Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Christmas Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Dave Twogood, whose name was picked from the sombrero this evening.  Dave wins the car boot copy of Tijuana Christmas by the Torero Band.

I'll be in touch Dave, and will make sure you receive your record in time for Christmas.

Thanks to all of you for entering, and look out for more car boot vinyl giveaways in 2016. 

Merry Christmas! xxx


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

2015 Christmas Giveaway

December is finally here, and Car Boot Vinyl Diaries is proud to present its latest giveaway: a vinyl car boot copy of the magnificent 1968 album 'Tijuana Christmas' by the Torero Band, or as I like to call it, The Greatest Christmas Album Ever Recorded:


Over two sides of mariachi magnificence, twelve traditional carols are given the Torero touch, rendering them more joyous, sparkling and parp-tastic than you've ever heard them before.  According to the sleeve notes "It may come as a surprise to you that our oldest carols used to be dances, and that the word itself described a form of circular dance". Well, this record will certainly get you up and grooving, and probably giggling too, at the more preposterous easy-cheesy moments.  There's a heart-melting version of Silent Night too, so one way or another it's guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest of Scrooges over the festive season.  Whether you're a fan of the twin trumpets or just looking for something a bit different for your seasonal listening, I can't recommend this album highly enough.  Read more about it here: http://carbootvinyldiaries.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/car-boot-christmas-countdown-day-4.html

To be in with a chance of winning, simply fill in the contact form at the top right of the page, with your name (real or internet), email address and the message "Parp!", then click "Send", before 9pm GMT on Sunday 6th of December.  The competition is open to entrants worldwide, and I'll endeavour to get the prize to its destinaton in plenty of time for Christmas.

Good luck!



Friday, 18 September 2015

Winner of the Super September Vinyl Giveaway

There have been record numbers (no pun intended) of entries for this latest competition, and my glamorous assistant has just pulled a name out of the very full hat. Congratulations to Andrea Smith, who wins the car boot copy of Gloria Gaynor's 1975 disco LP Never Can Say Goodbye.

I'll be in touch, Andrea.  Thanks to all who entered, and keep your eyes peeled for a special Christmas LP giveaway in early December.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Super September Vinyl Giveaway!

I've been neglecting the blog lately, so to say sorry Car Boot Vinyl Diaries is giving away a scrummy car boot copy of Gloria Gaynor's epic 1975 disco album Never Can Say Goodbye, to one lucky ducky!




Mixed by 'The Master' Tom Moulton, Side 1 was the first ever fully-mixed disco suite, with hit singles Honey Bee, Never Can Say Goodbye and her fabulous cover of Reach Out, I''ll Be There woven into 19 minutes of groovesome gorgeousness.  Side 2 is equally fab, with five danceable disco numbers.  The LP is in excellent condition and plays beautifully.

For a taste, you can hear all of Side 1 kicking off last year's CBVD Disco Suite Special on Mixcloud, which also features two ace sides from Sylvester (mixed by Patrick Cowley) and the Three Degrees (produced by Giorgio Moroder) here:


To enter the competition, fill in the contact form at the top right of the page with your name (real or internet), email address and the message: disco.

Names will be drawn from the hat next Friday night at 8pm BST, with the winner announced here and on Twitter @vinylcarbooty.  I'll also contact the lucky recipient by email.  Overseas entries i.e. non-UK are very welcome but it'll come surface mail (slow) if you win.


Good luck!









Tuesday, 21 April 2015

CBVD Cloudcast Episode 11

The latest Car Boot Vinyl Diaries cloudcast, the first for 2015, has been uploaded to Mixcloud.  There are loads of great tunes, all found at car boot sales and charity shop here on the Suffolk coast, plus The Boot Of Loot and brand new segment Novelty Island!

Use the widget below to listen, or click the link to go to the CBVD Mixcloud page.  I hope you enjoy it!








Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hit Me With Music

Welcome to the first proper Car Boot Vinyl Diaries post of 2015!  I hope you enjoyed the four-part Little Box Of Horrors series (although 'enjoyed' might be overstating it given the subject matter), but it's now time to get back to the car boot sale and charity shop finds, which have been coming thick and fast in recent weeks.  I've picked out a few of the records that I've been listening to over the last few days, starting with this from Carlene Carter, bought at a boot sale last autumn for £1:


Carlene Carter (1978)

This was her debut album and was recorded in London, with members of British pub-rockers The Rumour both playing and producing.  A song each was also written by The Rumour's frontman Graham Parker (Between You & Me) and Carlene's brother in law Rodney Crowell (Never Together But Close Sometimes).  Also making a couple of appearances is ex Brinsley Schwarz member Nick Lowe, to whom Carter became married the following year.

It's solid collection of polished country-rock, accompanied by the strong, clear and expressive vocals she shared with her mother June.  Despite the stellar contributors my two favourite songs are final tracks Slow Dance and the lovely Who Needs Words, both written by Carlene herself.  The album is dedicated to Maybelle Carter, her grandmother and original member of the Carter Family folk group, who sadly died later that year.

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Car boot season is not yet in full swing and pickings have been slim, so I've made a few visits to local charity shops lately.  The St. Elizabeth Hospice shop in my hometown prices all its LPs at 50p, whereas its sister shop four miles up the road in the tourist-attracting seaside town of Aldeburgh has a rather different policy of pricing the dreck at £1, and anything else at the highest sale price found on eBay that week, regardless of condition.  This leads to some rather optimistic price tags on your normal charity shop fayre.

Last month I spied a rather dirty, well-played looking copy of Bob Marley & The Wailers' Live! album.  It had a noticeable scratch on Side 2, but I reasoned it'd be playable, plus the falling-to-bits sleeve could be easily mended with some double sided tape.  When I turned to read the rear cover I was rather surprised to see that the price tag read £15!  A bit much for something that can usually be found in better condition and for less than half the price on Discogs. I put it back in the box and left with a couple of other, more reasonably priced records. When I popped in again a couple of weeks later the offending label had been removed and the LP had magically found its way into the pound box.  So I grabbed it, obviously.


Bob Marley & The Wilers - Live! (1975)

After a good clean and some TLC it came up pretty well, except for a few crackles from the scratch.  The album was recorded in the summer at London's Lyceum Theatre, and is an exquisite snapshot of a band at their sizzling peak.  Bob, the band and the wonderful backing singers The I-Threes give a reggae-as-rock live makeover to seven songs, the likes of which I'd not heard before, except for No Woman No Cry, as the version here has become the definitive one (as heard on the compilation Legend).  Well known hits such as Get Up, Stand Up and Lively Up Yourself are performed with passion and given a new energy while retaining a joyous laid-back groove.

To me, it's an album to rival the likes of Sam Cooke at the Harlem Square Club or Donny Hathaway Live, and the Marley fatigue I induced in myself during my late teens was washed away by the thumping bass and the sound of the ecstatic crowd.  My top tracks are.... well, it's too hard to choose just two, so I'll pick the whole of Side 1; Trenchtown Rock, Burnin & Lootin', Them Belly Full and Lively Up Yourself.


****************

Another week, the same shop had a copy of Van Morrison's Saint Dominic's Preview. The record was in better condition but the sleeve was tatty, and certainly not worth the £10 tag.  I asked the lady behind the counter if she'd take £3 and she immediately agreed, showing that it's often worth pointing out damage and questioning some of these OTT asking prices (I do realise that charities want to get the best prices for their donations, but overpricing scratched records is more likely to keep crate-diggers away).


Van Morrison - Saint Dominic's Preview (1972)

SDP was Van's 6th album, coming after 1971's Tupelo Honey which I have yet to hear (sadly Spotify is largely a Van-free zone).  I'd only previously heard Astral Weeks and Moondance - both car boot vinyl finds - and on first listen of SDP was surprised by its variety of styles.

