Nostalgia 1975

February 10, 2011

I usually only write about stuff I like. There always has to be an exception to any rule. Here is something I DON’T like. Of course, the records were purchased unheard in the hopes that I would like them…. (But it does fit in with an earlier post…and it sorta kinda fits in with the next post to come).

When you think about it, for pretty much every single ever released, no matter how good or bad it was, someone somewhere was hoping that it would turn out to be a hit record. This could have been the recording artist, the manager, the producer, the A&R man or just the drummer’s mother. I will always remain eternally bewildered regarding the number of fantastic tunes over the last 50 years that didn’t become hits. This was often explained by a lack of radio airplay. A similar number of dire excuses for music became hits simply because they GOT masses of radio airplay.

These two singles just didn’t have the wow factor even though A Raincoat and Andy Arthurs would go on to issue better tunes later.

When “Nostalgia ’75” was released the title was meant to be ironic. Sometimes I do get nostalgic for 1975. It was a turning point career year when I almost became a journalist instead of the direction I ultimately chose. Ah well, “Today’s Newspaper is tomorrow’s chip wrapper”. Actually that phrase doesn’t really work now. I guess the last time I walked down a street eating chips wrapped in an old piece of newspaper would have been around…….. 1975…….. We’re back to “Nostalgia ’75”.

The “b” side of this single played at 33.3rpm and featured three tracks from the forthcoming “Digalongamacs” Album which evidentally in August 1975 was almost called “Macs by Graves” !!!! (They must have already taken the cover photo…)

Andy Arthurs released a number of solo singles such as this brief (only 2 minutes long!) tune from 1977.

A Raincoat

February 1, 2011

In 1975 an LP with the uncool title of “Digalongamacs” by a band with the uninspiring name of A Raincoat was released by a bunch of session musicians led by Andy Arthurs. Why they needed to risk ruining the record’s chances with a title that was a pun on those MOR Singalonga LPs of the time and why the LP cover featured such a gloomy photo of the band in a graveyard (By…graves….oh I get it now….) is lost in the mists of time. One of the tracks on the LP entitled “I love you for your mind (not your body)” was released as a single and received enough radio airplay for me to notice the band and consequently buy the LP. In the mid 1970s for some inexplicable reason I quite liked Sparks, 10cc, the Kursall Flyers etc and probably thought that A Raincoat fitted into that category. I love you for your etc etc sounded like the band had been listening to far too many Sparks records.

Andrew Arthurs released a few more records under his own name during the rest of the 1970s (often sounding like Thomas Dolby). There were also a few singles attributed to A Raincoat such as the catchy 1976 single “It came in the night”. The claim to fame of this song is that it was used in the Kenneth Anger “art”/cult film “Rabbit’s Moon” without the singer’s knowledge !! “Rabbit’s Moon” was a very odd film which mostly consisted of a spooky clown looking up at the moon. I’m not sure where the rabbit fitted in….. Odder still is the fact that although this peculiar “underground” film was shot in 1950 it wasn’t released until 1972. Then it was given a soundtrack consisting of half a dozen doowop songs such as “There’s a Moon out tonight”. Neither the Doowop songs or “It came in the night” seem the slightest bit appropriate to the otherwise silent and dated antics of two clowns, a couple of kids and a dancer. Of course all this deep and meaningful/bonkers nonsense (delete as appropriate) audio and video is sitting there waiting for viewers on Yootoob. It reminds me of nothing more than those old silent movie clips they used to show on The Old Grey Whistle Test whilst they played some rubbish track from the likes of Little Feat. Its the sort of thing you only want to see once, but it’s also the sort of thing that could crop up as a question on “Mastermind” or “University Challenge” so you may as well be prepared……

When this film was re-released in 1979 the earlier Doowop soundtrack was replaced with the A Raincoat single (played twice !!). This time the film only ran for 7 minutes instead of quarter of an hour because it was speeded up !! Despite the obscurity of Kenneth Anger films no doubt there will be more people aware of A Raincoat due to that short film than will ever have ever noticed any other A Raincoat material. Another bit of no-longer-lost Britpop history from the 70s thanks to the good old Interweb.

Although Mr Arthurs may not have had any hits he did continue recording for a while before going on to engineer and produce records by the likes of Bryan Ferry and Joe Jackson after which he emigrated to Australia where he became a lecturer.

PS: A Raincoat has no connection at all with the later group known as THE Raincoats.