Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Green Fields Remembered: All-Star Hit Parade: Dickie Valentine, Joan Regan, Winifred Atwell, Dave King, Lita Roza and David Whitfield

First, let me explain my absence from this blog - I have, since writing the latest entry, moved from Toronto to London and have now acclimated myself, as best I can, to the city and the slightly different keyboards & ways of thinking I have encountered. I hope I can write with even more perceptiveness, if I have any, in the future.

To the single!

While out & about I have seen some boxes of Green & Black's chocolate - about six miniature bars all in a row, different but complete versions of chocolate. And that is what this unique - a word I am very deliberate about - single is like. A charity single on a 78 rpm disc, so as to fit six different songs. Yes, it's a charity single, the funds going to help create and preserve green spaces so that children have somewhere to play and run and have fun. A place where the sun shines and you can lay on your back to watch clouds...meanwhile, in a nearby apartment house, six people hear six different songs...

First up is the hitherto unknown to MSBWT Dickie Valentine with "Out of Town"; a song full of longing for the countryside, where the sun is a "yellow duster" and the trees are wearing "blossoms in their hair" - Mother Nature is shiny, yellow and something of a hippie, `though the music itself is jaunty and open as you'd expect it to be - I'll admit I wasn't sure about Mr. Valentine, but this is a warming and welcoming song...

...next is "My September Love" by Joan Regan. Is it soppy? Yes. Does it reek of wistful women in tea shops having epiphanies or at least 'moments' when they look out the window and see someone who looks like 'him'? But of course. Months have passed, maybe years, but HE is forever hers for that month and now it is December, and she walks the streets full of shoppers in her own special world, or maybe just stays at home, gazing into the fire, perpetually remembering. This is a solid song and one that isn't too downbeat...maybe she will meet this man again?...

...next door, a younger woman gets ready to party - looking sharp and fine, as gaily loud as...Winifred Atwell's "Theme From The Threepenny Opera." If you know Winifred you know just how Andrew W.K. she is about playing and pounding out this classic, though everyone, including me, has forgotten her number two from 1953, "Let's Have A Party" (well, I will soon rectify this, as soon as I can actually get hold of it, physically or digitally.) No medley of songs could be complete without Winifred, could it? No! And so side one ends...

...and side two begins with Dave King singing (to Joan Regan, perhaps?) "No Other Love." This is a song of surprising depth and sensuality (again) with the longing being not for green pastures but the Other, the One - will she return is avowals of loyalty? At night he paces his penthouse needing her...yet a few floors down...

...Is Lita Roza, yet another newcomer to the MSBWT world. "A Tear Fell" here isn't so much Pop Art as poor Lita almost sounds as if she is singing this song to herself, while in full ballgown and Aquanet glory, not quite reaching the melodramatic heights of Teresa Brewer. (In apartment terms, if I may, it's a 'model suite' version as opposed to Brewer's fully-furnished disdain and pain)...and now for the big finish, our old friend...

...Dave Whitfield! The king of enunciation is back! Well, who else could it be? It almost doesn't matter 'what' he is singing ("It's Almost Tomorrow" - yes David, if only you knew) as it sounds as if he needs no microphone, like he's all but in Dickie Valentine's green valley already, calling out to his love, passionately serenading her as she herds sheep or picks flowers....

As you can see, this is a group of performers who came together for a common cause and had the good sense to perform a medley instead of finding a song they could all contribute to ~ in their own way, not shoehorned in and cramped as the Hampstead tube elevator at rush hour. And it's fun - six moments of joy, anticipation, longing, regret and hope in just about as many minutes.

One more look at the receding past, before a certain other kind of longing and rude health begins to take over.

Big thanks to Mike Atkinson for finding this for me.

2 comments:

david said...

My mother was mad about Dickie Valentine, used to hang around the stage door to get his autograph every time he played Sheffield. I remember how upset she was when the radio news announced he'd died in a car crash.DV's more or less forgotten these days, though, and I've never heard this. Maybe I can get Mike to play it for me when I see him tomorrow.

Welcome to the UK, Lena!

agincourtgirl said...

The only other song I know by him is "Christmas Alphabet" - this snippet is, I'm guessing, a far more likely reason he was so popular.

Thanks, I hope to meet you and Mike one day!