R&B opener Jackie Wilson Said was immediately familiar, no doubt mainly because when I was eight my Dad bought Dexy's Too-Rye-Ay which contains a cover version.  Less excitable but equally soulful are the celebratory, nostalgic Redwood Tree and the Ray Charles-y piano blues of I Will Be There, while the title track is infused with gospel-inspired piano.

There are just seven songs on the album as it contains two 10 minute-plus meditative pieces that wouldn't be out of place on Astral Weeks; the atmospheric Almost Independence Day and my favourite, Listen To The Lion.  During the latter Van improvises much of the vocal, incorporating grunts, moans and the occasional growl, which although I'm sure is meant to evoke the lion inside him, gives me visions of the great man trying to cough up a tricky furball, during which I can rarely keep a straight face.

The album as a whole is a rich and beautifully performed and produced record, and one of my favourite finds of the last 12 months.


****************

More lightweight, but still very enjoyable is this recent 25p find from a local church's charity shop:

Various Artists - Deep Heat 90 (1990)

Compilation telemarketing label Telstar Records began their Deep Heat series in 1989. Deep Heat 90 gathers together chart-bothering hip-hop and dance tracks from the past year that had appeared on Volumes 5-8, and as you might imagine, Kraftwerk samples and Run DMC's ubiquitous 'Ah-Yeah!' abound.  As you can see from the tracklist, there's only one number one record, in the shape of Beats International's mega-hit Dub Be Good To Mehttp://www.discogs.com/Various-Deep-Heat-90/master/53187 

This copy is a bit scuffed on Side 3 and skips a few times, so I use an old stylus reserved for such cases.  I'm currently operating a 3-stylus system, labelled X, Y and Z (since I found some alphabet stickers in a drawer!) with X for brand new records, Y for car boot/chazza ones and Z for dodgy/potentially dodgy discs.  It works for me!

There's lots to enjoy here, but my top tracks are Snap's Ooops Up (note the triple-o), Queen Latifah & De La Soul's Mama Gave Birth To The Soul Children and this from En Vogue (principally for the James Brown guitar sample, I must admit):



Least favourite are the rubbish Sixth Sense-Latino Rave - a megamix originally used to promote Deep Heat Volume 6 - and of course Candy bloody Flip, whose version of Strawberry Fields Forever's only redeeming feature is the echoey Funky Drummer sample.

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Towards the end of last year I saw a copy of Bob Dylan's Saved at a car boot sale in a box of LPs marked £1 each, so I picked it up to take a closer look.  Although a relative Dylan neophyte, the release date of 1980 was enough to give me second thoughts and I put it back.  It was still there the following week and by now the combination of colder weather and the end of booting season meant that vinyl was thin on the ground.  I took pity on it, paid my quid and took it home, with fairly low expectations.  I'm glad I did.


Bob Dylan - Saved (1980)

This was Bob's twentieth studio album and the second in his overtly religious trilogy which began with Slow Train Coming in 1979 and ended with 1981's Shot Of Love.  He'd undergone a conversion to Christianity in late '79, initially sparked by an audience member throwing a silver crucifix onto the stage at a gig.

'Saved' is an album of gospel-rock and modern spirituals, recorded at Muscle Shoals early in the year with his current touring band.  Side 1 is by far the best, with the rousing title track and Solid Rock plus the very moving What Can I Do For You? particular highlights.  Side 2 is a bit of a let down, especially the plodding Saving Grace.  The most off-putting aspect is Dylan's rather patronising, often self-righteous tone.  Oh, and the cover.  Overall though, it's not half as bad as I'd been led to believe, and certainly worth a quid!

