Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Wilson Phillips Return with a Dedication

Wilson Phillips have returned with a new set of cover versions dedicated to the music of their parents.

Carnie and Wendy Wilson (daughters or the Beach Boys legendary Brian) and Chynna Phillips (daughter of the Mama's and the Papa's John and Michelle), have been life long friends and with this release, reprise a musical relationship that has found success (amongst other projects, marriage and raising families) for 22 years.

Their debut album back in 1990 sold over 10 million copies worldwide, bringing them three No.1's on the Billboard Hot 100, but this 5th album (they've not been what you would call prolific), brings together 12 tracks written and made famous by their parents.

With 7 Mama' and Papa's greats, along with 5 Beach Boys classics, the album is what I would describe as very pleasant on the ears if not particularly ground breaking.

The arrangements and production (by Carnie's husband Rob Bonfiglio) are immaculate and the ladies voices (surely they can't be classed as girls anymore now they have all hit their 40's) are as harmonious and angelic as ever.
On Stage - August 2011

I particularly liked their version of "Do It Again" which I remember the Wilson ladies covering previously with father Brian. 

The version of John Phillips' haunting "Got a Feeling" highlights just what a brilliant songwriter the man was even though his lifestyle was steeped in controversy.

The stand-out track has to be the a capella version of "Good Vibrations" which is the chosen single release and will presumably be bombarding our ears  through assorted AOR stations across the globe very soon. The forethought and cheek in trying to cover a classic in this fashion is commendable, it works well and is performed brilliantly.

In short, a pleasant release which will go down well with Wilson Phillips fans. It is somewhat questionable as to whether aficionados of the Mama's and the Papa's or the Beach Boys will be particularly enamoured with it however.

Also, it would be intriguing to know what Brian thinks of it.

Track Listing:
California Dreamin' * Wouldn't It Be Nice * Dedicated to the One I Love * Don't Worry Baby * Twelve-Thirty * I Can Hear Music * Monday Monday * Do It Again * Got a Feelin' * Fun, Fun, Fun * God Only Knows * Good Vibrations.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Songs to Blow Bubbles by

Bubblegum music (also known as bubblegum rock or pop) stood tall at its greatest height between 1967 to 1972.

In an era where teenagers were not particularly affluent, it was presumed that teenagers would buy singles as opposed to albums, therefore creating a singles phenomenon rather than the longer playing variety.

There were some good examples emanating from this era however, here are 3 that I particularly enjoyed, all for different reasons.

The Cuff Links were a studio group, fronted by Ron Dante who was also lead vocalist of the Archies. In 1969, they released the international hit "Tracy", which hit the charts as the Archies "Sugar Sugar" started its decline.

"Tracy" reached No.4 here in the UK and was quickly followed up by (in my opinion) the greatly preferable "When Julie Comes Around".

Ron Dante, now aged 66,  remains active as a singer, producer, and concert performer. More information can be accessed at his website by clicking HERE

In the following footage, I am somewhat at a loss as to why the band are wandering around inside what looks to be a restaurant, singing as they go and gaining admiring glances from many young ladies (and one or two not so young men).

I'm also pretty sure that the frontman is not the aforementioned Mr Dante either, but who cares - it is truly a great song. Enjoy.......

A year earlier in 1968, the wonderfully named 1910 Fruitgum Company had their biggest hit with "Simon Says".

The name allegedly came from a sweet wrapper that guitarist Frank Jeckell claimed to have found in his attic.

In the footage, please try not to laugh at the drummer, who would look better behind an easel with a paintbrush in his hand. 

Or the guitarist who starts leering with a strange smile, when the camera focuses on him. 

And especially not at the bass player, who I'm certain was an extra in many a Hammer House of Horror movie.

Last, but not least in our tribute to Bubblegum, is a song by the artist who had more genre hits than any other, although it is questionable as to whether this song really fits.

"Dizzy" by Tommy Roe hit No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic in the summer of 1969 and went on to be covered by Boney M, Billy J Kramer and Vic Reeves.

Tommy is still with us and reaches the milestone of his 70th birthday next month in May. His website can be visited by clicking HERE


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Three Songs for Liar's

Many songs have been written and sung about that despicable person who cannot tell the truth - yes that's him (or her), the liar. The one who cannot keep on the straight and narrow as it were and if bulls**t bounced, would be in orbit!

Here is a selection of a few interesting examples.

We start off with Charles and Eddie asking the age old question, "Would I Lie to You?".

Charles Pettigrew (with the long hair) and Eddie Chacon had 4 UK top 40 hits in the 1990's, this being by far the most memorable and a worldwide hit.  

Sadly Charles left us in 2001 at the young age of 37 after suffering cancer, Eddie remains musically active however, last known with Electronic duo The Polyamorous Affair, based out of Los Angeles.

Next up is maybe one of the most unexpected music stars of recent years, actor Jimmy Nail, best remembered for playing the iconic role of bricklayer "Oz" in the UK "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" TV series.

Jimmy (real name James Michael Aloysius Bradford - no wonder he changed it) has had a few hits throughout the years. He took this one "Ain't No Doubt" to the UK No.1 back in 1992. Much of the vocal is spoken, but he does prove to have an excellent singing voice later on in the song. 

The female part is sung by Sylvia Mason-James to which Jimmy often answers, stating she's lying. No way to talk to a telephone operator if you want to remain connected I'd have thought!

Lastly we come to California based mega group The Eagles with their massive hit "L'yin Eyes".

This version was recorded live on their tour in New Zealand back in 1995 and you do wonder if they are actually awake during the performance (I'm sure I could hear the audience snoring at times). 

Written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey with the latter performing lead vocal, the song originated after the pair visited an Los Angeles restaurant and witnessed the meeting of a man and a woman at a nearby table.

I was always a great fan of the band, but mainly with their more rocky numbers than this C&W influenced output (it is tempting to use the word drivel). 

It was often considered that many of their lyrics were somewhat "desolate" and it was hard to actually understand what the hell they were singing about on occasion. 

This cut was maybe a little more upfront than many others though, but the line "I guess every form of refuge has it's price" taints of despair.

Monday, 16 April 2012

One Hit Wonders

Listening to the radio of late, I have heard a few songs played that were UK one-hit wonders. All great songs in their way and maybe a surprise that further hits did not develop from them.

Here are a selection of a few:

First of all is "Heartache Avenue" by the Maisonettes. Formed by Lol Mason and Mark Tibbenham, "Heartache Avenue" reached the giddy heights of no.7 on the UK chart back in 1982. 

The 2 female backing vocalists appeared on publicity material and mimed on TV, but did not perform on the recording.

Next we go a little further back in time to the Bubblegum era of the late 60's and early 70's."Sugar Sugar" by the fictional cartoon characters The Archies, was written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim (of "Rock Me Gently" fame). 

With vocals undertaken by Ron Dante (lead), Kim and Toni Wine (who sang the line "I'm gonna make your life so sweet"), "Sugar Sugar" became one of the biggest hits of 1969.

The video below shows the original cartoon performance.

Last but not least and even further back in time to the black and white video era, we come to the Overlanders' cover version of the Beatles "Michelle". Arranged by legendary producer Tony Hatch, the song reached no.1 in the UK singles charts in January 1966.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Sky Another Day

James Bond movies move to pay-TV channel.

Terrestrial, free-to-view UK TV channel ITV has lost the right to screen James Bond movies for the first time in 37 years. 

The rights have been snapped up by satellite giant Sky Movies, in an initial one-year deal, to take effect this coming October, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first Bond-flick “Dr No”. 

Not only will the pay-per-view channel be able to show the full back catalogue of 24 movies, but they will also be able to screen the newest film in the series “Skyfall” as early as next spring, only a few months after its release in picture houses worldwide.
Current James Bond Star, Daniel Craig
An ITV source commented that this is a massive blow to the channel, as 007 is a great ratings banker.  Sky Movies are however,  delighted with their deal.

In this day and age of having to subscribe for most major sporting events and top class imported TV, surely this deal is only to be expected? 

