5 April 2012
Lally Stott: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep/ Henry James
Year of Release: 1970
I'll bet if you asked most people who was responsible for the original version of "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep", they'd wearily reply "Middle of the Road" and leave it at that. But that would make them fools, half-wits, morons, ill-educated curs of the first water. Whilst Middle of the Road had a massive international hit with the dreaded tune, they certainly weren't the first individuals to press it to wax. The author of the tune Lally Stott put a slightly slower version out first in 1970 and had some luck with it in Australia (where it spent one week at Number One) and Holland and Italy, but generally speaking it failed to become the UK chartblaster we know and love now.
Whilst this bubblegum ditty might not make you realise, the Prescot-born and eventually Rome-based Stott actually had a very credible history in sixties groups which are incredibly sought-after by collectors now. Serving time in Four Just Men and the legendary Wimple Winch, he has earned his stripes as a soldier in the great Freakbeat wars - and the B-side here "Henry James" is a firm reminder of those roots. Riddled with psychedelic effects, screeching car tyres, and a pounding, nagging beat, it's a far cry from the pure pop of "Chirpy" (which incidentally I've always had a soft spot for).
"Henry James" was compiled on the psychedelic compilation album "Nightmares At Toby's Shop", and the sleevenotes incorrectly state that he "killed himself some time ago". In actual fact, Stott's demise was not a result of suicide, and involved an unfortunate motorcycle accident in Precot in 1977.
Astonishingly, a rather strange black and white promo video of Stott entertaining a group of rather senior individuals in the street has worked its way on to YouTube. Smile to yourself as they all regard him with what appears to be a combination of mild entertainment and bemusement, and wonder what exactly is going on.
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