Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

Car Boot Vinyl Diaries

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!

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