There’s a tribute to the great man over on your new-look Off The Telly.
Do they mean a rather pompous opinionated rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-even-more-riches lollygagger who sued the BBC because he hasn’t got a sense of humour and now claims to be Touched By Angels?…
…they surely do!
TV Cream has been lucky to come into possession of an exceedingly rare sound archive: nothing less than composer Simon May’s demo tapes.
It’s a heady brew. An early version of the EastEnders theme with Eddy Grant performing a rap and no sign of the usual tune; a techno remix of Eldorado; and a version of Castaway 2000 featuring jungle drums and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
But of particular note is Simon’s demo for Howard’s Way. It seems his original intention was to create a more chirpy, swingbeat-meets-hornpipe concoction, with dialogue from each episode reprised within the music.
Most surprising of all, though, is the presence of lyrics. Yup, it turns out Simes originally envisaged a singalong chorus to take pride of place at the climax of the theme. Why this never made the final version is a mystery – equally so its later substitution with Marti Webb’s dirge to love’s permanence, Always There.
Anyway, it’s a privilege to be able to bring you this rare glimpse behind closed studio doors.
David Pascoe writes:
Exhibit E: Check My Machine
AKA: Macca does dubstep
“I figure that in time they’ll get around to more recent stuff, Check My Machine, those funny little ones.”
Now this is more like it. Liberated by going properly solo, McCartney produced a corking album in McCartney II, containing some of his finest moments. Coming Up, Temporary Secretary (“She can be a neurosurgeon/If she’s doing nothing urgent” – Genius) and One of These Days all ring out with the fresh clear confidence of the Ram sessions nine years earlier. But when it came to recording a B-side for TLC-inspiring Waterfalls, McCartney produced something truly surprising.
Starting out with some looped cartoon clips including Barney Rubble in The Flinstones and something sounding suspiciously like a “D’oh” but most probably a clip from the Laurel and Hardy cartoon, we dip into a helium voiced McCartney beseeching us to “Check my machine/Che-eck my machine”.
The request continues over a gorgeously, mellow banjo, keyboard and dub bass line. The pace seldom rises above the nodding but the invitation to bob is irresistible. At regular intervals we break off from our bobbing to hear Macca play with the “dropping a metal dustbin on its side” voice on his synthesiser before returning to the hypnotic, circling riff. Finishing with some high-spirited audio verite mucking about, this track is crystal proof that the surge in popularity McCartney enjoyed in the early 80s was no fluke.
Why should we be interested in it?
This track (and the equally lesser-heard Secret Friend, a kind of death disco released on 12″ with Temporary Secretary) show that McCartney’s instincts for dabbling in different musical styles and for keeping up with contemporary sounds remained as strong as ever. In its own demented way, this track is as timeless as anything he recorded with The Beatles. It could have popped up on late night Radio 1 in 1980, 1990, 2000 or 2010 and would have sounded as exciting and vibrant as anything else going on at the time. McCartney’s dance music alter-ego, The Fireman was born here.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones…”
There are only a couple of months to go until the first transmitter is turned off and digital TV begins seeping across the land like the globules in the opening titles to Survivors.
But what word has there been by way of suitably lavish happenings to mark each stage of analogue’s farewell? None! The whole thing might just as well involve a group of unlikeable people gathered on a muddy old farm in the back of beyond, like the rest of every episode of Survivors.
No, what’s needed is a proper, whistles-and-bells, star-encrusted nationwide effort, called something irritating like The Really Big Switchover, packed full of celebrities and gimmicks. An oversized foam-costumed walking embodiment of Digit Al would be involved, naturally, traversing the land from region to region like he’s carrying the Olympic flame. Or the Nationwide chocolate cake.
On top of that, however, there need to be massive events in each part of the country to accompany the actual moment the switch is flicked and Five Million Pensioners Realise They Can’t Watch Coronation Street Anymore ((C) The Daily Mail).
Fortunately (for this blog if not anything else), just such a roster of events suggests itself:
The Really Big Switchover (part one)
WHERE: A windswept moorland
WHO: Melvyn Bragg, Derek Batey, Fiona Armstrong
HOW: Melvyn pontificates with a group of academics for 45 minutes before Derek does a plug for his Mr and Mrs stage show. Fiona stands in the background looking frosty. Miss Carlisle 2008 presses a giant button which makes a beeeeeeoooooooowwwww sound effect.
