19 June 2010

Second Hand Record Dip Part 56 - The Grumbleweeds - Goodbye (Adieu Mein Kleiner Gardeoffizier)

Grumbleweeds - Goodbye

Who: The Grumbleweeds
What: Goodbye (Adieu Mein Kleiner Gardeoffizier) (b/w "You'll Never Get The Chance Again")
Label: Major Minor
When: 1967
Where: Wood Street Market, Walthamstow, London
Cost: 50p

I think I'm almost certainly correct in saying that this is the first time a song has featured more than once on "Left and to the Back". "Goodbye" was first featured in the form of a YouTube clip for Lieutenant Pigeon almost exactly two years ago, and at that time I must admit that I had no idea whatsoever that The Grumbleweeds had chanced their arm with the very same ditty in 1967. It's astonishing what you discover when you're rifling through the record store remainder bins.

Whilst their name may not be familiar to many overseas readers, and they certainly never managed a hit single even in the UK, The Grumbleweeds are one of the very few light entertainment club acts of the sixties to carve a career for themselves which has survived to this very day. Beginning their efforts in 1962 and finally going professional after reaching out to the public via the New Faces television programme in 1967, they have since produced award winning radio programmes for the BBC, and in the seventies and eighties even had their own television shows. Their original intention in 1962 had been to break through as a serious act - however, a natural inclination towards tomfoolery amongst the band led to them becoming more widely known as a comedy troupe. As a result of this, they are probably one the best-known flop sixties bands of all-time in Britain, if we're using chart positions as the correct definition of a "flop artist".

Perhaps inevitably - as this honour surely falls upon almost all sixties acts eventually - some of The Grumbleweeds earliest "serious" recordings have now become somewhat desirable amongst collectors, with one such example "(Hey Babe) Follow Me" being given a slot on the compilation "The Electric Asylum Volume 3 - Rare British Acid Freakrock" (no, I'm not making this up). Their album "In A Teknikolor Dream" (recorded with Alan Hawkshaw) is also something of a desirable item.

Whilst it would give me nothing but immense pleasure to announce that The Grumbleweeds were actually an unfairly maligned act who were writing ignored classic songs behind everyone's backs, the truth is rather more dull. Their output was usually, at best, pleasant beat pop fare. The version of "Goodbye" here is bouncy enough, and no more or less enjoyable than a lot of material Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich issued during the same period, but it should be immediately apparent to anyone who investigates their serious work that they made the right choice by becoming professional clowns instead. Certainly, it's extremely unlikely they'd have had a five decade long professional career by continually issuing material like this.

Still, the album and their earliest singles aren't without their online fans, and the interest in their non-comedy work has probably never been higher than at present. For my money, though, Lieutenant Pigeon win the "Goodbye" World Cup with their version of this song. But then The Pigeon very rarely lose any musical battles.


The Confused said...

Hmmm... reminiscent of some odd singles by The Barron Knights where they dispensed with the humour in the vain hope people might accept them as a more "serious" band... which of course didn't work.

Last heard of The Grumbleweeds doing some residency in Blackpool in 2008... might had been at the Pleasure Beach. Think they're down to just two of the "originals" one being the little one.

I did actually find some of their material on the TV show amusing... well... I WAS a kid at the time. Bob Monkhouse had his famous joke books whereas The Grumbleweeds had... The Beano!

I do remember rolling about with laughter at some Christmas skit with the little one doing some monologue that involved Santa going down the chimney of the Crematorium... strange what one tends to remember. And no I've never been able to dislodge their theme song from my brain either!

23 Daves said...

I keenly enjoyed The Grumbleweeds at the time as well, although for some reason the only thing I can remember now (besides the theme tune) was one of them constantly interrupting another act's performance by inflating some balloons whilst wearing a gas mask. Hilarity and corpsing all round.

Actually, if my memory and yours are anything to go by, perhaps they were a bit bleaker and odder than they've been given credit for...

Anonymous said...

Fabulous we need more of this, I would love to seem them live.