There's a moose loose (Klub Kakofanney Lockdown Letter)

There's a moose loose

Slowly the world is opening up. Hopefully, by the end of June, we'll be able to live normal lives again without restrictions, although there seems to be some reservations coming through about that June 21st date, but by the end of July, everyone should have been able to get at least their first dose of vaccine, and that will put us all in a much safer place. And hopefully a more musical place too.

At last, some dates for your diary

Our current plan is to resume Klub Kakofanney from August onwards. We haven't heard any more from The Wheatsheaf so these first two gigs will be held in The Hubble & Home, a pub on Abingdon Road which is being gig-enabled by Oxford music legend, Osprey. I'll keep you up to date with details as they become available.

This past year has been a financial struggle for many so for our first couple of gigs at least we have decided to do away with admission fees and just ask people who can afford it to make a voluntary donation, but no pressure, and no problems if not. We don't want anyone to feel they cannot come to our gigs due to lack of funds.

Blasts from the Kakophonic past

To keep you going until then, I've rummaged through my clips collection and this week found you some blasts from the Klub Kakofanney past. The first dates back to 2014 with a band called Not Too Shabby. Then onto 2015 with one of Phil's favourites, Fuzzy Logic, who came from London. A snippet from the Klub Kakofanney 25th birthday party in 2016 features the amazing Vienna Ditto who demonstrated how to deliver great music and drink ale at the same time. Getting towards more recent times, from 2017 we have The Demoiselles, and rounding off this collection with a 2018 clip is an early performance by an evolving Oxford band, Gravid.

How many of those gigs do you remember? When I look back at these clips, I am always amazed at the richness and diversity of musical talent to be found in local music. It is too easy to forget just how good they are.

Images across the Atlantic

Last week I was talking about the importance of lyrics in videos. This week I listening to "Telstar" by The Tornados, a lyricless instrumental which became a worldwide hit in the early sixties. At that time, the world was boldly going into space for the first time and the Telstar satellite provided the first live TV signals across the Atlantic. The Tornados track completely captured the spirit of the times, but calling it Telstar was a stroke of marketing genius. You must have heard it:

Here is a bit of trivia for you. If you are familiar with the UK band Muse, the lead singer of that band, Matt Bellamy, is the son of George Bellamy who was the rhythm guitarist for The Tornados in that video.

Just can't hear the words

I asked myself how often lyricless instrumentals had reached number one in the charts, and realised the answer was not very often at all. Here is one that I love, and was largely forgotten until it re-emerged in a TV advert. It is "Hoots Mon" by Lord Rockingham's Eleven which was issued on a 78rpm dinner plate. I love the rasping saxophones in this:

Did you spot that there was a woman in the band playing Hammond organ? That was Cherry Wainer. She was born in South Africa and her parents had aspirations for her to be a classical pianist in an orchestra, but at the age of eight she discovered jazz and never looked back. She moved to the UK in her early twenties and became a regular on British TV in the 50s and 60s, and always conveyed a sense of utter delight when playing.

A parody of classical

One of the instrumental hits from 1962 was "Nut Rocker" by B Bumble and The Stingers, which is loosely based on The Nutcracker by Tchaicovsky. As well as being a hit record in its own right, the song was also covered some years later by the legendary Emerson, Lake, and Pamer. Here is a video of ELP playing it live in Zurich. Gosh, don't they look young. I don't remember them being this young. Do you?

Nut Rocker almost never made it into the English music charts at all. At the time, the BBC had a policy of banning any upstart pop music which parodied classical, but after a tortuous meeting in the bowels of the BBC, it was grudgingly decided that this record would be given airtime.

I'll drink to that

Just 27 instrumentals have topped the UK charts since the charts started late in 1952, with 18 of those 27 charting in the first ten years, and five of them were by The Shadows. The nine released after 1963 includes the theme tune to the 1968 Clint Eastwood movie, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", and another of those instrumental hits, "Eye Level", was the theme tune of the popular 1973 TV series, "Van de Valk". Would they have been hit successes without that media exposure? We'll never know for sure..., but probably not. The 2008 instrumental hit by Mint Royale was a revved up remix of "Singin' in the rain" so it was one of those songs where everyone knew the lyrics anyway. And then there is "The Crazy Frog" by Axel F in 2005 which had jabbering instead of lyrics. So I guess it's really difficult to have a memorable instrumental. This one is pretty memorable, yet never quite made it to the top.

Be honest, even though it only has one word of lyrics, that's the bit you all remember isn't it? If you get to see the Oxford band Pandapopalypse in the coming months, be sure to demand this as an encore. Their upbeat synth, guitar, and rasping saxophone cover of this 1958 classic is terrific.

Don't lose your way

Covid case rates in Oxford have dropped substantially in the last week or so, but we are still at a delicate point. Even if you have been vaccinated, please keep up with the health measures for as long as you can, until everyone is safely out of the woods.

28th May 2021
The Lockdown Letters
Klub Kakofanney