Sunday, March 15, 2009

Spotify defy

After the success of our first trawl through the darker corners of Spotify ("sort of like finding an old mouldy bag of tapes in your loft, plucking ten out at random and trying to make the most kick ass mixtape ever" - David Roy, Dananananaykroyd), here's a disappointingly rush released second selection:

Mel Blanc - Greatest Hits
"We make fudge and we play cribbage every day!" If Bernard Cribbins qualifies for this, then Mel Blanc certainly does, as Mark X helped us discover. The great voice artist of Warner Bros animation, right from when he's vocalising both sides of the Sylvester/Tweetie Pie conflict his talent is clearly exemplary. Even aside from the great character vocalising there's inspired madness at hand, The E.I.O. Song just a load of ridiculous rhyming, Somebody Stole My Gal warp speed piano, There's A Hole In The Iron Curtain dinner jazz meets Spike Jones (we'll get round to him eventually) meets Cold War propaganda at its lightest, and the four Christmas songs at the end really need saving for a more festive day. The only drawbacks are a) his natural voice appears to be nearest to Bugs Bunny's which makes the almost serious songs about why he can't get on with his wife sound awkward and surreal and b) Woody Woodpecker gets no less trying with time.

Vince Guaraldi - The Charlie Brown Suite And Other Favourites
And while we're on cartoons... Commissioned television music is big business among collectors and aficionados, from the pioneering work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop recently lovingly compiled by Mute Records to the likes of Alan Hawkshaw and Keith Mansfield, here giving a rare live outing to one of the latter's masterworks:

In fact, here's a Hawkshaw compilation featuring his Grange Hill and Dave Allen At Large themes plus some glorious library music and a track called Flapjack.

But this is not about Alan Hawkshaw, it's about the San Franciscan jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi and a live recording with his Trio of his seven song Suite for Peanuts prosperity. Basically, it's forty minutes of orchestral playful light jazz to wonder what Woodstock was supposed to be to.

Eilert Pilarm - Best Of Elvis
Thommo pointed this out to us, and it's a gem. Pilarm, he tells us, "is said to have gone into a coma and woken up believing himself to be the Swedish reincarnation of Elvis Presley, despite not only looking and sounding nothing like him but also having little grasp of either English or musical convention". He's been given the production values his talents suggest. According to one source "in 1999 he went to London and appeared on the BBC where he was given the "Best Impersonation By A Swede Of The Past 1,000 Years" award from the hands of none other than John Peel." What?

And this week's special feature:
Cockerel Chorus - Nice One Cyril
Again, this is going to have to take some setting up for the kids. In 1972 the undiplomatically named Wonderloaf bread outlet launched an advertising campaign, directed by Alan Parker and copywritten by future travel writer Peter Mayle, involving bakers determining who was responsible for each new loaf, to which the tagline was "nice one, Cyril". Tottenham fans picked up on this and applied it to their beloved left back Cyril Knowles in chant form, and eventually a group calling themselves the Cockerel Chorus recorded it and took it to number 14. Although some online sources reckon it was recorded by the team itself - after all, they would later prove their flair for self-reference with Ossie's Dream - the man behind it was in fact one Harold Spiro, a 1970s songwriter for hire whose biggest hit was Olivia Newton John's Long Live Love and also penned We're On The Ball, which Ant & Dec went and decimated for the official England song in 2002. Nice One Cyril, in fact, won an Ivor Novello award. In what category, we have no idea. Cheek, possibly.

Anyway, the novelty football hit was had. Everyone, obviously, would sit back with some satisfaction of the cross-media purposes of having taken a song about a full-back into chart folklore.

No, of course they didn't. They recorded a whole album of contemporary songs in the same style, that being lots of pro-am shouting men (fronted by Spiro) against a studio band with one of those jovial brass sections plus piccolo that seemed to come free with breakfast cereal during that decade to hire. In a song that's supposed to come directly from the hearts of the terraces, it works. On Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree, a personal declaration of the hope of ongoing love, less so. Neither Dawn nor Tony Orlando stood a chance, and this is for a song with a long history of abuse:

And so it continues in the same shouting London choral vein. Power To All Our Friends is trampled underfoot. Part Of The Union kind of works in a 'men against The Man' sense, but it's still hamstrung by the fact the lead singer has a vocal style approaching latter day Mark E Smith. The Chorus' version of Long Haired Lover From Liverpool invents post-modern irony. A couple of tracks are, like the single, led by a pretend opera singer. And now, a kindly suggestion. Stop reading this now and load up Butterfly. It's a delicate folk song originally recorded by country singer Jim Ed Brown here given the treatment of said group of MEN getting their north London accents out. You will never, ever forget it. Or forgive it. Even before the mass whistling outro.

As before, kindly leave any suggestions for lesser regarded oddities we may feature in future - because believe us there's a couple more updates in this just from what we already know about - in comments or inbox.


Anonymous said...

Great stuff! Love your text and Spotify links!

Anonymous said...

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