24 March 2009
Rolf Harris - Hav Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?/ Bluer Than Blue
Year of Release: 1966
The recent phenomenon of people claiming to "ironically" like Rolf Harris has, I must confess, perplexed me somewhat. To me, it's always been rather more clear-cut than that. Either you like Rolf Harris, or you don't. Irony doesn't come into play at any point in your decision.
This might seem like a peculiar point to make, but the fact is - or, OK then, my personal opinion is - that the longevity of Rolf Harris' career has more to do with his one-off status than any kind of "naff" factor. Some of my earliest memories are of Rolf Harris on Saturday morning television, seeming like a mad distant Uncle who'd moved to Australia before I'd got the chance to know him, and was now beaming all his adventures back on to the small screen for my benefit. It wasn't just the fact that Rolf was competent at what he did (although he unquestionably was) but the way in which he approached it which was attention grabbing. He was like some eccentric, hairy overgrown child with attention deficit disorder. If he wasn't boinging around doing impressions of kangeroos (or Rolfaroos as he called them) in a studio that seemed too small to contain him or his personality, he was singing songs that seemed frankly berserk. I loved Rolf as a child, and could barely contain my jealousy when one of my schoolfriends eventually met him at a signing. My appreciation of him as a grown adult is therefore not ironic, but rather something which gives me a degree of warmth and comfort, a fuzzy feeling of harmless nostalgia. There is nothing "ironic" in my appreciation of aged hairy Australian men pulling stupid faces and pretending to be marsupials. That, my friends, is called entertainment in my book.
What's astonishing about Rolf as well is that besides the famed "Two Little Boys" and "Tie Me Kangeroo Down, Sport", he appeared to have been given the keys to the pressing plant at EMI if the sheer wave of Rolf seven inches that drifted out throughout the sixties is anything to go by. His cover of the Singing Postman's "Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" failed to (*cough*) light up the charts, but the B-side "Animals Pop Party" is sheer Harris mania, wherein he describes the events at an unruly party filled completely with animals. Or perhaps just friends of Rolf's pretending to be animals. I can't make up my mind. It has a sad and sorry ending, with the boisterous beasts hurling Rolf on to the street because they think he's a bit odd, which I hope never happened to the man in real life.
I don't want to comment too fully on the A-side because I intend to do a Singing Postman update on this blog soon - that's a sad tale in itself and one which deserves repetition - but suffice to say it's a loyal if slightly higher budget cover version of the novelty folk singer's track.
Year of Release: 1969
"Bluer Than Blue" is a less impressive ballad, but the B-side here - "The Monster" - is a demented song about (again!) an outsider. Rolf adopts a variety of silly voices throughout the track, which is also festooned with excessive late sixties production values (the single sleeve I have of this advertises Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets" on the back, appropriately enough). For each voice he adopts, I can visualise in my own mind the faces he'd be likely to pull in a live performance and the quirky dances he would doubtless adopt, something I can't imagine being able to do for many other people.
Download both the above here
Sadly, I still haven't managed to locate a copy of the now-legendary "Boney", a flop single from the seventies which I've only ever heard a brief YouTube clip from, but what a Youtube clip:
Thanks to Out On Blue Six for bringing the above to my attention in the first place - now all that remains is for somebody (and it may be me) to begin an Internet campaign to get it reissued...
sixties seventies eighties novelty nineties second hand record dip psychedelia The Beatles one hit wonders glam rock KLF comedy easy listening library music garage noughties reggae compilations disco Bill Drummond eurovision romo/ new romantic Microdisney earl brutus mark wirtz animals that swim cover versions Morgan Studios Wales bob morgan creation embassy the spectrum Bam Caruso C86 KPM blessed ethel dora hall elton john Inaura Joe Meek Medicine Head john pantry peter cook Birdie Lieutenant Pigeon Peel Sessions Salad The Critters The Tages czech rock skunk rock the lover speaks British Gas Walham Green East Wapping Steam Beating Carpet Cleaning Rodent and Boggit Exterminating Association one of these days I'm going to cut you into little pieces pete the plate spinning dog