14 July 2010
Kenny Everett - Nice Time
Year of Release: 1969
Kenny Everett's music back catalogue is rather slight to say the least. His media career in radio and television comedy in Britain succeeded in a manner most people specialising in only one particular area would garrote their grannies for, but so far as the pop charts are concerned, only the rather dubious "Snot Rap" did well for cuddly Ken (number 9 in 1983, if you must know). Well, he couldn't expect to have everything.
Yet it probably shouldn't surprise us to learn that Everett tried his hardest to have a bona-fide, non-novelty hit in the sixties as well. Firstly, DJs from Tony Blackburn to Simon Dee were trying their hand at it too - with frequently distressing results - and also there always seemed to be an element of the frustrated pop star about him. He took drugs with John Lennon, adored Harry Nilsson enough to cover two of his songs ("Without Her" and "It's Been So Long") and generally seemed like a potential pop star to some.
"Nice Time" is probably his last "serious" stab at a single, and also acted as a TV theme for an Everett series of the same name. It's at least two years too late stylistically, but essentially this is toytown British psychedelia with a rich, chirpy arrangement and Beatles-esque lyrics (although by this point The Beatles themselves had gone back to basics). The entire treatment sounds not unlike an Idle Race album track, of whom Everett was a huge fan - so perhaps that's no coincidence. You'd have to be a miserable bastard not to at least be marginally cheered by the whole thing, even if the chorus isn't immediately apparent.
Much better, though, is the flip "And Now For A Little Train Number", probably one of the few pop songs in existence to glorify the life of the humble trainspotter. Beckoned in by a brass band opening, then continuing into a particularly strident first verse, the delicate and matter-of-fact observations within are almost worthy of Ray Davies at his finest. Whilst sitting in Birmingham station "watching British Rail pass painlessly through the heart of Britain", Everett muses about whether or not he should show somebody his collection of new train numbers when he gets home. "On second thoughts I fear this kindly gesture may likely bore you" he shrugs sadly, adding "I won't come home". What, ever? You'll stay forever in the train sidings collecting numbers until somebody appreciates your efforts, Ken? Why? Presumably he means he won't come home immediately...
Whatever the meaning behind this track, it's an endearing piece of work which could and should appear on psychedelic compilations, but mostly hasn't, presumably because Everett's face just doesn't fit the party. Oh, and probably partly due to the small matter of "Snot Rap" as well...
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