Sunday, 30 September 2018

Moore is Less

Singing (or, in this case, emoting) actors… the gift that gives on giving.

Today I present for you both sides of Ivanhoe/the Saint/James Bond actor Roger Moore’s 1965 single Where Does Love Go, a slice of sickly schlock that should never have made it to the pressing plant.

The plug side was a cover of a Charles Boyer number which had been issued on an album of the same name earlier that year. The album was, apparently, a favourite with Elvis. God knows why, as Boyer’s version is almost as charmless as old Rogers. Interestingly the flipside - Tomorrow After Tomorrow - has the songwriters credited as Roger and Luisa Moore. Luisa was our boy’s third wife, only she wasn’t his third wife when the disc was released and would not become his third wife for another four years. For at the time that Where Does Love Go was issued, Roger was still married to singer Dorothy Squires.

Moore’s marriage to Squires was tempestuous, and he left her in 1961 to shack up Italian actress Luisa Mattioli. Squires refused to accept their separation and sued Moore for loss of conjugal rights, an archaic system often used in the days before divorce became commonplace, with the court demanding that Moore return to the marital bed within 28 days. Moore refused and continued to live with Mattioli, who gave birth to their daughter, Deborah, in 1963, and later gave Moore two sons, Geoffrey and Christian.

Squires also sued actor Kenneth More for libel, as More had introduced Mattioli at a charity event as Mrs. Roger Moore, and she smashed up a house in France where the couple were staying. What’s the phrase about a woman scorned? Squires finally granted him a divorce in 1969, after they had been separated for more than seven years. Moore married Mattioli, and they stayed together until 1993, when he left her for wife number four, Kiki Tholstrup, one of Luisa’s closest friends.

Where Does Love Go was Moore’s only attempt at pop immortality, although he had earlier narrated the story of Aladdin for British company Lantern who issued Disney-esque storybook-and-disc combos, and in 1959 contributed to a Warner Bros. Christmas album, reciting Once in Royal David’s City. Reviewed (briefly) in The Daily Mirror’s “Discs” column, on 25 November 1965, the paper’s Patrick Doncaster reckoned that “Roger Moore gets into the groove,” and that “he talks the words with enough charm to get the birds off to a record shop.” Lovely… and he was not talking about birds of the feathered variety, in case you wondered. It’s just horrible. I had to have a copy.

Where Does Love Go was not a hit in the UK, but it sold reasonably well in Holland when it was issued there the following February as, according to Cash Box, Moore’s “starring roles m the TV series of ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘The Saint’ have made quite an impact on Dutch viewers.” Please, no Moore! And shut that bloody bouzouki up!


Download Where HERE

Download Tomorrow HERE

Friday, 28 September 2018

Wilde About Marty

The Dazzling All Night Rock Show… now that’s some name for a band.

Magnet Records was founded by Michael Levy (later Baron Levy) and songwriter Peter Shelley in 1973. A highly successful independent, the company is probably best known for hit singles by Alvin Stardust, Matchbox, Guys ‘n’ Dolls, Darts, Kissing the Pink, Bad Manners, Chris Rea, and Shelley himself, who scored with Gee Baby, Love Me, Love My Dog and who originated the character Alvin Stardust. The company also provided a home for some of the more grotesque audio excesses of one Jonathan King, including Lick A Smurp For Christmas, after the collapse of his own UK Records around 1976.

Shelley wrote, produced and sang Stardust’s hit My Coo Ca Choo, Magnet’s first single release, and he appeared as Stardust on the TV show Lift Off with Ayshea. However Shelly did not want to play Stardust (an amalgam of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, Gene Vincent and early Brit rocker Vince Taylor) full time, and for all following TV appearances the character was played by former hitmaker Shane Fenton (born Bernard Jewry). Fenton became Stardust, performing as him from the second single and went on to have seven Top Ten hits.

