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Friday on my Mind 198: Ferry Cross the Mersey. RIP Gerry Marsden

2021 is carrying on from where 2020 left off. Last Sunday Gerry Marsden died.

He is of course best known as lead singer and guitarist of Gerry and the Pacemakers, a group which had the distinction of their first three hits reaching no 1 in the UK charts, something his contemporaries The Beatles did not achieve. (To be fair they had many more hits in total.)

It was the third of these number 1 songs, a cover of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the musical Carousel, which will be Gerry’s lasting legacy, a song adopted as a theme tune by the supporters of both Liverpool FC and Celtic FC, but because of Marsden’s Liverpudlian upbringing will now forever be associated with the city.

It was the following song though that was the first single I ever bought. The clip is from Top of the Pops but is either mimed or the record has been dubbed over the video.

Gerry and the Pacemakers: Ferry Cross the Mersey

Ferry Cross the Mersey was also the title song from the film the group made in 1965, a film I went to see but of which I can only remember this one scene, shot on one of the eponymous ferries with the group on its deck – complete with drum kit! – and an exchange with some woman saying, “Hello, Gerry.”

Gerard (Gerry) Marsden: 24/12/1942 – 3/1/2021. So it goes.

Friday on my Mind 196: Fire

A piece of utter craziness from 1968. On the face of it Arthur Brown was just a little bit mad what with wearing a helmet of burning fuel on his head. Catchy, unforgettable and a world-wide hit but not easy to follow-up.

As seen on Top of the Pops. (The video looks like someone filmed it off a TV screen.)

Crazy World of Arthur Brown: Fire

Reelin’ in the Years 177: Only You Can. RIP Kenny Young

The song-writer and producer of 1970s band Fox died earlier this week. He also wrote Captain of Your Ship – a hit for Reparata and the Delrons in the 60s – Under the Boardwalk and some hits for Clodagh Rodgers.

A list of his hit songs is on Wikipedia.

The biggest of those in the UK were recorded by Fox. This looks like a Top of the Pops appearance.

Fox: Only You Can

Shalom Giskan (Kenny Young,) 14/4/1941 – 14/4/2020. So it goes.

Reelin’ in the Years 176: Run For Home

Just because I’ve been posting about the island from which the band Lindisfarne took its name.

The band had split after their third LP Dingly Dell in 1972 but reformed in 1978. Run For Home was taken from their punningly named comeback album Back and Fourth which featured a photograph of Lindisfarne Castle on its sleeve.

Back and Fourth cover sleeve

This is a Top of the Pops appearance from 1978.

Lindisfarne: Run for Home

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.

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.

Not Friday on my Mind 58: White Room – RIP Ginger Baker

As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the man credited with changing rock drumming for ever, Ginger Baker, died earlier this week.

He first came to my attention as part of Cream, the so-called first supergroup. I somehow didn’t notice their first single, Wrapping Paper, when it came out, but caught them on Top of the Pops with their second, I Feel Free. Then came Strange Brew and the other songs from Disraeli Gears.

I have already featured their imperious Badge, from 1969.

This track from Wheels of Fire, shows off Ginger’s drumming.

Cream: White Room

Peter Edward “Ginger” Baker: 19/8/1939 – 6/10/2019. So it goes.

Bowie

The one name suffices. In modern times you could not be referring to anyone else.

There was (sadly that tense is now appropriate) only one Bowie: David.

For many the iconic moment of their lives was Bowie placing a carefree, languid, unthinking arm round Mick Ronson’s neck on that Top of the Pops appearance while promoting Starman and thereby validating sexualities beyond that of the straight and cis.

Bowie’s first brush with the charts came with Space Oddity in 1969, regarded at the time as a bit of a novelty record, though it wasn’t his last song to tangle with SF imagery.

He hit his stride with the Hunky Dory album in 1971 – on which nearly every track is a belter – though no hits were to come from that source till Life on Mars? was released as a single in 1973. This was of course after the breakthrough, the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 and that hit with Starman. I would argue that Hunky Dory is the greater achievement. From Ziggy onwards Bowie seemed to be commercialising his talent. The string of hits that followed on from the Ziggy album, through his Aladdin Sane persona, up to Diamond Dogs perhaps bore that out.

He lost me with Young Americans, though. I’ve never been into that sort of music. There were stonkers still to come of course, when he’d changed his style a few more times, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes, Let’s Dance, China Girl, but it is the early stuff I’ll remember him for.

This is The Bewlay Brothers, from Hunky Dory of course.

David Bowie: The Bewlay Brothers

“Man is an obstacle, sad as the clown. (Oh, by jingo.)
So hold on to nothing and he won’t let you down.”

David Bowie: After All (from The Man Who Sold the World)

“I borrowed your time and I’m sorry I called.”

David, we’re not sorry you called.

David Robert Jones (“David Bowie”) 8/1/1947 – 10/1/2016. So it goes.

Live It Up 26: Lavender

I haven’t had Marillion here for a while. This is a clever reworking of the nursery rhyme, with a sly Yardbirds reference thrown in. As I recall when the band appeared on Top of the Pops with this Fish had a sore throat and was unable to sing so he held up the lyrics on cards à la Bob Dylan. Not that he needed to as I’m sure miming was prevalent in those days.

Marillion: Lavender

Not Friday On My Mind 22: Sweet Dream

The follow up to Living in the Past. As I recall this was a hit at the back end of 1969 and on into 1970. The group’s second single to reach the top ten.

Edited to add:- Original video no lomger available. Apparently this one is from a lost Top of the Pops, unfortunately marred by the overlays the video poster has put on the screen.

Jethro Tull: Sweet Dream

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