The weather, here in Glasgow, was very warm and sunny in the final couple of weeks in the month of June. As such, I was disinclined to sit indoors at the keyboard churning out lengthy and analytical pieces with which to bore you rigid, and instead I came up with a look at some big hit singles which otherwise wouldn’t normally feature. But then, over the weekend, two e-mails dropped in with stuff for guest postings and by good fortune offered the possibility of four pieces, which is why the remainder of this week will be a JC-free zone. The big hit singles mini-series will likely be here this time next week.
Oh, and I’m typing this looking out to a sky that is more January than July. One thing is always certain here in Glasgow and that’s that you can never predict the weather with any certainty.
Here’s my stand-up comedian friend to entertain you:-
Elaine Paige Can Get to France : (A cool AF tribute to Musical Theatre)
ACT ONE of a guest posting by STEVE McLEAN
I love musicals. Musicals are fun. They’re big, loud and pompous, and they’re very accessible for people who don’t usually go to the theatre. There’s one thing that musicals are not and never will be however, and that is cool. Not even the Rocky Horror Show can cut it as cool these days. The RHS is perhaps formerly cool, but the taboo 1970s subject matter has dulled somewhat and while it still maintains a cult status, so does Russ Meyer. Admit it, middle-aged men in ladies underwear is really just a search history that needs clearing.
There’s a naffness that goes hand in hand with show tunes, especially the versions the hit the charts. Artists of the 50s through to the 80s often visited the hit parade belting out something from Cats or Starlight or Spies like Us, The Musical (the last one I made up, but you know, dream it and it will happen). But why should Elaine Paige or Michael Crawford or Philip Schofield have all the drama school fun? You’d forgotten that The Schofe played Joseph and had a top 30 hit with Close Every Door, hadn’t you? I hadn’t. It plagues me to this day.
I’ve assembled a list here of great show tunes being played by acts so cool they’d make Sinatra look like Eugene from Grease….. Elaine Paige can get to France.
Let the Sunshine In – Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger and the Trinity (From the musical Hair)
Gonna start off big. Julie Driscoll, darling of the 1960s R&B Mod set teamed up with Brian Auger and The Trinity to produce one of the most needlessly wordy band names of the decade (no one is buying these records for The Trinity guys, you’re just lying to yourselves) However they also produced a tip-top version of Let The Sunshine In (from Hair). They stripped out all of the pomp to reveal that the song is still a belter without the teeth and tits. It’s a solid keyboard driven jazz psych rocker (I hate myself for that phrase). I’ll speak more about Hair later but for now just lose yourself in this song. It’s all tilted camera zooms, bead necklaces, miniskirts and kinky boots. The keyboard solo kicks backside and Driscoll sings circles around the song too. ‘Sealed with a righteous kiss”
I’ll Never Fall In Love Again – Deacon Blue (from the musical Promises, Promises)
I chose the Deacon Blue version as I feel we don’t hear enough of them these days. Dionne Warwick‘s version is probably my favourite but this works very well slowed down and delivered with the Ricky Ross singing whisper (listen up Stuart Murdoch, it was his first and best..)
A Bacharach & David standard, it was written for the musical Promises, Promises (Neil Simon) which was an adaption of Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. When people complain that ‘everything gets made into a musical these days’ remind them it has always happened but they at least had the decency to change the titles. If this was still in practice then the forthcoming Back to the Future musical might be called Time Traveling, Mum Shagging Teenager from Suburbia. (Dream it and it will happen).
I Got Rhythm – Brian Wilson (from the musical Girl Crazy)
Brian turns this finger clicker into a sweet surfing number and it really suits the song. The best version is probably Fozzie and Rolf from the Muppets but this is up there.
It’s from the Gershwin show Girl Crazy which in these modern times is probably both sexist and a mental health micro aggression but back on the 1930s it was mainly about working on a ranch that employed showgirls… showGIRLS working a ranch? That’s CRAZY! And boom! We have a title.
The musical has been filmed a couple times with notable story changes. The most peculiar seems to be a version featuring Herman’s Hermits, Sam Sham and the Pharaohs and Liberace that was re-titled ‘When Boys Meets Girls’ which seems a lot less exciting.
Send in the Clowns – Grace Jones (from the musical A Little Night Music)
Just admit that you know this tune best from a Simpsons episode, you god damned fucking heathen. Seriously though Krusty the Klown makes a fine mockery of the 1970s US TV special that carried on until the 1990s before people realised it was just orchestra karaoke.
It’s from the show A Little Night Music which I’ve not seen but the best I can work out it’s a creepy story about some kind of Bill Wyman / Mandy Smith relationship.
There’s some side show with a jealous son and horny housekeeper. It sounds like a fucking Benny Hill episode.
This song itself sure is beautiful but let’s be honest, the Judy Collins or Sinatra or Streisand versions are dreary as fuck. Grace Jones kicks the song in the balls and sticks some cracking 80s synths on it. I don’t think Jones ever gets enough credit for how big her voice can be. The song is great showcase for her talents.
You’re The One That I Want – The Beautiful South (from the musical Grease)
Okay, I’m busting my cool remit here. Everyone loved the Housemartins but people had split opinions on the BS. There were those that felt they so-so and those that thought they were just okay.. This, however, is a welcome change from their 1995 One-Eff-Em fodder. It has a real sinister vibe to it. Maybe it’s just the strings but it just feels like one of them has the other in a basement chained to the wall….
The song is from Grease. I’m not going to talk about Grease, we all know it’s fucking awesome. Anyone who doesn’t think Grease is awesome is fucking liar. The whole shebang is cracking from the off. The Barry Gibb penned / Frankie Valli sung opening number, the greasy rockers, the awesome cars, Rizzo being the true star over Sandy and fan theories about it taking place in the afterlife. The ending is a bit creepy though with a terrible message to young girls to start smoking and dress in a catsuit of you want boys to like you.
Grease 2 is also awesome, some would say a far superior film. By some I mean me.
September Song – Lou Reed (from the musical Knickerbocker Holiday)
I can’t tell you much about this show but from wiki it seems like a disaster capitalist’s wet dream. The show makes a comparison of FDR’s New Deal policies to Fascism. Replace the FDR stuff with masks or vaccines or whatever some wankenstain on Twitter is banging on about and it could be right up to date. Seriously, is there anything that whack-jobs don’t equate to fascism….? Apart from actual fascism which they seem to love. This show sounds like the Daily Mail comments section set to music which has given me a great idea for my next Edinburgh Fringe show. I digress….
It’s usually quite a slow number but Lou rocks it up and then talks over it (like he does with pretty much everything he recorded after 1978).
A much more faithful version of the tune was used as the theme tune to the sitcom May to December, which was yet again about a young woman in a relationship with an old man. At some point we have to start asking questions about these songs. One of the questions certainly isn’t ‘How can I get in on this?’ no siree bob.
END OF ACT ONE.
PATRONS ARE ASKED TO RETURN TO THEIR SEATS AFTER THE INTERVAL OF 48 HOURS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE SHOW.
5 thoughts on “MAMMA MIA……”
Kind of hoping Sinead O Connors Don’t Cry for Me Argentina pops up tomorrow
Joy Division’s version of Hello Dolly is also very good.
I never knew “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” was from a musical. Fancy that!
A brilliant read! Look forward to the rest.
I hate musicals, but I enjoyed reading your commentary – hilarious!