If you're a Dylan fan - or even if you're not - you might like to pop over to my new blog where I've just begun working my way through the enormous Complete Album Box Set, a 47-disc set stretching from his debut up to 2012's Tempest.  I'm up to 1965 at the moment!  You can find it here: http://bobsbigbox.blogspot.co.uk/

You'll be able to hear tracks from all of these albums, plus much more on the next Car Boot Vinyl Diaries cloudcast, coming soon.  Catch up with previous episodes here: https://www.mixcloud.com/carbootvinyldiaries/

That's it for now, thanks for stopping by.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Little Box Of Horrors - Part 4

Welcome to the fourth and final part of Little Box Of Horrors, where I delve into a long forsaken box of deplorable discs found in the cupboard under the stairs, that once belonged to my partner's late parents. I think you'll agree after checking out this post that I've definitely saved the worst until last. Previous posts can be found here, here and here.

Firstly, let's take a look (and unfortunately a listen) to Carry On Cutler!


Adge Cutler & The Wurzels - Carry On Cutler! (1969)

Former roadie for Acker Bilk (among other things) Alan John Cutler found himself in need of a backing band in the mid sixties when he decided to make a go of a career in music. Friend John Miles managed to secure him a contract with EMI, helped assemble the band and became their agent and manager.

Adge and co. made a type of pub-singalong music peculiar to the West country which came to be known as 'Scrumpy & Western', and which Adge describes in the sleevenotes to this album as "good time folk...I write songs so that people can sing them." A string of singles, EPs and albums followed, and after Adge's death in 1974 in a road accident the Wurzels carried on releasing records with various lineups, and indeed continue to do so today.

Like many of their albums, Carry On Cutler! was recorded live in a Somerset country club (with some additional recording at the White Buck Inn, Hants.) before a noisy and appreciative audience where the beer and cider were evidently flowing. The songs are either covers or re-workings of folk songs which reference rural stereotypes in a humourous, bawdy manner. Titles include their first single Drink Up Thy Zider which was the one half of a double A side that the BBC didn't ban, The Chewton Medip Love-In, Riley's Cow Shed and Down On The Farm. I think you get the picture. If not, here's a taste. (You may find it helpful to get hammered on cider first):



Ironically their biggest hit came after Adge's passing, with 1976's no.1 hit Combine Harvester, a remodel of Melanie's Brand New Key. They played Glastonbury a couple of times and made a covers album in 2002 called 'Never Mind The Bullocks, Ere's The Wurzels' which includes songs by Oasis and Blur as well as the Gina G Eurovision entry re-titled Ooh-Arr Just A Little Bit - still available on CD if you're tempted. Oh, okay.

Here they are with The Kaiser Chiefs' Ruby from the follow-up 'A Load More Bullocks':





The final lousy long player to be unearthed from the Box is this ear-numbing offering from Don Estelle & Windsor Davies:


Don Estelle & Windsor Davies - Sing Lofty (1975) (MFP reissue)

Before his acting career took off, 4'9" Estelle had pursued his dream of becoming a successful singer. Indeed he had a pleasant, powerful tenor, but his diminuitive stature ruled out a future as leading man or pop idol. After a minor part in Dad's Army he landed the role of Lofty Sugden in the 1970s sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum opposite Windsor Davies' BSM Williams, and together they enjoyed a no.1 single (Whispering Grass) taken from the 1975 cast recording.

Here we have a fairly dull, though not unpleasant, bit of club-singer crooning from Estelle through the usual easy listening suspects. Sadly, Davies crops up far too often to liven things up with his 'comic' interjections, which wear very thin very quickly. He even treats us to an entire monologue on final track A Message From Battery Sergeant-Major Williams, which on this copy of the LP is mostly incomprehensible thanks to a fortuitous series of scratches. A little light relief is provided on Paper Doll and I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire by the soothing tones of the Mike Sammes Singers (mentioned here in Part 3), but the highlights for me are the sound effects employed during Three Coins In The Fountain, which due to their unique nature should have warranted a title change to Dropping The Kids Off At The Pool:


I pride myself in being able to get through most terrible records in the name of research, but these last two albums really took some effort and I couldn't manage more than one play for either. In short: NOT recommended.

