A long long time ago, or so it feels, when I was in Spanish exile, I whiled away my time writing blog posts by hand.
One of them was Desert Island Discs. As I had no television, internet or other distraction and couldn’t be bothered with the radio, I played records. Those black round things from the last century.
For those of you who don’t know DIDs, it was a Radio 4 programme presented by a gravelly-voiced Roy Plumley who introduced a famous person, and asked them to choose eight records if they were cast away on a desert island. They also got to choose a book, Shakespeare and the bible were already provided.
I realised eight records was not an easy choice. So compiling my list, I went for as many multi-record albums as I could, eg all Beethoven’s piano concertos, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem etc.
Then I began to split it by categories. Choral, piano, symphony and pop.
Reading Ark’s post about the Tom Robinson Band last night reminded me of this unpublished post.
We play pop quiz here. I put up some music from YouTube and he has to guess the band and the name of the song. We don’t bother with the year. Sometimes he gets it after a couple of chords. Sometimes he can sing the words (I am totally useless at lyrics I just sing lala happily) but can’t get the band or the title.
He gets tired of it quickly but can’t resist playing along. I missed my vocation in life as a DJ.
So here is today’s Top
Ten Thirty!!, Pop Pickers. (Courtesy of the late Alan Freeman, who sadly has now been linked with the Savile allegations of paedophilia)
These are not in order of preference, rather today’s random favourites. Tomorrow is another day.
1 American Pie – Don McLean. One of the ones I never bought and wished I had. Partner got this one in two notes.
2 Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty. Another winner for Partner. Who couldn’t recognise that wonderful sax intro? I did buy this one.
3 Relax – Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I loved this repetitive bass beat. I would turn it up on the stereo as a teenager so that it was reverberating around the house. My parents were actually quite tolerant, surprisingly.
4 Bits and Pieces – Dave Clark Five. I not only have the single, but saw them at Bridlington, aged five or six, and stamped my feet along with everyone else in the Floral Pavilion, pony tail swinging away as I did so.
5 Nights in White Satin – Moody Blues. Just classic and mesmerisingly beautiful. Who couldn’t like this? It’s a get it on the first note one in the pop quiz stakes though.
6 Lady Eleanor – Lindisfarne. Similar type of music to NiWS. Beautiful and haunting. Another easy guess on the quiz, especially as I play the Nicely Out of Tune album endlessly.
7 Things We Said Today – The Beatles. This was a hard choice. My first Beatles record was She Loves You (yeah yeah yeah) – 1962. I’ve got a fair selection of their singles, I Want to Hold Your Hand, This Boy, Can’t Buy Me Love are all faves, as is A Hard Day’s Night. But the flip side of that, Things We Said Today is the one that I play the most, so it gets on the list. Listening to the old singles, they had a very clear sound, and the guitar music is – to my uneducated ear – good. And while I loathe Paul McCartney as a personality, I think he is a bloody good musician with a cracking voice.
8 There’s Always Something There to Remind Me – Sandie Shaw. I just love the way she belts this out. She announced her retirement from music last year. There will always be this record to remind us of her wonderful voice though. I’ve chosen this record as the first vid link because I just think it is so good.
9 House of the Rising Sun – The Animals. Another easy one for Partner on the pop quiz. The Animals were from Newcastle. When I lived in Newc one of my bosses split up from his wife, and the local gossip was that she was living with an animal (one of the band). One day, I got a ‘phone call from a Mrs X who wanted some decorating work. Mrs X lived in the same area of Newc as my boss. They had the same name. I figured it wasn’t a good idea. So we never worked for Mrs X and her animal. My former boss, Mr X, currently has a rather high-profile job in the UK, no, let me call that a top job. In fact the top job for his profession, so I am not naming him. He’s from Yorkshire for what that’s worth. He never liked me. He didn’t like journalists. The Animals:
10 Radar Love – Golden Earring. Just wonderful.
11 Seven Seas of Rye – Queen. Far better than their later music IMO. It was out around the same time as Radar Love.
12 Hotel California – The Eagles. I love the dreamy quality of this. When I was a teenager I used to go a pub called the Roundabout (it was a round building) except it was referred to as the Mid, I think because it was previously the Midland Bank. It was a hang out for hippies, dope smokers and laid-back music – I wasn’t the first two, but I did like the music. At 14, me and a similarly tall mate would go every Saturday. She was dark, I was blond. We made a good pair. My parents didn’t like her :D
13 Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits. Another Newcastle band. I like Dire Straits, and they sound similar to the Eagles. In Spain, my neighbours like them too but pronounce it Dear Streets which always has us in hysterics as we try to explain to them that they are saying calles muy caras.
14 Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed. Beautiful voice, lovely music. Listen to that sax. Sadly died last year.
15 Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show – Neil Diamond. This is on his album Gold, and I just love that gospel music. Such powerful singing. He’s known for more famous hits, but that is my fave.
16 Gold – Spandau Ballet. Because after mentioning Diamond’s album of that name I have to include this. I don’t have any of their records but I did see them live in Bradford having been dragged reluctantly to a concert at St George’s Hall. Just WOW! The record is good on its own, but live was superb. More sax, there is probably a theme to my choices :D When he belts out GOLD it is electrifying.
17 Vienna – Ultravox. Another one from a similar era. Beautiful clear singing, and lovely music behind the song. Another haunting one.
18 Big in Japan – Alphaville. I first heard this in Italy when I was working there as an au pair (!) I just HAD to buy it when I returned to the UK. Love the beat. I can even work out some of the words – You do what you do to me .. Oh and Big in Japan of course.
