40s who, bizarrely, suddenly gained fame in the 80s for performing her off-kilter versions of current and recent pop hits.

Her career started pre-war, in opera, but it was during the war that her path diverged: she began to perform comic songs to entertain the troops. She toured the country in cabaret for years, began performing in movies in 1962, wrote a published a book about her life and then was 'discovered' by producer Gerd Plez at the grand old age of 79. Gerd persuaded her to join him in the studio to record a version of Lou Reed's classic Walk on the Wild Side.

A modicum of international fame followed: she appeared on the David Letterman show, released further singles - including her versions of Do You Really Want to Hurt Me and Wild Thing - and appeared in several more movies and on TV. Unfortunately this new-found fame would not last long: Gerty passed away in August 1990 and her ashes were scattered at sea.

So here are two old ladies doing what they do (or rather did) best: Rosie with Alice Blue Gown and Gerty with Walk on the Wild Side. Enjoy!

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