Street-urchins! Me bottom middle, brother to right, Glen Bingley far left and his mum Joyce above, and mum in the middle holding baby Bingley in Mansfield, circa 1962 – by 1963 we were living in Norfolk and there aren’t any photos from then.
BACHELOR BOY – Cliff Richard & The Shadows (3 weeks)
Cliff was at his peak teen popularity, and ditto the Shadows, around this time, with 2 tracks featuring in an upcoming movie. The Next Time is the better side, one of Cliff’s early gems that has stood the test of time. This jocular bit of fluff, though, was the one that kids could sing along to, and it contained advice that Cliff has stuck to (at least the first half of the song anyway), what with being a confirmed bachelor and all. I loved it, it seemed to be everywhere, and it was one of the first batch of singles that dad bought when we got our first 45 rpm record player – so I played it a lot throughout the mid to late 60’s, and then not so much beyond that, just an occasional reminisce. Unlike The Next Time which I would still be happy to play!
THE WAYWARD WIND – Frank Ifield (2 weeks)
Dad’s singles coming thick and fast now, this was another one that was very familiar to me, Aussie yodeller Frank Ifield covering a country classic. It’s old-fashioned for 1963, but then again mum and dad loved country, and Frank Ifield – dad could sing along to this one no problem and match Frank note for note. Is it one I play much? Not these days. It has a certain period charm still, and I’m fond of it for old times sake, but if I had to play an Ifield track it would I Remember You, a better song despite the veering off into yodel-territory. Yodelling is not a good idea as a general rule, unless you’re going for comedy…
THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES – Bobby Vee (2 weeks)
Cute young Bobby Vee probably owed to his career to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly – a hastily-formed local schoolboy band (calling themselves The Shadows) filled in for the next date of the tour that had lost it’s 3 headliners, and included young Bobby Vee, future teen idol. Unlike most of the other clean-cut teen idols of the time, Bobby had a great string of much-covered hit singles lasting several years from the likes of top songwriters like Goffin & King – and had enough material for me to take mum to see him on an 80’s “60’s” tour of several acts, at which point I was surprised by how many hits of his I really liked, topped by this one. The Night Has A Thousand Eyes is one I knew in the 60’s, but didn’t know it was Bobby Vee, it was just a tune I really liked. Still do, it’s a fab little unpretentious pop ditty that rattles along at high speed, and still seems like it should have featured in a cool 60’s spy movie.
SUMMER HOLIDAY – Cliff Richard & The Shadows (6 weeks)
Well here’s a thing – a family singalong anthem that still sounds charming while still very much of it’s time. Bristling with optimism amongst the grey reality of working class life, what kid of the time didn’t dream of running off to sunnier climes in a double-decker bus after seeing the film? Answer: only those with no imagination. Una Stubbs, Melvyn Hayes, The Shads, Cliff at his youth-appealing peak, the film was great fun and the record was perfect for the film, and vice versa. Glorious colour to boot, in an era when British movies were usually black and white kitchen-sink or war-time dramas – even A Hard Day’s Night for the actual Beatles was in b&w! I literally did, and still do, love the idea of driving round Europe in a souped-up double-decker bus. The idea was still iconic enough for a kids show in 1970 called Here Comes The Double Deckers, about a bunch of kids hanging about in a scrapyard bus – with Melvyn Hayes back on board ahead of his famous role in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, and a very young Brinsley Forde (later of chart-topping reggae band Aswad) among the cast.
HOW DO YOU DO IT? – Gerry And The Pacemakers (2 weeks)
Scousers Gerry and his mates came in on the Merseybeat boom and were as big and famous as The Beatles in the early days, a sort of more family-friendly combo with short catchy ditties like this one. Famously getting the first chart-starting hat-trick in UK chart history, they don’t get much airplay these days, bar those 2 records which I won’t mention yet. I loved this jolly easy-to-sing debut as a 5-year-old, and Gerry was on TV variety shows quite a lot so my awareness of the band (but mostly Gerry Marsden) was there from an early age. Granted I don’t rate it that much these days, nostalgic affection apart, but it does transport me back way back when…