The immediate success of Stardust took Shelley and Levy by surprise, and the pair were keen to capitalise on this. Teaming up with another former star, Marty Wilde, Shelley tried to recreate the formula… with dire consequences. Written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and one of the earliest releases on the label, 20 Fantastic Bands was, unsurprisingly, The Dazzling All Night Rock Show’s only release. Fronted by Wilde (Kim’s dad; one of Larry Parnes’ stable of British teen stars), the Dazzling All Night Rock Show were a studio-only setup, put together in the hope of a novelty Christmas hit and with the intention of launching Wilde as a glam rock star. Sadly it wasn’t to be, which is hardly a surprise when you listen to the lame ‘jokes’ and ‘impersonations’ (including Boris Karloff, George Harrison and, I’m guessing, Edward Heath) on this disc, and the not-so-subtle appropriation of a couple of Number One hits from 1973, including Gary Glitter’s smash I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am!) and Sweet’s Blockbuster.

This was not Wilde’s first attempt out out-Garying Mr. Glitter. Magnet’s second seven-inch was a thing called Rock ‘n’ Roll Crazy by Zappo. Zappo was Wilde; the song was again written and produced by Shelley and Wilde, and it is another obvious (and not very good) rip off of the whole Glitter Band sound. The B-side Right On!, is an early synth/glam mashup that sounds like a rejected BBC-TV theme. Shelley and Wilde had no shame: they also collaborated on The Shang-A-Lang Song by Ruby Pearl and The Dreamboats, with Wilde impersonating a female doo-wop group on the A-side and mumbling over a bizarre, reverb-drenched instrumental on the flip that almost defies description. Shelly and Wilde wrote and produced any number of peculiar pseudo-glam discs for Magnet (Rub My Tummy by Zenda Jacks, for example) and Wilde also released a brace of 45s on Magnet under his own name.

None of these attempts to pitch Wilde into the glam rock field worked, and he and Magnet soon parted company. It would not be long though before he was back, masterminding daughter Kim’s pop career. Magnet was sold to Warners, where the company continued to have hits with the likes of D:Ream.

Marty is currently writing a biography: I wonder how many paragraphs he’ll give to his time on the fringes of glam… or how different the pop music scene would be today if he had taken on the mantle of Alvin Stardust rather than Shane Fenton?

Download 20 Fantastic Bands HERE

Download 20 Fantastic Bands (Continued) HERE

Thursday, 20 September 2018

It's Tivvy Time!

This is one of the longest WWR posts I think I’ve ever written, but stick with it. Huge thanks to TV historian Tim Worthington for helping to fill in many of the gaps.

Today’s record is one of the most disturbing things I have heard in a long time, and it all comes courtesy of a little black duck/troll hybrid originally found in a Scandinavian toy shop. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Tivvy – or rather Tivvy and the Clubmates - with his/their creepy Christmas 1965 offering Tivvy’s Tune/My World Of Colour. If this doesn’t give you nightmares, then you’re probably already dead.

Tivvy was supposed to be a friendly cartoon character and the icon of the TV Times’ kids club but ‘he’ (the TV Times always referred to the hateful little sprite as male) comes across as the embodiment of a predatory paedophile and sounding like a scary, hoarse-throated old man in a dirty raincoat proffering sweets or offering a peek at his puppies. “Want to come along with me and ‘ave a bit of fun, eh?”, the raspy voice enjoins at the beginning of Tivvy’s Tune; he could have been created with Jimmy Savile or Stuart Hall in mind, had they not been plying their trade at the BBC at the time.

“He isn't very big. He gets into some awful scrapes at times. He'll be on your television screens very soon,” claimed the article introducing Tivvy to a less-than-enthusiastic world. The doll had been discovered by ad man Paul Usher while holidaying in Finland. His company, the Erwin Wasey Agency, had been commissioned to come up with a kid-friendly creation but all attempts so far had failed. Then he found Finland’s Fauni company. Fauni started life in 1952, with their own line of troll dolls; three years later they won the rights to create toys based on Tove Jansson’s wonderful Moomins.

Usher was convinced that he had found exactly what he was looking for. This was a time when trolls, gonks and all sorts of weird-looking dolls were filling the shelves of toy shops and finding their way in to British homes: there was even a dreadful sci-fi comedy musical, Gonks Go Beat, featuring Lulu, two-thirds of Cream, Charlie from Casualty and Captain Peacock from Are You Being Served?

The Fauni troll – still available today – was (and still is) called Mr. Sumppi. For British consumption, and with stunning originality, he was rechristened Tivvy Times. Oh, the hilarity! Erwin Wasey would redeem themselves with a string of early 70s TV adverts for Coca-Cola, including the famous Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway-authored Sell A Million, originally performed by The New Seekers and later issued as a solo single by Lyn Paul.  