Well, that's it for the Little Box Of Horrors series. All of the repellent recordings are back where they belong in the cupboard under the stairs and Car Boot Vinyl Diaries will resume looking at records I actually invited into my home, i.e. rockin' and poppin' boot sale and chazza finds.


Ta-ta for now xx



Monday, 2 February 2015

Little Box Of Horrors - Part 3

This third part of Little Box Of Horrors is a bit later than intended due to a bout of the lurgi that absolutely floored me. So much so that I had zero desire to listen to any kind of music for a couple of weeks, and certainly not the type found in the scary Box. So, with strength now returned - and boy did I need it for this next record - let's resume.

First out was this rather dog-eared and much Sellotaped copy of 12 Tops - Today's Top Hits:


12 Tops - Today's Top Hits (1972)

Stereo Gold Award was founded by budget label giant David Leonard Miller, who was previously responsible for the gigantic 101 Strings series in the late 50s and early 60s, as well as other mega-cheapo releases that undercut the prices of the bigger labels. The 12 Tops series ran from 1972-76 and used cheesecake covers and a 50p price tag to sell exploito albums featuring hits of the day (much like Hallmark's TOTP albums, but even worse).

This particular record is the fourth volume in a series that put out an album every month or so during its run. You can see all 30 and read more about them here: http://hitcovers.weebly.com/12-tops.html (the site as a whole is well worth perusing, too).

It's complete dross of course; songs ruined by sub-standard sessioneers include the Bee Gees' Run To Me, Bill Withers' Lean On Me and Procul Harum's Conquistador.  The worst though are a horrible version of Rod's You Wear It Well, the singer apparently chosen for his husky voice but not his vocal ability (he sounds like he's being made to sing from beneath a thick blanket whilst suffering from acute asthma), and an atrocious Too Busy Thinking About My Baby that I'm sure even I could improve upon at karaoke.

This kind of trash sold by the truckload in the 1970s, which just goes to show that sex sells, as do pocket-money prices.

If you see it on your travels for pennies it's almost worth getting for the spiffy version of Popcorn, but otherwise best avoided.


Next out of the box was this offering from The Mike Sammes Singers:


The Mike Sammes Singers with Orchestra -
Love Is A Happy Thing (1968)

During the 1960s musician and arranger Mike Sammes, along with his troupe of trusty singers, was one of the most (if not the most) in-demand and prolific musicians of the period. They  appeared on countless pop songs, radio jingles and advertisements, TV themes and film soundtracks, most notably the Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds themes, The Beatles' I Am The Walrus and many Disney albums. The Mike Sammes singers were also the voices of Pinky & Perky and Ken Dodd's Diddymen. According to spaceagepop.com  "Virtually every "doo-doo-doo" to be heard on a pop recording made in the UK between 1955 and 1975 came out of the mouth of Sammes and his colleagues".

Singers in the group varied over time, but there were six core members (three guys and three gals) as well as Mike himself, and they specialised in delivering perfectly polished harmonies to order. Although they were terribly busy working for others (often putting in 6-day weeks with several sessions a day), they found time to make 7 albums under their own name.

Love Is A Happy Thing is chirpy easy listening of the best kind; a mainly up-tempo mixture of covers and originals, with a little bossa nova, pretty strings, a dash of big band swing and of course those oh-so-smooth vocal harmonies. It's the kind of record you'd be sure to find in the collection of Austin Powers. Have a listen to the irresistible title track to hear what I mean (I couldn't find it on youtube so digitised and uploaded it myself):




The record also features a lovely version of Up, Up And Away plus a far-out Summertime. Although it's from the Box Of Horrors, it's actually very enjoyable if you're a fan of the groovier end of easy, and if you are, you'll also love the neat album cover. Daddio.



