4 February 2018

Bill Oddie - I Can't Get Through/ Because She Is My Love

A serious crack at a conventional pop hit from Oddie, and it's a moody delight.

Label: Parlophone
Year of Release: 1966

Bill Oddie is, it's safe to say, mostly famed for two things - one is The Goodies, the other his birdwatching activities. He's also been no slacker on either front, given that The Goodies is one of those strangely under-rated shows which deserves more repeats than it gets, and his outspoken views on wildlife conservation show that his other passion goes far beyond mere hobbyism.

However, Oddie's musical chops have been rather under-explored. This is possibly because The Goodies put out a slew of novelty singles in the seventies which, while well arranged and written, weren't likely to cause the ears of hip collectors to prick up. A keen viewer of The Goodies, however, might have picked up on how sharp, clever and even absurd many of their musical parodies could be - "R-O-C-K Rock", for example, was a minimal and chaotic piss-take of fifties rock & roll which sounded both like a work of brilliant comedy, and also something you might have heard on the John Peel show at 11:30 in the evening. And if that sounds outlandish, it's not - Peel signed Oddie to his Dandelion label for one single as well, to record a version of "On Ilkla Moor Baht'at" in the style of Joe Cocker's version of "With A Little Help From My Friends".  

Going back way before that, however, Oddie did very briefly try his hand at becoming a conventional pop star, and this attempt really hits the bell. Beginning with the kind of slow, creeping bassline regularly utilised by The Walker Brothers, then slowly unfolding into an epic piece of soulful moodiness, it's a very good piece of songwriting and production with a surprisingly powerful vocal performance on top. Oddie is clearly inspired by Gene Pitney's melodramatic delivery, but his voice has a confident ache of its own. Not for no reason has this regularly been described as one of the best 'serious' singles put out by a celebrity (even Craig Charles gave it a spin on his radio show recently). 

The B-side "Because She Is My Love" is another showcase for Oddie's vocals, though is rather more easy listening than its more intense plug side. 

So far as I'm aware, Bill Oddie has no plans at all to revive his musical career, but singles like this one are enough to make you wish he'd had a more determined crack at it back in the sixties. Music's loss was comedy's gain. 

Sorry for the pops and clicks in the version below, but if you want to hear a cleaner version, YouTube can help. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you David for this Bill Oddie single !!

Greetings Albert

Arthur Nibble said...

Good knock with the Gene Pitney comparison. Bill was the fourth most successful UK songwriter one year in the 70's thanks to those Goodies hits.

john111257 said...

A rather smashing vocal here

Mark G said...

on "Because she is my love", I think Bill was using the same source material that Sting used later for "Nothing Like The Sun", Shakespear innit? Unless Sting had Bill's single all this time....

Anonymous said...

I Cant Get Through is available in pristine quality as a track on the album Saint Etienne Present Songs For The Dog & Duck, released by Ace a couple of years ago.