LET’S TWIST AGAIN – Chubby Checker (4 weeks)
In the USA The Twist was the track that started the dance craze that travelled the world and back again, but in the UK it was the follow-up Let’s Twist Again that was everywhere. By 1975, when both tracks were hits again in the UK charts as a double A Side, it was Twist Again that was a John Asher (TV presenter) hit cover version sparking the chart revisit of Chubby Chucker – not The Twist, which I’d never heard before. Culturally this track was famous, everyone was Twisting at do’s, it sparked a run of dance hits for Chubby and his Fats Domino-inspired name. A bit chubby maybe, but still pretty young.
For me, I just remember it as a bit of fun, a song everyone knew, the whole family, kids in the playground, the Queen, anyone who hadn’t been living in a derelict air-raid shelter really. The Twist eventually had it’s day in the sun with the Fat Boys giving Chubby an 80’s boost with their dance-rap 80’s version, which was pretty big – but not culturally massive like first-time round. Chubby amazingly is still in his 70’s and has outlived one of his Fat Boys colleagues…
THE HOLE IN THE GROUND – Bernard Cribbins (6 weeks)
TV and film comic actor Bernard Cribbins was another well-known face in the 60’s, star of many a British Carry On movie, TV sitcom, and even Doctor Who movie versions of the TV series with Daleks, another national craze of the time, including me. I was mad on Doctor Who and pop music. I loved other stuff, too, but those were the things I obsessively wrote about in my early schoolbooks of the time in 1964 – still have ‘em as proof! This novelty comedy track was on telly quite a bit, and a staple of kiddie-based radio shows. Bernard appealed to kids with his well-meaning-but-gormless roles, the bloke next door who was a bit slapstick, a bit funny.
Hole In The Ground is still mildly amusing, a sort of working-bloke wry mickey-take of the role of manual labouring working class blokes and the management toffs ordering them about. Ooh political! It ends with the news that the toff got buried in the hole with his bowler hat sticking up, the very hole causing the disagreement between the two-sides. Not sure that’s entirely get-away-able in these days where comedy has to conform to political correctness, but it’s all about the image and the annoying social classes, not the intimation he’d been murdered. It IS a kids record though, and nursery rhymes and fairy stories are just as blunt in imagery!
WONDERFUL LAND – The Shadows (5 weeks)
The Shads were very famous, they supported Cliff on his records, on TV spots, in his movies, and had their own massive twanging Hank Marvin-based instrumental career to boot. It was impossible not to know who they were, they were always on TV with their years-long run of hits. The things was, though, because they had no lyrics there was no hook, for specific songs, to latch onto for me, apart from a couple of exceptions, Wonderful Land being the obvious exception.
Laden with sweeping strings, an uplifting melody, and some great riffing, it’s their biggest-selling and best track, still sounding great 50-odd years later, albeit in a period-charm fashion. I can’t link it to any time and place, I wouldn’t have known the title of the tune, but I was aware that I liked it when I heard it, and continued to like it whenever it popped up on oldies plays on the radio – until I eventually bought it on various 60’s compilation albums, by which time I appreciated just how good it was as I revisited my childhood faves, sounding dated and very-old-fashioned they might have been with the super-speed passing sophistication of recording methods and music evolving into the 70’s, but by the 80’s 60’s nostalgia was all the rage with music, pop culture generally, and with me.
COME OUTSIDE – Mike Sarne with Wendy Richard (8 weeks)
I was insanely mad on this track pre-school, and post-school. What’s not to love? It’s catchy, light-hearted, semi-novelty, but tuneful and one that kids could easily sing along to. It is absolutely relevant to and mirroring of society at that time, and what going out meant for the ordinary-teens, which is not too bad for a throwaway ditty not meant to be taken seriously. I was too young to know who Mike Sarne was, or who Wendy Richard was. I wasn’t aware of either of them until I got older and Wendy popped-up on TV’s innuendo-based Are You Being Served? sitcom, and the odd later Carry On movie. Of course she went on to huge success in soap Eastenders from the 80’s onwards. Sadly, of Mike Sarne, I don’t recall ever seeing him in anything, or on TV being interviewed about his big UK chart-topper. Not ever. Which is weird as he’s been a working actor, Producer, writer & Director ever since, including TV shows like The Avengers and The Bill, and films like Les Miserables (2012). Not to mention directing Raquel Welch’s infamous Myra Breckinridge. Who knew?!
RIGHT SAID FRED – Bernard Cribbins (8 weeks)
Bernard’s back with his most-famous hit, the song that is right now being used in a TV advert (2019) and inspired a chart-topping I’m Too Sexy 90’s hitmaking group to nick the name, Right Said Fred. Very much in the same vein as Hole In The Ground, but funnier, more-upbeat, and an amusing on-going rapid story with a catchy chorus-free tune. It’s still working-bloke based, this time about one of them who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. Never stopped being charming this one, and is Bernard at his most likable, helped in a minor iconic fashion by a mini-video that was regularly shown on TV (I assume in between US programs when the they had a spare 2 minutes to fill during kids TV slots at lunchtime or late afternoon – there was NO daytime TV in those days!! Shock, horror!) which featured claymation animation.
Bernard kept going narrating The Wombles and appearing in sitcom Fawlty Towers in the 70‘s, and had many TV guest spots into the 90‘s, but had sort-of merged in the background until 2007, when he re-emerged with his Doctor Who 60’s credits intact and starred as Wilfred Mott, a recurring character for the Tenth Doctor, and was very good. Still charming, nostalgic affection booming, and a very effective performance going on for the key episode where he inadvertently causes a regeneration of The Doctor. That means 50 years of Doctor Who, 50 years of Daleks, and a boost for him in the public eye again right up to 2019, still doing audio Doctor Who recordings aged 90. Yay!