With his “real cool, Beatles-style haircut,” Usher claimed that the terrible troll was “loveable, yet aggressive in his own way. He’s ham-fisted and gets into a mess sometimes. But he’s always enthusiastic.” The voice of Tivvy was supplied by John Ebdon, an actor and voice-over artist who at the time was the senior lecturer at the London Planetarium. Can you imagine what attending one of his lectures must have been like, especially with the lights off? It must have been akin to being shut in a room with Dwight Frye. Ebdon was found after auditioning more than 200 people for the job: “TV personalities, comics, and film stars. But none could create quite the correct image.” The doll was given life by animator George Moreno, and he soon began popping up on ITV shows and in adverts for the TV Times. American-born animator Moreno had worked for Universal and Walter Lantz before joining the Fleischer Studio, and had also been one of the animators on the feature-length Gulliver's Travels (1939). He moved to London in the 1940s and continued working in the UK, as an illustrator and filmmaker, producing animated adverts for Pearl and Dean and many others. At the height of Tivvy’s fame, Moreno filmed a pilot starring Fauni trolls, but it failed to find a buyer.

Tivvy appeared with Ken Dodd and our old friend David ‘Diddy’ Hamilton, promoting kids’ pop show Doddy’s Music Box, with Dodd claiming that, because of their wild hair, “Everyone thinks Tivvy’s my dad!” A photograph appeared in the TV Times showing Tivvy on stage with The Beatles during a rehearsal for their second appearance on ABC-TV’s Blackpool Night Out in August 1965. You could buy (or collect coupons for free) Tivvy badges, Tivvy Jewellery, Tivvy dolls and you could even pick up a pattern to knit your own Tivvy. Suede’s Brett Anderson owned a Tivvy doll that, he claims, he used to try and stick up his nose. Not to be left out, over on the BBC Valerie Singleton showed Blue Peter’s audience how to make their own troll (pointedly not mentioning the name Tivvy) out of an old washing up liquid bottle. Moreno’s company produced a cartoon strip for the Tivvy Club page in TV Times.

Presided over by actor Jimmy Hanley (Jenny from Magpie’s dad), we’re led to believe that at the height of his fame, Tivvy had a fan club numbering 130,000 members. In September 1965, to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, the TV Times had a complete revamp. One of the innovations in the new-look, all-colour mag included was a special section for kids, incorporating the Tivvy Club page and adding puzzles, games and an all-new, full colour cartoon strip starring the disgusting doll, again produced by Moreno’s company and drawn by cartoonist Bill Hooper.

Yet despite this, the pages of the TV Times were filled with letters from youngsters refusing to buy in to the lie. Desperate to breathe new life into their dead duck/troll hybrid, Tivvy’s owners ushered Ebdon in to a recording studio in late 1965 in the hope of grabbing the Christmas Number One. With a backing provided by The Clubmates, fifteen or so well-scrubbed but bored-sounding kids swept up from a primary school (in Hurst, near Twyford), and a bored - and very amateur - sounding organ player, Tivvy cut his first and, thankfully, only single. If you thought Tivvy’s Tune was bad, the flipside, My World of Colour, is a funeral dirge... hardly the kind of thing parents would be rushing to buy their kids in time for Christmas. Well, not unless those parents were particularly malevolent. If they really hated you they could also buy a Christmas Special magazine, full to the brim with cartoons of the ugly little gonk, puzzle pages and pictures to colour in. Such fun!

At least the A-side featured a guitar and some rudimentary percussion; the accompaniment on My World of Colour comes straight out of the Grace Pauline Chew playbook. For most of the song he (or she) only plays two notes, and they can’t even get that right! The way these desperate kids - hopped up on a diet of “green eggs (hard boiled), ham sandwiches, jam butties and pink lemonade” - reluctantly sing the single word ‘brown’ will should have alerted their responsible adult to get them the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

