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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

Friday on my Mind 165: Up Up and Away

Another Jimmy Webb song this was first recorded by the 5th Dimension in the US but it was The Johnny Mann Singers who had the UK hit.

The Johnny Mann Singers: Up Up and Away

Not Friday on my Mind 50: Elenore

This song’s lyric is surely the only pop song to include the word etcetera. Or at least to attempt to rhyme it.

The Turtles: Elenore

Friday on my Mind 164: When You Walk in the Room

Another song which has the word nonchalant in its lyric, When You Walk in the Room was written and performed by Jackie DeShannon but is more familiar to Britons via the cover version recorded by The Searchers which got to number 3 in the UK 1964. The song’s title is never actually sung in its entirety during its course; only its last four words.

The Searchers: When You Walk in the Room

Here also is Jackie DeShannon with the song on US TV:-

Jackie DeShannon: When You Walk in the Room

Ursula Le Guin

I’ve just looked at the Locus website and discovered to my deep sadness that Ursula Le Guin has died.

She was one of the greats of Science Fiction and Fantasy and will be sorely missed.

Probably most famous for her “Earthsea” series of books she first came to my attention in the 1960s. I cannot now remember which book of hers I read first but I think it must have been the acclaimed The Left Hand of Darkness. I went on to scour bookshops for her work. I confess I wasn’t as impressed (in my relative youth) by the even more critically praised The Dispossessed – I probably hadn’t enough life experience then to appreciate it fully – but since those days her fiction has always been the background to my SF reading life, my anticipation of each new book never disappointed by its content.

Most recently I always enjoyed her book reviews for The Guardian, which showed a mind as sharp and incisive as ever.

Tonight the world – the universe – feels like a much smaller place.

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin: 21/10/1929 – 22/1/2018. So it goes.

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