Part 4 of Little Box Of Horrors is due shortly, but in the meantime if you missed the first two installments they can be found here:
Part 1: http://carbootvinyldiaries.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/little-box-of-horrors-part-1.html
Part 2: http://carbootvinyldiaries.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/little-box-of-horrors-part-2.html



Saturday, 10 January 2015

Little Box Of Horrors - Part 2

Welcome to the second installment of Little Box Of Horrors, where I delve into a collection of dubious discs found last year in the cupboard under the stairs (Part 1 can be found here).

I'll begin with someone about whom I initially had reservations (as you will understand from the album covers) but have since developed quite a fondness.  For those of you unfamiliar with her work, may I introduce the wonderful world of Mrs Mills:


Pineapple and cheese cubes on cocktail sticks: check. Meat-paste
sandwiches: check. Awesome party music: cher-check!


Mrs Gladys Mills ("call me Glad, everyone else does"), a typing department superintendent from Loughton in Essex, had played the piano since she began lessons aged three. These came to an end when she was twelve after her teacher became annoyed with all the "twiddly bits" Gladys used to add to the tunes she was tasked with playing.

Many years later she was discovered by talent scout Paul Cave while playing piano with her band The Asterons at a golf club event in 1961, and from there became a prolific recording artist and variety TV fixture during the 60s and 70s.  She played a style of piano known as stride on an instrument that gave a honky-tonk or tack sound. The upright Steinway she played in the studio at Abbey Road became famous as "Mrs Mills' Piano" and was used by label-mates The Beatles on several songs including Lady Madonna and Penny Lane.


The lovely gold and black Parlophone label from the early 1960s,
which among other things, Mrs Mills shared with The Beatles.

EMI paired her up with arranger and master of easy listening Geoff Love, and she released many albums of sing-along pub-style party music - as you can see from the album covers the word "party" features heavily! She was a gifted pianist and it was those "twiddly bits" so disliked by her teacher that injected such life into her playing. This is explained very well in the affectionate and highly entertaining BBC4 documentary Let's Have A Party - The Piano Genius Of Mrs Millshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FBIMVD_DDc which is definitely worth an hour of your time.

I found five of her albums in the box in the stair cupboard; the four pictured plus another called Especially For You tucked into the sleeve with Summer Party. My top pick is from her debut album Mrs Mills Plays the Roaring Twenties; her rendition of the American popular song Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue:




The next bit of wonky wax from this exploration into the ropey side of 60s and 70s popular music is probably the one I was least looking forward to playing. "Even less than Des O'Connor?", I hear you cry? Well, yes. It's worse. Much worse. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr Max Bygraves:

Max Bygraves - Sing Along With Max (1972)

This was Max's fifth album, coming after 1969's The World of Max Bygraves and before he abandoned the space bar entirely and gave us 97 volumes of Singalongamax. No, that number's not a typo. Dear Mr Bygraves felt we needed NINETY-SEVEN albums of subpar crooning, not to mention many others including Singalongaxmas, Discologamax, Lingalongamax (no, me neither) and two volumes of SingAlongAWarYears, the first of which got to no.5 in the UK album chart in 1989.

Max, born Walter William Bygraves, was a comedian, actor and variety performer as well as a singer, and appeared on British TV from the 1950s up until the mid-90s. From a look at his discography it appears that he specialised in the nostalgia medley; song-length cheese-fests of between three and five different popular standards, wartime favourites and show tunes. For instance, here on Sing Along... we get the abominable mashup of Bye Bye Blackbird/Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home/Ma He's Making Eyes At Me/Oh You Beautiful Doll/Alexander's Ragtime Band followed by the vomit-inducing quartet of I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time/If I Had My Way/Edelweiss/The Whiffenpoof Song.

The sleevenotes state that,
"This is an album for all those millions of people throughout the world, who have succumbed to the charms of Max Bygraves on television, stage or radio"
and his sales figures seem to bear this out, as over 30 of his albums went either Gold or Platinum, frequently outselling Elvis, Bing Crosby and Sinatra.

It will come as no surprise that this first Sing Along album was recorded at the suggestion of his mother, and was
"calculated to raise a heart warming nostalgia in all the people who listen and remember....which will bring memories flooding back to their minds."
Little wonder then, that his records sold in such numbers to a certain generation.