“It’s so catchy, I sing it all day long,” Tivvy said of the A-side. “The other one... is all about the rainbow-coloured world I live in. I’m hoping Tivvy’s Tune goes zooming up the record charts. I’d love to get into the Top Twenty and win a golden disc. Then all the girls would scream at me.” Oh, don’t worry Tivvy: the girls (and boys) were already screaming, but in fear, not out of excitement. Incidentally, if you if you thought that Tivvy was banging on about colour to promote the fact that ITV was no longer broadcasting in black and white, think again. Colour transmissions did not begin in the UK until 1967: the BBC began with Wimbledon in July, before launching full colour in December. ITV did not follow suit until 1969, although Lew Grade’s ITC had begun making programmes in colour, to sell to foreign markets, in 1966. Tivvy’s constant cackle over colour, or “cullah” as he pronounced it, was about the fact that the TV Times was now an all-colour magazine, whereas its’ rival, the Radio Times, was still predominantly black and white.

The disc was produced by independent company Cameo Sound, and the tracks written by advertising copywriter George Hanness (who, it has been suggested, may have provided the voice of Tivvy on the record rather than Ebdon) and one K. Harris. It’s doubtful that this was ventriloquist Keith Harris: he would have only been 18 at the time, although he had been performing since he was 14 and made his TV debut (in the BBC show Let’s Laugh) the same year that Tivvy’s Tune was recorded. Publishers Macmelodies was an American firm that had been operating since the dawn of the century; one of their staff writers was a Charles K. Harris. It’s possible that Hanness simply wrote new words to a couple of old tunes, but as Hanness died in 2002 and Keith Harris passed on to the big green duckpond in the sky in 2015, it’s impossible to know for sure.

The doll was a disaster, and the record was a flop, but Tivvy limped on through the first half of 1966, with parents being encouraged to buy Tivvy dolls rather than Easter eggs for their kids. You can imagine how well that went down. The Trustee Savings Bank (and its various affiliates) adopted him, and attempted to part kids from their lucre via a plastic Tivvy piggy bank. Then, there was a colour Christmas annual produced, to usher you in to 1967 in a Tivvy-tastic way. Thankfully none of these last-gasp efforts succeeded in reinvigorating Tivvy, and he was quietly put out of our misery, no more to haunt children’s dreams… until now, that is.

Anyway, see what you think. Here’s both sides of the Tivvy and the Clubmates single. A last aside, the 45 that Tivvy is holding on the picture sleeve of his single is, I believe, You Make It Move, the third Fontana single by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch which was released in November 1965.

Sleep tight!

Download Tune HERE

Download Colour HERE

Friday, 14 September 2018

The Saga Saga

Today’s selection will split opinions. Some of you will think of these tracks as psychedelic or avant-jazz masterpieces, others as a complete waste of vinyl. I know where I stand.

Another bizarre find brought to my attention by the Squire, who discovered the first track, a particularly peculiar take on Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade on the RPM compilation Swinging London: The Accidental Genius of Saga Records 1968-1970.

The track was originally issued by Saga Records in 1968 on the album Trumpet A’Gogo. Saga, as I’m sure you will all recall, was the UK independent record company who first introduced the concept of budget-price albums to the country, and who provided a home for the mighty Joe Meek’s label Triumph. Saga were a pretty shameless bunch; the Trumpet A’Gogo title was nicked from a series of albums issued from 1966 onwards by James Last. As the sleeve notes (ahem) note, it’s “a must for the listener who’s hip to the music of NOW!”

The group credited, The New World, are in no way connected to the Antipodean band of the early 70s who had a hit with Tom Tom Turnaround and recorded the original version of Living Next Door To Alice. Nor are they connected with Meek's space symphony I Hear A New Wold despite both being Saga products. Sadly, the vocalist on this oddity is not credited, but the six-piece group consisted of Chick Webb (Drums), David Moses (Bass Guitar), Graham Stansfield (organ), Michael Gibbs (trombone), Phil Parker and Stu Hamer (both on trumpet). Shortly after the release, the same six men (as David Moses and Group) issued another album for Saga called Golden Trumpet. That album is almost as insane as Trumpet A’Gogo. One track, Loving to Spare, features vocalist Ricki Martin, although he does not receive credit for any of the other improvised or scat vocalisations on the album. There’s a wonderful, hip psychedelic feel to the albums Moses and his friends recorded for Saga, although it’s clear that in both cases the band were not afforded the luxury of endless studio time. But for me the occasional bum note only adds to the charm. This is cool, Daddio!

