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Blue Mink – LP Review

The Singles Collection – Blue Mink (Glam CD 124)

Take yourself back to the early 1970’s, to an age when the big noise was the humble pop song, whether shrieking out of a tiny transistor radio or blaring out of a bruiser of a record player. The better-selling LP was the older, less fashionable brother’s format, but the 7’’ single still had near-totemic power over the nation’s nation’s pop kids, who were staring at the posters on their walls, and happily enjoying this subculture, to the amusement – or more likely, the complete incomprehension – of their parents.

As Britain’s rock acts became ever more LP-orientated, the Top 30 (see glossary for these archaic terms) soon filled with a great variety of light rock, MOR and honest-to-goodness, well-crafted pop. The latter was perfectly exemplified in the talented team of Blue Mink. Basically a conglomerate of long-experienced session players, singers and pop craftsmen, their respectable string of hits from ’69-’74 are all collected on this neat CD, with the welcome addition of some of their less successful output.

‘Melting Pot’s simple and honest plea for racial understanding may sound a little patronising these days, but this Roger Cook-Roger Greenaway ditty was minted at a time when racially bigoted attitudes were common currency. The vocal duo of Roger Cook and Madeline Bell delivered the lines with a gentle touch, and the song peaked at No 3.

‘Good Morning Freedom’s bright, wide-awake start couldn’t fail, with its rolling piano and Gospel tinged harmonies, and managed a No 10 for this rangy group. A stab at the eco-protest song with ‘Our World’ followed, opening with doomy chords, but soon slipping into the shared vocals of Madeline Bell and Roger Cook and a rousing, hopeful chorus. Although not as successful as the previous two singles, it still sold enough to matter.

‘Time for Winning’s failure to chart proved an early set back, in spite of its use in film ‘The Raging Moon’, but the band were soon back on top with the schmaltzy Salvation Army march, ‘The Banner Man’. Their most successful single and a global hit, and Madeline Bell’s voice is as honeyed as ever, I bet you still remember the words.

‘Sunday’s bluegrass feel was a departure from their usual fare, but despite its lazy, summery beat and drawling vocals, it met with no success, and it looked like Blue Mink had peaked early. ‘Count Me In’s creeping intro, a little reminiscent of Three Dog Night’s ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’, suits this further slice of protest pop, with some finely orchestrated backing and heartfelt vocals.

‘Wacky Wacky Wacky’s jolly tune and nonsensical lyrics mask a song of longing that still didn’t work its magic for a chart placing. Fans of stoner humour will no doubt appreciate some of the song’s cultural references, ‘Stay with Me’s smoochy ballad, with a simple backing and fine, blended vocals saw the band back in the Top 20, in amongst the first stirrings of glam rock.

The Gaelic lick and ‘join in’ vocals of ‘By the Devil I Was Tempted’ show the band’s strengths well and this simple, almost stereotypical Gospel song propelled them to a fairly respectable Top 30 position. Their final hit, a Top 10-er at that, would be the pub singalong, ‘Randy’, with its tinkling piano, choppy guitar and celebratory vocal, about a whimsical, carefree character, all so common in those far-off days of virtual full employment and endless possibilities for the young.

‘Quackers’ silly instrumental may try the patience a little, but ‘Get Up’s jaunty piano and funky beat proves more palatable, with its essential countdown and expert vocalising. ‘Another Without You Day’ tugs at the heartstrings, with its pastoral guitars and gentle vocals, hinting that the well wasn’t quite dry yet. Ironically, the single didn’t get released until after the band had called it a day.

‘You’re The One’ marked a belated return for the band in 1976, although this chugger, faintly reminiscent of The Captain and Tenille’s ‘Love will Keep Us Together’, also failed to pay dividends. ‘Five Minute Wonder’s stab at disco is enjoyable enough, but their take on this hugely popular genre didn’t garner any chart action. ‘Where Were You Today’ seemed a return to the jauntier rhythms they were so fond of, but a rival version of the song by its co-writer, David Dundas, was released at the same time. Neither version met with success, and Blue Mink laid down their instruments for the last time.

Scenester 30/6/15

Scensters’ Useful Glossary:

Transistor radio: Ingenious, inexpensive device from Japan, giving th’ kids access to a world of pop perfection via the medium of the airwaves. As ubiquitous as the mobile phone today, no possibility of cyber-bullying and no ridiculous contract amount to pay each month.

Record player: Heavy, wooden box with cast iron arm and spinning platter on which to play your singles and LPs. Design basically unchanged since Victorian times, except for electrical propulsion.

7’’ single: A disk of vinyl plastic inscribed with a spiral groove, with enough room for one shot of pure musical heaven, and a rather dodgy support song on the other side.

LP: Long playing disk of vinyl plastic, the big bro’ of the above, with enough room for about twenty minutes’ worth each side of potential singles (if you were lucky) or sheer self-indulgent clod-hoppery (if you weren’t).

7’’ singles and LPs were also both known, confusingly, as ‘records’, as if something generated by the National Archive.

