Friday, 24 November 2017

Post Punk Power Station Pop

Who the hell thought that this was a good idea?

Battersea were a group formed specifically to highlight up-and-coming singer songwriter Charles Ridgway Coxill, a.k.a. Charlie Fawn – just one of the many faces on the London punk scene who never quite made it. They recorded an album’s worth of material, but only the one single saw the light of day.

Call me an old cynic if you must, but it cannot have taken the PR department at Anchor more than a couple of seconds to come up with this rubbish. ‘Oh, the Stranglers have just done Walk on By, and it worked for them… let’s take another Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic and give it the punk treatment. I know: we'll call them 'Battersea' - it's like Chelsea... very London, very punk. It’s bound to be a hit’. Sadly, it wasn’t. Always Something There To Remind Me throws every New wave tool in the box in to the mix but falls short. It’s weedy, and the vocals are simply irritating. B-side (Fawn’s own composition) is better, but suffers from the same poor production and idiotic affected ‘punk’ accent. It was never going to compete with Sandie Shaw’s definitive version. the disc's chances were further stymied by Anchor Records going down the toilet that same year.

As the 70s turned in to the 80s Charlie played a number of gigs, released several singles, an album and also recorded a number of sessions for projects that were later abandoned by record companies. Looking not unlike the scrubbed-up kid brother of Sid Vicious there was an air of expectation about him, but he simply wasn’t different enough (or didn’t get the breaks) to stand above the crowd of post-pub rockers now clambering on to the New Wave bandwagon. Blue Skies is a melodic, power-pop tune that could have been a hit, but the affected vocals are a bit annoying, and it’s all a bit too ‘clean’. There’s no grit. Had he worked with Nick Lowe at Radar or Stiff rather than Tom McGuinness (Manfred Mann, McGuinness Flint) it might have charted; as it was, but 1979 he already sounded dated.

Still hoping for a hit, Charlie recorded Always Something There To Remind Me a second time in 1980, this time with a tip of the hat to the latest bandwagon, the two tone/ska hybrid that had worked so successfully for The Specials, Madness, The Beat and so on. Again the disc – this time issued by WEA/Atco – failed to ignite the charts. With no hits and no gigs, he moved in to modelling and acting. Charlie is still about today, and still occasionally making music. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, very self-aware and spiritual. It’s not his fault that Battersea have ended up here: if someone offered you a contract for what, on paper, must have sounded like a sure-fire hit wouldn’t you take it?


UPDATE: Charlie has been in touch, and left this rather sweet message: 'How delightful to receive some recognition at last, as an affected ex-public schoolboy at the mercy of the twats in the record business, and I gratefully accept this audio 'Razzie' for 'Always'..quite agree it was awful! I didn't just fall off the stool on the front cover of 'Blue Skies', I fell between it and several genres...should've been a glam star indeed...born too late and too musical to be a punk?! haha!! Much love and peace, Sir Charles Fawn Esq.' Cheers Charlie! I'm glad you didn't find this too offensive!

Download Always HERE

 Download Split HERE

Friday, 17 November 2017

Kermit the Frogg

Even though it was from the same stable that had produced the successful Sesame Street, the Muppet Show failed to spark in the States, and it wasn’t until ATV’s Lew Grade picked it up that it became a hit. The show debuted in the UK in September 1976, and Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, the Great Gonzo, Animal and their friends were soon charming British audiences of all ages.

Riding the back of the Muppet craze, Puppet Love by the Froggs was issued in May 1977. A comedy record that isn’t funny - as far as I can make out, the ‘joke’ is that the Muppets get shot one by one until there’s no one left to finish the song – and copying the well-known Muppets theme tune but making ‘just’ different enough to avoid any claims of plagiarism, it’s a hideous mess. A parody of a parody, and the irony of that seems lost on all involved.

