30 November 2022

Bob Rogers & Playground - Take Advantage/ Get Yourself Together


Respect to all milkmen and women everywhere

Label: Express
Year of "release": 1971

Hello readers. Do you remember drinking water out of hosepipes? Do you remember when binmen WERE binmen and bikes WERE bikes? Do you remember eating out of tins of Spam during power cuts and feeling grateful, and your Dad giving you a slap if you refused to suck the jelly on the top of the can up with a straw for his own grotesque amusement? DO YOU? And did it do you any harm? And do you remember the milkmen? Hold up, though...

Door to door milk deliveries may feel like they belong among Internet memes celebrating somewhat forgotten ways of life, but are very much still "a thing". My milk, for example, is delivered by electric float from Parker Dairies of Woodford Green who service the suburban East London area (they haven't paid me to say they're very reliable, but I will say it anyway - when I move house they'll lose my custom and somebody else should rebalance things by stepping into the fray). When I first started utilising their services during the lockdown of 2020, however, my next-door neighbour - who wasn't born in this country - was outraged, responding furiously: "Why are they just leaving drinks on your doorstep? They could get stolen. RING THEM AND TELL THEM TO DO THEIR JOBS PROPERLY! They should knock on your door and give it to you!" I tried to explain to her that milkmen knocking on my door at five in the morning wouldn't be welcome, but she walked off shaking her head at the drivel I was apparently spouting. Such is the lowly profile of the milk roundsperson in 2022. 

Back in 1971, however, business was booming and Express Dairies saw fit to hire seasoned performer Bob Rogers and plonk him in the studio to record a promotional flexidisc extolling the virtues of cow udder juice. Bob was by this point a popular cabaret performer with holiday camp residencies to his name, playing covers of the pop hits of the day, but had previously been a member of the instrumental beat combo The Ted Taylor Four who were with the Oriole label for five singles between 1958-1961 ("Fried Onions" is an interesting one).

For "Take Advantage", however, he croons away about the special deals your local milko could offer you, making it clear - as Benny Hill also did in adverts of the day - that you could also obtain other non-dairy products from him, including chicken, bread, potatoes and eggs ("take advantage, save your legs!") in all weathers. From a 21st Century perspective, this feels like an early example of direct food delivery which in its digitised form is the mainstay of all supermarkets who are serious about modernising their services. In truth, Unigate and Express and all their other milk round rivals and cohorts were offering such services halfway through the twentieth century. It's enough to make you weep with pride.

The flipside "Get Yourself Together" has nothing to do with milk rounds - clearly there's only so much mileage in that topic - and feels more like an offcut from a children's show, reminding us in simplistic rinkydink terms that we should all try to look on the bright side of life. It's harmless enough and wouldn't have offended the many purchasers of doorstep diary products (and meat and eggs) in 1971.

If the previews below aren't working properly, please go right to the source.


Arthur Nibble said...

Shame they couldn't have covered a song by Cream for the B-side. yes, I know, I'll get my coat...

Fanny Blancmange said...

With neighbours like that it's no wonder you are moving.

23 Daves said...

Ha ha! Oh, I wish arrogance and rudeness were the ONLY problem in this area!