Whilst writing the Yellow Submarine blog post, I noticed that a fellow named Lance Percival was one of the voice over artists and I wanted to share this delightful Calypso novelty record Percival released in 1965 called “Shame and Scandal in the Family.”
Lance Percival was well-known in Britain in the 1960s as part of the cast of That Was The Week That Was (he’s in the back in the shot above) where he’d perform improvised topical humor to a Calypso beat.
“Shame and Scandal in the Family,” his only hit record, originally appeared on the soundtrack to the 1943 horror movie I Walked With A Zombie. A young Peter Tosh also covered the song in 1965 and it was later recorded by both The Stylistics (a disco version from 1977) and Madness.
Last year, DM colleague Marc Campbell started a series of posts on one-hit-wonders, with the mysterious J. Bastos and his hit “Loop Di Love”. Now, I’d like to add Lieutenant Pigeon, who were more of a 2 (or even 3, depending on your country) hit wonder, who topped the U.K. charts with their bizarrely catchy instrumental “Mouldy Old Dough” in October 1972.
Lieutenant Pigeon consisted of Stephen Johnson (bass), Nigel Fletcher (drums), Robert Woodward (keyboards, guitar, tin whistle), and his mother, Hilda Woodward (piano). The band was a side-line project for Woodward (who fronted the experimental music group Stavely Makepeace), and their musical style was greatly influenced by his mother Hilda’s rag-time piano playing.
Written by Woodward and Fletcher, “Mouldy Old Dough” was number 1 for 4 weeks in Britain in 1972, and was the second highest-selling single in the U.K. that year (after the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards with “Amazing Grace”). This was in a year that offered such wealth as Roxy Music “Virginia” Plain”, David Bowie “Starman”, “Jean Genie”, Marc Bolan “Metal Guru”, “Solid Gold Easy Action”, Slade “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, Alice Cooper “School’s Out”, and even “Pop Corn” by Hot Butter.
Hilda Woodward died aged 85 in 1999, but Lieutenant Pigeon still carry on making their own particular type of music.
Songs by The Beatles re-interpreted by The London Jazz Four, from their rare 1967 album of fab covers, Take A New Look at The Beatles. The London Jazz Four were assembled by Steve Race (yes, he of the dummy keyboard fame from quiz show Face the Music), and consisted of Mike McNaught (keyboards), Jim Philip (flute), Brian Moore (bass), Mike Travis (drums). The quartet original cut a couple of vanity tracks, which proved so popular that an album soon followed. The following tracks manage to improvise on the Lennon/McCartney originals, with use of harpsichord, marimba, glockenspiel, and vibraphone, creating a light swinging versions of the songs, which at times develop (“Rain”) and improve (“Michelle”) on the originals.
“The Things We Said Today”
Bonus: Jerry Fielding and the Hollywood Brass take on The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”
Before America’s Got Talent, there was Stairway to Stardom, a public access talent show, broadcast in New York during the late 1970s and 1980s. Shot in what looks like someone’s basement, or the rehearsal room for a David Lynch film, Stairway to Stardom offered the young, the old, and even the deluded a chance to achieve the success their ambition suggested was theirs. Clips of this wonderfully bizarre series have popped up on YouTube over the years, and reveal what fans of Stairway to Stardom have known for years - that this camp, fun and rather charming show is still well ahead of Simon Cowell’s smug, corporate juggernaut.
Horowitz and Spector sing “Something’s Rotten in Translyvania”, 1988
Stairway to Stardom - Opening Titles 1984
More joys from ‘Stairway to Stardom’, after the jump…
Englishman Graham Bonney was one of the wave of young British performers to make the trip to the famed Star Club in Hamburg, Germany (where the Beatles played several residencies early in their career).
Bonney’s biggest hit was a great number called “Super Girl,” released in 1966. It was a popular record on London’s pirate radio station, Radio Caroline. Although he never made it outside of Germany, Bonney’s had a long show-biz career for a one-hit wonder and is still performing “Super Girl” to appreciative audiences today (It seems like he re-records it every few years. Who cares? It’s a great song and it’s his to milk!).
I’ve always had a really soft spot for this song and actually put this on a mixed CD for my wife when we were “courting” so I was stoked to see this video for it. It’s pure pop perfection and catchy as hell.
Minneapolis garage rockers The Castaways performing their hit “Liar, Liar” in the 1967 “feminist” beach movie, It’s a Bikini World.. The song reached #12 in the charts in 1965. Dig this guy’s falsetto! Plus you get a real boss go-go dancer. What’s not to love here?
“Liar, Liar” was covered by Debbie Harry in the 80s. The Castaways original was later used on the soundtrack to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
Here’s the first of a series of pieces I’ll be doing on one-hit wonders. While my intent is to be as informative as possible, I’m starting off with an artist that I can find very little information on, the mysterious J. Bastos.