A case of if you want it – pay for it!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Whatever Happened to Richard O'Sullivan?

At one stage Richard O'Sullivan was one of the most popular comedy actors on British TV. 

Known to millions in the UK, Canada, Australia and many other parts of the world, O'Sullivan was the "Man About the House", who went on to star in such further favourite TV series as "Robin's Nest" and "Me and My Girl".

But whatever became of the child star who became a 70's TV heartthrob, moving on to be Britain's premier TV sitcom star?

Cast as bachelor cookery student Robin Tripp, who shared a flat with 2 gorgeous girls, "Man About the House" reached an audience of 16 million viewers at its peak, with O'Sullivan starring in the title role alongside Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett. 

As was the custom at the time, the successful sitcom made its way onto the silver screen with a Man About the House movie version starring the same actors as in the TV version.

A spin-off series about a small Bistro soon followed (Robin's Nest) co-starring Tessa Wyatt (now an EastEnders cast member) and Tony Britton (father of Fern) and by this time O'Sullivan had become a household name.
Theme and titles from Me and My Girl 

Known at the time as something of a ladies man, O'Sullivan had relationships, firstly with Thomsett and followed by Wyatt, breaking up her marriage to DJ Tony Blackburn in the process. Their relationship resulted in the pair having a son Jamie. However they rowed constantly and split up never actually getting married.

With further success in the children series "Dick Turpin" and starring with Tim Brooke Taylor in "Me and My Girl", his popularity continued into the 1980's.

Into the 90's and his profile had decreased somewhat, but he was never short of work. He admitted in 1994 to being "a hard drinking depressive" and he largely retired from public life 2 years later.

Late in 2003, O'Sullivan suffered a stroke and it is believed that he has not been in the best of health since. 

Now  aged 70, he lives in a retirement home for actors and performers in the Twickenham area and is occasionally seen out walking in the locality.

The images show the years have taken their toll on the TV sitcom actor, but his antics on the small screen brought enjoyment to millions, as do the repeats that still appear from time-to-time.

Did you used to enjoy watching Richard in his numerous TV roles? Which was your favourite?
Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting him?

Please feel free to comment.....

Doctor in the House Star: Barry Evans

 Did you used to watch the "Man About the House" spin-off sitcom "George and Mildred?" Do you remember the small boy who played their next door neighbours son Tristram?
Find out more about him at:
Whatever Happened to Nicholas Bond-Owen 

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Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Whatever Happened to the "All Creatures Great and Small" Cast?

A while ago, I wrote an article outlining the later careers and present day whereabouts of the TV favourite "On The Buses" cast. Due to its popularity, it made me think of other series we have loved over the years and whatever happened to the actors that graced our screens. 

The first of which that came to mind was "All Creatures Great and Small".

"All Creatures Great and Small"" was a BBC TV drama series that ran for 90 episodes between January 1978 and December 1990. Based on the semi-autographical works of Yorkshire veterinary surgeon James Herriot (real name Alf Wight), the series brought many of his best-selling animal stories to the small screen.

The main character was James Herriot himself - initially a newly qualified veterinarian leaving college in Glasgow, to work in the North Yorkshire fictional town of Darrowby. His employer in Yorkshire was the maverick Siegfried Farnon, an established animal doctor of many years standing.

Christopher Timothy (James Herriot)

Christopher Timothy was not the first choice to play the lead role. Indeed after auditioning, he was offered the support role of Tristan Farnon, but successfully held out for the main Herriot part. 

Simon Ward and John Alderton (who both played Herriot in movie adaptations) and the late Richard Beckinsale all turned down the part prior to Timothy's success in securing the role as his own.

In 2000, Timothy took on the role of Dr Brendan McGuire in the BBC daytime soap "Doctors", staying in the role for 6 years. He has also more recently played parts in "Casualty", "Lewis" and "The Bill", in a distinguished 40+ year acting career. 

Now aged 71, he is 2nd time married, has 7 children, 3 grandchildren and a passion for Hartlepool United FC.