I won't inflict any of the above on you; instead here's a Max Bygraves song I'm quite fond of, which I last heard on Christmas Day 2014 on Stewpot's Junior Choice special on BBC Radio 2:


That'll do for now, I'm off to cleanse my palette with some Nirvana and strong drink, but do pop back soon for Part 3 of Little Box Of Horrors featuring more terrible tunes and rotten revolvers.



Friday, 2 January 2015

Little Box of Horrors - Part 1

A few weeks ago me and my other half finally got round to the long overdue task of clearing out the cupboard under the stairs. (When I say "we", what I really mean is that he did most of the work while I pointed at each item as it came out, shouting "KEEP!", "RECYCLE!", "CHAZZA!" or "DUMP!" in an authoritative yet endearing manner.)

Lurking at the back was a box full of old records which once belonged to his parents. You must know by now that such a thing is like catnip to a crate digger like me, so in I went, completely unprepared and with no warning of the horrors it contained. Actually, there were some good records mixed in with the crap; half a dozen Dean Martin LPs and a handful of budget disco and soul compilations, but these were in the minority. Over the past few days I've been cleaning the least-scratched ones and giving them a spin. It's been quite an education. Let's have a look (don't worry, listening is not compulsory) at the worst offenders.

We begin with a name I'd never seen before: Gerry Monroe and his 1970 album Sally - Pride Of Our Alley:

Gerry Monroe - Sally - Pride Of Our Alley (1970)

Gerry (real name Henry Morris) was from South Shields, and after some time as a singer in working men's clubs he entered the ITV talent show Opportunity Knocks where he found favour and was signed to Chapter One Records. This was his first and most successful album and features three Top 40 hits, the best known being a cover of Gracie Fields' Sally.

The rather disturbing cover image (What's he looking at? Why doesn't she run away?) gives little clue as to the contents. Yes, he's head-to-toe in man-made fibres; yes, the rear sleeve lists mainly popular standards such as Danny Boy and Johnny Ray's Cry, and even as the first track began, it all seemed like very predictable, rather dull MOR. And then it happened. The man began to yodel. Not every word, but just now and then, carefully timed to cause maximum startlement and alarm in the poor, unsuspecting listener.

Doris Day's Secret Love is an early casualty and I'll never again be able to enjoy Gene Pitney's Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart without it inducing flashbacks of the performance here, but the most heinous crime is that inflicted on Bridge Over Troubled Water. Luckily for you, dear reader, it isn't on youtube, so here's the title track instead:


The final track on the album is called She Taught Me How To Yodel. Oh did she Gerry, DID SHE?

The next slab of vicious vinyl to land on the turntable was by a face familiar to us all; Des O'Connor:


Des O'Connor - By Special Request (date unknown)

Chestnut-hued family entertainer Desmond Bernard O'Connor was a mainstay of British television from 1963, beginning with The Des O'Connor Show on ITV (that channel has a lot to answer for) and ending with Today With Des & Mel in 2006. This compilation on Music For Pleasure represents just a (mercifully) small proportion of his 36-album singing career, and is quite, quite dreadful.

Side 1 of By Special Request opens with a tune named Dick-a-dum-dum (I shit you not), which has to be heard to be believed, and managed to reach number 14 in the UK singles chart in June 1969, where it nestled between Jethro Tull's Living In The Past at 15 and Cliff Richard's Big Ship at 13. Number 1 that week was Tommy Roe with Dizzy

What follows is some very accomplished and cheesy crooning which includes another 1969 Top 20 single Loneliness, blooming Danny Boy again and a God-awful cover of George Harrison's Something.

Here's Dick-a-dum-dum, brought to you on the very same album by some mad person on youtube. Don't say I didn't warn you:


That's all for today - the second part of Little Box Of Horrors will be with you soon. Come back if you dare!


Thursday, 1 January 2015