Pick of the Pops 43 (December 4th 1965)

I remember only fragments of 1965. It was the first time I was taken to the cinema. Mary Poppins. It was ace. I presume I asked my father to take me again the next week. We went to see Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People. I nearly had a pre-school heart attack. It was THAT f***ing scary!

Anyway, 1965. The oldest Pick of the Pops I've covered - and there are some corking ttuns!

The Spencer Davis Group - Keep on Running

This was nowhere near the Top 20, but Gambaccinni loves his 'classics' so it was first up. I'm not sure if I could ever be in a band where the band's name followed the singer's name (Elvis Costello and the Attractions) or even worse, being completely anonymous and lost in the solipsism/rampaging ego  of (say) The J Geils (you can get cream for them) Band or Rollins Band or the like. One exception would have been being a Pip (as in Gladys Knight and the...) just so that I could put it on my job applications (Previous Employment: 'Pip') when Gladys fired me from the band. Vocalist Steve Winwood got fed up with people asking him if he was Spencer Davies (and/or Spencer Banks) and went solo, recording a bunch of really horrible songs (particularly) in the 80s and making a fortune in the process. Keep on Running is OK, but its use in any number of adverts since its release (including a bog roll ad) has diminished any caché it might have enjoyed, and according to the blessed Bill Hicks' (certainly not infallible) dictum, it's off the artistic register. 3/10

Wilson Pickett - Don't Fight It

Unfortunately, I'm not a huge fan of the Stax/Atlantic (60s version) sound. Heresy, I know, but that's just me. This is probably great. 7/10

Fontella Bass - Rescue Me

This sort of disproves my last comment, but Fontella's Chess label (genuine) classic is superb. What a singer: what a song! (Minnie Riperton's on backing vocals for that extra point.) 10/10

Elvis Presley - Tell Me Why

My goodness, t'King released some right old shite. Many fans would say it was Colonel Tom Parker's fault that Elvis's choice of songs and films was frequently execrable, but I doubt if the Dutch interloper held a gun to his golden goose's head; however, he DID clear the pathways for Elvis to have access to a whole continent's output of drugs, along with sarnies comprising of entire 'uncut' loaves filled with peanut butter, 'french fries' and 'jello'. What a bastard! CTP, that is - I love Elvis, me. 4/10

The Four Seasons - Let's Hang On!

Amazingly, the 111 year old Frankie 'Everton' Valli is still touring. I quite like this - a pity Barry Manilow decided to release his terrible version (somewhere in the 80s) to defile the fond memories I have of this likeable bubblegum doo-wop nonsense. 6/10

The Animals - It's My Life

I don't normally like The Animals (Eric Burdon always looked like he had nits and needed a good wash - in caustic soda), but this is a smashing proto-Doorsy little 'number'. 7/10

The Walker Brothers - My Ship Is Coming In

My second Scott Walker of the day as Radcliffe and Maconie played 'Angels and Ashes' on my way to work this morning. F***ing brilliant. What a voice. 9/10

Maria - PJ Proby

A bit of unfortunate serendipity - what with the passing* of Stephen Sondheim this week. PJ is an OK if ridiculous singer, and I always remember when his career was in one of its seeming never-ending doldrums, he appeared on Hughie 'Just slightly to the right of Heirich Himmler' Green's talent show 'Opportunity Knocks' as 'The Masked singer'. PJ didn't win and was probably beaten by a dog juggler from Bolton or something, but God, I love a tryer. Having said all this, 'Maria' is truly ghastly - a mawkish, emetic, sloppy turd of a song that's guaranteed to get the middlebrow, middle classes spraying the insides of their caramel cords. 1/10

Bob Dylan - Positively 4th Street

Nobody is really certain of whom Bob aims his withering verbal and musical diatribe, but Positively Fourth Street is such an amazing melding of poetry and beautiful music that its 56 year old subject matter transcends specificity and becomes a universal.

