23 May 2011
Medium Wave Band - Radio
Year of Release: 1974
The hiss and crackle of the BBC Light Programme through a Bakelite radio set, the treble-heavy brass and string sounds, the light-hearted, humorous lyrics about far-flung colonial outposts... the pop music of the early part of the twentieth century may seem to have been revived relatively infrequently, but there have been patches of activity here and there. The Bonzo Dog Band are the most obvious example if we're naming revivalists, but the classic pre-45 rpm pop obsessions of Tiny Tim, the New Vaudeville Band, The Pasadena Roof Orchestra, and even odd rogue examples like Sting's "Spread a Little Happiness" have all echoed that era. And if you really thought it was safe to avoid now, a new craze for Shellac Discos is sweeping London, where the DJs play only 78s. The old music hall and showtime world is, for all its seeming irrelevance, fairly irrepressible.
The Medium Wave Band here demonstrate how to do it with a reasonable degree of faith, trying their hardest to recall the production values of those days where dogs stared down gramophone horns and after-dinner sherries were supped before cranking up the player. It's not quite up to the Bonzo Dog Band standards, but it's still a charming oddity which sings the praises of radio. Queen's rather more orthodox attempt at lionising that form of broadcasting was considerably more successful, however, and this novelty item failed to fly out of the shops. Still, enough copies of it turn up to convince me that it can't be too rare, and therefore must have shifted some units at the time.
Who The Medium Wave band are or were is less clear, and my guess would be that they were session musicians pulled into Southern Studios with the aim of performing on a novelty record. They are almost certainly not the sixties pop act Davey Payne and The Medium Wave. As ever, if you know who they are, get in touch. This tune has been cheering me up lately, as it's utterly impossible not to warm to a record that mentions "Housewife's Choice" and "Hancock's Half Hour" in a polite, chipper tone.
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