Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Instagram September Vinyl Challenge

The September Vinyl Challenge on Instagram was put up by Vinylbox at the end of August. There were a few on here that did prove a bit of a challenge. Here are my choices!
  1. Debut Album: The Shadows - The Shadows (1961)
  2. Westcoast Wednesday: The Monkees - More Of The Monkees (1966)
  3. Weapon On the Cover: Clive Dunn - Permission To Sing Sir! (1970)
  4. Picture Disc: Debbie Gibson - Only In My Dreams (45rpm, 1987)
  5. Animated Cover: Lene Lovich - Say When (45rpm, 1979)
  6. Defunct Label: Contour Records (1970s)
  7. Metal Monday: Anthrax - Got The Time (45rpm, 1990)
  8. Bootleg: The Beatles - The Lost Pepperland Reel (Compact Disc, 1994)
  9. Prince: Alphabet Street (45rpm, 1988)
  10. Gatefold: Harry Secombe - Secombe's Personal Choice (1968)
  11. Colored Vinyl: Kenickie - Nightlife (45rpm,1997)
  12. Compilation: Constellation (1969)
  13. Starts With a Q: Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody (45rpm, 1991)
  14. Soundtrack: Tommy Steele - Hans Andersen (1974)
  15. Duo: Nina & Frederik - Nina & Frederik (1969)
  16. Last Purchase: Lulu - The Most of Lulu (1971)
  17. Favorite Record Store: Pink Panther Records, Carlisle (1990s paper bag)
  18. Guilty Pleasure: Pandora Orchestra - Top TV Themes (1972)
  19. 80s Album: All About Eve - All About Eve (1989)
  20. Jazz Album: Nat King Cole - Sings With The Nat King Cole Trio (1969)
  21. Released In The 90s: Belinda Carlisle - Do You Feel Like I Feel (45rpm, 1991)
  22. Fictional Band: The Backbeat Band - Money (45rpm, 1995)
  23. Wildcard: Arthur Lowe - Bless'Em All! (1969)
  24. Detroit Artist: Bill Haley & The Comets - Rock Around The Clock (1968)
  25. Car On The Cover: Mike Vickers - A Day At The Races (1976)
  26. Went Solo: George Harrison - Somewhere In England (1981) / Gone Troppo (1982) / Cloud 9 (1987)
  27. Best Of: The Seekers - The Best Of the Seekers (1968)
  28. Sophmore Album: The Beatles - With The Beatles (1964)
  29. Country Album: Jeannie C Riley - Harper Valley PTA (1971)
  30. You And Your Records: Me and My Records (2015)
  • Follow me on Twitter @retrospaceandy

Friday, 14 August 2015

"I'll Get You Butler!" - Looking Back At On The Buses Star Stephen Lewis

Probably one of the most identifiable British sitcom characters of the early 1970s was Inspector Cyril Blake AKA Blakey in London Weekend Television's On The Buses. As a child I probably identified with Blakey's character more than any of the others in the show.

I don't know if it was that look of disdain when bus driver Stan Butler or cheeky conductor Jack tried to pull another skive on their bus route or Blakey's wide eyes and funny little Hitler moustache that quivered as he yelled "I'll Get You Butler!" when he found the cuprits out on yet another mishap but there was always something really funny and appealing about the character which Stephen Lewis created on screen.

Several years ago I revisited On The Buses and was disappointed that my memories of the show were not as good as watching it as a child. Many of the actors appeared to shout and yell their way through the scripts, and although the majority weren't as good as I remembered, Stephen Lewis's portrayal of Blakey still remained brilliant. It's Blakey who remains the butt of the jokes, the one who gets his comeuppance and usually the character that gets the genuine belly laughs.

Its interesting that when On The Buses came to a natural end in 1973, Stephen Lewis' Blakey character would go on to get his own spin-off series Don't Drink the Water, indicating the comical success of the On The Buses character that would constantly re-emerge in TV guest slots in everything from The Generation Game to a promotional film for bus passes in Wales over the following thirty years.

Lewis who also wrote the screenplay for the 1963 film Sparrows Can't Sing and also had recurring roles in sitcoms Last Of The Summer Wine and Oh! Doctor Beeching died at the age of 88 this week.

