Swingin’ Cymbal

Oct 4, 2010

Anyone over a certain age will remember Dave Nice, the presenter of “Pick of the Pops” on the BBC Radio Light Programme. He rotated with other presenters from September 1961 and then became the sole voice of the BBC Top 20 (later increased to a Top 30) from January 1964 to September 1972 when the sixties officially ended and the world prepared for the delights or otherwise of Glam Rock and the Osmonds and the Partridge family.

From 1967 to 1972 I regularly recorded “Pick of the Pops” in its Top 30 Sundays 5pm to 7pm phase. Dave kept it simple, just giving us the names of the singers/bands and song titles, along with how many places in the chart the single had risen or fallen. And of course the programmes were advert and Jingle free apart from the theme music used behind the chart countdown. Just for the record, (pun) “At the sign of the swinging cymbal” by Brian Fahey and his Orchestra was used between 1961 and 1966. The “b” side was “The Clanger”. (I don’t know why his name was spelled “Brian Faye” on the single as later LPs he released used the correct spelling). For the period of 1966 to 1970 the instrumental “Quite beside the point” by the Harry Roberts Sound was adopted as the theme. From 1970 onward “At the sign of the swinging cymbal” returned as the theme tune to “Pick of the Pops” , only this time it was performed by Brass Incorporated.

PS: Didn’t Alexis Korner have a radio show that followed “Pick of the Pops” at 7pm on Sundays in the 1970s ? In hindsight I now wish that I’d recorded some of those instead.

PPS: Of course, with the “Collective Consciousness Society” he produced a quite famous pop theme tune himself…

6 Responses to “Swingin’ Cymbal”

  1. dirigibledave Says:

    He most certainly did have a show that followed ‘Pick of the Pops’ in the 1970s. Can’t recall exactly when, though I’m sure a ferret round the Intertwine would sort that out easily enough.
    I used to tune in to POTP at the very end and then settle down to a very fadey Korner blues for a couple of hours – remember, in those pre-FM days the signal used to start dropping out around 7pm (wasn’t it something to do with AM signals changing as the somethingosphere drops as night falls?). Wonderful deep blue and lots of heady UK stuff like Aynsley Dunbar and John Mayall.

    While I’m at it, I’ve always thought I remembered Alexis on a pirate station in 66 or 67 – one of the odd smaller ones that just came and went. Probably wrong, but …

    and finally – Did you know Mr K was a producer or something similar on Five-O-Clock-Club (da-da-da da-da 🙂 That’s always made me grin. But I still worry about poor old Ollie Beak and Fred Barker – trapped in a box somewhere in an ITV storage facility, hooting pitifully in the darkness and barking to a master who will never come again. Damn Pussy Cat Willum, the cunning evil scheming fiend. Wrapped Wally Whyton round his finger and disposed of his furry chums with nary a whisker out of place.

    er … I’ll shut up now.

  2. Handpuppets !! I would sit stone-faced through the “antics” of Tinger and Tucker waiting for the cartoons to come on….

  3. dirigibledave Says:


    I’ll have you know they were all real, with real feelings. Santa told me so. Even Topo Gigio – and Lenny the Lion. BUT NOT ORVILLE-HE’S FAKE.

    And if you say otherwise I’ll get policemen, drawn by ‘cartoonists from other shores’ with very big helmets, ‘ello ‘ello strewth gor blimey’, travelling in London Taxis on the wrong side of the road, past a badly drawn Tower of London (and a rather well drawn PO Tower but only because it was a Chris Claremont depiction and he’s nearly British) to take you away ha, ha, hee hee.

    There, that’s about a week’s worth of posts neatly segued. Nurse – the screens.
    I’m off to burrow through memories of lots of furry creatures with hands up their ….

  4. Some people spend half their lives with their hand up a sock (blatent double entendre… sorry)

    I was watching a few episodes of “The Nanny” recently. There’s one where Fran’s dog eats Lambchop with “hilarious consequences”. I don’t think Shari wossername was acting at all. She really thought the lamb was dead. And once the lamb had been resuscitated well the language from its little mouth….

    Yes, of course there is some underlying theme..some twisted logic… to this blog. I just hope someone can explain to me what it is.

    (Oh, I’ve just remembered my favourite puppet..the robot in “Fireball XL5” forever grateful to be on it’s way home.)

  5. Mick Says:

    Hi Themagicrobot…I’m a big Alan Freeman fan…would you consider swapping/trading/selling your cache of ‘Pick of the Pops’ cassette tapes.I have a few shows from late 60’s early 70’s if you would like to trade….thanks.

  6. I’ve no “Pick of the Pops” on cassette tape I’m afraid. They are on 7″ reel tapes which may at some point get transferred to mp3. But saying that, the Interweb is already awash with similar stuff that can be acquired with just a few clicks so it’s not a priority. Someone is even re-mastering the shows by inserting pristine stereo music around Fluff’s announcements. That seems too much like work for me…especially as we are already over familiar with the hits anyway. I prefer listening to the more obscure 60s/70s music that DIDN’T make the charts….

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