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Friday on my Mind 173: You Only Live Twice

After From Russia with Love we were treated to the big bashing of both Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones in Goldfinger and Thunderball respectively in subsequent Bond theme songs. By the time of You Only Live Twice things had been dialled down a bit. I must say I like the guitar counterpoint under the verses (mirroring the strings in the intro but extending the melody by a few notes.) Robbie Williams, of course, paid homage to this theme in his hit Millennium.

By the way. Is it heretical to be of the opinion that Nancy Sinatra was a better singer than her dad?

Nancy Sinatra: You Only Live Twice

Friday on my Mind 172: From Russia With Love

Reading the book (see my review, four or five posts ago) reminded me of this Bond theme song from the time when Bond theme songs weren’t a thing. It does, though, give me an opportunity once more to feature the vocal talents of Matt Monro.

The song itself is a perfect example of the songwriter’s craft. The slight change in the melody from line one to line two, the way the first verse’s lyrics circle back to the first phrase, the sequential rhyming of places and faces, then tongue-tied and young pride and the rise to the final note.

Matt Monro: From Russia With Love

Friday on my Mind 171: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman – RIP Aretha Franklin

Another giant of 60s (and later) music has gone.

Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly the best purveyor of the branch of music she excelled in. Not for nothing was she known as the Queen of Soul.

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman wasn’t a hit in Britain. I’m not sure if it was ever released as one in the UK but her expression in this recording is the epitome of soul.

Aretha Franklin: (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman

Her biggest solo hit in the UK in terms of chart placing was actually I Say a Little Prayer, in 1968:-

Aretha Franklin: I Say a Little Prayer

But only one word suffices to describe her achievements.

Respect.

Aretha Louise Franklin: 25/3/1942 – 16/8/2018. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 170: Early Morning

Speaking of Stuart Henry this is a track I remember him championing when he first started broadcasting for Radio 1.

It later featured on the first Barclay James Harvest album I bought, the retrospective compilation Early Morning Onwards which EMI put out on a budget label when the group jumped ship – or were they pushed? – to Polydor.

I probably liked Early Morning at the time due to the mellotron. Still do now.

Barclay James Harvest: Early Morning

Friday on my Mind 169: Reach Out I’ll Be There

As soon as I hear the first notes of this it takes me right back to when my family first got a transistor radio which kick-started my interest in popular music. It immediately conjures up the time and place – specifically listening to (the pirate) Radio Scotland and especially the late great Stuart Henry. This was the big hit at the time.

The Four Tops: Reach Out I’ll Be There

Peter Firmin

I was sad to hear of the death of Peter Firmin over the weekend.

Along with Oliver Postgate, who died nigh on ten years ago, he produced some of the most loved children’s animations of the 60s and 70s, including my personal favourite of theirs The Saga of Noggin the Nog though others may prefer The Clangers or Bagpuss or even Ivor the Engine.

Noggin the Nog is best appreciated in black and white I feel.

The Saga of Noggin the Nog. The King:-

Peter Arthur Firmin: 11/12/1928 – 1/7/2018. So it goes.

Harlan Ellison

Yesterday’s print edition of the Guardian contained the obituary of Harlan Ellison, one of the most influential Science Fiction writers of the 1960s and 70s.

Much of his most imporatnt work came in the form of short stories ‘Repent Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream and A Boy and his Dog being only three which immediately spring to mind. He also wrote an award winning Start Trek episode, The City on the Edge of Forever (but was unhappy with alterations the show’s controllers made to the script) and many other TV episodes .

He won no fewer than eight Hugo Awards plus four Nebula Awards and many more nominations.

He was also the begetter of the anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again Dangerous Visions which promoted the Nrew Wave style of writing. A third book The Last Dangerous Visions was projected and stories sought – and submitted – but it never appeared, leading to some acrimony.

He could be hard to get along with and indulged in many quarrels. His personal behaviour was certainly far from beyond reproach raising the question as to how is it possible to separate the personality of an artist from his or her work.

But his work will linger in the memory.

Harlan Jay Ellison: 27/5/1934 – 28/6/2018. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 168: When You’re Young and in Love

Another Motown song from one of the label’s lesser known artists.

I particularly like the Rachmaninov style piano introduction.

The Marvelettes: When You’re Young and in Love

Friday on my Mind 167: Captain of Your Ship

Despite the clanking bell on the intro (signalling we are probably to think of a paddle-driven river boat) and the reference to the boat leaking this always put me in mind of Science Fiction. It must have been the futuristic sounding name Reparata and that Delrons sound like something from Captain Scarlet.

Reparata and the Delrons: Captain of Your Ship

Friday on my Mind 166: Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me

Another Motown song. Is that a harpsichord in the intro? Unusual for Motown.

This builds up from a slow, quiet start to something rather more ostentatious.

Gladys Knight and The Pips: Take Me in Your Arms and Love Me

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