My favourite Blakey memory has to be  in the On The Buses movie which sees him as an unwitting passenger as Reg Varney takes a double-decker Routemaster onto a skid-pan. This scene was emulated to a degree in a Look-In cartoon strip in the 1970s, a scan of which I include here.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Andy Howells' Glastonbury 2015 File

Here's three performers that I've recently interviewed that are putting an appearance in at this years Glastonbury Festival. Keep up with all the latest Glastonbury events via the BBC website.

Enter Shikari are playing several festivals this Summer and played Glastonbury on Friday evening. Here's my Q&A with Rou Reynolds.

Lulu is as popular in 2015 as when her career began over 50 years ago, she still looks and sounds fabulous too. Here's my interview with the Scottish singing legend from late last year.

The Cadbury Sisters have just completed a UK tour and play Glastonbury today. Here's my recent Q&A with Jess Cadbury.

Celebrating Patrick Macnee - John Steed of The Avengers (1922-2015)

It was on Thursday evening whilst watching the 1968 Avengers episode Look - (Stop Me If You've Heard This One) But There Were These Two Fellers... that I learned of the passing of British actor Patrick Macnee at the age of 93. I sadly never met Patrick Macnee, but since I first saw him in his warm, glowing portrayal of bowler-hatted stylish super sleuth John Steed in The New Avengers during the mid 70s I have been a fan.

One of Channel 4's greatest acquisitions when it started up in the early 80s was its regular Saturday night reruns of the Emma Peel episodes of The Avengers. This was my introduction to them and on viewing them, I was smitten! What an incredible chemistry between Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee as Emma Peel and John Steed as they fended off colourful villains on a weekly basis from Cybernauts to a Positive Negative Man, each episode featuring an equally captivating guest star, among them Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Peter Bowles.

As for Steed and Emma Peel’s on-screen chemistry, there was never a question of a will they or won't they romance, the chances are the characters had already been there and done that, they'd got it all out of their systems and were now channeling their energies into saving the world!

I have rediscovered those Emma Peel episodes several times over the years, on TV reruns and video purchases, they still have a great timeless energy and flair to them, as I recently discovered with my 8 year old son as we found these shows once again on the True Entertainment channel recently. "These are much better than those other Avengers" he observed referring to the Marvel film franchise and  I have to agree, John Steed and Emma Peel still rule.

Of course Patrick Macnee was a very diverse actor on film and stage as well (in fact I only came across a programme of his appearance at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in The Grass is Always Greener in my theatre programme collection the other night). He played Watson to Christopher Lee's Holmes in two television films and co-starred with Roger Moore in A View to Kill while also playing the band manager in This Is Spinal Tap.

John Steed is whom Patrick Macnee will be remembered for and ultimately will go on giving so much pleasure with, as The Avengers continues to enthral generations in the coming years.

Certainly the next glass of champagne I sample will be raised to this incredible actor's legacy. Thank you Patrick Macnee!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Andy Howells' Tremeloes Interview File

Those of you who have followed me for a while or are aware of my writing work will know that I have had the opportunity to interview several well-known actors and musicians in recent years.

The real joy for me is usually getting to interview 1960s pop stars or groups. One such group that I have managed to interview three members of is The Tremeloes, well known for their 1960s hits including Do You Love Me, Silence Is Golden and Call Me Number One.

One of my first interviews was with Dave Munden, founder member and drummer of The Tremeloes back in 2012 who at the time was promoting The Tremeloes topping the bill on The Sensational 60s Experience. Over the next 18 months I would also interview two other time-served Tremeloes members, Chip Hawkes (father of the one and only Chesney) and original Tremeloes frontman Brian Poole for appearances on similar shows.

When interviewing such people I always try and get a few anecdotes about the artists career and usually these are greeted with favorable responses and replies. Naturally I accumulate a lot of material, usually too much to squeeze into a 700 word article, so maybe one day I'll put all the other interesting bits online too.

In the meantime, here's links to three interviews which I've uploaded over on my Entertainment South Wales blog.

Dave Munden interview from 2012
Brian Poole interview from 2014
Chip Hawkes interview from 2013


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