Written and produced by Keith Bonsoir, who also produced (and added backing vocals and keyboards to) the Pinkees recordings, the flip side is the throwaway instrumental Wheeling, included here for completists. Promo copies were issued with ‘this is not a Muppett record’ [sic] stamped on the cover. Sadly the copy I picked up for a quid in Bristol’s Wanted Records this week is lacking that particular detail. I have yet to discover who is playing on the disc, but best guess would be that piano and vocals are handled by Monsieur Bonsoir himself.

The disc was issued on the short-lived Paladin label, which appears to have been connected in some way to singer-songwriter, record producer, music entrepreneur, television and radio presenter and sex criminal Jonathan King: King issued a disc on Paladin (under the pseudonym The Joker), and Bonsoir, who wrote and/or produced a number of tracks for Paladin, had also worked on productions at UK, King’s own label. Paladin existed for less than a year (September 1976-June 1977), but Keith Bonsoir had been making records since the early 70s, and had also worked with John Holt, Geno Washington and cruise ship singer turned actress Sally Sagoe, who appeared in EastEnders for a couple of years in the mid 80s. He had a fair bit of success in Europe, with pop-disco acts including the Bear Brothers, and was also the voice of Alphonse the Horse, a kid’s cartoon/book/record franchise which never quite took off.

After Paladin Bonsoir went to Creole Records, where he produced The Pinkees and 53rd and 3rd among others. The latter act had scored a hit with King and the song Chick-a-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes Love It) in 1975 and issued at least three 45s on UK. I, like many I would assume, had thought that 53rd and 3rd was just another King pseudonym, but apparently not. King also recorded for Creole, issuing the dreadful God Save The Sex Pistols under the alias Elizabeth, (and impersonating Queen Liz). Prince Charles, apparently, asked for six copies of the disc to be sent to Buckingham Palace. King is due back in court to answer charges of historic sexual abuse in June 2018, but sadly I have been unable to discover the current whereabouts of Mr Bonsoir.


Download Puppet HERE

Download Wheeling HERE

Friday, 10 November 2017

I Lost 200lb Instantly!

This is one of those albums that regularly turns up in worst records lists, but I’ll bet very few of you out there have ever actually heard it. Well you’re in luck, for here’s the whole album, just for you

Crying Demons was issued some time in the early 60s by the A. A. Allen Revivals of the appropriately named Miracle Valley. Arizona. Side one is the transcript of one of Reverend Allen’s services recorded, as noted on the label, ‘under the Miracle Revival Big Top’, and includes the good Pastor trying to exorcise the demons within a suicidal woman. Side two is the gold: actual recordings of the aforementioned demons jabbering away. My favourite is the demon who doesn’t like books and appears to suffer from haemophilia. Poor, illiterate thing!

Asa Alonso Allen (March 27, 1911 - June 11, 1970), was a controversial evangelist with a Pentecostal healing and deliverance ministry, dragging an enormous big top – which, reportedly, could house 22,000 people and was the largest gospel tent in the world - across the nation to hold his powerful revival services. He was born in Sulphur Rock, Arkansas to poor, mixed race parents. At the age of 23, Allen became a Christian at the Onward Methodist Church in Miller, Missouri.

Allen, one of the country's best-known evangelists and faith healers, built his ‘nondenominational Christian’ religious group into a multimillion dollar organisation that sponsored Allen’s frequent tours around the nation and published the monthly Miracle Magazine, with a circulation at its height of 350,000. Miracle Magazine is an absolute hoot, replete with stories of how an overweight woman lost 200lb during a service (‘I weighed over 500 pounds when Brother Allen prayed for me; the lord took 200 pounds off me instantly’), how a man was ‘cured’ of being an hermaphrodite and of how audience members at Allen’s tent revivals grew new hips and even new toes.

He also put out an unknown number of records on the Miracle Revival Recordings label with gospel singing, sermons, miracle cures and exorcisms. Allen’s extensive discography includes the brilliant I Am Lucifer, God Is a Killer, and he Died as a Fool Dieth.