19 It’s a Sin – Pet Shop Boys. I adore PSBs, I didn’t know who they were for ages, just liked their music that I sang along to, well lalalala in reality.
20 Self Control – Laura Brannigan. I always forget her name but I love this and her beautiful voice. Gloria was also a great record. Self Control has more than 20 mill views on YT!!
21 One Night in BangKok – Murray Head. This reminds me of Big in Japan with its intro. By the time I heard it I was having lots of nights in Sydney and had already visited Bangkok. I’d listen to the radio in my little hostel room and just waited every night for it to come on.
22 Hit the road Jack! – Ray Charles. What can I say? There are no words for this incomparable classic.
23 Delilah – Tom Jones. Like Paul Mc I think TJ is an obnoxious person but he has a wonderful voice. A bit like Bassey. Welsh partner can sing this one word-perfect. I love the brass in this music. The sentiments are terrible, but as a piece of music it is class.
24 River Deep Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner. This is another one that always sends shivers down my spine, it is brilliant. Especially played loud. I don’t have the original, but I have Nilsson’s version which isn’t bad although nothing can beat Tina. Nilsson died in 1994, aged 52, younger than me. Good grief.
25 The Free Electric Band – Albert Hammond. This is a Gib blog so got to end with our most famous Gib musician. I can play this for ages, I can even sing the words. I thought he was American! He was evacuated to the UK during WW2 and was born in London but was brought up in Gib. I also thought he was a one-hit wonder because that was the only single he made that ever made the charts in the UK. He wrote ‘It Never Rains in Southern California’, ‘The Air that I Breathe’ for the Hollies and ‘Freedom Come Freedom Go’ for The Fortunes. I made my classic mistake of saying he was a one-hit wonder one day to a couple who were running a local bar. She’s since died and he went back to the UK. Fred patiently explained that Hammond had written more than one song! But now, I can’t resist a few more songs.
26 Long Cool Woman – The Hollies. While I think ‘The Air that I Breathe’ is dirgey, I love this. The Hollies are from Lancashire. And listening to the lyrics where it ends with ‘had it all’ remind me of one of my all-time bestest ever records.
27 Get it on – T. Rex. I’ve got the single and the Electric Warrior album. I had a crush on Marc Bolan for years. Loved his voice and his music. Listen for that bit toward the end where the music fades and someone sings ‘bang a gong’ in a high voice. Sublime.
28 Neanderthal Man – Hotlegs. This one always makes me laugh. When I was a kid we had caravan holidays on the east coast of Yorkshire. My parents took me to the local pub just down from Ulrome Neanderthal Man was a favourite in the pub. It was so loud and noisy that everyone just put it on endlessly. I don’t think anyone started off liking it, but it was an in joke. Most odd. Don’t ever remember hearing anything else in there. There were calls for NM if something else was put on! Def not the sort of music my parents liked, but even they joined in and put their ten pence in the juke box to put it on. I bought the single. The joke was on me later on. I hated 10CC and their whingey music. Hotlegs went on to become the rather more famous 10CC.
29 Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees. Another band I loathed. My partner however, did like them. I have to say, I actually like this one very much now. I think the tall good-looking one has an amazing voice. And is he fit in the YT vid? Oh yes. Partner had a mate who apparently looked like him and was a real woman magnet. By the time I met the mate he was fat and didn’t look remotely like Mr G. Interesting the twins who were younger than Barry are both dead now. Sad. I didn’t realise how successful they were (because I didn’t like them). Only outsold by Elvis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Garth Brooks (who??!!) and McCartney. And 35 mill views for this vid!
30 Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler. Let’s really end with another British singer, Bonnie Tyler (who I also thought was American, sort of like Dolly Parton yes?) who was born in Wales. She has the same birth name as my sister-in-law – Gaynor. Some years ago there was a brilliant YT version of this by three people miming the words as they raced along the road at 90 miles an hour (that was the title of their vid). They had to change the title, but I’ve found it, here it is. I think it is great, but the original was better because it was perfectly synched and it had loads of views. I’m surprised it is still up. Given all the pesky people who moan about copyright ;)
Enough!! As for my eight, the must-haves are Sandie, The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, Moody Blues and I'll worry about the other four later.
And the one I forgot. How could I have done? Eloise – Barry Ryan. Born in Leeds (West Riding, Yorkshire). This record dates from 1968, and is full of orchestration and a powerful voice. To Freddie Mercury et al, orchestration was being done well before Bohemian Rhapsody and this is a perfect combination of pop and orchestra. So I planned to end with a Gibbo, but have ended with someone from my birthplace. I couldn’t track this record down for ages, got it confused with the Prices for some reason.
Here’s Barry, who was around 20 when he recorded Eloise. Isn’t he gorgeous? There are good-looking men from Yorkshire after all.
He’s still performing this song now at more than 60 years old. Either he’s miming on all the YouTube tracks or he has retained his voice. He still isn’t bad-looking either. Look at the HUGE orchestra. Worst lines in the song: My Eloisa, I want to please her!! Terrible!! He can’t possibly sing now like he did 40 years ago. Or can he? I wonder if he can sing On Ilkla Moor Bah’t ‘At?
The Damned released their version of it in 1986. It was their biggest hit (no 3 in UK charts). Terrible. Not a patch on the original. Part of the appeal is the way Ryan sings Eloise in a high voice. Dave Vanian’s style just doesn’t make it. Ryan decided to become an arty photographer.