Bob's pent-up anger is wrapped up insuch beauty that it becomes inspirational. 

Absolutely lovely. 10/10

Gene Pitney - Princess in Rags

I could never fathom the appeal of Gene, but as Master Po once said in a particularly poignant episode of 'Kung Fu': "One man's floor is another man's ceiling." If David 'Kwai Chang Kane'Carradine had had his wits about him, he swould have said, "Aye, aye, Master Po - so women don't have ceilings or floors, then?"  3/10

The Rolling Stones - Get Off of My Cloud 

I reckon I would have run at 'the Millwall' on my own (in the manner of Millwall's very own Harry the Dog) had I heard this at fifteen. Fantastic. 10/10

Ken Dodd - The River

I had to pull my poem 'Ken Dodd Nagasaki' this week due to the youthful nature of my audience, but I'll be doing it next week when my more  mature audience will no doubt appreciate the irony of the tax-dodging unfunny man's 'philanthropic' post-life gestures. Horrible. 0/10

Len Barry - 1,2,3

Another song corroded by advert usage. An OK wisp of sub-Motown froth, but it's earworm status keeps the score at a paltry 3/10

The Toys - A Lover's Concerto

A nice little pop song. 6/10

Cliff Richard - Wind Me Up, Let Me Go

A rewrite of 'When Old Shep Was a Frog', and I'm not sure why a young man would record antiquated crap like this. Oh, yes I do. Money.

Shite. 0/10

The Who - My Generation

"WHO will be at number three?" posits the over-remunerated 'Great Gambo', teasing us before playing an Aled Jones trailer. And it was The Who he was talking about! Genius! Everyone with a soul likes that scene in Quadrophenia when the party trashing teens sing this at full volume. Such a pity about Daltrey and Townsend. The Devil looks after his own. 6/10

The Beatles - We Can Work It Out/Daytripper

OK, so the team I support have lived in the shadow of their neighbours for forty plus years - and got their sorry asses kicked (again) by them this week - but let's face it: Jodie Comer, Judi Dench, Paul McCartney = Evertonians; 'Doddy', Tarby, Cilla = Kopites. It's all you need to know. 10/10

The Seekers - The Carnival Is Over

See Gene Pitney comment. The Seekers were unbelievably popular and the fact that they held the number one spot against such ferocious competition is a testament to Joe Public's eternal awfulness. Admittedly, The Carnival is Over is one of The Seekers' least unpleasant offerings, but there's a reason that that a vinyl hunter can still pick up their albums in a charity shop (along with scabies) in 'this day and age'. The sound of saccharine and vomit. 1/10

Other Notes

Gambaccini - lots of twattyness this week - and for God's sake, they're not called the Beadles. 0/10

Programme as a whole: I wasn't really looking forward to this week, but it was surprisingly good. A pity that a Gary Barlow trailer spoiled the mood. 7/10

Best: on any other week, the plaintive crooning of Scott Walker would have won the day, but Bob just edges it.

Worst: Dodd.

*'Passed' - someone I know got pissed off when he heard this (sort of) neologism being used recently until I pointed out that it's actually quite a nice verb - and if it helps people during a tough time, then that's great by me. I won him over. "You and your commonsense!" he said. And that's how it should be - a gentle, reasonable compromise.

I don't say 'Happy Christmas' myself because it just doesn't mean anything after a while. Nothing against it, mind - just not for me. But when I heard that bigots were getting upset by the much better (and inclusive) 'Happy holidays', I decided that when the big day hoved into view, I'd be using 'Happy Holidays!" with gusto (whatever that means) to all and sundry (again, WTM) just to see if it really is bigot bait. I actually use 'Have a nice day!' with no sense of irony whatsoever. I've found that nice people seem to like it.

Next week: I spill a whole bunch of jello and corndogs all over the sidewalk!

Click on the link to hear a bit of Bob!