A popular televangelist, one of the first to use TV to enhance his ministry (you can find a number of his shows on YouTube), Allen died at the age of 59 in the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco. Although it was initially claimed that he died from a heart attack the coroner, Dr. Henry Turkel (who, apparently, was the inspiration behind Quincy M.E.) told the inquest that his death was the result of ‘acute alcoholism and fatty infiltration of the liver.’ His father had also been an alcoholic. Allen’s followers and family dispute the cause of death, claiming that Dr. Turkel later recanted his testimony. Dr Turkel committed suicide shortly after, but some of Allen’s followers have claimed that the Reverend himself arose, Lazarus-like, from the dead.

Allen was buried at his 2,400 acre Miracle Valley headquarters.


Download HERE and HERE

Friday, 3 November 2017

Acid Raine

UPDATE: I can now bring you Mrs Gerald Legge's I'm In Love, courtesy of fellow bad music enthusiast Dame Agnes Guano of the Downstairs Lounge.

Now this is an unusual post: I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about a record that I didn’t have before, or at least didn’t have access to a copy of. But I need your help, so here goes.

I had no idea of this disc’s existence until this August, when the briefest of clips aired during a TV documentary I happened to be watching, but ever since I became aware of it I have been desperate to track a copy down. I can’t imagine it will cost me much, but neither can I believe that many copies remain in circulation after 60 years. It’s not even listed on Discogs, and has not turned up on Ebay once in the last four months. I know it will turn up in a junk shop pile one day… but maybe one of you out there owns a copy?

Released in June 1957 on both 78 and 45, Luck's In Love With You was performed by Her Grace The Duchess Of Bedford. The record’s b-side, I'm In Love, is credited to Mrs Gerald Legge. Both sides feature Geoff Love and his Orchestra, and the b-side has vocal accompaniment from the Rita Williams Singers.

Barbara Cartland penned lyrics to both sides, and the disc was issued to raise fund for charity, Mrs Legge’s Fund for Old People. Mrs Gerald Legge was Cartland’s daughter Raine McCorquodale, who would achieve notoriety as the ‘wicked stepmother’ to Diana, Princess of Wales. Dame Babs, of course, would go on to release the gruesome Barbara Cartland’s Album of Love Songs, which I’ve featured here before.

Reviewed by John Oakland in Gramophone magazine in August of that year as ‘an interesting record, for while it is obvious that neither artiste is a professional entertainer vocally, their voices have a certain something that disarms criticism even if their raison d'etre in the studio did not, and I can honestly say I would rather listen to either or both than to many of the more recognised "singers" from either side of the Atlantic’, so I’m itching to know exactly why the NME labelled the disc the ‘worst record of the year’! The a-side isn’t completely dreadful, which may have had something to do with the fact that The Duchess of Bedford at the time was Lydia Russell, whose mother was music hall singer Denise Orme… but the short clip I’ve heard of the flip leads me to believe that that’s a howler. UPDATE: Raine sounds amazingly like her mother on this, in all her reedy, weedy, off-key splendour. The disc is an absolute joy!

Mrs Legge also fancied herself as an interior designer: for the 1958 Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition she fashioned a bedroom and bathroom. Raine was described by The Spectator as ‘the Boadicea of gracious living — whose own programme note reads, “People who are afraid of colour are afraid of life. I am not afraid of anything, so my ideal room is all flame and aquamarine, with glowing, golden furniture.” And acknowledgments to “my mother, Barbara Cartland, my grandmother, Polly Cartland, aged eighty, my son, William Legge, aged eight, my brother, Glen McCorquodale, my brother, Ian McCorquodale, and my son, Rupert Legge, aged seven.” I don't suppose they’re afraid of anything, either.’ Oh wow! ‘All flame and aquamarine, with glowing, golden furniture.’ Now that’s something I’d love to see. I’ll bet it was hideous!

If you have a copy of I'm In Love please share.. but until then, enjoy!

So here, thanks to Dame Agnes Guano, is the only copy on the internet of the wonderfully dreadful I'm In Love.


Download Im In Love HERE

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