21 May 2012

Butch Moore - The Incredible Miss Brown/ Till Then My Love

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1967

Hey kids, it's Eurovision Song Contest week!  Back in 2008 and 2009 I tried to celebrate this wondrous occasion here on this very blog by showcasing some of the most interesting entries the contest had given us over the years, but the extreme dip in the stats on both occasions told me all I needed to know - namely, that you good readers just weren't interested.  

This entry by no means marks a return to my old habits, you'll possibly be relieved to hear, but it does tie in neatly with that fine fest of song.  Butch Moore was a popular Irish singer and Showband star back in the sixties, and has the distinction of being Ireland's first entry in the contest in 1965 with "Walking The Streets In The Rain".  That track was the kind of rich, intricate ballad one would have expected to find in the contest at this time, and despite Moore's confident performance and accomplished vocals, it wasn't really distinguished enough to cut through to the top five, having to content itself with sixth place.

Moore's career from that point on went much as you'd expect - he remained a huge live draw in Ireland until the turn of the decade, not really deviating much from ballads and showband tunes.  This is what makes the 1967 B-side "The Incredible Miss Brown" such an absurd blip on the radar.  Here he attempted the Carnaby swing, doing a piece of almost Chris Andrews styled mod-pop, a move so unexpected that numerous collectors and ebay auctioneers have since argued that this single is a lost bit of underground sixties exotica.  For once, they're not too far off the money.  "Miss Brown" is a little stilted and stiff in places, and sounds exactly like what it is - namely, a rather straight mainstream family figure trying to take on some modern styles.  For all that, it's still a perfectly pleasant piece of pop.  It's indicative of the era and seems charming rather than try-hard these days, hardly being up there with The Small Faces or The Kinks, but at least taking a very competent stab at a bit of music hall inspired pop.

The A-side, meanwhile, is as you'd expect - it's another incredibly well performed ballad which will excite you if that's the kind of thing you're excited by, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on commenting on it (apart from to apologise for the pops and crackles near the start).

Butch Moore unfortunately passed away in 2001, but will always be remembered and treasured as the first Irish person to enter Eurovision.  He may not have been the first Irish entrant to actually win, but he certainly set the stage for others to follow in his footsteps.  Now then, let's see what Jedward can do for them this year... (and would Butch be spinning in his grave, I wonder?)


radioman said...

Thanks for this. An unexpected pleasure. Now, if only Sean Dunphy had done something like this. Or has he?

23 Daves said...

You've got me thinking about whether any other (successful or unsuccessful) Eurovision contestants have attempted to do something contemporary or experimental, and I can't think of many, although I'm sure there must be some.

You could argue that Bucks Fizz took on New Pop in the eighties with "Land of Make Believe" and "My Camera Never Lies", but to the best of my knowledge Johnny Logan never went synth pop on us, Nicole's album contained no bits of improvisational jazz, Dana International never took on grunge... but I've a nagging feeling that some Euro contestant somewhere must have attempted to modernise themselves to appear relevant.

23 Daves said...

And it only just seems to have come to my attention that Herbie Goins and the Nightimers also did a version of "Miss Brown"... not much difference between the two, mind you.