13 January 2009

Second Hand Record Dip Part 24 - Federation - Blake's 7 Disco

Blake's 7 Disco

Who: Federation
What: Blake's 7 Disco (b/w "Disco Jimmy")
Label: Beeb
When: 1979
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden
Cost: Two pounds (reduced from three pounds - I could almost feel cheerful about that)

Yes, another example of a reworked or otherwise tampered television theme finds its way into the "Left and to the Back" archives, although to be frank in this case it's easy to see what the BBC were playing at. They'd already released an approximation of the theme tune in 1978 (rather than the theme itself - hear here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMsvrS2IeXQ) and presumably thought that a cult sci-fi hit like "Blake's Seven" was always going to be good for a bit of milking. Hence (presumably) this "disco" version of the theme emerged in 1979 as well. And why did they stop there, you have to wonder? Why not a whole album full of alternate versions of the "Blake's Seven" theme done in a whole wide range of styles?

Perhaps the full stop to any such grand schemes coming into fruition really had to come when this flopped, and I'll be blunt, that might have a lot to do with the fact that it really isn't much cop - even the most desperate sci-fi completist would turn their noses up. Driven by a squeaky synth rendition of the theme which sounds for all the world as if it's being sung by Sweep (now actually, that would have been a version worth hearing) some hideous, half-asleep psuedo-funky basslines, and the irritating and unrealistic "handclap"* noise on a drum machine, this could be the demonstration setting on a Rumbelows home MIDI synthesiser unit and nobody would be any the wiser. It sounds like the work of session people who despised what they were being asked to do, and wanted to get the whole exercise over with as swiftly as possible so they could nip down to the pub.

I aim to upload a compilation of novelty tracks to this blog very soon, and in that there should hopefully be at least some evidence that for all their disposability, the best novelty records contributed something slightly interesting - if unfashionable - to the world of pop. As three minutes slices of entertainment they frequently only got irritating purely because Radio One DJs didn't seem to know when the joke had finished and insisted on playing them to death. For every weird or witty novelty disc there are at least four or five cash-ins that stink, however, and I don't think anybody could deny this is down there with the worst of them. "Blake's Seven Disco"? I challenge you to get on the dancefloor to this one, matey.

More interesting - and perplexing - is the flipside "Disco Jimmy", which so far as I know appears to have no connections with the programme at all, and just consists of some bagpipes, a disco beat, and a drunken Scotsman sounding off, although I think it's safe to say that the man isn't a native.

Equally confusing is the "Beeb" label, which seemed to run parallel to the BBC label in the seventies, but didn't really have a different release policy at all. You wouldn't get away with that now without the tabloid press running a week of headlines about the Beeb wasting licence payer's money. Nice cheerful picture of a bee in the logo, though.

(*Why did drum machines always used to have this option? Were handclaps something people desperately needed to simulate in the late seventies and eighties, due to a shortage of willing clappers?)



FeedbackReport said...

'Beeb' was, apparently, set up specifically to handle singles that it was wrongly believed stood a good chance of being chartbound in a conventional sense... the only other releases I'm aware of on the label are 'Record Breakers' by Roy Castle and 'Play Away' by Lionel Morton.

23 Daves said...

So Roy Castle was considered to be a chartbound sound? How curious.

According to the brilliant seventies record labels website (http://www.7tt77.co.uk/) they released a whole string of singles, actually, and it seems like "Blake's 7 Disco" may have been the last (the final straw, perhaps?) They even released singles by Gene Vincent and Don MacLean to start with...

There was also Super Beeb who seemed to issue albums, but I know next to nothing about them.

FeedbackReport said...

Take it you've not heard the Roy Castle single? It's actually a pretty amazing funked-up take on the opening theme song (not the better remembered 'Dedication'), and includes the immortal line "the whole sporting would would applaud it, The McWhirters, mmmm, they would record it". And have you noticed the all too obvious similarity between 'Blake's 7 Disco' (which I'm informed was originally written with lyrics!) and Pulp's 'We Can Dance Again'?

The Beeb-released themes from Angels, On The Move and Gangsters are well worth hearing too... as for 'STILGOE, Richard And Valerie Singleton 'Suffering From Inflation'', that has now become my new musical holy grail.

23 Daves said...

I actually hadn't noticed the similarity between Pulp's "We Can Dance Again" and "Blake's 7 Disco", but now I'm forced to reflect I have to admit you do have a point! There again, I know "We Can Dance Again" is lauded by many fans as a lost great song, but I always thought it was one of their weaker out-takes, and would have been a disaster as a single (as it was mooted to be at one point).

Anonymous said...

now this is just too funky :) (p.s -thanks for the link to my blog-i've put yours on mine )

Anonymous said...

Please please please could you reupload this, as I'm desperate to hear it and I can't download it without filling in some survey or other.

Yes, I AM that sad and piteous target audience for this piece of music !

23 Daves said...

The single is still available by Megaupload if you follow the Megaupload link.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you ! Most sincerely !

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you, most sincerely !

I'm a huge Blake's 7 fan, and though this is undeniable tat, I'm so pleased to have finally heard it.