Max Bygraves ~ Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be

September 13, 2012

I Wanna Tell You A Story!

Walter Bygraves was born one of six children in the docklands of south east London and his father was a boxer, he came from a poor council estate background and his is a story of  rags to riches steeped in music hall tradition. When he joined the RAF he used to impersonate Max Miller and that is where he picked up his nickname Max. My nan & grandad once told me he started his career singing in the Beacon pub in my home town Dagenham. Wonder if that is true!

Max had been making a name for himself on the BBC radio show “Educating  Archie” with the catch phrase “Good Idea, Son!” but in 1954 the British Hit Parade came into being and that year was a stellar year for young comic Max with hits with the Tanner Sisters ” Friends & Neighbours” and on his own with “Heart Of My Heart” and the classic ” Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea” which became a firm family favourite in our house. Also making her UK chart debut that year was Petula Clark with her song “The Little Shoemaker”.

One of my favourites as a kiddie was ” You’re A Pink Tooth Brush” which was on the radio a lot and I  met one of the writers of the song in the mid 80’s who was a fine old gentleman by the name of Bob Halfin who was working as a music publisher for a company called Campbell &  Connelly which sounded like a firm of solicitors but was one of the oldest music publishing companies in Britain.

Over the next couple of years Max appeared in the charts with “Heart” & “Meet Me On The Corner”. In May 1958 he hit No.3 big on the chart with “You Need Hands’ c/w “Tulips From Amsterdam” which became his theme tunes, both songs staying on the charts for 21 weeks that summer and selling over a million copies. At Christmas ’59 Max returned with the Christmas song “Jingle Bell Rock” .                    

In 1960 Bygraves bought the rights to an unknown song that he liked one of the songs from ~ The musical was “Oliver” written by Lionel Bart and the song was “Fings Ain’t Wot They Used To Be” and after that he never had to count his pennies again!

In the 70’s Max Bygraves enjoyed huge success with his Sing~Along~With Max albums on Pye Records which drew heavily from the nostalgia of music hall of the family medley sing~song! and he dented the charts again in 1973 with the Wink Martindale classic “Deck of Cards”.  Few British all round entertainers have been more loved.                     

I was lucky enough to meet Max Bygraves when one day he parked his beautiful Rolls Royce next to my wreck at ATV House in Marble Arch and he got out said hello and shook my hand.

I will never forget the number plate on the Rolls ~ it was MB 1. Years later Mercedes Benz offered Max one million pounds for that number plate and he turned them down.

When he was awarded the OBE his friend Eric Skyes rang him to asked him if he knew what the intitals OBE stood for! “No” said Max ~ “Over Blinkin’ Eighty” replied Eric.

Great little story from 2003 was that an Oxfam charity shop in Kent banned Max Bygraves records from the shop because they had too many of them already! Good Idea Son!

Advertisements

Dedicated Follower of the Kinks

May 10, 2011

“The taxman’s taken all my dough and left me in my stately home lazing on a sunny afternoon ~ and I can’t sail my yacht he’s taken  everything I’ve got ~ all I’ve got is this sunny afternoon”. words written by Ray Davies of the Kinks.

We have two things in common with the lyrics above ! The taxman has recently taken all our dough and with summer fast approaching at least hopefully we will get some sunny afternoons!             

The Kinks record “All Day and All of the Night” was the first 45 that I bought and recently on TV they were showing an early episode of “Heartbeat” starring Nick Berry which played most of the Kinks first two records ‘You Really Got Me” and”All Day and All of the Night” and they sounded so good!  Like a runaway express train coming at you.

The original Kinks line up was : Ray Davies guitar & vocals and main songwriter, Brother Dave Davies supplying the  fierce guitar work, Mick Avory laying down the back beat and Peter Quaife on bass who sadly recently passed away.

The next Kinks record that I bought was the LP “Sunny Afternoon” in 1967 on the Marble Arch label which was the budget arm of Pye Records and features four hit singles and some brilliant Kinks B~sides and EP tracks, this record was jammed full of gems from the mid~sixties and complete with the greatest LP cover!   

Named after their current UK No. 1 hit 45 the album kicks off with “Sunny Afternoon”  which has the trade~ mark Ray Davies lyrics and is followed next  by I Need You” which is so good it would have been a hit in it’s own right ~ pure garage metal  rock.

 Next up was “See My Friends” which has a repeat hypnotic Indian feel to it and reached No. 10 in the UK charts followed by “Big Black Smoke” the B~side of  “Dead End Street” and really sums up the Fagin feeling of being poor in dirty of London which a lot of us can relate too!

The end song  of Side One is the classic “Louie Louie” written by Richard Berry and was a big hit for the Kingsmen in the USA in 1963 but this Kinks version would have made the charts as well. Pure rock n roll!

Side Two kicks off with “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” which is the Kinks at their best taking a swipe at the Carnaby fashion scene in London and drawing heavily from British music hall traditions in it’s mocking scornful lyrics! and reaching No. 5 in the UK.

They seek him here they seek him there his clothes are loud but never square!  Oh Yes he is!  

Next track is  Sittin’ On My Sofa  : B~ side of “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”  and  a great up beat song with great bass playing from Pete Quaife.  

Next up is  Such A Shame : Appears on the B~side of the US 45 “Well Respected Man’ and again  has great RayDavies lyric and melody.

Track 4 is one of my Kinks favourites “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”  B side of  “Sunny Afternoon” which features brother Dave Davies on vocals and what a great job he does as well!

Also Dave Davies had a number of hits in his own right including “Lincoln County” “Susannah’s Still Alive” and probably the most famous “Death of a Clown“. Great to hear if you haven’t already!

Last song on the album is “Dead End Street” which reached No. 5 on the UK chart and is very popular with people who live in a Cul~De~ Sac’s but the rest of us like it because like so many Ray Davies songs it speaks of the Englishness of the upper and working classes.                                                                                                                                         

I like my football on Saturdays ~ Roast beef on Sundays ~ It’s all right!  

I go to Blackpool for my holidays ~ sit in the open sunlight      


%d bloggers like this: