27 January 2010

Second Hand Record Dip Part 46 - John Inman - Are You Being Served Sir?

John Inman - Are You Being Served Sir?

Who: John Inman

What: Are You Being Served Sir? (B/w "We All Love Captain Ginger")
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Notting Hill Gate, London
When: 1975
Label: DJM

Cost: One pound

Please don't blame me for uploading this one. A "Left and to the Back" reader asked me whether I owned it a few months back, clearly having me down as being the sort of person who would have a John Inman record somewhere in my collection. Whilst I hate being so woefully transparent, I clearly can't help it either - and I'd almost forgotten I had this one until their message reminded me.

How I managed to forget is quite another matter. Hopefully most readers are aware of the seventies sitcom "Are You Being Served?". "Are You Being Served Sir?", the spin-off hit single, is so ridiculous, so self-consciously over the top that it's impossible not to love it. If you were to sit with a click-counter trying to ascertain the number of innuendos-per-minute there were across these seven inches (madam), chances are this would be to light rudeness what beats would be to a hi-NRG disco record played at 78rpm rather than 45rpm. No stone is left unturned, and to add to the ludicrousness of it all even the most innocent words are censored out with the noise of an elevator bell. The female backing singers even loudly declare "Whoops!" at several points.

Just when you suspected that everyone concerned might have exhausted all sources of humour on the A-side, "We All Love Captain Ginger" on the b-side carries on in the same stupendous manner with Inman playing the ill-suited role of a masculine, lady-bothering, military sort. His vocals on the flip veer interestingly close to Tiny Tim territory, which is probably a coincidence - Tiny Tim's visibility in the UK was actually quite poor - but it's a pleasing quirk.

Whilst it pains me to say it, this is actually a really good comedy record. The series itself was frequently tiresome across a full half-hour, but Inman's delivery here, and the material he's given to play with, is actually both endearing and amusing. It sounds like a tremendously carefully scripted piece of work rather than the usual novelty tat which gets tossed off (whoops!) for everyone's attention, and that's probably why it just about managed to chart (at number 39, if you're feeling curious).

I believe there is also a John Inman album out there somewhere filled to the brim with this sort of material. One to look out for, clearly... Now, could I have my hand back, please? It's trapped between your thighs.


Miscellaneous Fugitive said...

Oh, brilliant - excellent stuff! :)

The Confused said...


I saw Inman in a farce called "Pyjama Tops" in Jersey in September 1983. A memorable night. 10 minutes in, these latecomers arrived and tried to find their seats by passing the front of the stage, hiding their heads. Inman stopped and noticed this, walked up to the edge of the stage, leaned over and asked "Can I help you?" Not only did he direct them to their seats but he gave them a resume of what had happened so far... he did the entire 10 minutes so far solo multiple parts and all. An impressive display of his versatility.

Anyway... right at the very end after the curtain call, what song came bursting through the theatre PA? This one! It certainly wasn't for sale in the foyer!

Graeme Harper said...

Some years ago the DJ Tommy Vance put his vinyl collection up for sale, and it was bought in its entirety ( sight unseen ) by a 2nd hand record business a friend of mine worked for.They thought they were getting the definitive private heavy rock collection but when they checked it they discovered that Tommy had never refused a free record in his life and it was chock full of goodies like the John Inman LP - which found its way into my own collection. It's not too bad actually.'My Big Best Shoes' never fails to cheer me up.

23 Daves said...

Thanks for all the comments, folks... and if anyone has any more Inman anecdotes, I'd be quite interested to hear them.

Darth Hat said...


Mogs said...

There was, to my knowledge, as I have them stuffed in the garage somewhere, THREE John Inman albums!
'Are You Being Served, Sir?' is the first (and best), 'I'm Free' was his second one, and 'With A Bit Of Brass' (which is bloody awful) the third.