Robert Hardy (Siegfried Farnon)

A graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford, Hardy, when as the subject of BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs", described his BA (Hons) in English as "shabby", but he admitted to treasuring the time studying the classics.

Very much thought of as a classical actor over the years, his first continuing role on TV was back in the 1960's playing businessman Alec Stewart in the BBC's oil industry based drama "The Troubleshooters".

A distinguished career followed with roles in "Hot Metal" and "Upstairs Downstairs", not to mention many others. He has also played the parts of Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt on more than one occasion, to great acclaim.

Now 86, he was a close friend of legendary Hollywood actor Richard Burton and is an acknowledged expert on the longbow.

Peter Davison (Tristan Farnon) 

Davison, (real name Peter Moffett), was born in Streatham, London and grew up in Knaphill, Surrey. He uses the stage name Davison to avoid confusion with another actor with the similar surname Moffatt.

His part of Tristan Farnon very much came to the fore in the 2nd series, after Christopher Timothy suffered a serious car accident and was forced to spend the majority of the time studio bound. 

The character of Tristan took on much of the outside location work instead of Herriot (it can be seen on certain episodes that Timothy had major difficulty even walking at that time).

Davison has gone on to star in many TV series such as "Campion" and "The Last Detective", and was the 5th incarnation of Doctor Who. 

Most recently he has successfully taken the role of Henry Sharpe, the director of the London CPS in the UK franchise of "Law and Order". He also found success on the London West-End stage playing Professor Callahan in the Savoy Theatre's adaptation of "Legally Blonde".

Now aged 60, he has been married 3 times and has a actress daughter Georgia Moffett, by 2nd wife Sandra Dickinson. Georgia is married to David Tennant, who found fame as the 8th "Doctor Who", giving rise to the statement that "Doctor Who is in fact, his own father-in-law!"

Carol Drinkwater (Helen Herriot 1)

Carol was best known for her portrayal of James' wife Helen in the 1st three series of the drama, but also appeared in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange" and the original TV adaption of "Bouquet of Barbed Wire". She was also shortlisted for the long-running part of Leela in "Doctor Who", which was eventually taken up by Louise Jameson.
Carol Drinkwater
After a high profile relationship with screen husband Christopher Timothy broke up in real life, she decided not to continue in the role and was replaced by Lynda Bellingham.

More recently, Carol 63, has become a best-selling children's author with such titles as "The Haunted School". She has also written a series of memoirs about her olive farm in Provence.

Click HERE for a link to her website.

Lynda Bellingham (Helen Herriot 2)


Born Meredith Lee Hughes in Montreal, Canada, Lynda was adopted by an English couple at the age of 4 months and was brought up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

She received her big break playing the part of a nurse in the 1970's ITV soap opera "General Hospital". and is well remembered for being the Mum in the Oxo gravy adverts. She has played many roles in a TV and stage career spanning a period of over 40 years.

To keep up the "Doctor Who" connection, she played the role of the Inquisitor in the 1986 "Trial of a Time Lord" series and has had parts in "Second Thoughts", "Faith in the Future", "The Bill" and "New Tricks". 

During 2008-09, she played the part of Chris Harper in the stage version of "Calendar Girls" in both the West-End and on tour.

Often she can seen as a panelist in the ITV lunchtime magazine show "Loose Women" and in 2009 was a contestant on the BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing", being voted off in the 4th week.

Lynda, now 63 is known for her deep, husky voice. She has been married 3 times and has 2 sons. Her passions are reading and horses.


The news broke in September 2014 that Lynda, who has been battling colon cancer since July 2013, has decided to cease chemotherapy treatment as the cancer has apparently spread to her lungs and liver. 


Sadly Lynda passed away on Sunday 19th October 2014. Our deepest sympathy goes out to her family and friends. RIP.

Below, in 3 separate parts, is the story of "All Creatures Great and Small". Initially broadcast on the UK's BBC4 TV channel, it outlines, amongst other aspects, how the series came into being, the casting and the problems faced when they had run out of James Herriot's written material.

Part One

Part two

Part three 
(I apologise for the break midway through part three - I hope it doesn't spoil your enjoyment too much)