Top 30: Allegedly the 30 singles which garnered the highest sales that particular week. Cynics suggested it was more to do with offers of bungs and sexual favours and the pop world’s equivalent of the Old Boy’s Network, which placed a single in the higher reaches of the Top 30.

‘Hit’: A record which succeeded in reaching the ‘charts’. Stretching the definition, a ‘Hit’ could be Top 20, Top 30, or Top 40, depending on whether you were a pop fan or a record label skivvy.

‘MOR’: Middle of the Road, a stereotypical song or act. Often wildly successful viz the late great James Last.

 

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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July 3, 2015 By : Category : Classic Front page Glam Music Reviews Soul Tags:, , , , , ,
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Neil Innes Night – NFT

Neil Innes Night – NFT 8/9/11

Admit it, you haven’t laughed at much on television for years. It’s not just you; it’s millions of us. What passes for comedy now is little more than narrowcasts designed for niche audiences, or the endlessly repeated prejudices of unimaginative idiots. It wasn’t always so.

Many of you may already be familiar with Neil Innes, probably through his work with those legendary eccentrics, The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Some of you may even recall the Innes Book Of Records, a criminally underrated TV comedy of the 1970’s. Tonight’s offering from the Flipside crew was a celebration of the work of this survivor, attended by the man himself.

Personal favourites like the surreal ‘Equestrian Statue’ and the inventive ‘Head Ballet’ were included showing the Bonzo’s extraordinary imagination and ability to conjure hilarity out of virtually nothing, and to never, ever, leave well alone.

The evening’s first clip, ‘The Exploding Sausage’ was recalled with fondness by Neil, as having been made on the usual shoestring budget, utilising the children of the camera crew as cast members, an available stately home, and producing a sort of Lewis Carroll meets the Marx Brothers revue, their unique music providing the soundtrack. It showed the Bonzo’s had a firmer grasp on psychedelia than many of the more fashionable, and perhaps better placed contemporaries.

The clip that had me in fits was the spot-on take of the Old Grey Whistle Test, part of the Rutland Weekend Television comedy show, hosted by Eric Idle and with contributions by Neil Innes. Idle’s impression of a bearded, docile, all-accepting presenter provided the perfect host to such luminaries of the progressive rock world as Toad the Wet Sprocket, Outrageous Admiral Sphincter and others who could easily have walked off the set of the real ‘OGWT’ and straight onto this parody of it. The sound of Toad the Wet Sprocket’s tuneless, wittering hippy meanderings, enlivened by fuzzy, over-treated guitar, and the bleached-out lighting effects mercilessly lampooned Bob Harris’ fondly remembered show, and Neil reported, was a big hit with the real Bob Harris, who found it hilarious.

I recall seeing the ‘OGWT’ sketch for the first time back in the 70’s,m and fell out of my ‘egg’ chair laughing at it. I have no memory at all, however, of seeing the ‘Top of the Pops’ clip from 1977, where Neil sings a pro-Queen’s Jubilee song. Perhaps I was listening to the Sex Pistols decidedly anti-Jubilee ‘God Save The Queen’.

The surreal, and rather disturbing ‘3-2-1’ clip defied all attempts at classification, or even comprehension. This inexplicably popular game show from the early 80‘s, hosted by Ted Rogers, set crazy riddles and cryptic clues as questions for the hapless members of the public to answer. The contestants were vying to win such high tech goodies as the then-new Video Cassette Recorders, Television sets (‘Colour!’ said Ted Rogers, as I some miracle had occurred) and Micro-Stereos (still the size of a hospital). Complete confusion reigned, Ted did his mysterious ‘3-2-1’ hand signal and Neil performed his best-known song, ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’.

For many, the real treat of the evening were the very welcome clips of ‘The Innes Book of Records’, a magazine style comedy show, which used a man with a travelling gramophone as a linking device.

The Q&A, which followed, was made especially enjoyable by Neil’s enthusiasm, even when recalling the Bonzo’s gruelling work schedule, which would eventually break up the band. Their early days, scouring London’s flea markets for old 78 rpm records whose songs they would often incorporate into their stage act, was fondly recalled. ‘We stopped arguing’ was Neil’s account of the reason for the split. The questions from the floor were as diverse as the clips, and Neil would have been happy to talk all night to us, but time pressed. Your pal Scenester begged for more on Rutland Weekend Television, and Neil did not disappoint, agreeing that the show would probably not be made nowadays, given that almost all local TV stations, which RTV was poking gentle fun at, have been swallowed by the big corporations, and who have little interest in maverick fare like RTV.

Scenester – 24/9/11

 

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Classic Exhibitions Heroes Picks Tags:, ,
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Laurel and Hardy – Cheer Up!

Funny scenes Laurel and Hardy – laurel and hardy cant stop laughing. All credit goes to creators of this show! Genius!

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Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

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June 16, 2015 By : Category : Classic Vintage Visuals 0 Comment

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admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

More Posts - Website

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Classic Tags:,
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