26 February 2011

Second Hand Record Dip Part 70 - Nanette Newman - "Fun Food Factory"

Nanette Newman - Fun Food Factory

Who: Nanette Newman
What: Fun Food Factory (b/w "Morris (The Studio Mouse)")
Label: B&C
When: 1977
Where: Wood Street Market, Walthamstow, London
Cost: 50p

I have wandered through life oblivious to many things until they've been right under my nose.  I didn't know or believe, for example, that New Zealand truly was a breathtakingly beautiful country until I actually saw it with my own eyes.  I also didn't know that you couldn't really feed dogs bread until I gave a friend's "standard" poodle more than a fair amount then watched as, a mere couple of hours later, he emptied the contents of his stomach all over the front room floor from both orifices.  And I never, ever knew that Nanette Newman (or "The Fairy Liquid lady" as she seems to be known to most) had put a single out.  I'm not sure where that fits in the grand scale of things, but I think it's safe to say it's not an unpleasant discovery - neither as nasty as runny poodle vomit and excrement nor as breathtaking as Kaikoura.

"Fun Food Factory" is the theme tune to a TV show Newman hosted at the time, which involved lots of children getting messy in cookery orientated fun.  According to the TV Cream website, there was a large "danger" sign on the back wall of the studio which would flash whenever the children handled a sharp object such as a knife, to alert the kids to the potential problems such things cause.  I have never seen an episode myself, but the theme is irrepressibly chirpy, and makes a visit to the Fun Food Factory sound like a visit to some neon-coloured corner of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.  "There's something there for you to make/ funny fruit and carrot cake!" the children exclaim, which makes me wonder what they're on about.  "Carrot cake" is, of course, a perfectly ordinary thing to make, but how would one create either bemusing or amusing fruit?  Was Nanette playing God here, growing phallus-shaped future-fruits in the studio with the help of several genetic scientists whilst in desperate search of ratings?    Or was the fruit in question in some way hallucinogenic?  Thank God the woman was stopped after one series and forced to sell magical long-lasting washing up liquid instead.

The B-side "Morris The Studio Mouse" is a woeful ditty about one mouse's failure to get a career in Hollywood, with parts for mice having apparently all but dried up.  There's a weedy, self-pitying tone to the rodent's high pitched squealing which predates Orville by some years, and I'm not crying "Keith Harris is a plagiarist" here - for all I actually know, he may have had some uncredited involvement in this creation - but it all seems a bit too much of a coincidence.  Nanette sounds so despairing and thoughtful throughout that it's hard not to be moved despite the ludicrous nature of the tune and the character.  Interestingly, this particular track was co-written with Mike Vickers, who also worked with Kenny Everett.  Presumably Kenny didn't take up the option on the song first.

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