Moses had a long career in British jazz and folk, working with everyone from the Mike Sammes Singers to John Martyn, from Sandy Denny to Stéphane Grappelli. The multi-instrumentalist is well-known and respected for the work he has done bringing music to children: he was a regular on BBC TV’s Playschool, has written hundreds of songs for children, and he is the author of the successful Recorder Boppers series of books. He’s still performing today. Graham Stansfield became Graham Field, joined Rare Bird and later wrote and performed the theme tune to the ITV comedy Agony. Mike Gibbs would go on to work with Uriah Heep, and have a long and successful association with the NDR Big Band.

A couple of tracks then from this odd couple of albums, Scheherazade from Trumpet A’Gogo and Ride the Night from Golden Trumpet. The latter also fails to credit the vocalist, but I’d hazard that, in both cases, it’s David Moses himself. I've just bought a copy of Trumpet A’Gogo - once it arrives I'll update you.


Download Scheherazade HERE

Download Ride the Night HERE

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Impish Behaviour

An act that issued their only single in the twilight of Britain’s short-lived but hugely influential skiffle craze, The Imps were a five-piece band from Lancashire, so named because the boys were aged around 12 - although I understand that an Imp Father played guitar for the blossoming boy band. Discovered by talent spotter Carrol Levis, they came from Miles Platting, a suburb of Manchester, and they disappeared almost swiftly as they arrived, issuing their sole 45, Let Me Lie and Dim Dumb Blonde on Parlophone at the start of 1958.

According to Chas McDevitt’s book, Skiffle: The Definitive Inside Story, the line-up of The Imps was made up of “Danny McGee with his granny’s washboard; Don Ainsworth with his father’s fishing line attached to an old soap box and his mother’s broom handle; Geoff Wood, Jeff Tranter and Howard Tonge each played a miniature thirty-shilling plastic guitar,” although newspapers of the day referred to these instruments as ‘plastic ukes’. The novelty act appeared on Britain’s first rock ‘n’ roll TV show, 6-5 Special, in February 1958, and the A-side of their single, Let Me Lie, was featured in the film The Golden Disc.

Issued in America as The In-Between Age, The Golden Disc starred early British teen idol Terry Dene, alongside avuncular DJ David Jacobs, singer Nancy Whiskey (who sang lead vocals on the Chas McDevitt Skiffle Group's Top Five hit Freight Train) and others. Dene had a tempestuous career, falling out with his management, the press, his wife, the British army and often falling down drunk. After disappearing from the UK pop scene he re-emerged in Sweden, having found God and become a preacher.

Although the disc’s label may lead listeners to believe that The Imps appeared in the movie, the film version of Let Me Lie was not performed by our bunch of pre-teen tearaways, but by the defiantly (and definitely) adult Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings: in fact, Stewart is credited as the song’s author. Sonny Stewart’s real name was the slightly more prosaic Arthur Chamberlain, and like a number of skiffle and rock ’n’ roll acts, the band first drew attention playing at the 2I’s coffee bar in Old Compton Street, Soho. Sonny Stewart and his Skiffle Kings had issued their own version of the song, on Philips, at the end of 1957, although bizarrely Arthur’s publishers, Pan Musik Limited, didn’t get around to copyrighting it until February 1958, shortly after The Imps’ version was released. Despite The Imps replacing the original guitar break with a whistling solo, neither recording was a hit.

The flip side of The Imps’ single, Dim Dumb Blonde, is a horribly-dated slice of 50s sexism, and an odd choice for a bunch of boys not even in their teens to sing. Mind you, the plug side is a song about death, an even more peculiar junior choice. Dim Dumb Blonde was written by Eric Spear, who had spent his career writing music for minor British movies and who would go on to greater fame as the composer of the theme tune to the world’s longest-running soap opera, Coronation Street. Go man!

“The Imps make Tommy Steele seem positively senile, with their shrill unbroken voices,” said reviewer Arthur Reeves in the Coventry Evening Telegraph, “Although it is a pity they do not have the colossal and infectious beat that young Tommy generates.” Apparently, the lads found it hard to find work, as many of the clubs around Manchester refused to put them on because they were so young. I have contacted former Imp Don Ainsworth: should I hear back from him I shall update you all.


Download Lie HERE

Download Blonde HERE

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