Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The Night Has a Thousand Aies

I found this on an old 'New Entertainer' posting (there's a useful site for old, deleted web-pages at www.archive.org - yes, nothing is ever truly lost...)

I was sorry to note, while whipping through the local news in one of our ‘newspapers’, that Tony Meehan had died. Although his connections with this area were decidedly slim (having never been to Spain in his life), it was good to know that I wasn’t his only fan south of Calais. Tony Meehan was the drummer for Cliffie for a short while, before breaking into stardom (of a type) with another ex-Shadow musician, a guitarist called Jet Harris. They had two minor hits (reminiscent of Hank Marvin) called Diamonds and Scarlet O’Hara, under the name of ‘Jet and Tony’. Tony went on to become a bus conductor. I have a copy of their EP (two songs a side) with those two aforementioned pieces (Where are you Spectrum when we need you!) and two rather uncertain ‘flip side’ numbers called Footstomp and Doing the Hully Gully, where the two musicians were unwisely persuaded to sing.

I mention these two forgotten treasures here as the titles refer to particular dance-styles which must have had some short and fleeting fame in 1963 (Yep – we’re going back a-ways). I started my own dancing career on a rather low note a few years after the Hully Gully had returned to obscurity and the popular lurch of later years was still a twinkle in a Hippie’s brain. That particular evening, I had escaped the confines of school by climbing out of a handy window and I had gone down to the local ‘Townie’s club’. Public school versus the local community, in case you missed the point. So, I’m dressed in a suit and tie, drinking a Coke, which was all that Len was going to serve his customers at the social club, smoking a most enjoyable fag – which explains why I’d vacated the school for the nonce – and ‘eyeing the talent’.
After a long space of teenage angst, I eventually summoned up the nerve to go and ask a pretty girl over in a clutch on the other side of the room for a dance to Len’s record, which it seems to me might have been Norman Greenbaum, who I believe has also never been to Spain. ‘Cooee’, I said, ‘wouldja like to dance?’ She opened her mouth to reply something along the lines of fook orf or whatever. The accent! The voice! Crushed, I barely noticed the beating I got an hour later having returned to school-life through the window and into the presence of the House Master.
My next attempt at dancing occurred in Mojácar. I was a few months older and it was the holidays. I was at Trader John’s drinking and dancing establishment on the playa, locally known as ‘The Congo’. John Benbow, reputed to have Killed a Man, ran this truly original bar, built of stone and thatch like a jungle hut. Another fellow, Carlos, an ex bodyguard and killer from Trujillo’s Dominican Republic, worked the record player. A really quite enormous, tall and cheerful Australian, known inevitably as Big Sue, and equally inevitably attached to a tiny boyfriend, pulled me to the dance floor. ‘Aw, there’s nothing to it!’ She was spot on. I danced for six hours straight. It was the time of Soul music. Sam n Dave and Wilson Pickett. Yes, this stuff was good (makes another note to call Spectrum).

I was wondering if people still danced these days. The music of these times is truly awful. Not bad or uninspired like Bubblegum. Not gloomy like Leonard Cohen, or dated like Blood, Sweat and Tears or too bloody long like Inna Gadda Da Vida. Just numbingly, unspeakably, cripplingly dire. You can’t dance to this crap! You can’t even listen to it. Some bars run this stuff (preferred by the kids, and good luck to them) for their middle-aged customers. What are they thinking? So, I asked the kids. OK, pretend that you like this stuff. Pretend for the sake of argument that it’s good. My question is this. Do you dance to these horrid computer generated riffs with thumpy-thump backing and the poetry of a public lavatory? Or how about, can you hum one of them for me?
Come back Jet and Tony, come back The Shadows, come back Billy Fury, Come back Bobby Vee. All is forgiven.


LadyLuz said...

I do love your blog - so interesting and entertaining.

Lenox said...

Why, thanks.
It's fun writing these articles.