WHERE: The Albert Dock
WHO: Colin Weston, Elton Welsby, Sue Robbie, Julie Goodyear, Pete Waterman (DJing a special outside disco), Lord Michael Winstanley (with advice on how to avoid being diddled by a shifty Freeview salesman), William Roache, Anne Kirkbride and a special guest appearance by Richard and Judy.
HOW: Ken and Deidre are having problems with their TV reception. Bet walks in and tells them they need to get digital. Richard and Judy drop by with a spare set-top box (Richard: “You’ll find it pays to keep at least three spare in case of emergencies” Judy: “Oh Richard”) and soon everyone is settling down to enjoy an episode of a strangely-familiar Northern soap opera set in a cobbled street that’s not Albion Market. Meanwhile Colin, Elton and Sue sing a song about Winter Hill transmitter before blowing it up.
WHERE: Plymouth Hoe
WHO: Richard Digance, Judi Spiers, Gus Honeybun
HOW: A lookalike of Sir Francis Drake steps forward for a game of bowls; one of the balls hits a giant cardboard cut-out of Judi’s face, a ship’s bell sounds, Gus squeals and the plug is pulled.
WHERE: The Rift
WHO: Dilwyn Young Jones and Vincent Kane
HOW: An unofficial facsimile of the TARDIS materialises by that giant fountain thing in Cardiff. Out step Dilwyn and Vincent, they exchange pleasantries, thank you for watching analogue television, then step back inside. The switchover happens off-screen, for budget reasons.
WHERE: Norwich market place
WHO: Nicholas Parsons, Fred Dineage, Russell Grant, and Paul Lavers dressed as a medieval knight
HOW: Paul is positioned on a giant rotating board which Nick, Fred and Russell have to spin. While a brass band plays the Anglia fanfare, Paul uses his spear to try and puncture various balloons suspended above his head. Most of them contain whipped cream, custard and mushy peas, but one contains a mobile phone with which he has to ring the nearby transmitter control room and tell them to shut down. Russell provides predictions for the future of television. “Now onto Pisces – this is you Nicholas!”
WHERE: The Angel Of The North
WHO: Tom O’Connor, Mike Neville, Jools Holland, Supergran
HOW: While Jools plays some boogie-woogie, Supergran flies down from the top of the Angel and lands on a giant Crosswits board, which lights up the letters SWITCHOVER and which triggers the opening of a mystery compartment inside the Angel, a la The Wicker Man, from which Tom and Neville wave at the crowd.
WHERE: On top of LWT Towers on the South Bank
WHO: Michael Aspel, Dame Edna Everage, Danny Baker, Janet Street-Porter, Gloria Hunniford (interviewing people in the crowd), Roland Rivron (floating in the Thames), Fred Housego (answering riddles from Aspel on the history of TV), Greg Dyke (in shirt sleeves, explaining how he saved television by inventing Freeview)
HOW: A giant banner is unfurled down one side of the building, onto which a countdown clock is projected. At the moment of the switchover, Cilla Black, in a pod in the London Eye, wishes viewers “a lorra lorra digital fun” and pulls a lever launching a flaming arrow high into the sky which lands on a junction box at Crystal Palace and is the cue for Denis Norden to turn a golden key in a nearby portakabin.
To be concluded…
Property magnates, alliterative abbreviations and one-time-linkers-of-children’s-cartoons, Dick and Dom, have been sacked from Radio 1.
That’s not the reason for this post. The reason is the fact that in this write-up of the news by, who else, the Media Guardian, the lads’ once-all-conquering trademark game, Bogies, is still being completely misrepresented. Five years on.
Right from the outset the Guardian have had trouble with this, seemingly unable to ever correctly describe the purpose of Bogies as being to shout the word, yes, “bogies”. And now, even after all this time, they still persist in talking about the game like a hopeless half-sane great uncle, referring to kids having to shout “bogey”.
Only the Media Guardian, the place where the least amount of TV is watched in the whole of the country, is it possible to get something so simple so wrong so many times for so many years.