Archive: History

Here is the final Eurovision Song Contest clip of the week. This one relates to a post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about a disastrous One O’clock News, because this also features the talkback from the director.

Stewart Morris seems to be having a bit of a bad day at the office during the live broadcast of the 1977 Eurovision Song Contest.

There is more about the 1977 broadcast, along with a few other Eurovision Song Contests, in this clip below.

It is the Eurovision Song Contest this week. I have to admit to quite enjoying the Eurovision Song Contest.

It is a good excuse to post this brilliant Belgian effort from 1980 — Euro-vision by Telex.

Telex said they had hoped to finish last. But they were thwarted by Greece, Portugal and the UK, whose juries all awarded the song points. Portugal even gave them 10 points! So Belgium came 17th out of 19 songs.

The BBC have just posted this wonderful slideshow about the Radiophonic Workshop. Some nice photographs from the unit’s history from its inception in 1958 onwards.

Via @cobaltmale.

The Seasons cover

The Seasons is one of those albums widely talked about but seldom heard. I guess you could call it a cult classic.

“Discovered” in charity shops about a decade ago, this album has grown in stature but has remained unavailable — until now.┬áTrunk Records (who else?) have managed to sort out a proper reissue.

Originally released in 1969, The Seasons is an album of its time. Part of the BBC’s educational Drama Workshop project, it was designed school teachers to use in improvisational dance lessons. But you would struggle to guess that today.

The music, produced by the Radiophonic Workshop’s David Cain, is experimental, dark and challenging. The accompanying poetry, by Ronald Duncan, is at times disturbing. It is sternly delivered by Derek Bowskill.

Each month of the year has its own track, with the music and poetry designed to sum up that month. Then, at the end of album are additional tracks — one for each of the four seasons, and one for the year.

The liner notes say:

It wonderfully sums up a special time in British education and sound, when people really believed their children could deal with challenging ways of learning.

Kids frolicking in the classroom is not exactly the notion that is invoked by these poems. Take this short extract from February:

When winter whips
    the gaunt elms shudder
Within the groin of grief
    their branches breaking.

But, of course, it is the strange and dark nature of this record that makes it so appealing. As you would expect from David Cain and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, the music is delightful and fascinating.

The CD is beautifully presented. There is the customary essay from Jonny Trunk, with an additional essay from Jon Brooks. The booklet also contains an interview with David Cain by Julian House, the poems in full, and images of two of the four projector slides that teachers could order if they were really into this crazy album.

This is as complete a reissue as you could hope for. I’m delighted to be able to hear The Seasons at last. What a strange and charming album it is.

If you are interested in electronic music, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, or nostalgia, this is an essential purchase.

The Tomorrow People cover

Recently, I finally managed to get my hands on The Tomorrow People, a CD of music from the 1970s ITV programme. I’ve been meaning to buy it for years.

The majority of the music on this CD is from a library album, ESL 104. This contained music by David Vorhaus, Nikki St George and Li De La Russe.

Nikki St George was a pseudonym for Brian Hodgson. Li De La Russe was a psudonym for Delia Derbyshire. Both are electronic music legends, chiefly known for their work for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. All three musicians had worked together as White Noise to create An Electric Storm, one of the greatest electronic music albums of all time.

Brian Hodgson and Delia Derbyshire had to use pseudonyms as they were working for the BBC at the time. One of their most important jobs was to create music and sound effects for Doctor Who. Indeed, Delia Derbyshire was responsible for the Doctor Who theme tune itself.

How funny that their music would also end up on ITV’s attempt at their own Doctor Who. But that probably sums up just how much they were giants of electronic music.

The CD also contains the theme tune by Dudley Simpson. What a belter. It must be one of the best theme tunes ever.

(Bonus: This video contains a Thames Television ident!)

The Tomorrow People CD is available from the utterly vital Trunk Records.