22 March 2023

Page Ten - Boutique/ Colour Talk

Larry Page's men toot and tinkle their way through a Carnaby instro

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1965

If you have a five pound note burning a hole in your wallet, the Larry Page Orchestra put out some fantastic easy listening arrangements of modern pop hits in the sixties, most of which are now very affordably available on CD. One such track, "Zabadak", eventually found its way on to the Reeves and Mortimer series "Bang Bang" as the perfect accompaniment to arguably one of their most surreal sketches. The rest of the LPO's work (let's call them that, nobody will get confused) is usually cocktail lounge sophistry of a relatively similar calibre.

Way before the budget was stretched to an orchestra and before the Page One label was a twinkle in Larry's eye, the ten-piece Page Ten group existed and their purpose was broadly similar. Their output was always meant to be more significant than this solitary 45, but both sides show a keenness to put a quality spin on the sunnier aspects of easy listening. "Boutique" is, as the name suggests, music to swing your handbag to while parading around the West End looking for threads, while "Colour Talk" is bit parts "University Challenge" theme and the sound you might hear in the background of a radio commercial seeking to appeal to hip young bachelors. 

In common with a lot of singles of this ilk, it sold unconvincingly; this kind of music always performed better when spread across twelve inches of 33rpm vinyl, selling favourably in department stores to people seeking dinner party backing music, not teens with Dansettes searching for three minute thrills. It hasn't even really been a footnote in Larry Page's career since and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who has heard it, or acknowledges it, but that my dear friends is what "Left and to the Back" is here for. 

19 March 2023

The Bloomfields - The Loner/ Heads Hands & Feet - Homing In On The Next Trade Wind


Back by popular demand - it's The Futs plus orchestra! (kinda)

Label: Pye
Year of Release: 1972

What a peculiar find. The Richard Harris directed 1971 sports film "Bloomfield", featuring Harris himself playing the title role, was one of those British flicks which drifted into cinemas and out again without much fanfare or harsh criticism, just a general shrug of the shoulders. Having made only mild impressions, it then drifted to the back of everyone's memory holes and presumably onwards to some storage vault at the British Film Institute somewhere (it certainly hasn't turned up on DVD yet, though YouTube has the full picture available if anyone's interested).

If it's remembered for anything much at all these days, it's probably the lush, dreamy soundtrack overseen by Johnny Harris, which is held close to the chests of a few discerning record collectors. The two key moments from it are presented across seven inches here, and of interest to Bee Gees fans is likely to be Maurice Gibb's track "The Loner" which would have formed the centrepiece of his 1970 solo LP had it actually seen commercial light.

For a proposed LP title track, it's shockingly brief - less than two minutes of melancholy pop backed by soaring orchestral swells and an acoustic bounce. It's a pretty and sophisticated listen, but arguably too short, sweet and subtle for its own good, and as such, it's unsurprising it wasn't a hit. This would likely have been the case even if Gibb had put his name front and centre of the recording.

Also of note is the fact that he recorded and co-wrote this with Lulu's brother Billy Lawrie, also a member of his unofficial Beatles-apeing project The Futs. This, it's safe to say, has less of a "laid down on tape after eight pints of Newcastle Brown" feel to it. 

15 March 2023

Back soon


Hello readers. You'll be happy to know that my move to the Midlands is now complete. The dust isn't quite settled yet and there's a lot to sort out, and my wife and I were actually living out of bags in hotel rooms and AirBnBs for two months due to various agency and vendor driven issues, so it's been a complicated journey.

The next entry will go live on Sunday and I'll try to keep this blog updated as often as I can from then.

At the moment I'm looking forward to exploring my new town and the surrounding area, but some memories still nag at me. One thing I keep remembering about my last home is the fact that I lived only a short distance from a senior gentleman who always intrigued me. I'd generally pass his dwelling at night when I was giving my dog her evening walk; he lived in a pristine, modern ground-floor flat overlooking the beautiful award-winning local park. In the winter in particular I'd see him projected like a film through his window, illuminated by his overhead light. He was usually smartly dressed and wearing a hat, plucking vinyl from enormous, carefully catalogued shelves on his living room wall, often while settling down to enjoy a mug of coffee. I saw this evening routine of his dozens of times and through continued brief glimpses got more and more fascinated with his arrangement. 

He looked at least twenty years older than me and I'd walk past with frozen hands, jealous of the indoor warmth and his record collection, thinking to myself "What a brilliant retirement. What a fantastic place to live and wonderful things to fill the room with". Some people in the area would send out messages of their wealth and the fact they had done well in their lives through their large Victorian houses and new cars with personalised registration plates. Me? I always thought this man had got it right and nailed my own aspirations for retirement. I always hoped that one day before I left I'd see him out and about and we'd somehow have a chat about music, but it never happened. So I have no idea what he was listening to, whether it was classical, jazz, soul, funk, classic rock or even just the world's biggest collection of James Last records (though that would have been interesting too). 

I'm pretty damn sure his knowledge was vaster than mine, though, and I'm also sure that if he wrote a blog - and perhaps he did - the music would be an enviable selection and probably better, more carefully curated, than this one. It's inevitable. As I've established, he had at least twenty years on me, and I'm never going to catch up to that in any kind of one-on-one competition. 

23 December 2022


Merry Christmas everyone! I'm typing this blog entry from the safety of an old 19th Century fisherman's cottage somewhere on the south coast of England. Could I have timed my stay at such a place better? Well, yes. It coincided with one of the cruellest winter snaps in recent memory, and this place doesn't really have proper central heating and was somewhat draughty when we got here. Still, it's our cabin for the festive period while (you guessed it) the legal matters surrounding our house move go through their final motions.

It goes without saying that I have neither a record player here nor the means to digitise vinyl, so that's going to impose another blog break. It's also true to say that when I do finally get the removal lorries to turn up to my new address in the Midlands with all my worldly possessions, getting new entries online here isn't going to be my first priority.

How long before matters are resolved? Who knows? Could be a few weeks, could be a couple of months, could be longer, but keep visiting the site, or like our page on Facebook or follow the blog's Twitter feed and I'll keep you updated as best I can.

But in the meantime... I hope everyone has a good Christmas. Thanks for sticking by this blog during a year which has been riddled with breaks of this nature, and also a time where there are thousands of other distractions online. The fact I still have people logging on to this site to read my waffle about extremely obscure records is a constant source of surprise to me.

21 December 2022

Reupload - Next of Kin - Merry Christmas/ Sunday Children Sunday Morning


Interesting attempt at festive ska from Mitch Murray and friends

Label: MCA
Year of Release: 1969

Well, ho ho ho, what have we here in Santa's sack? Blow me down if it isn't a bit of cod-ska co-written by the songwriter Mitch Murray, of "How Do You Do It?", "Bonnie and Clyde" and "Is This The Way To Amarillo?" fame. Ho ho ho, off you go young man, get off my knee, there are others waiting, this record didn't bloody sell and I've got tons to get rid of, you know.

Mitch was, it's safe to say, not a man who had probably even holidayed in the Caribbean, much less been a member of a ska band. The Mike Leander production credit also indicates that there wasn't somebody from that background present to steer the ship towards those waters, so by rights, this disc should be a hopeless shambles.

It's interesting to find out that it's not terrible, then. It wouldn't pass muster with the average sixties skin who would almost certainly sniff out the distinctly Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da styled fake accents, but those cheap brass sounds, the raw production and the repetitive nature of the tune make it a strong parody of a late sixties ska track at the very least. It's unquestionably a cynical cash-in on a "current sound", but the attention to detail is impressive.