The Kaye Family Album

Label / Cat. No:  HIRA HL 8536

First Released: 1972

 

What The Album Blurb Says...

 

In the grooves of the record contained within this sleeve is a wealth of talent performed by one family of four people - mother, father, daughter and son.

 

Don't run away with the idea tha this highly popular family foursome became a versatile show overnight.  What they are today is the product of many years experience in the world of entertainment.  The mother and father, Ellen and Eddy, were both playing individually  in concert parties when they met and married in their early 20's.  Ellen is an organist and vocalist and Eddy is an organist, accordionist and pianist.

 

The musical twosome continued for a number of years but it was a forgone conclusion that their two children, Sharron and Adrian, would follow in their parents' footsteps.

 

Sharron had just reached the age of 10 when she was considered proficient as an alto saxophonist and was introduced into her parents' well-presented show.  As years went by, she added clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, bass guitar, vibraphone and her contralto voice and is now a very accomplished young lady - a versatile musician with a charming personality.

 

Adrian was introduced into the show two years later at the age of eight and his terrific personality showed through in his ability as a percussionist and guitarist.  Now he is a young man with a wealth of experience behind him and is a very polished performer.

 

It was at this point that  "The Kaye Family" was born and Sharron and Adrian soon proved their worth by helping to obtain rave notices in "The Stage" and other newspaper media.

 

The family went on to appear at many top venues throughout the country in every field of the variety entertainment industry - theatres, halls, commercial studios, clubs, cabaret, restaurants and the like.

 

success followed success and now HIRA RECORDS place The Kaye Family before you to perform at your command in your own home.  This high quality long-playing record shows clearly some of the many facets of this fascinating family.

 

Sit back and relax and dwell in the wonderland of sound that the Kaye Family presents to you - and you alone!

 

Drift along on clouds of romance, feel philosophical, hear the swirling colours of sun-drenched Spain, linger upon lonely seashores, fly amongst the stellar constellations, go for a trolley ride, swing with the up-tempo big band style beat.

 

yes, all this comes to you everytime you fall under the magical spell of the sound of The Kaye Family.

 

Happy listening!

 

Martin Philips

 

What I Say...

 

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back.  Hello.  Sorry for the delay.... The real world took over for a while.  I'll try not to let it happen again.

 

And what a way to come back, a return visit to The Kaye Family everyone's favourite family musical combo.

 

After hearing the 'Live!' album, I just had to go back to the charity shop where I'd bought it to see if there were any others there, and Bingo!, this little beauty was in my hands in a matter of moments.

 

Pre-dating 'Live!' by a couple of couple of years, this album is so much more fulfilling.  The production values here are vastly superior, and we have a clear sound rather than the somewhat muddy live recording.  Having said that, I'm not sure if that's entirely a good thing.  After all, you can actually hear Sharron (note, two 'r's - very showbiz) and Ellen's arch vocals, combining to provide a sound that I find slightly scary. Listen to 'You're Just In Love' and tell me you haven't been even slightly traumatised.

 

The album is of course worth every penny, if only for the sleeve notes.  At last I get to know all their names.  Ellen and Eddy - what a pairing.  A partnership made in the stars, names that chime together.  And let's not forget the second generation, Adrian and Sharrrrrron, virtuoso musicians in their own right.  And please note, I've been very realistic here, and made sure that I didn't run away with the idea that this highly popular family foursome became a versatile show overnight. Only a fool would do such a thing.

 

Musically there's not much of a surprise -  I can't see that they took any major direction changes between this and 'live'.  I mean, I would love to have found that this was their forgotten psychedelic masterpiece, or they'd made an experimental jazz album.  But this is again simply a series of standards set to a bontempi bossa nova beat.

 

Which takes me back to Adrian. I may have suggested in my last review that he was conceived just because Ellen and Eddy needed a drummer for the band.  I take it back of course.  After all, he's not exactly prominent - throughout the whole of side one I couldn't tell if it was Ade or the organ's built in rhythms that were providing the percussion - some of the fancier fills during Telstar testify to a human hand.  His playing is subdued, almost unnoticeable.  If only Keith Moon had been more like Adrian Kaye, things would be very different today.  Ah, the benefit of hindsight.

 

The choice of songs seems to show their club roots - a couple of 'modern' tracks, and plenty of old favourites for the mums and dads.  Of course, with Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrron being a clarinettist, 'Stranger on the Shore' was a given - I suspect she'd just taken her Grade 5 exam, and that was one of the set pieces, so the family recycled it into their set, chuck in a bit of an inappropriate fancy rhythm and Bob's your uncle.  You know, Bob Kaye.  Everyone knows Bob.

 

So, er.... yes.  This was pretty much as I'd expected.  I'm glad I revisited this fine family. I can't decide if it's a good or a bad thing that this kind of act isn't around any more.  Or maybe it is - maybe I should've been watching 'Britain's Got Talent' to discover the 21st Century's 'Kaye Family' rather than listening to 35 year old oddities.  All I know is that my world is marginally richer thanks to Ellen, Eddy, Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrron and Adrian.  Thanks guys, you've been great.

 

 Sound Clips 

Tracks

 

Side 1

 

1. The Wonder Of You

2. Blowin' In The Wind

3. Stranger On The Shore

4. You're Just In Love

5.Telstar

 

Side 2

 

1. Trolley Song

2.You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

3. Espana

4. The Wedding

5. Ticket To Ride / 'A' Train / Chattanooga Choo-Choo

 

Final score:

 

 

7 out of 10

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Elaine and Derek

Label / Cat. No: Parlophone PMC 1160 
First Released: 1961 

What The Album Blurb Says...

Fairly bursting with confidence and talent are Elaine and Derek Thompson, the thirteen-year-old twins from Belfast, who have been busy lately making a name for themselves with their records and television appearances.

Born on October 23, 1948, Derek is ten minutes older than Elaine - "and very proud of the fact," says his mother. They both attend Belfast Modern School where everyone is very excited about their popularity and success: it appears that the only two calm people in the school are Elaine and Derek themselves!

"We've been singing since we were six years old," says Elaine, who always takes charge of the situation, "at socials, parties and charity concerts, so I think this is why we don't feel nervous about singing before large audiences and in recording studios. It's Mum and Dad who suffer for us while we just get very excited. We don't sing rock 'n' roll, but we enjoy listening to it - it amuses us. Gene Vincent is one of our favourite performers; we like the way he flings himself around the microphone on stage!"

At school the twins' favourite subjects are French and algebra. They are not madly keen on sport, and all their spare time is taken up with singing. In fact they allow themselves little or no time to enjoy the hobbies and amusements that children usually like.

The twins were introduced to promoter Phil Raymond by a friend, when they were singing at a party one evening,. Raymond liked their voices and within a short time he booked them to appear at the Belfast Opera House with Gene Vincent and Emile Ford.

Recording manager Norman Newell was told about tht twins and flew to Belfast to hear them, with the result that they travelled to London and the E.M.I. studios to record their first disc for Parlophone Records - One Little Robin and Brahms' Lullaby (45-R4783). This proved so popular that before long they returned to cut another single - Bluebird, coupled with Wooden Heart (45-R4829) - and this delightful LP of twelve children's hymns, to the sensitive accompaniment of Michael Collins and his Orchestra.


What I Say


Hmmmm.... this album is rather like an onion. It has so many layers, and there's something new to discover underneath, but all the layers are really the same, and it makes me cry when you cut it up, and it makes a delicious base for most savoury meals. OK, so I didn't think out my metaphor very well before I started, but this album holds a few surprises, which aren't at first apparent.

For example, as is my practice, I chose the album on the qualities of its cover alone. Although first released in 1961, the influence of the 50s is still clear to see, from the typeface used on their names, to the formal outfits and hairdos of the twins. Dereks frilly fronted shirt and hand-made slacks (see, always the slacks) provide a formal accompaniment to his sisters frilly, fussy party dress with faux-pearl buttons and sewn on corsage.

What I didn't know when I picked up the album is that this is full of Children's hymns. Twelve songs that are supposed to uplift and convince children of the glory of god. But is it really aimed for children? I have a sneaking suspicion that the market for this kind of album is the grannies of this world. I have a clear image of a grey haired granny settling down in her favourite armchair to listen to 'those wonderful Irish children' sing about Jesus. And it must've been a comfort, for in 1961 when this record was released, rock 'n' roll was shaking the foundations, but just so long as teenagers were singing about Jesus and not girls and cars, then there was hope for the future.

And this album has been well loved. Unlike most of the records that I pick up which are in pristine condition, this is worn and scratched, with jumps, pops and hisses all over it. Someone has played this album over and over again. Either that, or they hated it so much they've used it as a dinner plate.... but I'm sticking with my doting Granny theory.

I'm also surprised at how happy they both seem to be. If you'd asked me at thirteen to stand next to my sister to have my photo taken, let alone smile, or - horror of horrors - touch her, I would have sulked and made the most unattractive of photographs. But here we have true professionals. They both look happy, relaxed, almost like they like each other. That's not normal in a teenager, is it?

Now, I know in my review of The Kaye Family that I suggested that there was something weird about families playing together, (although I did qualify that about it being weird across the generations), but there is one clear benefit of families singing together. I've heard it suggested that the reason why the Beach Boys, the Proclaimers and the Bee Gees do harmony so well, is because that they have similar physical vocal structures, as well as similar accents and similar tonality to their voices. Because they've grown up in the same environment, their voices sound very similar, and you end up with harmony not just of notes, but also of tone. (I am of course bluffing here, but don't tell anyone...) The same applies here - the songs sound sweet because the two voices compliment each other very well.

That's another thing. In a world where we are so used to our child stars being brash to the point of obnoxious, precocious and schmaltzy, the gentle sweetness of these two is quite refreshing. It's not my kind of music at all, either in subject matter or musical style, but there is something very calming and gentle about the way they sing together which is unexpectedly lovely.

Derek tends to sing the lower parts (unsurprisingly) with a fairly linear melody, while Elaine tackles the more complex melody lines. It's a traditional arrangement, but it works here. The songs I've picked for the clips are all much of a much - I just chose the ones I knew - there isn't a great amount of variety in this album, it must be said.

I wonder how annoyed Derek was though, that although he is chronologically and alphabetically first, that his name came second in the billing. That must've hurt, though it does say clearly on the sleeve notes that Elaine is in charge. I wonder if she made that business decision.

But who's laughing now, eh? For while Elaine has subsided into obscurity (I say that like I know - for all I know, Elaine could be a major star under another name....) Derek, the mighty Derek of Elaine and Derek grew up to be one of England's favourite TV stars.

Yes, this was the biggest surprise that this album yielded for me. When I started doing my 'research' (assuming a bit of googling can be counted as research) for this album, I discovered that this album's Derek is......
.....
Charlie Fairhead 'off of' Casualty. It really is. Look.... proof and everything.

HOW FANTASTIC IS THAT??

Tracks

 

Side 1

1. There's A Friend For Little Children
2. O What Can Little Hands Do
3. When Mother Of Salem
4. How Great Thou Art
5. Standing Somewhere In Life's Shadows
6. Jesus Loves Me


Side 2

1. Gentle Jesus Meek And Mild
2. Stranger Of Galilee
3. I Am So Glad That Jesus Loves Me
4. Who Is He In Yonder Stall
5. Jesus Tender Shepherd
6. Nearer My God To Thee


Final score:

7 out of 10

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The Kaye Family - Live!!

Label / Cat. No: Hirra HLS 207831 
First Released: 1974 

What The Album Blurb Says...

The Kaye Family must surely rank as unique among musical entertainers. Mother, Father, Daughter and Son, whilst each projecting strong individual qualities in their respective talents, merge into a blendship of melodic unity, which is smoothly maintained throughout a warm and appealing performance.

Audience attention is commanded by supreme musicianship, smack on timing that would do justice to a space shot and a superb arranging ability. Deeply insighted into people's requirement in entertainment, they have the happy gift of presenting the very best material covering a spectrum from light to popular music.

This intimate family unit, small as it is, nevertheless produces the big sound.

The skillful change of immaculate gowns, by the ladies who supply the vocals, compliments their splendid harmony.

There is nothing magical in their success, just hard unrelenting work, dedication to their art and that impelling desire in all true professionals to bring and give only of the best to the people.

Ringing the curtain down on The Kaye Family is a difficult task, the clamour is always for more.

Call your own family together, set the turntable to 33 1/3 r.p.m. and be assured that you too will spin this disc many times.

DICK DOYLE
Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen
South Wales


What I Say

Can I get this out of the way first. Musical family groups are creepy. From the Von Trapp singers to The Jackson Five, there is something just so.... wrong about large members of the same family performing together. I think the optimum level is two brothers - just look at OasisSpacehog or The Black Crowes. Two brothers bring the necessary friction, the dynamic which pushes both to outperform and out achieve the other.

But just look at the Kaye Family. You know behind the bearded face at the keyboard lies a tartar. A man who has marshalled his wife and children into his dreams of stardom. "Sharon darling, we need another baby. We don't have a drummer. Brace yourself...".

And this is the result.... I'm saying nothing.

To be fair, the family are all talented musicians (in their own way), but how many teenagers would a) voluntarily practice their musical instruments, b) want to spend large amounts of their free time rehearsing with their parents, and c) appearing in public, not only with your parents, but wearing the same clothes as them. I can only imagine the number would be very small, which means that either the Kaye Family are one in a million, or Old Man Kaye beats his children in time to the 'Rumba' setting on his organ.

Of course he doesn't. I think legally I need to make it clear that I do not believe that Mr Kaye in any way mistreats his family. Though of course, he does mistreat the audience with his organ led arrangements. The Rumba is his favourite setting (NOT for beating his family, NOT for beating his family - I can't stress that enough), as everything has that very 1970s latin arrangement to try and make them sound exotic and mysterious. I'm not sure how exotic and mysterious the Canton Liberal Club, Cardiff on a June night in 1974 really was, but I'm sure the Kaye Family helped the atmosphere along enormously.

These are clearly a band who've done the club circuit. They belt out the numbers double fast, not giving the audience the chance to catch their breath, throw missiles or shout insults. Just listen to the introduction and see how long it takes them to launch into the fastest version of 'Cabaret' that you will ever, ever hear. And 'Aquarius' gets the same treatment. Be still my racing heart, it's all that I can do to keep my breath.

I've often found that if you listen carefully to a lot of these old albums I find, you can often find one of the musicians, there in the background, just itching to be allowed a chance to break free and really show what he can do. You don't have to look too hard on this album to find that member of the group. The son (let's call him Jim. I have no idea what his name is, but Jim seems as good as any) clearly toes the party line on the drums. His father's arrangements are strictly adhered to. But there seems to be a pay off. Maybe Jim's got something on his old man... some indiscretion maybe, or knowledge of a dark family secret. But clearly there is a deal been struck here. Jim plays his old man's parts to the letter, but he's allowed to let rip at the end of the songs. And by Jove does this boy let rip! Think Animal from The Muppets on steroids. Jim is up for some serious thrashing of those skins. So the gentle folk rhythms of 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone' end with Jim rockin' the house. And good on him I say.

Dad demands his moment in the spotlight, and gets a solo spot with his 'Short Selection of Famous Overtures', which I will just say is possibly the most tedious thing I have ever had to listen to. Although Jim livens it up a bit at the end in his own inimitable style. And then Jim gets to lead on 'Midnight In Moscow', and things start to go crazy. Seven Russian Themed songs in a medley with drums as lead instrument all the way. Magic in a tin it is, magic in a tin.

Ultimately, I can't blame them for the way they look, because it was 1974 so this was what was expected (even the silver capes, I suspect). I can't blame them for providing populist entertainment because they're doing the club circuit, and that's what's needed. I can't even blame them for being slightly creepy because they're a family, and unlike a lot of families, at least they're spending a lot of time together and doing something creative.

What I can blame them for is getting Dick Doyle to write their album blurb, and for using a word as obscene as 'blendship'. Eurghhh. What were they thinking?

Oh, and it turns out his name's not Jim. It's Adrian. I should have guessed. He looks like an Adrian.

 

Sound Clips

 

Tracks

 

Side 1

Cabaret
Put On A Happy Face
Something's Going To Happen Tonight
Love Me With All Your Heart
Quando Quando
Never Ending Song Of Love
Everybody Loves A Lover
High On A Hill
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Too Young

Side 2

Granada
White Rose Of Athens
A Short Selection Of Famous Overtures
Aquarius
Midnight In Moscow
Volga Boat Song
Gopak
Black Eyes
From Russia With Love
Kalinka


Final score:

6.5 out of 10 but only because I'm strangely drawn to their bass playing daughter...

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