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Friday on my Mind 149: Foot Tapper. RIP Brian Matthew

It was with great sadness I heard on Sunday of the death of Brian Matthew, one of the voices of my youth and, through the BBC Radio 2 programme Sounds of the Sixties, also of my recent adulthood.

This came only a few days after the BBC had mistakenly reported his death.

Despite his apparent dismay at a crass decision by the powers that be to replace him, and his stated intention to make further programmes for Radio 2, Mathew was obviously not as hale and hearty as he once was (none of us are.) There had been another lengthy absence from the programme a couple of years ago so the final news was merely a confirmation of what I had feared.

Whatever, Sounds of the Sixties is not – and never can be – the same without him. The new incumbent, Tony Blackburn, is far too chatty (what is all that stuff with Dermot O’Leary, who follows him on air? Just play the music and give us the information about the acts) and always sounds fundamentally unserious about the show’s contents. It’s Blackburn’s style and has always been his style but it grates somehow.

So. Here is the tune that will forever now be associated with Matthew – the one with which Sounds of the Sixties played (and plays) out every episode and which I will never in future be able to hear without a further tinge of sadness.

The Shadows: Foot Tapper

Brian Matthew: 17/9/1928 – 8/4/2017. So it goes.

Chuck Berry

Reading his obituary and a piece in the Guardian’s G2 brought home to me how important Chuck Berry was to the development of rock and roll and the music that followed it.

His heyday was in the 50s so I had kind of missed all that by being too young. I must have been aware of him somewhere in the background via the paltry amount of rock music on the radio in those times but I didn’t really come into contact with his music till the mid to late 60s when some of his singles were in the pile beside the record player at a youth club I went to. It’s therefore No Particular Place to Go and Memphis Tenessee I remember most particularly. It wasn’t actually till years later that I discovered No Particular Place to Go was a reworking of a 1957 song, School Day (Ring! Ring! Goes the Bell).

Not the least of his accomplishments was to irritate Mary Whitehouse with his ding-a-ling. (Well, it seems it was Dave Bartholomew’s ding-a-ling, but it was Chuck who annoyed Whitehouse.)

His personal life may not have been unblemished but he certainly has an impressive musical back catalogue, and that’s only the singles.

So here are those two Berry singles the second in a later live version.

Chuck Berry: No Particular Place to Go

Chuck Berry: Memphis Tenessee

Go Johnny go! Tell Tchaikovsky the news.

Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry: 18/10/1926 – 18/3/2017. So it goes.

End of an Era

Regular readers will know I occasionally mention the Radio 2 programme Sounds of the Sixties.

Barring two minor interludes when he was unwell, for all the time I’ve been listening to it – many years now – it has been compered by Brian Matthew, a well-known voice from the Light Programme of my youth. In fact he has introduced the show for 27 years.

Recently he has been absent for a span of time during which Tim Rice filled in. I was pleased when I learned on 18/2/17 that Matthew was set to return – as he did last Saturday, the 25th.

This turned out to be a temporary reprieve as Saturday’s episode was valedictory and Matthew informed us it would be his last ever Sounds of the Sixties.

Fair enough, Matthew is not a young man any more. I wish him well in his (part) retirement. I say part as he did say he would be introducing other Radio 2 shows from time to time in the future. But I’ll miss him.

The good lady and I speculated on who might or could replace him – neither of us thought Tim Rice had quite the timbre of voice for it – whether a star of the 60s or the only other DJ from that time presumably available (Johnnie Walker already ensconced in the Sounds of the Seventies seat) Tony Blackburn.

All was revealed in a trailer I heard on Sunday. It’s to be Blackburn. I suppose it’s the obvious choice. The show will feel very different, though. Blackburn does not have the gravitas that Matthew has.

Another change is that Sounds of the Sixties will now be aired at 6.00 am rather than 8.00 am as previously. That’ll be me listening on catch-up then.

If any of you still hanker after Matthew and his style that last show is available on the iPlayer for another three weeks or so.

Friday on my Mind 148: Birth

The Peddlers were a frequent sight on UK TV at the back end of the 1960s and very early 1970s but never had much chart success. Birth, from 1969, was their biggest hit.

The piano riff is reminiscent of the one in Elton John’s Border Song which came out in 1970.

The Peddlers: Birth

Friday on my Mind 147: Put Your Mind at Ease

This is an odd mixture of psychedelia and that USian vocal sound exemplified by The Association. The guitar intro is reminiscent of Paperback Writer and Pleasant Valley Sunday.

Despite the hippy gear they still managed to look very USian and clean cut. But that keyboard player was so affected.

The miming in the clip is also pretty bad.

Every Mother’s Son: Put Your Mind at Ease

Friday on my Mind 146: You’re a Very Lovely Woman

I came across this when I was searching for Emitt Rhodes songs. It seems he started out in The Merry-Go-Round. Being a US (minor) hit I hadn’t heard it before or at least didn’t recall it. I do remember Alan Freeman championing Emitt Rhodes when his first solo album came out, in 1970 I think.

There’s a Zombies feel to the introductory guitar and the “strings” sound very like a mellotron to me.

I can’t resist the mellotron sound.

The Merry-Go-Round: You’re a Very Lovely Woman

Friday on my Mind 145: Gin House Blues

I heard this on the radio the other day and it reminded that before they drifted into a more “pop”py sound Amen Corner started out as a blues band.

This was a cover of a song originally titled Me and My Gin as recorded by Bessie Smith in 1928!

Amen Corner: Gin House Blues

Friday on my Mind 144: I Am a Cathedral

Everyone knows the big hit performed by Peter Sarstedt (who died earlier this week) Where Do You Go To (My Lovely). Many people think he was a one-hit wonder – even his Wikipedia entry says that about him despite mentioning he had two other hits (though I must confess I don’t remember Take Off Your Clothes – probably because it was a B-side) but the follow-up single Frozen Orange Juice did get to no. 10 in the UK.

His previous single to the big one wasn’t a hit though arguably it deserved to be.

Peter Sarstedt: I Am a Cathedral

Peter Eardley Sarstedt; 10/12/1941 – 8/1/ 2017. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 143: Garden of my Mind

More psychedelia. Why not?

During this I keep expecting the lead singer to follow the pause with “Is it tomorrow or just the end of time?”

I think the group’s name was perhaps a bit of a mickey take.

The Mickey Finn: Garden of my Mind

Not Friday on my Mind 44: Black Veils of Melancholy. RIP Rick Parfitt

Though it seems I didn’t, I thought I had mentioned in Friday on my Mind 29 that I actually bought Status Quo’s first hit Pictures of Matchstick Men, though they were The Status Quo then.

This follow-up – remarkably similar to that first hit and which appeared on the ludicrously titled first LP, Picturesque Matchstickable messages from the Status Quo – has a title that is all too appropriate, but has a bass line reminiscent of Hendrix.

The Status Quo: Black Veils of Melancholy

Richard John (Rick) Parfitt: 12/10/1948 – 24/12/2016. So it goes.

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