YouTube clip of the week

If I Had Words

This week the British singer Scott Fitzgerald is celebrating his 80th birthday.

He was born William McPhail in Glasgow and released his first single on the GTO label called Judy Played The Jukebox in 1974. In 1978 he was teamed with the Dutch session singer Yvonne Keeley (b: Yvonne Paaij) who had provided backing vocals on Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel’s 1975 number one Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) and was Steve Harley’s girlfriend at the time.

The song was If I Had Words which reached number three and whose tune was taken from the main theme of the Maestoso from Saint-Saens Symphony No.3 in C minor – known as the Organ Symphony and had words written by Jonathan Hodge, who has a movie theme composter and writer of Television adverts and, for people of a certain age, will best be remembered for the Shake ‘n’ Vac advert. The song featured the backing of the Chelsea-based St. Thomas More School Choir.

Keeley continued for a few years as a session singer and is currently a presenter on Radio Rijnmond in the Netherlands. As for Fitzgerald, he had one further hit in 1988 when he represented the UK at Eurovision with the song Go which was written by Bruce Forsyth’s daughter Julie and came second in the contest behind Celine Dion’s Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi and made number 52 on the single chart.  His son, Ki, was an original member of Busted but left in 2001 before their debut hit.

Let’s enjoy the one duet from 1978.

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Kenny Rogers – Lady

In 1980, Kenny Rogers had an American number one and a UK number 12 with Lady. It was written by Lionel Richie and in this video Kenny tells how Lionel said he pitched it to the Commodores but they turned it down, but he was joking. Lionel received a call from Motown’s publishing company saying that Kenny Rogers wanted Lionel to write a song for him. Lionel agreed and flew to Las Vegas to meet Kenny and play him the demo. In an interview with The Metro who asked Lionel if he thought about keeping the song for himself, he replied, “Just the opposite. When I wrote the song for Kenny, I called my lawyer and said, ‘If I put my voice on this it’s going to be a smash, I want it.’ My lawyer said: ‘If you give it to Kenny, it will be bigger than you ever thought.’ Now this was true. What I did not realize was that not only did I have my crowd, I picked up all of Kenny’s following too. And that happened to be the rest of the world.”

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Tom Lehrer

Tom Lehrer was a Jewish folk/satirist singer-songwriter from New York who celebrates his 90th birthday this week.

Tom was active from the late forties until the early seventies. He was influenced by the Cole Porter Broadway show Let’s Face It and most of his songs were parodies and often on controversial subjects without being specific or explicit. This did hinder his success somewhat as radio stations often refuse to play his material due to the lyrical nature. One of his songs called I Got it from Sally was seemingly about VD although it’s never actually referenced.

In the early fifties he paid $15 of his own money for studio time to record an album called Songs by Tom Lehrer which didn’t make much impact in the States, but, when eventually released in the UK in 1958, reached number seven and spent five months of the chart. Is was an album my dad owned and I used to hear it a lot growing up.

Lehrer, as well as my father, was a well-educated man as he received a Bachelor of Arts in maths at Harvard University in 1946 which held him in good stead because, in between making music he used to teach at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but after he retired from music, he began a full-time job teaching The Nature of Mathematics at the introductory level at the University of California in Santa Cruz.

In 1966 he was invited to contribute segments to the The Frost Report which he recorded and sent over.

In 1997 Rhino records issued a CD called Songs & More Songs by Tom Lehrer of which the sleeve notes gave this wonderful quote from Tom, “If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while.”

The one song my sister could never stand is a track on the Songs by Tom Lehrer was a track called The Irish Balled which talks about a woman, one by one, getting rid of her family. I loved it, see what you think from this 1967 live version of the song.

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Lemar

Lemar Obika is celebrating the big 40 this week.

He was born in Tottenham and whilst growing up he and his siblings used to pretend to be the Jacksons and sing along with their songs. He got his break in 2002 when he applied for the reality show Fame Academy where he sang a duet with Lionel Richie on the Commodores hit Easy. After being invited by Beverley Knight to sing with her at a London concert, Sony Music was impressed and gave him a contract.

In August 2001 he’d released his first single Got Me Saying Ooh which failed to attract attention but after his appearance on Fame Academy, his next single, Dance (With U) and the parent album, Dedicated both charted with the single making number two and the album number 16.

One year later he released his second album, Time to Grow and from it, Another Day, If There’s Any Justice and the title track were all hit singles.

He continues to tour and in 2018 was chosen as a contestant for the 10th series of Dancing on Ice where he partnered Melody Le Moal but they were the fifth pair to be voted off.

Let’s enjoy, arguably, his best known song, If There’s Any Justice.

 

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Middle of the Road

Middle of the Road were a Glaswegian band formed originally as Part Four in 1967 and comprised Sally Carr, brothers Ian and Eric McCredie and drummer Ken Andrew. A couple of years later they changed their name to Los Caracas and began playing in a Latin American style. Success was not forthcoming so they entered and won the talent show Opportunity Knocks. With little success they moved to Italy where they met an Italian producer called Giacomo Tosti who changed their name and got them a record contract.

In 1971 they covered a little-known Lally Stott song called Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, which made little sense but nonetheless was an international hit and went to number in the UK. They followed it three months later with Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and that went to number two. Their third hit of the year was Soley Soley written by the Spanish drummer José Fernando Arbex. They had two further hits which both failed to make the top 20.

They continued to perform and tour throughout the eighties and nineties. In 2007 Eric McCredie died and was replaced by his nephew Stuart. Sally Carr was replaced with Lorna Osborne and the other current member is German-born drummer Stephan Ebn.

In 2017 they performed Soley Soley at the Waldebhunne amphitheatre in Berlin and was released as a live single. They are currently planning a European tour. Let’s enjoy Soley Soley, first time round.

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