3 July 2019

Simon Groom - Can't Help Falling In Love/ Goldie

Rather poor cover of the classic song by ex-Blue Peter presenter Groom.

Label: Own label
Year of Release: 1992

If any moderately famous television personalities happen to be reading this blog, here's a little bit of advice for you - if you've recorded a track, and it's not for charity, and you can't get any record company interested in it, even though they surely know that it's guaranteed at least some publicity... well, forget it. You've clearly become far too invested in the process to understand something that's crystal clear to them, which is that nobody is going to care. Once you've blown a wad of notes on recording studio time it might feel wasteful, but releasing the thing on your own label and paying for the marketing and distribution out of your pension savings almost never results in a return. Just ask Tom Watt, aka Lofty off "Eastenders".

The enthusiastic, lovable Blue Peter presenter Simon Groom's cover of "Can't Help Falling In Love" is possibly one of the more baffling examples of such a vanity disc. Issued on his own label in 1992 in a high-gloss, full-colour sleeve and available in a variety of formats (a friend of mine bought the cassingle version as a joke birthday present for someone) it was clearly no low-budget undertaking. The recording itself is also clearly not the work of slackers, featuring up-to-the-minute Stock Aitken and Waterman-esque basslines, juddering rhythms and synth-trumpet fanfares. Anti-pop musos may find it somewhat "plastic" sounding, and it does veer close to elevator music at times, but it's certainly not unpolished. In the promotional appearance Groom made to plug the single on "Blue Peter" (which you really do need to watch) he was even accompanied by accomplished, smiling dancers, choreographed within an inch of their lives and doing their best to present it as a serious piece of work.

The problems really begin and end with Groom's vocals. They're frail and periodically out of key, and not in the charming, authentic or frail way Bernard Sumner, Robert Smith or Jarvis Cocker all occasionally manage. There's no anger or fragility here, no folkish earthiness. When his voice wobbles out of key, it's always because he's straining hard to hit the right notes like a Las Vegas pro and falling short. It's like a bar-room karaoke performance that almost gets it right, but doesn't quite make it over the line. He hasn't accepted his limitations or found his true singing voice, and a few more lessons prior to getting into the recording studio booth might have elevated this single from "bad" to "surprising but unremarkable".

Groom had appeared performing Elvis Presley numbers on "Blue Peter" before, and was known for being a huge fan of the man. At the point of the release of this record, he said that it had always been his ambition to release an Elvis tribute record. With this, it got ticked off his bucket list, but it didn't find an audience despite his efforts. Perhaps in the end, that didn't matter all that much to him.

The B-side by the Simon Groom Band seems to be a piece of library music named in dedication to his faithful dog "Goldie", which - inappropriately for a Golden Retriever - sounds in places like it could be one of the tunes from the arcade game "Out Run". Had this single sold in better quantities, perhaps he'd have taken his companion for a spin down a Californian freeway in celebration.

Groom still works as a director, presenter and journalist and has produced a number of shows for the BBC. His recording career, however, went no further after this, and no explanations have been offered for this peculiar anomaly since. Perhaps he read a copy of the KLF's book "The Manual - How To Have A Number One The Easy Way" and got far too carried away. If so, I hope he picked up a refund.


oliver. said...

This is one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard. Thanks?

Arthur Nibble said...

Simon’s first ‘note’ tells you all you need to know.

23 Daves said...

Thanks both.

Remember, Left and to the Back isn't just there for the nice things in life.

VanceMan said...

I just watched the Blue Peter appearance and all I can think is, "Didn't he have any friends? Would no one tell him the truth?" So, like Oliver said, "Thanks?"