Friday, 17 February 2012

123 or 1-2-3

It never ceases to amaze me how, yet again, seemingly unrelated old memories can be triggered by songs.  There I was, browsing a post over at RockRoots about Spanish one-hit-wonders Los Bravos, like you do, and the memories attached to their mighty opus, ‘Black is Black’ came flooding back.  For some reason they involve the purchase of my first bike, a handsome blue-framed affair, and why I inexplicably decided to cover it with football stickers.  ‘Black is Black’ with its Gene Pitney-esque vocal is one of those songs that define my childhood as a sixties kid but quite why the bike is involved is beyond me.

This post also led me on to musing about other sixties one-offs and it was then that a fragment of a song forced its way into my consciousness.  I could hum it with reasonable certainty yet couldn’t quite get a handle on its entirety.  As much as I tried I just couldn’t remember who sang it or what it was called.  It went…er, let me see…
One two three…
Da da da daah da da dah
Da-da-da-dah, da da da dah da dah
It’s easy (it’s so easy)
Like taking candy, FROM A BABY!

First I tried searching all the possible singers.  The timbre of the voice suggested singers like Andy Fairweather-Low (Amen Corner), Chris Farlowe, Frankie Valli or Barry Ryan but no luck with any of them.

I then tried every ‘find your song through its lyric’ website I could find, but none of them could reveal it despite using all the keywords like ‘123’, ‘candy’ and ‘baby’.  I tried my old standby, but it still didn’t come up.  It was only days later that it suddenly popped into my head.  Of course!  It was ‘1-2-3’ by Len Barry.  Hurrah!  I’d got the song title right all along but all the lyric sites I’d consulted didn’t recognise ‘123’ in place of the official title of ‘1-2-3’.  Search engines eh?  Who writes these things?

The other discovery I’ve made about this single is that Len Barry is actually an American where I’d just assumed he was British.  My apologies to my US readers for taking the credit for this single for well over 40 years but I’m putting the record straight now.  In my defence, ‘1-2-3’ does have a very British feel to it and during the 1960s beat boom it is perhaps not surprising that it does.

Funnily enough, this one doesn’t have a specific memory attached to it; it was just sort of…there.  I still love it, so here it is.  Nice suit!!

Friday, 3 February 2012

Fathom OST - John Dankworth

I have to admit that only a decidedly small proportion of my music collection is given over to Soundtrack albums – less than 5 in fact.  I have a couple of well-loved John Barry/James Bond compilations and a collection of ‘Bronze’ acts from the Buffy TV series, but that’s about it…until I downloaded John Dankworth’s soundtrack to the film ‘Fathom’.

‘Fathom’ is my very-guilty-indeed film pleasure, a British made Bond/Avengers spy-spoof made in 1967, directed by Leslie H Martinson and starring my 60s pin-up, Raquel Welch in the title role.  It was shot on location in sunny southern Spain and in the probably rainy UK at Shepperton studios and the cast includes a whole bunch of British character actors like Ronald Fraser, Richard Briers, Tom Adams and Clive Revill along with America’s Tony Franciosa as the film’s other major draw.  Adapted from the unpublished draft of Larry Forrester’s second Fathom novel, ‘Fathom Heavensent’, the screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr (of Batman TV series fame) tells of how Fathom, a US dental assistant-cum-vacationing skydiver, is drawn into a web of espionage and intrigue involving H-bombs and valuable Chinese artefacts.  The script is full of twists and turns with a host of running gags to keep it light and airy – it’s no coincidence that Leslie H Martinson had also directed ‘Batman – the Movie’ the year before.

Whilst never more than a ‘B’ movie (I saw it first when it was doing the rounds as second feature to ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ around 1970), it has a classic 60’s vibe of tongue-in-cheek innocence and frothy inconsequence.  However, the photography, especially over the brilliantly lit Spanish Costa Del Sol, is quite stunning, Ms Welch, at 27, is at the peak of her sexpot period and the performances range from competent to hammy, but who cares?  I watch it quite regularly and am charmed every time by its dated yet engaging point-in-time aura.  It just oozes 60s appeal from the unique make-up and clothes to the curious ‘bright’ yet slightly washed out colour rendition that all films of that period seem to have.

Last but not least is the soundtrack.  Written by well-known jazz musician and spouse of Cleo Laine, John Dankworth, it is the epitome of hep-cat sixties jazz and it fits the joie de vivre of the film perfectly.  In places it veers a bit too close to Henry Mancini or Ray Conniff territory for my liking but the theme itself is a masterpiece – conjuring up the sort of ‘hip’ jazz that films used to use as ‘party’ music in the early 1960s, pre-Beatles in an effort to sound cutting edge.  In particular, there is a flamenco styled section that accompanies Raquel’s skydive to a villa perched on the Spanish Coast that is quite exhilarating and worth the price of the album alone.

Sadly, Dankworth died quite recently and much of his work is not available on CD but the soundtrack to ‘Fathom’ is a wonderful reminder of what a talent he was.  Cool, Daddy-O!