May 16, 2009
This Blog will take a back seat for a week or two (as if it ever took a front seat !!) whilst I begin scanning old photos and finally make a start on my family tree.
Prompted by a relative who lives in Canada I’d really like to sort all these family photos whilst there are still people alive to put names to faces. The next generation has no interest but at least I can digitally preserve these windows into another world. The above picture from 1932 includes my father then aged 4.
In the 1930s a camera was a luxury not every family could afford. Many of the holiday snaps I have from that time were taken when family members took day trips to the coast. Professional photographers were plentiful there and wooden props were available for “humorous” shots. Sometimes the photographers would just take pictures of people walking along the promenade and then try and sell the photos. Presumably you had to return to the photographer a few hours later when the pictures had been developed.
May 15, 2009
The former radio and TV broadcaster, newspaper journalist and pop song producer Jonathan King also found time to record a few hundred pop songs himself. Quite a few actually made the UK pop music charts in the 1960s and 1970s. Ironically one of the best singles he ever recorded never made the BBC Top 40.
“Round Round” was released in the UK in 1967 on the Decca label and looking at this sheet music it was evidentally also released in the USA on the Parrot label (as had been his 1965 UK hit “Everyone’s Gone To the Moon”). This catchy song received considerable airplay on the offshore pirate radio stations of the time. It even featured in pirate Radio London’s Top 40. Perhaps the Beeb “banned” it because of the drug references it contained although it was saying that drugs were/are a bad thing.
“Round, round out of your mind.
You think you’re seeing things.
I know you’re blind.
A million bright colours
Explode in your head.
Today you’re just high.
Tomorrow you’re dead !!!”
JK often successfully covered American or European pop songs.(“Let it all Hang Out”, “Hooked on a Feeling”, “Flirt”, “Una Paloma Blanca” to name but a few.) But it is his own material found on “b” sides and LPs that I find the most interesting. Even the 1970s hits have been airbrushed out of the oldies radio stations playlists for various reasons that have nothing to do with even whether the music was good (sometimes), bad (sometimes) or diabolically bad (often). But if you see any singles in the charity shops that say sung by, produced directed or conceived by JK (often on his own UK label) give them a listen. You may be pleasantly surprised.
May 8, 2009
RNI first began official broadcasts in early 1970 and for reasons that are still unclear ceased transmissions in September of that year after an eventful 9 months. They would return however in early 1971 and continue to broadcast pop music from the Mebo 2 anchored in the North Sea (obviously) to a “young Europe” on MW/VHF/SW until August 1974. I won’t bore you with the details. There are many other places on the Interweb already covering the details well.
I must have purchased this 12 page booklet detailing RNI’s “history” to date in late 1970 or early 1971. Most likely it would have been via a classified advert in the UK pop music newspaper “Disc and Music Echo”. That was where I’d find info to send off for “Newsletters” about Offshore Pirate Radio news of the time. The best of those publications was “Monitor”. This began as a few foolscap sheets of coloured paper stapled together and ended up as an A5 booklet printed roughly 4 times a year containing fantastically detailed accounts of the comings and goings of the DJs on Radio Caroline/Veronica/Mi Amigo/Atlantis etc throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This magazine was published by the late Buster Pearson using a remarkably enlightened (LA….Loving Awareness) approach. The magazine had no fixed price!!! Buster asked you just to send what you could afford!!!!. When I was a penniless student I just sent him a few shillings per issue. Once I was in gainful employment I tried to send a few £££s per issue. Buster only printed an issue once he had collected enough funds from the previous issue to finance the next one. This next issue would be posted out to all the people on his mailing list and he would just trust that they would send him money to pay for it. This system operated for many many years with Buster never soliciting any money up front. I don’t think you’ll find too many people using that business model today. But of course Buster wasn’t doing it for the money…just his love of the Pirate Radio scene of those times.
Roland C. “Buster” Pearson (1928-1985) was honoured with this documentary on Radio Caroline.(Evening reception was always variable on Medium Wave and my radio/cassette recorder basic but I thought the subject matter makes it interesting).
I must dig out a few copies of “Monitor” but for now click below for a pdf file of the Radio Nordsee International Booklet from 1970 written by Russel Carey with help from Fred Grilge,Eric Clapton,Emiline Crungebucket and many more.
May 2, 2009
ITEM: This may be out of character for me but I have a serious question to address. There is a place for Sex and Violence in comics but I think we may be on a slippery slope here…..
A recent issue of DC’s Action Comics (No 876 cover dated June 2009) contains an excessive 19 pages of blood-soaked fighting with fists and knives. In the current climate of increasing knife crime it sets an appalling example. The “Superman” range of comics must still be bought by younger readers who actually READ AND DIGEST the story as well as the odd few like me who buy (and quickly flick through) Action and Detective etc simply out of habit.
I don’t want to sound like the guy who wrote “Seduction of the Innocent” (although here I’m already beginning to sound like my own father) but what is the point of The Comic Code Authority in 2009? I’m incredulous to see that Action No 876 actually shows the Comic Code Stamp on its cover. Although it is so very very tiny you’d hardly know it was there. Most comics don’t show a Comic Code Stamp so they don’t need to be approved by anyone (so long as they don’t transgress the “Obscene Publications Act”). But Action No 876 DOES show a Comic Code Stamp so are we to assume that Action No 876 was actually APPROVED despite a level of violence I’ve never before seen in a Superman book ??
I’m no prude. I bought my share of Underground comix and stuff like Cherry Poptart. I bought “Psycho” and “Nightmare” and worse as a teenager. I’ve owned my share of 1950s comics with the fabled “injury to eye” and “decapitation” covers. But I don’t think “Superman” and “Action” should be aiming for that demographic.
ITEM: And whilst I’m in rant mode can anyone explain this. Why are “Vertigo” comics…comics aimed at a mature audience…printed on such crappy paper just like the comics of the 1960s and 1970s? Yet DC’s more mainstream comics like Brave and the Bold and Action and even those more cartoony superhero comics are printed on swish glossy modern paper stock. In fact, thinking about it, it is probably the paper itself that makes the violence in Action seem all the more gruesome and the blood more bloodier !! I’m sure Warren comics would have made more impact if they’d been in full colour.
ITEM: Another question. Mentioning Vertigo comics, what the hell is Fables and Jack of Fables all about ?? I thought I could follow it at first….
ITEM: Moving on to the answer to a question that few people may have asked !! What exactly is Jughead’s hat supposed to be ?? Once I thought it was a paper crown like you’d find folded up inside a cracker. Or perhaps a cardboard crown. Or even a metal crown ?? It definitely brought the thought “crown” into my head. It seemed an odd thing to be wearing even in the 1960s let alone now. I mean, Betty and Veronica’s clothes have moved with the times. Why doesn’t Jughead wear a more contemporary silly hat ??
One of my favourite blogs is “I’m Learning to Share” and it is there that you can find the world’s most detailed analysis of how Jughead’s hat developed from a (once fashionable for 1930s teenage delinquents) inside-out felt Fedora to the odd “Crown” of more recent years.
PS: Why is he called “Jughead” ? I assumed that front-on his ears stuck out like jug handles. The next question is what is Jughead’s full name. I think his surname is “Jones” but first name………………….?