14 August 2010

Second Hand Record Dip Part 59 - Tetley Take You Stargazing With Maurice Woodruff

Maurice Woodruff - Virgo

Who: Maurice Woodruff and His Orchestra
What: Virgo Predictions for 1969 and Virgo Characteristics
Label: Tetley
When: 1969
Where: Music and Video Exchange, Camden High Street, London

Cost: 50p

Sometimes when you pick up one of these records - which some second hand stores have started filing under a special "Oddities" section purely for the benefit of saps like me - you doubt it will be as promising as it looks.  Most commercially sponsored singles are just junk, too slick to be laughable, and performed by people watching the clock in the studio, meaning they'll never be good pieces of work in their own right.  Somewhere in my box of seven inches I've got Noel Edmonds introducing a promotional record for Royal Mail greetings cards, which I've long thought about uploading - it's just that there's nothing particularly interesting about it.

This attempt at a commercially sponsored record, however, which I assume came free with x amount of packs of Tetley's tea, is so flawed it's brilliant.  For the uninitiated, Maurice Woodruff was a well-known "psychic" in the sixties, having famous clients who included Peter Sellers, who made many of his career decisions through the man.  On this record, Woodruff sounds less like a trustworthy mystic than an invented Sellers character - his voice is weedy and hesitant, and the net result sounds untrustworthy and ridiculous even if you believe in astrology.  Woodruff has the voice of a gentleman who sold housewives black market materials during World War II, and not at all like the sort of person whose palms I'd choose to cross with any silver.  The over-dramatic orchestral music which greets Maurice is so blaring and pompous it also makes his eventual entrance seem even more ridiculous - like a malnourished, rapidly blinking man emerging from behind the Wizard of Oz's curtains.

As for whether his predictions are accurate, we'd need a Virgo who was around in 1969 to come forward and verify that.  Any volunteers?


The Confused said...

lol! I've got one of these in storage... can't remember which sign... I seem to think it might have been Cancer. Pity I can't dig it out to compare and contrast and see if Woodruff cheated by telling every sign the same things but with their star sign spliced in!

Bow there would be a scary reissue project - all 12 Woodruff discs in one place!

23 Daves said...

Yes, I can see this is one that might end up in "storage" with me as well, if not the local charity shop if my flat gets any more cluttered than it already is.

But I can't help but feel a bit of affection for something which tries to sound important but actually comes out sounding ludicrous. It's like something straight out of a sit-com.

The Confused said...

Indeed - that's why the likes of us collect these kind of records when they appear! They may be useless and irrelevant but they're fun to have. I often used to sample discs like these on mixtapes as between track links. One of my all time faves was Peter Casson, a hypnotist who did a 7 inch single on stopping smoking. He spends the first couple of minutes waffling on in gory detail about working in hospitals and eventually after more scene setting, he murmurs in deadly seriousness "Give me your mind..." - had plenty of mileage out of that one disc! Another fave which I lost to my ex girlfriend was a Canadian album on the Facts Of Life dating from 1969 which is a dialogue between a Mum and her two inquisitive brats... aimed at ten year olds, as you need not guess, the carefully scripted results were hilarious. I sampled that many times to amusing effect.

So, discs like these have their place and can still be used and enjoyed in a variety of ways!