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Margarita Pracatan

Margarita Pracatan, who died earlier this week, was one of the most idiosyncratic performers I have ever seen.

Brought to the attention of the British public via Clive James‘s TV shows, she was nominally a singer. She sang in English but her heavy Hispanic accent was at odds with the songs she performed, yet it was that same accent which made a large contribution to her appeal.

James said of her that she could make some of the world’s most recognisable songs seem unfamiliar, new and strange and that, “She never lets the words or melody get in her way.” But he also added, “She is us, without the fear of failure.” Her personality was so big any failings of technique or timing simply did not matter. She embodied exuberance and joie de vivre.

I hesitate to put this under my music category. Nevertheless. If you have never seen her before marvel at this small sample of her œuvre.

¡Pracatan!

Margarita Pracatan: You Were Always on my Mind

Juana Margarita Figueroa (Margarita Pracatan,) 11/6/1931 – 23/6/2020. So it goes.

Vera

So, Vera Lynn has died.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that that will mean the Second World War is finally over and will no longer be invoked by those trying to make some spurious point about contempoorary life. It was 75 years ago after all.

Oh, well.

A flavour of this sentiment colours this Pink Floyd Track from The Final Cut.

Pink Floyd: Vera

Perhaps not, then.

Lynn is repeatedly referred to as the Forces’ Sweetheart but I have it on good authority that isn’t quite true – at least for the rank and file. When she was on tour giving concerts she spent most of her time with officers. As a result, more popular among the ordinary soldier was the much lesser heralded Anne Shelton.

Still, print the legend, eh?

But at least Lynn didn’t forget the Fourteenth Army and actually visited Burma.

Most people – not least the BBC – no doubt opted for We’ll Meet Again to mark her passing. This one’s slightly less sentimental.

Vera Lynn: A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

Vera Margaret Lynch (Vera Lynn;) 20/3/1917 – 18/6/2020. So it goes.

Reelin’ in the Years 174: Burning – RIP Steve Priest

So, farewell then, Steve Priest, bass guitarist with The Sweet.

On one of the band’s Top of the Pops performances Steve managed to outrage my father with his make-up and pouting to the camera. I just thought all of that was an in-joke, a very muted kind of rebellion.

I’ve already featured what I think of as the band’s good hits; the ones that weren’t mere bubblegum fluff.

The Sweet’s B-sides were their attempt to show that they were serious musicians. Some see them as forerunners of and influences on later heavy metal bands. At the time most of my acquiantances thought they were maybe trying a bit too hard.

On this one (the B-side of Hell Raiser) it sounds like they were trying to channel Led Zeppelin, specifically The Immigrant Song.

The Sweet: Burning

Stephen Norman (Steve) Priest, 23/2/1948 – 4/6/2020. So it goes.

Little Richard

By the time I started listening to popular music Little Richard had passed his heyday. It was still obvious though that he had been important in the development of rock’n’roll – an influence on so many popular musicians of the 1960s and later. Sadly he joined the roll call of the departed this week.

There is really only one phrase with which to sign him off.

Awopbopaloobop alopbambom!

Little Richard: Tutti Frutti

Richard Wayne Penniman (Little Richard) 5/12/1932 – 9/5/2020. So it goes.

Tim Brooke-Taylor

I was very sad to hear of the death of Tim Brooke-Taylor, especially so since it seems he succumbed to Covid-19.

I suppose most people will remember him from The Goodies (goody, goody, yum-yum.) However, Taylor’s “character” in that series always seemed to me to be composed too much of the upper-class English twit, which did him an injustice.

I first encountered him, though in the radio show I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again, (episodes of which are available on the iPlayer) in which he played many parts but most notably for me, Lady Constance de Coverlet, a woman of bountiful proportions the source of many jokes, and perenially man-mad.

One particular memory I have of the character came in the serial “Professor Prune and The Electric Time Trousers” where in one episode the show’s perenially popular dog Spot was carried away in the time trousers along with the Professor. “Come back, Professor,” said Lady Constance. “Come back, Spot.”

“Come back Spot?” came the query, as if mystified by her affection for a dog.

Lady Constance – “I chase anything in trousers.”

Timothy Julian Brooke-Taylor: 17/7/1940 – 12/4/2020. So it goes.

As If We’re Not Suffering Enough

What with no football to fill your Saturday afternoons with dread or joy or … meh.

What with having to stay at home on a beautiful day.

What with wall-to-wall pieces on the TV cobbled from social media feeds or interviewing their so-called “stars”.

What with being depressed enough by the news.

Then after said news on Channel 4 tonight the announcer said next on was a film starring Vera Lynn! We’ll Meet Again, no less.

We’ve now definitely disappeared down a plughole into a bizarre altered reality.

Just to get it straight, guys. We are not in a real war. We’re not in any sort of re-enactment of the 1940s.

The UK is certainly not being led by people with any of the competence of those in the wartime coalition (even if one them was supposed to have “much to be modest about,” a remark belied by his subsequent achievements.)

This is a pandemic – an inevitable pandemic, one that was coming down the line sometime; they always do – for which leaders obsessed with lowering taxes and balancing budgets failed to prepare.

If you want a Second World War analogy, it is those same politicians who occupy the place of the 1930s appeasers of fascism. I hope the public remembers and doesn’t forgive them. History certainly won’t.

Terry Jones

I was so saddened to hear of the death of Terry Jones but it was even sadder that his fertile mind had been undermined in the last years of his life by dementia.

Everyone knows Jones from Monty Python (and his eponymous Flying Circus) but I first remember his appearances in the ITV series Do Not Adjust Your Set which ran in the late 1960s. I see some of that programme’s episodes are now on You Tube.

Many of the traits later to be expanded on in Monty Python’s Flying Circus were there in embryo.

There are many classic Jones/Python moments. Here are just three:-

Mouse organ:-

Terence Graham Parry Jones: 1/2/1942 – 21/1/2020. So it goes.

2020

Happy New Year.

Goodness knows we need it.

A happy year that is.

Martin Peters

The football player who was “ten years ahead of his time” (at least according to Alf Ramsey) and one of a select few – English footballers to have won a World Cup – has died.

Had Wolfgang Weber not scored for Germany in the last minute of normal time Martin Peters would have been known as the man who won that World Cup as it was he who put England into the lead in the 78th minute.

As it was, Ramsey told his players, “You’ve won it once. Now you’ll have to go out there and win it again,” but it was team mate Geoff Hurst who grabbed the late glory.

All in all Peters had not a bad footballing CV.

Martin Stanford Peters: 8/11/1943 – 21/12/2019. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 185: You Can Never Stop Me Loving You – RIP Kenny Lynch

One of the few black British entertainers – one of the few black faces – to appear on British television in the early 1960s, belonged to Kenny Lynch, who has died this week.

There were US acts of course, such as Sammy Davis Jr, Nat King Cole and Harry Belafonte and Blues and Motown artistes would feature on shows such as Ready, Steady Go! and Top of the Pops but as for British performers Lynch was just about it.

There were quite a few strings to Lynch’s bow, singing on variety shows, popping up on game shows – always with a cheerful demeanour – and he also had a career as an actor but among other songs Lynch wrote Sha La La La La Lee which became a hit for the Small Faces. He was also the first singer to cover a Beatles song (Misery.)

This is his joint biggest UK hit. On it Lynch sounds a bit like Sam Cooke. No small praise.

Kenny Lynch: You Can Never Stop Me Loving You

Kenneth Lynch: 18/3/1938 – 18/12/2019. So it goes.

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