Somewhat surprisingly the appearance of this song on the radio and in the charts in my schooldays didn’t lead to much poking of fun at me.
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Another TV theme from the (very) early 1970s – for the first BBC drama series to be broadcast in colour, Take Three Girls – except it wasn’t just a theme as it became a minor hit for the folk band Pentangle.
For completeness here is the title sequence from the first series of Take Three Girls.
Arthur of the Britons, starring Oliver Tobias, was an agreeably gritty early 1970s TV series made by the Welsh ITV company Harlech and broadcast in the children’s “hour.” The theme was written by prolific film composer Elmer Bernstein. I always thought it had similarities to the theme of my mother’s favourite soap Emmerdale Farm (which only became Emmerdale in 1989.)
One of the enduring memories of my childhood and early adolescence is the animated BBC TV series Noggin the Nog, one of that long list of delightful creations from the team of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin which also included Ivor the Engine (a bit early for me,) The Clangers and Bagpuss (a bit late.)
Noggin the Nog was such a hit with my schoolmates that one of our secondary school teachers was dubbed with the nickname of the show’s baddie, Nogbad the Bad.
Each episode always had an intro narrated against the muted strains of Hall of the Mountain King, “In the lands of the North, where the Black Rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long the Men of the Northlands sit by their great log fires and they tell a tale,” which then went on into that particular storyline.
Another of the singles my eldest brother bought was this novelty record by the Mastersingers, setting the first part of the Highway Code in the form of an Anglican chant.
And why would he buy such a thing?
Well, my family is steeped in the Anglican tradition and my brother would later, as he would put it, “take Holy Orders” – the latest in a line from my grandfather (the original Jack Deighton,) his brother Frank, and son Ian, though none of the children of my generation follow on in what might have been called the family business – so we found the conceit amusing. All the more so since everyone in my immediate family – mother, father, two brothers, myself – were in the church choir and were used to singing Psalms and Canticles as Anglican Chant. I remember spending several years looking forward to following my brothers in singing as leading choirboy the part of the page in Good King Wenceslas at Christmas only to be disappointed when in my year the choirmaster decided to change the format to having the congregation sing it instead. That’s life, though.
The B-side of The Ferret Song (see last week) had a tune based on the middle part of one of John Philip Sousa’s marches, The Washington Post, and had a lyric which became typical of the Monty Python style since the song references a slew of philosophers and artists and also includes nods to popular culture as well as Shakespeare – all wrapped around an idea of the utmost silliness.
I really like the cleverness of the rhymes with the word tart, though.
So Demis Roussos has gone. He was only 66. Strange that in the 70s he seemed quite old.
He first came to my attention in the 60s as lead singer of Aphrodite’s Child, another of whose members was Vangelis.
I posted their song It’s Five O’Clock here. It was out of songs and groups like this that Prog Rock developed.
I’ll skip over Roussos’s 70s solo number 1 For Ever and Ever and instead feature a live version of Aphrodite’s Child’s only UK hit, a number 29 no less, Rain and Tears.
Artemios “Demis” Ventouris-Roussos: 15/6/1946 – 25/1/2015. So it goes.
Monty Python didn’t come out of nowhere. There was a ferment among English comedic talent following in the wake of Beyond the Fringe in the early to mid-60s, with individuals coming together in various combinations, splitting apart and recoalescing in TV shows like At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set as well as the immortal radio comedy I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again – two of whose songs have appeared in this category previously – before the main players settled down into their most famous incarnations as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and The Goodies.
I first remember hearing this classic (I can’t bring myself to categorise it as music however) on I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again but it had been performed earlier in At Last the 1948 Show and it also counts towards those singles from my elder brother’s record collection – see this category numbers 53-56.
This isn’t one of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’s big hits. It doesn’t feature Dave Dee at all and was recorded and released in 1970 after he left the group when the band had shortened its name to the remaining members initials. This track apparently has the first use of a Moog Modular Synthesiser.
Trevor Leonard Ward-Davies (Dozy): 27/11/1944 – 13/1/2015. So it goes.
A small hit in the UK (no 36) but a no 8 in Germany. The track has echoes of The Troggs and The Who of I’m a Boy and prefigures the Roy Wood era Electric Light Orchestra. The video features “guitarist” Eddie Phillips playing his instrument with a violin bow – reputedly the first to do so – a major contributor to the record’s sound. Another antecedent of Prog Rock?
Phillips had also used this technique on their previous single, Making Time.