“What we’re going to do right here is go back. Way back. Back into time…”
RC readers of a certain age will remember these words from the glory days of Radio One, when they were used to introduce a ‘golden oldie’ - or a ‘revived 45’ for that matter, depending on whether it was Smashie or Nicey at the mike!
They were lifted from the beginning of Troglodyte (Caveman), a steaming hot slab of fresh funk which was a million selling single in the US for The Jimmy Castor Bunch in 1972.Castor was best known as a saxophonist but he first surfaced as a singer on New York’s late 1950s doo-wop scene, when he replaced a drug-addled Frankie Lymon in The Teenagers, no less. Soon afterwards he picked up a horn and by the early 70s was mentioned in the same breath as other R’n’B stylists such as King Curtis and Junior Walker, thanks in the main to a blistering solo on organist Dave ‘Baby’ Cortez’ instrumental smash Rinky Dink on Chess - which was used over here as the theme to ITV’s Professional Wrestling on Saturday afternoon for years - as well as a string of turntable hits of his own on the Smash label.
The career-defining Troglodyte was the third cut on The Jimmy Castor Bunch’s debut RCA album It’s Just Begun. But it’s the title track which interests us today. Also released as a (less successful) single, Begun has now turned up as the soundbed to a Bulmer’s Cider commercial in which a bunch of groovy young partygoers do everything backwards!
It’s an intriguing spot which poses questions about how much of the film was simply run in reverse and how much was shot exactly as we see it. Oddly enough it was first screened on the same day that mobile phone service provider three.co.uk aired its latest ad in which we are asked to believe that a Shetland pony is ‘moonwalking’ backwards through the surf on a Scottish beach?Only RC readers of a decidedly young age will need to be told that the music harnessed to this horsey clip is Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere from the band’s 1987 album Tango In The Night. But those whose memories of the era have grown a little hazy may be surprised to learn that this Christine Perfect-penned title was not only the fifth of six, (that’s right six!) singles taken from that LP but also out performed them all – including the edgy Big Love and moodier Little Lies – when it peaked at Number Four. Given that this ad reputedly chalked up over 300,000 You Tube hits in the first two days after it first went on air at the beginning of March, the chances are that Everywhere will mark the return of the Mac to the UK charts. And on the eve of a re-union tour too. Now that’s what we call synchronicity!
Going further back in time, there’s no chance that the vocal talent heard on Busy Doing Nothing, the track underpinning a McDonald’s ad aimed at reassuring us all of the purity of their beef products, will ever get back together again ever.
And that’s because Messrs Bing Crosby, William Bendix and Sir Cedrick Hardwicke are, sadly, no longer with us.
The three Hollywood heavyweights appeared alongside one another in the 1949 movie A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court. Only Crosby, who took the leading role of Hank Martin, the 20th century boy transported back 1300 years in Mark Twain’s original story, could really be described as a singer. But that didn’t stop the other two from trying to upstage him in front of the cameras in what has become an extremely well-known and much loved sequence.Meanwhile the song, which was specially written for the film by top flight tinseltown tunesmiths Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen for the soundtrack of the movie A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, has become a something of a standard – with acts as varied as 60s vocal group The Ivy League and 70s punks Peter and The Test Tube Babies adding it to their vinylised repertoires.
Finally this month we’d like to take the opportunity that a short-running Channel 4 trailer for a Dispatches documentary about the trade in designer dogs gives us to pay tribute to Patti Page, who died back in January at the age of 85. One of the best-selling US singers of all time, with dozens of massive country crossover hits to her name – including Tennessee Waltz which topped the Billboard charts for an unprecedented 13 weeks in 1950 – Page’s voice can be heard on the original version of, you guessed it, How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?
Written by Bob Merrill, whose portfolio includes fifties family favourites like You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry (later covered by The Caravelles) and She Wears Red Feathers and My Truly, Truly Fair (both big hits for Guy ‘Singing The Blues’ Mitchell), Doggie… became Page’s fourth US Number One in 1953 on the Mercury label. The song was a UK chart topper too, but it was Liverpudlian Lita Roza, formerly singer with the Ted Heath Big Band, who scooped those honours for Decca, becoming the first female artist ever to go to Number One in the UK. With a song which, reputedly, she hated so much she refused to sing it live!