“Loop di Love” was recorded in 1969 by J. Bastos (Juan Bastos) and became a big hit in Holland and Germany in 1971. It kicks off with one of the more bizarre and memorable verses in pop history and goes on to tell the story of a young man’s chance encounter with a prostitute.
I saw you walking down the street
Love di loop di love
Your hair was hanging down to knees
Love di loop di love
Your waist was waving like a ship
Love di loop di love
The way you look made me sick
Love di loop di love
The only biographical information I can find on J. Bastos is that he lived somewhere in northern Germany and the song was recorded as a joke among drunken friends and became a fluke hit. And that info is from an alleged disgruntled former employee of Bastos who claims he was hellish to work for and fell into being a popstar totally by accident. It’s odd, considering the notoriety and popularity of “Loop di Love,” that so little is known of its creator. Anyone got any info on J. Bastos?
The tune is based on a Greek fishermen’s song “Darla Dirlada.”
A double dose of J. Bastos - a promo video shot in Amsterdam and a performance on German TV.
Here’s a great clip of the French space/rock/sci-fi/disco outfit Rockets performing their biggest hit, a cover of Canned Heat’s “On The Road Again” on the Italian TV show Stryx in 1978. Rockets combined the electronic pulse of Eurodisco with the driving power of classic 70’s rock. Terry Miller, author of the blog post quoted below, sums Rockets up perfectly: “Imagine Gino Soccio mixed with ZZ Top. Interstellar Rock!” It’s camp and fun, if not a little scary due to the matching bald-heads-and silver-skin look, and just how seriously they are taking it.
Like Giorgio Moroder, Rockets had been around for quite a while before finding international success on the first wave of European disco in the late Seventies, even managing to sign to the hallowed Salsoul Records in the States for one album . Although it’s fair to say they were a novelty act, that didn’t stop them from having some seriously bitchin’ tunes. Their front man Zeus B Held went on to produce a number of well known European acts in the 80s, including Nina Hagen and Gina X Performance. From The Stranger’s Line Out blog (by Miller):
In 1972 producer Claude Lemoine produced a single called Future Woman for a band called Crystal. With the single’s poularity the band decided to change it’s name and look, so in 1974 they became The Rocket Men (or Rocketters in France). They shaved their heads, wore matching “space age” outfits and painted themselves with silver make-up. They didn’t quite have the formula right though, unitl 1976 when they changed their name to Rockets. They did a dancier, spacier remake of thier hit Future Woman which brought them, once again, popularity throughout Europe. It didn’t hurt that their live shows were full of lasers, smoke, exploding cannons of fire and a tripped out light show.
I’ll be posting more from Stryx in the near future, but unfortunately most of the footage does not look or sound as clear as this clip.
I can never get enough of the obscure, psychedelic sounds of Rubble, the twenty-volume Nuggets-inspired “freakbeat” and “pop sike” compilations from Bam Caruso Records and Phil Lloyd-Smee. If you like Nuggets or the British Nuggets II, there’s not a lot of overlap. I love all the Nuggets comps, too, but I’d give the Rubble collections the edge just because they required even more dedicated crate-digging. I think the effort was worth it.
One group I discovered on a Rubble comp is The Mirror, a British beat group who apparently reached the lower rungs of the German pop market as they made the scene on The Beat Club TV show with their song, “Gingerbread Man.”
Talk about your pure pop perfection, “Who Do You Think You Are?” was a 1974 hit that topped the charts in the UK for a (quasi-comedy) band called Candlewick Green, who first came to the public’s attention by winning the TV talent show, Opportunity Knocks for eight consecutive weeks. It was actually written by Des Dyer and Clive Scott of the band Jigsaw, who recorded the song, but both groups shared the same management, and Dyer and Scott allowed the song to be recorded by Candlewick Green for the UK market. (Jigsaw had their own one hit wonder with “Sky High,” one of the first 45s I ever bought). Both versions are pretty similar, and shared the same arrangement.
Americans know the version by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, who also had a hit with the maudlin 70s AM radio staple “Billy Don’t Be A Hero.” The Heywoods used to perform in amusement parks all over America in the 70s. I recall seeing them when I was a kid at either Cedar Point, or King’s Island.
I could play this song over and over again for weeks! The tune is ridiculously catchy no matter who is performing it, but I’d give the Jigsaw version the edge over both the Candlewick Green and the Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods versions. Still, the BEST version was the cover that St. Etienne did in 1993. An off-album track, it struck exactly the right tone with its mix of their “retro modernist” electro-soul sound and Sarah Cracknell’s almost spoken vocal. I saw them perform this song on two consecutive nights in Manhattan in 1994 and it was a special highlight of their live show.
Below, St. Etienne performing “Who Do You Think You Are” on TOTP in 1993, with the always gorgeous Sarah Cracknell looking especially marvelous here: