Music For Dining - The Melachrino Strings and Orchestra

Label / Cat. No: RCA RD-27081
First Released: 1958


What The Album Blurb Says...

"Dinner at eight, Monsieur and Madame."

And here is Melachrino to cater to your dining pleasure with music to complement the most succulent cuisine, or add that little bit of extra seasoning that turns an ordinary supper into an adventure. In the Continental fashion chef George has arranged a dozen musical courses to accompany your delectation.

To start, an apéritif - vermouth for the gentleman, and perhaps Madame would prefer that exotic cocktail of American origin, the dry martini. Whatever the drink, the maestro has prepared a frothy, utterly sippable arrangement of an old favorite, Diane.

Pâté de foie gras is offered up next (with truffles, of course), to be nibbled at while the orchestra presents a lush treatment of Too Young. For the somewhat more autumnal touch of Kurt Weill's September Song, a chilled dish would be most fitting. Perhaps a lobster mayonnaise - but then again that deliciously iced soup strewn with watercress, Vichysoisse, is deserving of serious consideration.

And now for the entrée, something hearty, warming and elegant. A dish of classical proportions is called for - duckling with orange sauce bathed in flaming brandy, or for the less adventurous palate, a château-briand - the Parisian approach to a Kansas City steak. A semi-classical melody, Clopin Clopant, is an intriguing side dish to either choice. The deep tones of a nine-foot grand announce the lovely strains of the Warsaw Concerto and overcome the discreet tinkle of silver and crystal (and perhaps a slight loosening of the belt) as the waiter presents the pastry tray. His silver tongs hover lovingly over the eclairs, rum-soaked babas and brandied tarts, thereby throwing our gourmets into an exquisite agony of indecision. The black and white of Domino must surely signify the dark richness of cinnamon-spiced coffee in which a large helping of whipped cream floats languorously - a concoction to be sipped Tenderly.

A song of very old vintage, Charmaine, accompanies a digestif of even older date - a sparkling snifter of napoleon brandy brought up from the cool cellar especially for the occasion. Now the time has come for murmured whispers over the candlelight and for the romantic melodies of Faithfully Yours and the haunting Chansonette. Dark Secret must refer to the bil, discreetly hiding its face in a remote corner of the napery. And although Legend of the Glass Mountain signifies the end of a charming dinner, it also marks the beginning of a brilliant evening.

**********

Perhaps your dinner lacks a few of the courses just mentioned; perhaps it's prepared in a one-room apartment and not in the kitchen at Maxim's. Perhaps the china isn't Wedgwood and the wine hails from California. But whatever the circumstances, Melachrino's romantic music will enrich your evening beyond measure.

IMPORTANT NOTICE

This is a "New Orthophonic" High Fidelity recording, designed for the phonograph of today or tomorrow. Played on your present machine, it gives you the finest quality of reproduction. Played on a "Stereophonic" machine, it gives even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. You can buy today, without fear of obsolescence in the future.


What I Say

George Melachrino. The Man. The Legend. When the history of romantic string music designed to accompany eating is written, I feel confident that our man George will feature highly in the list of movers and shakers.

Carefully selected to enhance even the most basic of meals, George's lush arrangements for strings makes good food taste great. I don't know what I did before I had this album. All my meals tasted bland and unadventurous. But then George came along and...

Oh, I should stop this now. Sarcasm isn't good for the soul. And I'm sure that George Melancholic deserves better. I mean, the music isn't to my taste in the least, and sounds to my uneducated ears to be competent but not outstanding arrangements of a number of middle of the road tunes. It's the kind of music that would be used for cut scenes in 1950s American films. Or accompanying documentaries about British family life where the nuclear family are gathered in their cosy living room powered by mains gas, listening to the light show on their shiny new bakelite and raffia wireless set.

I can't for the life of me relate what I'm hearing to the pastime of eating. I think old Georgie got the commission, threw any old tat together, and got some junior copy writer to tie it all together on the album notes with all that fancy talk about aperitifs and ducklings. In much the same way that the River-Boat Banjo Band album sleeve tried desperately to forge a link between boating and banjos, here the relationship between The Melachrino Strings and Dining is pushed to breaking point and probably beyond.

Let's be honest. This album does not enhance your eating experience. At all. I'm sat here with a Snickers, and it's done nothing for me. The joy of this album is all in the sleeve notes and the stylised cover of a civilised, perfect 1950's couple sitting down to enjoy each other's company and a light frothing of romantic strings. Speaking of the cover, I'm assuming that the white smudges in the middle of the picture are supposed to represent cigarette smoke. If not, then that bloke's cock's on fire and someone should tell him pronto. Maybe he could douse it down with his aperitif.

The one thing I can tell you though is that the fine people at RCA are as good as their word. They said that I could buy without fear of obsolescence, and I'm happy to report that this 48 year old record played perfectly well on my Stereophonic Phonograph. Obviously forward thinking chaps at RCA.

Almost finally, there's stamp on the back of the album that says "Return BBC Library". Seems that I may have the very album that accompanied a nation of gourmets indulging in their passion.

And actually finally, I can only assume that the modern equivalent of Music for Dining is probably the EastEnders theme tune. Discuss.

Tracks

Side 1


Diane I'm in Heaven When I See You Smile 
Too Young
September Song
Clopin Clopant
Warsaw Concerto
Domino 


Side 2

Tenderly
Charmaine
Faithfully Yours
Chansonette 
Dark Secret
Legend Of The Glass Mountain 

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Top Hits Of The Year 1979

Label / Cat. No: Chevron Records CHVL 177
First Released: 1979


What The Album Blurb Says...

To reach the coveted number one spot in the British charts is not only an achievement all 'home-grown' artists long for, it is a pinnacle which any band or solo artist in the world today would love to reach. Featured on this album are musical tributes to the people who have achieved that rare distinction this year. Our own versions of these hits are performed by a select group of session musicians and singers handpicked from the cream of the studio world.

1979 has seen a real potpourri of musical styles gain commercial success and so it follows that this year's number ones are, in their own way, all quite unique. From the synthesized sounds of "Are Friends Electric" to the brilliant harmonies of "Tragedy". From the futuristic lyrics of "Video Killed The Radio Star" to the foreboding lines of "I Don't Like Mondays", all twelve songs comprise an entertaining look back on the past year's music. Enjoy it!


What I Say

Oh, at last! I've hit paydirt. This album is a reminder of why I got into this field of work in the first place. Yes, yes, I know it's not work, and I've not been here long, but all the same.... Where do I start? There is so much that is gloriously wrong about this album I'm spoiled for choice.

Chaps of a certain age in Great Britain will certainly remember the 'Top of The Pops' albums of the 70s. Semi annual compilations of all the current hits performed by wannabes and session musicians struggling (though failing) to sound like the original artists. A cheap and cheerful precursor to the 'Now' series of albums which killed off the cover-compilation market in one fell swoop. After all, who'd want to have soundalikes when you can get an album stuffed with the original artist recordings?

My knowledge of music law is slim, but as I understand it, record companies own the recordings they release, but not the songs. To licence the recordings for a compilation album would be prohibitively expensive. But get a few hungry musicians into some dead studio time, churn out piss-poor versions of current hits, and you've got a licence to print money.

So, back to those 'Top Of The Pops' albums (which I'm sure I'm obliged to point out had nothing to do with the TV programme of the same name....) On every cover was a picture of a spectacularly zeitgeisty model wearing something light and flimsy (and preferably off the shoulder), and looking slightly surprised, like you'd just caught her having an inappropriate thought. Pretty much the same kind of thing you used to see on peanut packet display cards. Probably still do, if you buy peanuts, which I can't say I do all that often. Not that that's relevant now.

I accept fully that these albums had a fantastic reason for their production. Pop consumers don't necessarily want to buy all the albums, or even singles, that these cover jobbies have on them, so to have them all in one place is cheap and convenient. Also, it also meant you never had to think about what to get your Dad for Christmas. This year's 'Top Of The Pops' album? That'll do nicely.

But the 'Top of the Pops' albums were at least a brand, and were pretty mainstream. You'd always find them well marketed at Woolworths at the very least. But this item we have before us today? Chevron Records? Top Hits of the Year? I never realised that there was a cheaper and nastier alternative to the cheap and nasty alternative provided by TOTP.

Let's start with the cover, shall we? I suppose we can forgive that fact that this is the late 70s, and this brand of cheerful sexism was still de rigeur. I'm a little concerned by the all in one vest / leotard, 100% man made materials, chemical yellow number the dear lady is wearing, and I suppose the flower in her hair is more a gypsy / spanish allusion than a throwback to the summer of love. However, I can't help but wonder what people like Ian Dury, Sting or Bob Geldof would think to having an album of their material graced by such gloriously tacky cover art. I may be being presumptuous here, but I'm not sure it's really their bag.....

The idea that the fine people at Chevron Records try to present this as a "tribute" to those outstanding individuals doesn't quite ring true. Not unless their definition of "tribute" is "to cynically make money on the back of the songwriting of other people far more talented than we are" which, to be fair to them is possible. But as they commanded me in the sleeve notes to "Enjoy it", then I feel beholden to do so.

Actually, it's not that hard to enjoy. The pleasure may not be, as our friends at Chevron records expected, derived from pure enjoyment at the high quality of these recordings. Instead, all entertainment as far as I can tell comes from seeing how hard these poor people are trying to faithfully replicate the original recordings. Sadly, I can report that in every instance, they fail to cut the mustard, and the results are often hilarious. I can clearly picture some 'Filthy Ralph' style producer in his smoke filled studio saying 'ah, fuck it, that sounds close enough. Right, who's going to be Gary Numan?' Oh, and if you don't recognise the 'Filthy Ralph' reference, you haven't watched enough 'Filthy, Rich & Catflap' and you should rectify that immediately.

Part of the problem, I admit, is that most of these songs have gone on to be remembered as classics. Fair enough, who remembers Lena Martell except my Mum? But we all know what 'Heart of Glass' should sound like. And it's not like this. Sting's vocal ticks are so familiar that without them 'Message In A Bottle' sounds just weird. And who in their right mind would even attempt to sound like Ian Dury or Bob Geldof? It can only end up as a dreadful parody at best.

I mean, the guy who does Ian Dury sounds like he's from a public school, and is doing his best to sound like a geezer, but just comes across like his hernia needs attention. An effeminate Gary Numan? And don't even ask about their "Trevor Horn". Instead of using the vocoder (?) at the beginning of 'Video Killed The Radio Star', they just get him to sing in a squeaky, semi-strangulated voice.

Having done a little checking, there were five other Number Ones in 1979 which, for reasons best known to themselves, failed to make the grade for this album. Two were by artists already featured (Sunday Girl - Blondie and Cars - Gary Numan), but I do feel cheated knowing that we could have had versions of YMCA, Another Brick In The Wall, and worst of all, Dr Hook's "When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman". I'm sure you feel cheated too.

Tracks

Side 1

One Day At A Time
We Don't Talk Anymore
Message In A Bottle 
I Will Survive
Are Friends Electric 
Heart Of Glass 

Side 2

I Don't Like Mondays 
Ring My Bell
Bright Eyes
Video Killed the Radio Star 
Tragedy 
Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick 

Final Score

8.5 out of 10 - a valuable half point lost by the omission of Dr Hook.

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Father Sydney MacEwan Sings Some Of His Favourites

 



Label / Cat. No: World Record Club T877
First Released: Unknown - Probably Early 60s at latest


What The Album Blurb Says...

A man of the cloth seldom is able to take up a second occupation, yet it was as a singer, even more than as a Roman Catholic Priest that Father Sydney MacEwan was renowned. A Glaswegian born and bred, Father MacEwan studied at Glasgow University and at the Royal Academy of Music. This was followed by ecclesiastical training at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

On returning to Scotland he discovered that his fine tenor voice so suited to the fine ballads of the Highlands of Scotland, attracted the friendship and enthusiasm of John McCormack, the celebrated irish singer, himself a possessor of a Vatican awarded title - "Count".

MacEwan, while specialising in Irish and Scottish folksong, also sang and recorded classical, and semi-classical art songs and took this repertoire to Canada, USA and Australia on special leave from his post, attached to Glasgow's St. Andrews Cathedral.

This collection of songs presents a cross section of Father Sydney MacEwan's favourite songs - from Scottish ballads to Stephen Foster and Handel.


What I Say

There is a theory that states that those of us unfortunate enough to spend the afterlife in the hot place with the guys with the pointy sticks, will find ourselves subjected to an incalculably malicious form of eternal torture, tailor made to draw out your own, personal nightmares. I had assumed that if such a place exists (and thankfully, I seriously doubt it...) I would end up spending all eternity melded, conjoined twin style, to a Roman Catholic priest.

However, on listening to this album, I have revised my opinion to suggest that my own personal hell would be to spend all eternity melded, conjoined twin style, to this Roman Catholic priest.

But it was the very priestly nature of the man that drew me to this album in the first place. Perhaps I should explain, but when selecting which albums to review, I take absolutely no notice of conventional wisdom, and judge the contents almost exclusively by the cover. The more creepy, dated, ugly, posed, vulgar or bizarre the album is, the more likely I am to pick it up and give it a whirl. My decision is probably 90% based on how much the cover made me laugh. Or squirm. Or vomit.

But sometimes, it's the concept that sells it. I defy anyone who comes across an album called 'Father Sydney MacEwan Sings Some Of His Favourites' to pass it by without a second glance. It can't be done. You have to know. And then you get sucked in, and find that you're paying hard cash to take this delight away with you, to take it home, to play it....

I'm constantly amazed at what good condition these records are in. They've obviously been kicking around for 40 or 50 years, and yet they generally seem to be scratch free and in nearly mint condition. People have cherished these albums, and I wouldn't be surprised if each and every one had a prized place in someone's collection, only to be dumped, wholesale down the charity shop when they died. Somebody, sometime in the past was so enamoured with Father Sydney MacEwan (or at least his voice - having searched on the internet, he wasn't much to look at) that they went and bought this album.

And it's shite. Really. Dreadful, dreadful shite. I don't even care that he's a Roman Catholic priest. I wouldn't buy this if it were recorded by my mate Dave. It's just awful.

In the interests of fairness, I should probably qualify this. I'm sure that technically his voice is wonderful, and again, from what I found on this wonderful internet of ours, he was a fairly harsh self critic, and stopped recording aged 50 when his voice had "lost its bloom".

I can only assume then, that he made this album when he was 70.

I like to think I have fairly catholic tastes (see what I did there) when it comes to music. I'll listen to pretty much anything and try and find some merit. But this really isn't my kind of music. Maudlin old Scots singing maudlin Scottish songs in a warbly tenor? Just doesn't push my buttons I'm afraid. He sounds to my uneducated ears like the guy who sits in the corner of the pub, nursing his whisky, and sings, unbidden, at the end of every Saturday night in the hope that one of the regulars will buy him a drink.

But at least that guys got passion. These songs are delivered in a manner so devoid of emotion that I wonder if they really were his favourites. I mean, I have no singing voice. Really. I tend to sing through my nose (which is a good trick if you can pull it off (the trick, not the nose that is)), so I shouldn't be criticizing others. However..... when I sing some of my favourites, I give them my all. Passion, vigour, showmanship, the works. I can't picture old Sydney even bothering to stand up to sing.

And the arrangements of the songs? It's either Father Sydney and a lone guitarist or Father Sydney and a lone pianist. Not a banjo in sight which, after last week, is a bit of a disappointment. There's just not enough variation to make this interesting.

But, the biggest disappointment, the cruelest blow, is that "I Dream of Jeannie" was not the theme from the TV show of the same name, but some dirge about a girl he once loved (yeah, right) with light brown hair who looks like a zephyr or something.

In short, avoid. Really.


Tracks

Side 1

Beautiful Dreamer
I Dream Of Jeannie 
In Summertime On Bredon
Ye Banks And Braes
Home Sweet Home
Silent Worship

Side 2

Where E'er You Walk
Kashmiri Song 
Little Boy Blue
Gentle Annie 
Maiden Of Morven
In Praise Of Islay

Final Score

1 out of 10 - Just for suckering me in with the promise of 'I Dream Of Jeannie'. Doo do do doo de doo do, doo do do doo de doo do.....


I also think I should be congratulated on not making a quip about John McCormack's Vatican awarded title.
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River-Boat Banjo Band

Label / Cat. No: Embassy WLP 6030

 

First Released: 1961

 

What The Album Blurb Says...

 

Anchors aweigh! Splice the mainbrace! For the Riverboat Banjo Band is about to be launched - and you'll really go overboard about the tunes they've decided to play.

 

Yes, as nautical a crew of strumming chaps have never made such a happy-go-lucky voyage. Welcome aboard. First-class accommodation only, and a guaranteed smooth passage for all.

The Riverboat Banjo Band really make you feel you're having a carefree, away-from-it-all time. Why not sit comfortably amidships and relax?

 

Boats and banjos have a long association now. You can look first at the old Mississippi paddle boats that went out from New Orleans. Southern belles were serenaded against a background sound of churning paddle wheels by the banjo which raised its sometimes plaintive, always pleasing, melody above the noise.

 

Then came the time when the banjo was a more exclusive instrument. At least, there were just two in a boat. A girl reclining on the cushions of a drifting punt, a man strumming his banjo between spells of poling.

 

Today, we get the best of both worlds.

 

There are some tunes that seem to have been written for the banjo; they have that something extra at the nimble hands of the banjo-player. That's certainly how it sounds here. A dozen of the banjoest tunes you could ever imagine, played at a fair turn of knots by a blue riband crew of banjoists.

 

Listen to them and you can well understand why the banjo is enjoying such a return to popularity. It is happy music, all-pals-together music that could change a hornpipe into a twinkletoe quickstep, that could even make the Ancient Mariner forget his years.

 

All we ask as you play it, don't have your friends all dancing to starboard as the Riverboat Banjo Band sets sail. Your turntable could well turn turtle. So, indeed, could your dancers.

 

Which would be a pity, because before the riverboat drops anchor, there is a cargo of happy memories to be shared, and a tidal wave of warm, flowing melodies to enjoy.

 

Take a trip with the Riverboat Banjo Band and you'll be wanting the same, sparkling voyage again and again.

 

What I Say

 

OK, let's get this out of the way. Any album that features the sleeve notes "a girl reclining on the cushions of a drifting punt, a man strumming his banjo between spells of poling..." is going to get my vote every time. Such an evocative picture, and so unintentionally funny when viewed in a somewhat less innocent era.

 

But I should start with the sleevenotes rather than the sleeve or the music, because they are so wonderful. Obviously, the junior writer who was given this commission picked up on the supposed nautical theme and really ran with it. After all, they start "Anchors aweigh! Splice the mainbrace!" Now I'm no nautical cove, and even I know that a paddlesteamer or riverboat is propelled by a steam driven waterwheel, and not by sails, therefore making a mainbrace redundant. I'm sure I'll be corrected now by somebody far more educated in these ways than I am, but I still stand by my argument that whoever wrote these notes was stretching an already tenuous link. 

 

Again, I'll concede that banjos and riverboats might go together in popular culture, but banjos and punts? I return to our gentleman strumming and poling (and all in front of a young lady too - shocking). I've been punting, I know how difficult it can be, and I can tell you from personal experience, if I'd had to pick up a banjo and give it a quick strum between strokes, I would have become pretty disillusioned with the whole affair very quickly.

 

Our valiant writer does his (or indeed her) best to try and make the banjo sound interesting and desirable, but gives themselves away by saying that the banjo is enjoying "such a return to popularity" Clearly at this stage it had been properly unpopular for, oooh, about 80 years I'd suggest. And with good reason too. After all, the banjo is not the most serious instrument in the pantheon of music makers. It's the hyperactive young cousin of the guitar, useful for novelty songs, but little else.

This is abundantly clear on this album. When they stick to stomping banjo tunes, you can almost forgive these men for learning to play in the first place. OK, so it's not to my taste, but I can see how you'd be caught up with the foot tapping revelry that they suggest.

 

The album opens with a perfect banjo styled opening , and we start with a proper footstomper.

Sadly though, by the time we get to Moonlight Bay, the second song, they've overstretched themselves. Two cardinal sins have been committed - firstly, the song is slow and tries to convey emotion other than light hearted wackiness. Secondly, the banjo takes over a vocal melody, which it clearly wasn't designed to do. It sounds like an octogenarian Italian crooner. Or at least what I assume an octogenarian Italian crooner would sound like.

 

But with the next two songs we hit the motherlode. The banjos find themselves with their natural bedfellows: The trombone and the muted trumpet. The three pariahs of the orchestra sitting at the back of the class, causing mischief. They rattle along at a fair old pace, and after racking my brain as to what they reminded me of, I realised that either of them could be used by the Two Ronnies as the accompaniment to their musical number at the end of the show. Yes, they're so good, they could have been written by Ronnie Hazlehurst himself.

 

Yes Sir, That's My Baby is an odd one. It has vocals. Yes, I know. Vocals. On a banjo album. How dare they? Close harmony male and female combo vocals at that. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was The Brian Rogers Connection from 3-2-1 (or almost any ITV light entertainment programme from the late 70s). Sorry if you'd only just managed to wipe the horror that was 'The Brian Rogers Connection' from your mind.

 

The last couple of tracks on side one are more middle of the road banjo type ramblings. There's only so much I can about banjos, considering I know so little about them. In 'You Are My Sunshine' the banjo and muted trumpet take turns to replace the lead vocal line. As you know, I believe that the banjo substituting vocals is an abhorrent mockery of nature, whereas the trumpet sounds great. To have the two together makes for a real sweet and sour experience. And then Side one ends, as it opened, with an absolute benchmark of the style. 

Top that, Radiohead.

 

The big let down of this album is that after the stunning highs and soaring lows of Side A, the B side is just.... competent. It's more of the same really, shuffles and stomps, redeemed only by the fact that someone, somewhere decided to rhyme 'paddling' with 'Madelaine' to come up with 'Paddlin' Madelin' Home'. This would have been a stroke of genius if it had been a vocal track, but as it's just a bunch of banjos playing, you might as well have called it "Oof, my Piles are playing up something rotten." So really, they're letting the side down (pun fully intended. Sorry)

 

Sound Clips

Tracks

 

Side 1

 

Row, Row, Row

Moonlight Bay

On The Mississippi 

I'm Sitting On Top Of The World

Yes Sir, That's My Baby

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm

You Are My Sunshine 

 

Side 2

 

If You Knew Suzie

For Me And My Gal

He'd Have To Get Under

Don't Fence Me In

Beer Barrel Polka 

Somebody Stole My Gal

Paddlin' Madelin' Home

 

Final Score

 

7.75 out of 10

(It would have got 6 out of 10 just for the phrase "A dozen of the banjoest tunes....")

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Miki & Griff - A Little Bitty Tear

Label / Cat. No: Hallmark Records HMA 230

First Released: Sometime After 1963

 

What The Album Blurb Says...

 

Comfortable. At first glance it doesn't seem the ideal word to sum up the sound of Miki and Griff, but listen a little closer to the kind of songs that they sing to the way in which they're presented and you may, after all, find it a rather apt appraisal.

 

They're comfortable because everything that they do vocally is easy on the ear and has a warm and friendly approach, rather like the greeting of an old and much loved friend. It's an approach that this two-some have found success with ever since they teamed up and began delighting stage and television audiences. And in the late 1950's they began to find recording success, notably with "Little Bitty Tear" which, despite the formidable competition offered by Burl Ives, gave the couple a solid chart hit.

 

This collection of songs encompasses titles that Miki and Griff fans know and love. "Vaya Con Dios" "Can't stop loving you" "Tennessee Waltz" and "Hold back tomorrow" are the sorty of songs we expect Miki and Griff to sing and because they perform them so delightfully and with their own natural charm, listening is, well... comfortable?

 

What I Say

 

I had no idea that there was an English country movement in the late 50s. However, I should have guessed - growing up in Suffolk in the 70s, where the populace was 20 years behind the times, the proliferation of Country bands (I'm told I mustn't call it Country & Western) should have been a giveaway.

 

I'd also never heard of Miki and Griff, but the album cover just oozed drew me in. The slightly older lady with pearl necklace (ooer missus) and very 50s dress sitting on a mock stile while a slightly leering gentleman in acryclic cardigan and a side parting you could use as a set square leans in in a vaguely threatening way is classic charity shop record cover. There's even the kind of toy cat that causes nightmares in over-sensitive children lurking between the happy couple.

 

The music? Well, the music is incidental - I could look at these two all day, but the assessment of 'comfortable' is one I'd go along with. If only because all the tunes seem vaguely familiar. The title track, which opens the album, is just a distillation of every country-lite tune you've ever heard. The steel guitar is understated, and you can just feel the guitarist wanted to break out and wail all over it. Rockin' Alone tells a sad story of geriatric abuse, and in what was obviously a more innocent time, Griff (and I am assuming Griff is the male in this partnership) says he knows of some teenagers who would love to have an old lady like this to look after, as if she were their own granny. These days the teens would nick her pension to spend on cider. Probably. Yes, yes, I know there are some perfectly lovely teenagers out there, before anyone starts complaining. Which is unlikely, really, seeing as nobody reads this yet. Or possibly ever....

 

Anyway, yes, so the tunes continue. Vaya Con Dios.... well, it probably sounded exotic in 1962. I don't speak Spanish, so for all I know it could mean "take twice daily with food". I don't remember what 'I can't stop loving you' was like, and 'The Tears Break Out On Me' is a maudlin tale, comparing crying to some kind of nasty rash. What where they thinking?

 

I have to admit that my mind wandered by the time I got to Side 2, mainly because it was all so samey. There were moments where you could just tell that Miki & Griff wanted to rock out a little more, let rip, scare the older generation. This is evident by the Chas & Dave style chorus in Crystal Chandeliers. But thankfully they managed to just about keep a lid on things, and their light country stylings won out.

 

So in short, probably what you expect from the cover. Inoffensive British take on American country music. Comfortable? Like a pair of tweed slippers. But perhaps 'Predictable' is a better word for it.

 

Sound Clips

 

Tracks

 

Side 1

 

A Little Bitty Tear 

Rockin' Alone (In An Old Rocking Chair)

Vaya Con Dios

I Can't Stop Loving You

The Tears Break Out On Me

 

Side 2

 

Tennessee Waltz

Crystal Chandelier

 Hold Back Tomorrow

I Want To Stay Here

Have I Stayed Away Too Long

 

Final Score

 

6 out of 10

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