Label / Cat No: CNR 660 095
First Released: 1981
What The Album Blurb Says:
Mocht deze LP niet aan uw verwachting voldoen, dan kunt u hem nog altijd als place-mat gebruiken*
What I Say...
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. I go away for a little while. Well, OK, six years or so, and when I come back you end up with this. Sorry. See, I had recorded a pile of these albums back in 2010 so I had a stock of ready made sound files to digest and review. Completely at random I chose one of those to come back to Forgotten Albums with, and frankly I wouldn't blame you at all if you now took a six-year sabbatical.
OK, so, the very first thing you need to know is that Dingetje appears to still be active. My extensive research (read: quick online search) for every album now includes Spotify, a golden shining opportunity that was not there for me before. After a quick browse there, the only song there thankfully, is called 'Hetgrotepiemellied'. Google translate failed me, until I realised the words ran together, and it is in fact called 'Het Grote Piemel Lied' or to save you the trouble, 'Big Willy Song'. This is what we're dealing with here, folks.
So, Dingetje means 'little thing' or 'gizmo' or 'thingy' depending on context. I suspect that he's also making a willy joke here too. The album title means 'Thirteen Thunderous Thingies', and indeed we have 13 tracks here, but 'Thunderous'? Crikey, no.
Imagine for a moment that we somehow melded all the members of The Barron Knights into a single entity, stuck on a 'comedy' moustache, surgically removed all the talent and humour and then gave him a record deal, then you'd have Thingy. Send him to Utrecht, and Dingetje would be born.
On the very first listen I didn't know what to expect. It became clear early on that the opening song 'Houtochdiekop' was a version of 'Shaddup Your Face' by everyone's favourite Italian, the Australian Joe Dolce. 'Oh', I thought, 'Taking a novelty song, and opening it up to the domestic market. That's admirable'.
Only it wasn't. It really wasn't. Firstly, Dingetje can't sing. He can talk, he can shout, and he can do 'funny' voices, but he really can't sing. By the time we get to just the second track 'Met Melk Meer Mans' (With More Milk Man?) I'm ready to cut my own ears off and stuff nettles down the bleeding canal just to avoid listening to any more. But of course, for you dear reader, I persevered.
And what we have is basically an album of either sketches over music, or 'parody' versions of songs that shouldn't be touched - Baggy Trousers, Giddy Up Go, Cocaine In My Brain or *gasp* The Floral Dance. As I don't speak Dutch, I'm sure a lot of the "comedy" passes me by, but occasionally there are lapses into English which give an insight into the level of humour. In 'Schipol' for example which closes side one (or Kant 1 as it's labelled - must resist, must resist), he hilariously sings the 'bing bong' of an announcement tone, followed by a series of rip-roaringly amusing announcements. In one he says "Ladies and Gentlemen, your attention please. Flight KL644 has landed. In the Atlantic Ocean". I'm sure you'll agree, the mirth-meister is on form there...
In fairness to Frank (as his mother knew him), he has a very wide repertoire. He does awful white reggae, awful ska, awful rock and/or roll, awful blues, awful novelty, and so on and so on. He's not content to ruin just one genre, oh no, iconoclast that he is, he's out to undermine music itself. Not bad for a boy from Zandvoort.
I'm sorry to say that old Gizmo was certainly still active up until at least 2013 according to his YouTube channel, but from what I can make out I don't think he's been a major cultural force since this album was released back in 1981. We like to think of the Dutch as tolerant, liberal people, but I would strongly urge them to rise up in rebellion against this fiend, and ensure at the very least he never has access to a microphone again.
The only YouTube clip I could find that wasn't a) utterly hideous to listen to, and b) full of sexist overtones was his version of 'Shaddup Your Face' which I'm pleased to say has only had 382 views (including mine) in 4 years. Really, I can only apologise again. Sorry.
And to cleanse your ears and eyes, the proper version of Baggy Trousers.
Sound Clips (sorry, convention says I must)
2. Met Melk Meer Mans
3. Reggae Met Een Rumboon
4. Telefoon Uit Suriname
5. Ik Ga Weg Leen
6. Ik Ben Een Bofkont
1. Klere Zooitje
2. Illegale Joop
4. Dat Is Blues
5. Ik Ben Vaandeldrager
6. Te Duur
*The Album blurb translates as "If this record does not meet your expectations, you can still use it as a place mat". I know what I'm eating off tonight.
0 out of 10
1. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye
2. Nights In White Satin
3. Sugar, Sugar
4. Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
5. House Of The Rising Sun
6. Everybody's Talkin'
2. Come Together
3. Bridge Over Troubled Water
4. Lay Lady Lay
5. United We Stand
6. Proud Mary
3! out of 10
Label / Cat. No: FONTANA 700 151 WGY
First Released: 1965+
What The Album Blurb Says...
FONTANA - spezial - Langspielplatten sing nach dem modernsten Stand der Schallplatten - Aufnahmetechnik hergestellt. Alle Aufnahmen sind mit den neuesten professionelien stereo-Bandgeräten und Stereo - Kondensator - Mikrofonen gemacht, die alle mit dem menschlichen Ohr wahrnehmbaren Frequenzen des Hörspectrums zwischen 16 und 16 000 Hertz erfassen. Sie garantieren - auch in der Monofassung - eine unübertroffene Klarheit des Klanggeschehens und ermöglichen die Reproduktion des Originalklanges in voller Dynamik, naturgetreuer Klangfarbe und absoluter Reinheit der Tonhöhe. Die Überspielung dieser hochwertigen Originalaufnahmen und Übertragung auf Pressmatrizen geschieht mit höchster technischer Präzision in klimatisch regulierten Räumen unter Verwendung elektronischer Kontrollsysteme. Die fertiggestellten Langspielplatten werden laufend optisch und akustisch überprüft und dann mit einer neuartigen Vakuum - Schutzfilm - Verpackung fabrikmässig versiegelt.
Der Käufer der FONTANA - spezial - Langspielplatten kommt somit in den vollen Genuss dieser hervorragenden Aufnahmetechnik. Voraussetzung dafür ist jedoch die einwandfreie Beschaffenheit der Wiedergabeapparate, insbesondere der Zustand des Abtastsaphirs. Auf dieser winzigen Spitze lastet auch bei geringstem Gewicht des Tonarmes eine Kraft, die dem Gewicht eines mittleren Kraftwagens auf der Fläche eines Zehnpfennig - stückes entspricht. Der Saphir ist daher der Abnutzung unterworfen und sollte auch bei normalem Gebrauch in regelmässigen Abständen ausgewechselt werden.
What I Say
OK, OK, first things first. I know quite well that the album blurb is really just FONTANA telling us what great records they make, and not directly related to Claude Meunier or his Orchestra, but I just love the German language. It really is the language of love with all those sexy guttural sounds and harsh grating consonant clashes. Mmmm.... does it for me every time, though that might in part be from a childhood watching ''Allo 'Allo' and the sexy secretary to Herr Flick.
And anyway, it's harder than it looks, typing in another language. But I love the way FONTANA capitalise their entire name, and any phrase which may reflect on them also gets capitalised, you
know, just in case.
The previous owners of this album thoughtfully left a sticker with their name, address and telephone number on the front of this record. So, Basil and Marjorie of Droitwich Spa, what posessed you to buy this album? I mean, it's pretty inoffensive, but how did you think it was going to enhance your life?
The conceit for this album is that it's a Party. At Madeleine's house. And not just any kind of party, oh no! The only cirumstances under which this album could possibly come about are something like the dramatisation below. I shall call the characters Marjory and Basil entirely as a random choice...
Basil: Hey, have you heard, there's a party at Madeleine's.
Marj: A party? At Madeleine's?
Basil: Yes, a party at Madeleines. And guess what!
Basil: It's a Dance Party.
Marj: Terrific. So no food or drink to get in the way of our non-stop dancing then.
Basil: None. In fact, so as not to distract us at all, she's holding her Dance Party in a big red room, empty except for a few inconveniently placed miniature packing cases right slap bang in the middle of the dance floor.
Basil: You said it Daddio.
Marj: I'd better get my striped top if I'm really going to swing the joint.
Basil: And don't forget your ski pants either.
I do have to ask if anyone has ever been to a party, Dance or otherwise where people have come together to form the combination of shapes that we have on the cover. It is so posed as to be laughable to our cynical 21st Century eyes, but there surely must've been a time when this image truly depicted teenagers having a groovy time.
And who, except those wishing to trick their friends who've just taken acid, would party in a plain red room. Well, OK, who apart from David Lynch.
But my absolute favourite part of the cover is the girl in the background in the red and white striped top. While all the others are carefully holding their poses in a pretence of a) enjoying themselves and b) dancing with all the gay abandon of youth, our girl is making a half-hearted hand movement, and staring straight at the camera!. Good girl! They've tried to hide this by putting the word 'Claude' right across her face, but her eyes line up beautifully with the 'u' and 'd' making it look like she's wearing avant-garde spectacles. Marvellous!
What do you mean, 'what about the music'? It's fairly innocuous, bog-standard Hammond Organ stuff. 'The Happy Organ Player' just about sums this all up. Actually, so does the 'Happy Sailor'. When you're at a Dance Party, everybody's happy. Not the kind of thing I'd be likely to dance to, or even use to liven up my party, but then that's where Madeleine and I differ.
3. Pierre et Madeleine
4. Tête à tête
6. Happy Sailor
7. Huckleberry Finn
1. Jumping Jacks
2. The Happy Organ Player
6. Jolly Melody
7. Samba Mobile
4 out of 10. Inoffensive is the best I can muster.
Label / Cat. No: World Wide Recordings BG 2932
First Released: 1970
What The Album Blurb Says...
On July 7, 1967, Billy Graham crossed the Yugoslav border above
Trieste, en route to his first public meetings in Eastern Europe. We well remember the enthusiastic reception he received in Zagreb. During his EURO 70 Crusade, the evangelist "returned" to the
same city when it joined 35 others to be linked with Dortmund's Westfalenhalle, in Europe's largest ever, closed circuit TV network.
Although Mr. Graham has not yet visited Czechoslovakia, members of the team have taken his personal greetings to Christians there. They have confirmed my own conviction that God's people in Eastern Europe can be more closely identified with those described in the Book of Acts than any others we have seen.
This record, introduced by Cliff Barrows leading congregational singing in Prague, captures something of the victorious spirit of these our fellow members of the Body of Christ. It is presented with the hope that it will encourage Western Christians to pray for them, as they pray for us, and thus strengthen the ties which bind our hearts in Christian love.
Dave Foster, Eurovangelism
What I Say
What an oddity we have to mark the "long-awaited" return of forgottenalbums, a 1970 souvenir of Billy Graham's tour to Europe. I have to admit something of a
vested interest here, in that in 1984 I saw Billy at Ipswich Town Football Stadium where his doom mongering,
predictions of an imminent nuclear war and obvious showmanship had the opposite effect on me from that intended.
Anyway, first thing to note is that this 'Billy Graham' album contains no actual Billy Graham. Not a bit of it. The spoken introduction and final prayer are from his 'music and program director', Cliff Barrows. While I've got nothing against Cliff (well, apart from the fact that he made a film with Cliff Richard which would prejudice you against most people), you buy a Billy Graham album, you expect a bit of Billy action. I'm tempted to complain of false advertising here...
Cliff's proselytizing bookends the musical content of the album, Christian music sung by a variety of Eastern European choirs and organisations. There's some diversity here, from the almost but not quite Welsh stylings of the Prague Male Voice Choir, to the instrumental pieces which sound like the soundtrack to a piece of avant-garde Soviet animation.
However, my clear favourite by a country mile is the Bratislava Youth Ensemble. While the rest of the album provides foreign language versions of Western favourites or tunes embedded in Romantic folk, the Youth Ensemble are giving it large in a very 1970s Eastern European understated way. The songs are just that little bit more chirpy than the Wesleyan sounding hymns, and there's the acoustic guitar, so beloved on Christian Youth Groups. During 'Mary Magdalene', there's even a bass guitar, and you can tell that the bassist is just itching for an excuse to burst into 'Jazz Oddysey'. Thirty seven years on, their exciting, youthful glee sounds like every other progressive Christian Youth Group of the last couple of generations, only in Slovak.
The rest of the album is.... curious. It's like trying to watch 'The Weakest Link' in a language you don't understand. You understand the format and the mechanics, but lack the comprehension. I have the tune of 'What a Friend We Have In Jesus' ingrained on my memory from years of Sunday School, but the novelty here is that it's in Czech. Almost like a cover version. Which reminds me, I have an excellent version of 'William, It Was Really Nothing' by the Smiths sung in German. Nothing to do with Billy Graham, but then again, nor has this album really.
1. Greetings and congregational singing of Blessed Assurance (Cliff Barrows and congregation of Baptist Church, Prague)
2. Jerusalem The Golden (Baptist Choir, Bratislava) Slovak
3. His Eye Is On The Sparrow (Rumanian solo)
4. The Head That Once Was Crowned With Thorns (Male Voice Choir, Prague)
5. Mary Magdalene (Youth Ensemble, Bratislava) Slovak
6. Wonderful Name Of Jesus (Euro 70 Choir, Dortmund) German
7. Doxology (Male Voice Choir, Prague) Czech
1. What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Male Voice Choir, Prague) Czech
2. Roll Jordan Roll (in English) (Male Voice Choir, Prague) Czech
3. This Little Light Of Mine (Unique Instrumental Duet) Czech
4. What Is He To You? (Youth Ensemble, Bratislava) Slovak
5. Surely Goodness And Mercy (Baptist Choir, Zagreb) Yugoslavia
6. Just As I Am (with final prayer by Cliff Barrows) (Baptist Choir, Bratislava) Slovak
3 out of 10 for incomprehensible (to me) cover versions..
Label / Cat. No: Polydor Super 2371 054 First Released: No earlier than 1969
What The Album Blurb Says...
Even if it sounds like a contradiction in terms, it's got to be said that James Last is first. First in providing orchestral "happy" music that splinters the so-called generation gap in popular musical taste.
