SOTS: Just in time


I’m still a little bit suspicious about what’s happening to my only weekly radio programme Sounds of the Sixties. Tim Rice has thanked us all for our forebearance… no, actually kindness, in listening to him this last three months when he’s been sitting in for Brian Matthews, but it’s all over and our old chum will be back next Saturday.

Or will he? Next Saturday is going to be a compilation programme, made up of Brian’s favourite moments from his twenty-seven years on the show, so not actually a new episode, so we’re going to have to wait until at least a fortnight from now to see if things are going back to that Edenic state of yore.

I don’t know what the last three months have done to the show’s audience figures but, from the point of view of a sixteen year veteran, it’s come close to rocking my loyalty to SOTS. It’s not only been Rice’s jerky presentation, with the gaps between sentences coming every half dozen words or so, instead of only when the full stop appears on his script. A lot of it has been his insistence on describing everything as fantastic, brilliant, wonderful, indiscriminately and with no audible conviction to suggest that he actually believes what he’s saying.

There was a perfect example in the first half of the show, in the ‘Loose Connections’ feature, with Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney and Petula Clark. All three were obscure songs, of which I’d only previously heard the Dusty track, and the connection was the clever and subtle one that each song was a commercial flop in the middle of a run of big hits. Such things always fascinate me: one of my ways of educating myself about Sixties music in the early Seventies were Simon Frith’s Rock Files books, listing chart successes act by act. These gave the impression of bands having unbroken success, but of course they presented a distorted picture by excluding the ones that didn’t chart at all.

But because these songs were, by definition, flops, Rice had to assure his listeners that they were great songs, absolutely wonderful, these artists never cut a track that wasn’t aural perfection, as if he was afraid that someone might get offended by the playing of a track that hadn’t been a hit. I mean, dammit, there’s only Pet still around to listen: Dusty and Gene won’t care.

So here’s hoping for a return to better things, but I remain unconvinced. Whilst I’ll relax and enjoy two hours of Brian’s warm tones, even that won’t set off the fact that this was yet another Sounds of that bit of the Early Sixties that Phil Swern is obsessed with only he denies it, ha ha. Even the newest feature drags the programme even further back: Fifties in the Sixties, covers of prominent Fifties tracks.

Still, no more Tim Rice. Saturdays will automatically improve. I hope.

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2 thoughts on “SOTS: Just in time

  1. Hello there

    I might be a bit late commenting on this, but I think maybe I could have found a snippet of that old version of a song you were talking about last year: Pete Atkin’s ‘The Eye of the Universe’

    It`s pretty low quality and only a short piece, but it definitly sounds more interesting to me than the softer official version, especially at the end of it.

    Here’s a link to the website: http://www.peteatkin.com/audio.htm
    And here`s the snippet itself: http://www.peteatkin.com/realaudio/eye.ram

    Cheers

    Btw. totally off topic but I still need to tell you that I really really liked your Purple Puffin take on the superhero! The pages of the lulu books seem to fall apart on touch sadly. I guess something’s wrong with the gluing – maybe it was just my copy though.

    Sorry for being that late with my comment, still wanted to let you know.

    1. Alex, thank you for taking the time and trouble, especially with the links, though I knew of these from the Pete Atkin website. This version was a guitar based demo, made for what would have been the seventh album, had anyone been offering contracts in 1977 to troubadours! It’s closer to the Buxton arrangement but imagine something half again as fast, on electric piano, and more attack to the vocals, and that would be even better still.

      I blush at your compliments on ‘Purple Puffin’ and I’m really sorry to hear the binding was so poor. I’ve not heard of problems like that before. There is a plan to write a sequel, of which a handful of early scenes and one late half-scene are written, but when this will happen is anybody’s guess. When/if it’s properly under way, you’ll hear about it here (maybe I’ll NaNoWriMo again this year?).

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