Monday, 1 September 2014

Stars on 45RPM: Ken Dodd - Tears / You and I (Columbia DB 7659, 1965)

Ken Dodd's rise to popularity in the UK charts was a long one. He first charted with Love Is Like A Violin in 1960 and had several other releases which would dent the charts over the ensuing five years (including his 1963 signature tune Happiness) before striking gold with the ballad Tears (Columbia, DB7659) in 1965.

Primarily known as a comedian, Dodd's popularity as a family entertainer proved successful with all ages (particularly with the young with his creations The Diddymen).

It's therefore of little surprise that in an era where the record buying public consisted of all ages, Dodd's appeal eventually broke into the charts and to the top position in a year that also played chart-topping host to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Cliff Richard and The Seekers.

Tears (For Souvenirs) however was not a new song, it was written in 1929 by Frank Capano and Billy Uhr and recorded by Rudy Vallee.

It was Ken Dodd (with Geoff love's orchestra providing accompaniment) who would score a number one chart hit with it some 36 years later and go on to have the biggest selling hit of 1965. Produced by Norman Newell, Tears knocked The Walker Brothers song Make It Easy On Yourself off the top of the UK chart on September 28, 1965 and remained at the top for 5 weeks.

Coupled with You and I, Tears would become the third best selling single of the 1960s (after The Beatles She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand).

With regular appearances on radio and television Ken Dodd would continue to have regular hits in the charts until the 1970s. He continues to be a popular theatre draw well into his 80th decade.

I recently located my copy of Tears in a Newport charity shop for 50p.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Who View: Day Of The Daleks

Jon Pertwee's 1972 Doctor Who adventure Day Of The Daleks (written by Louis Marks) was one of the first videos I bought back in the late 1980s. It was always a bit of a favourite and an obvious choice for BBC video at the time as their first Dalek release on video. A colour four parter with Daleks and a popular Doctor.

The original video release was a 90 minute omnibus edition. It later got re-issued in its original episodic format but despite how much I re watched Day Of The Daleks I quickly discovered it wasn't a fan favourite with everyone else, including Jon Pertwee who criticised it for its minimal use of Daleks.

Fast forward some 25 years and I found myself yesterday watching the special edition DVD release of the story.

Day Of The Daleks sees The Doctor, Jo and UNIT caught up with 22nd Century guerrillas who have travelled back to the 20th century to assassinate a politician who they believe kicked off World War Three. The Daleks have glided into the future and taken over the earth using Aubrey Woods' Controller as their puppet to keep tight reigns on controlling slave workforces and rebels.

The last minute inclusion of The Daleks in the story meant at the time the BBC had limited Dalek props for their inclusion in the story. Step in the modern day DVD team to create new scenes with more Daleks, new special effects and new Dalek voices provided by modern day Dalek Nicholas Briggs.

The special edition version ertainly enhanced my enjoyment of the story further than before. I always enjoy the tale as it features a great cast but it just shows what can be possible with a few modern day tweaks (and purists still get the original four parter on this two disc release if they want it).

There's also several additional features here including Blue Peter clips and a comedic look at the pointless task of trying to date the UNIT adventures with comedian Toby Hadoke.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Retro Vinyl: Russ Conway Presents 24 Piano Greats

1977 was a year where 20 Golden Greats albums by bands such as The Shadows and The Beach Boys were topping the album charts.

Its therefore hardly surprising that TV promotion label Ronco thought it might not be a bad idea to pull out another former hit maker of years gone by and try and go one better. Well I say one better, it was four more than twenty as Russ Conway played 24 Piano Greats!

Russ Conway Presents 24 Piano Greats involved Russ returning to the recording studios once again to lay down new recordings of his hits Side Saddle and China Tea as well as versions of piano hits popularised by the likes of Sounds Orchestral (Cast Your Fate To The Wind) and Joe Mr Piano Henderson (Trudie).

It would be easy to dismiss this LP as a low budget cheap cash-in on Russ's earlier successes, but if anything, it was repeating the magic formula of laying down more popular tunes in the Russ Conway style.

Found for 20p in a Newport charity shop last week!

Friday, 29 August 2014

Who View: Doctor Who - Deep Breath Reviewed

Peter Capaldi
So The Doctor is back on our screens, although for me he never quite goes away. Having watched Deep Breath at its Cardiff premiere a few weeks ago my daughter and I bit our lips as not to reveal any spoilers to anyone for Peter Capaldi's debut episode.

In fact I actually quite enjoy not telling people spoilers, its a degree of one upmanship on a spoiler hungry generation, but I also believe seeing a preview is a privilege.

So even though I watched the episode once again last Saturday, I've been quite interested in hearing peoples views on the new series. 

There's a lot of positivity about Peter Capaldi's portrayal while some stark negativity about a plot line that didn't appear to make much sense.  "I doubt anyone under the age of 12 could have made sense of it," someone said to me. "That's odd," I replied,"my three children all loved it!" Incidentally they are all under 12. perhaps thats a clear indication that Steven Moffat said at the recent Cardiff Q&A that he not only writes Doctor Who for himself , but children as well!

I actually enjoy the Steven Moffat penned debut Doctor Who episodes. As with Matt Smith's debut Moffat doesn't have the Doctor recuperating in his bed for half the episode, he gets The Doctor out into the storyline abet in a befuddled and confused state and throws him into the action. If anything it character builds the new Doctor with a few obvious links to previous incarnations along the way.

Jenna Coleman & Peter Capaldi
The safe haven of Deep Breath is its Victorian London setting and the familiarity of characters Madam Vastra, Jenny and Strax. Their loyalty to the Doctor in his new form is undiminished while companion Clara's may seem slightly questionable. If anything I love Jenna Coleman's portrayal of Clara, but if she is The Impossible Girl that has known the Doctor through all his time lines how does she find it hard to accept the new Doctor?

Then again, Capaldi's Doctor is very different in temperament and unpredictable even seating his companion in a dangerous position. There is much I actually enjoyed about Deep Breath from its beginning with a dinosaur rampaging through Victorian London to the little comic exchanges between Clara and Strax. 

As for Peter Capaldi's Doctor, a first episode is not always a fair analysis as you wear a Doctor in. For me Matt Smith is a tough act to follow (I always likened Matt's Doctor to a young Troughton or an old man trapped in a young man's body - but still very much The Doctor!). 

I think we could have a good Doctor in Peter Capaldi though, a combination of Pertwee's style and Tom Baker's unpredictability with more thought, deepness and knowing harking back to Hartnell... stay tuned!

Writing Doctor Who Previews For Deep Breath