Last is first when it comes to producing albums that sell. And sell and sell. Whatever the style of material - be it classical, discotheque, dance instrumental - the Last sound is first all over the world. The formula is deceptively simple. Select familiar themes, treat the melodic lines with respect, dress them up in arrangements where the emphasis is on bass and brass.
Many a bandleader has tried to do the same. But the Last "touch" is unique. Maybe that is the one-word summing-up of his amazing multi-million disc sales... he's unique. It's an overworked word in popular music, but James Last remains unique even when reproducing his disc sounds on stage.
A man's music reflects the man himself, so they say. James Last is well-dressed, neat, dynamic, energetic - the last shows through in his love of ski-ing and tennis. His music, too, is well-dressed, neat, dynamic, energetic. The man himself likes parties, so it's only right that his music has made a few million parties swing that little bit more.
Of course, communication is a lot to do with it. Even though James Last speaks German, he somehow communicates with English-speaking audiences. Or any other audiences, come to that.
Yet it was very much a matter of chance that drew James Last into the popular music field. As a kid he showed promise on piano so his parents encouraged him in a musical career. At the Conservatoire of Music In Bueckeburg, from the age of fourteen, he studied composition, double bass and piano. It looked very much as though he'd stick with the classics.
But after World War II, his schooldays behind him, he "discovered" American dance music. He formed his own band, playing double bass. His skill in arranging was evident and he joined the Northwest German Radio station in Hamburg, working with top artist like Caterina Valente and Helmut Zacharias.
His reputation grew. But he had so much to say musically that it was obviously better for him to say it himself. His first album "Non-Stop Dancing,'65" was a massive seller. It's been non-stop recording ever since. Each idea such as "Trumpet-A-Go-Go", produced a whole series of albums. That's why James Last really needs a disc catalogue all of his own.
Nowadays he spreads his wings all over the world. Canada, South Africa, Australia - most of the world knows now that Last is first. Bass and brass... happy music... distinctive sounds.
Distinctive sounds abound in this "Best of James Last" collection. There's "Happy Heart" and "Happy Music" to stress that Last orchestrations are built both to last and to give lasting pleasure. Or try "Games That Lovers Play" and hear for ourself that much-recorded numbers don't have to have that well-worn feel to them.
Perhaps there are some people who don't succumb to the charms of a James Last album. But it's odds- on that they are in some mysterious form of coma.
What I Say
Oh, so "A man's music reflects the man himself" is what they say is it? Well, I looked and it seems that nobody is saying that. I don't wish to call Peter Jones a liar, but I think he's overstating the case somewhat. I mean, I can accept that music may be described as "neat, dynamic, energetic," but 'well-dressed'? Can I expect to one of his 'Happy Tunes' to turn up at my place wearing a cravat and plus fours? I think not.
And look, the man's not even called 'James Last'. All these years his grinning, bearded face has been staring out at me from Charity Shop records, and I found out today that his real name is Hans. It's as if I never knew the man at all.
However, I am prepared to forgive him, for I can understand that in post-war Britain and America, a musical act called Hans might not go down too well. But note, these sleeve notes seem to suggest that Herr Last's schooldays ended roughly at the same time as the end of World War II. Just to remind you, they say, "But after World War II, his schooldays behind him, he "discovered" American dance music." It might be slightly fairer to say he was exposed to American dance music thanks to the overwhelming presence of American armed forces in his country after the war.
Anyway, if this is the best of James Last, then I'm not sure what constitutes 'the rest'. I'd liken this album to musical mashed potato - plain, unchallenging, reassuringly familiar and yet unrelentingly boring. Just a tip James / Hans, but not every tune can be spiced up with racy strings, driving snare drum rhythms and European backing singers adding textured washes over the top. Rather than bring out the beauty of the tunes, Herr Last's skill is to homogenize them, until a song from a 60s musical sounds that same as a piece from Bizet or a traditional dance tune.
I can't fault the music as such - it's kept Mr Last very well in royalties, and there simply must be an audience for it, seeing as he manages to shift so many records. I think he suffers from the British disdain for anything popular in Europe. There's something so cheesy about it, but there's also a naivete, a lack of that cynical post-modern 'knowingness' that the English do so well.
Sadly, I can't say that I'm unaffected by that, and still see Mr Last's offerings as some kind of continental European speciality. Like crisp-bread, processed smoked cheese and window shutters instead of curtains, it's something 'enjoyed by foreigners' which doesn't quite translate.
However, easy listening comes no easier than this. Clearly a man at the top of his game. Just a game you have to ask whether it's worth playing.
Games That Lovers Play
The "In" Crowd
I Left My Heart In San Francisco
The Last Waltz
6.5 out of 10