Wednesday, 6 May 2015

'Cause baby, I believe that you're a star


Every 1's a Winner:

So You Win Again:

RIP one of my childhood crushes, Errol Brown and his tremendous trousers.

Lester Errol Brown MBE (12th November 1943 – 6th May 2015)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Together again. Maybe...

News of the long-awaited (planned) follow-up to Wim Wenders' wildly successful 1999 film documentary Buena Vista Social Club gives me a perfect excuse to play some music to ease the troubled mind as we head back to the office after a long weekend...

Here's Maria Bethânia with original Club member Omara Portuondo and Tal Vez*:

Lovely. I feel better already.

["Tal Vez" = "Maybe" in Spanish]

Monday, 4 May 2015

The Start of Something?

OK, it's a Bank Holiday for us in the UK, but it is still a Tacky Music Monday here at Dolores Delargo Towers!

They don't get much tackier (by repute) than Miss Pia Zadora but, game girl that she is, she allowed herself to be well-and-truly the "butt of the joke" in Naked Gun 33⁄3: The Final Insult.

Poor her, trying to get through the whole number This Could Be The Start of Something Big with Frank Drebin on the loose...

Hope you are enjoying your extra day off as much as we are (pottering in the sunny garden - not in Las Vegas showgirl costume, I might add)!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Take off your coat and come inside

As today is (gulp!) the 65th birthday of Wales' most toothsome balladeer Miss Mary Hopkin, as it is Sunday (traditional home of the best mellow music Radio 2 can offer), and as the Eurovision Song Contest looms ever closer (only three weekends away, just after we lurch back from our little trip to Sitges and Barcelona), let us wallow in a little sweetness to lighten our load - between bouts of gardening - with her Eurovision entry from way back in 1970, Knock Knock Who's There?:

Yes, I know her world-famous hit was Those Were The Days, but I really cannot bring myself to play that (too many terrible cover versions have assaulted our ears; it is a staple of the dreadful accordianist-buskers of the Costa del Sol).

Many happy returns, Mary Hopkin (born 3rd May 1950)

Saturday, 2 May 2015

You got lots of energy, yeah

Despite the dreary overcast weather that (inevitably) has marked the start of our bank holiday weekend, we've knackered ourselves out, slogging in the extensive gardens here at Dolores Delargo Towers.

In between times, we've been taking a little timeslip moment here and there; and here, from thirty years ago this week is a gem that was just making its first entrance in the UK charts - the very marvellous Dead or Alive and Lover Come Back to Me...

I've been lyin' here so lonely
I've been wishin' you would telephone me
Oh, I just can't lose this desperation
Won't you bring around a new sensation?
Baby, you got lots of energy, yeah
Gonna give that energy to me, yeah
Tell you, "We could have a real good time, yeah"
Baby, I can make you mine, oh mine, yeah
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Lover, come back to me
You don't have to knock on my door
Lover, come back to me
Kick it right down
Kick it right down
Kick it right down
Right down

Hoo aaa
Hoo aaa

Baby, all I feel is desperation
And it's not a very nice sensation
I've been wishin' you would telephone me
I've been lyin' here, oh oh, so lonely
Baby, we could have a real good time, yeah
Tell you, "I can make you mine, all mine, yeah"
Baby, you got lots of energy, yeah
Baby, give that energy to me, yeah
Oh yeah, oh yeah

Lover, come back to me
You don't have to knock on my door
Lover, come back to me
Kick it right down
Kick it right down
Kick it right down
Right down


Friday, 1 May 2015

Crazy nights and lazy days

I'm overjoyed - as at 4.30 this afternoon, it's a Bank Holiday weekend! Three days away from the stuffy office, plenty of time to get things done on the garden, lie-ins...

Time for a proper party, methinks - and here's Mick Jackson (the man who wrote Blame It On The Boogie) and his incredible bubble-perm to get us started in that quest.

Weekend, we love you!

Thank Disco It's Friday!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Sweetheart, lover, could I recover?

Madam Arcati, Alistair and I were mega-excited on Tuesday, as we headed to the ultimate in prestigious venues The Royal Albert Hall for a one-night-only production (by TV star Craig Revell-Horwood) of Stephen Sondheim's classic Follies! Being three "arch-Sondheimites", and given the all-star cast and the fact the show has not been seen (in is entirety) in London since 1987, this was certain to be a treat.

It definitely was all that, and more!

Follies is one of Sondheim's proudest achievements, crammed full of his most timeless and clever songs; its premise is the reunion of a (now-faded) troupe of former showgirls at the variety theatre that saw some of their greatest triumphs, just prior to its demolition. The story focuses in on the underlying regrets of two of the original stars, "Phyllis" and "Sally" about their life choices (mainly, their respective unhappy marriages to "Ben" and "Buddy", the "boys at the stage door" who courted them when they were famous), and is traditionally - and camply - staged as a "star vehicle" for a parade of the kind of ageing showbiz troupers so beloved of "gentlemen who are light in their loafers". And it is true - of the 5,000 capacity packed house, a sizeable majority were most definitely homosexualists...

The cast in this glittering "In Concert" production was a remarkable collection of faces beloved of us at Dolores Delargo Towers - Stephanie Powers, Anita Dobson, Betty Buckley, Lorna Luft, Anita Harris, Roy Hudd - and, best of all, Miss Ruthie Henshall as "Sally" and Miss Christine Baranski as "Phyllis"! What more could we ask for?

It was brilliantly staged, considering the vastness of the Hall and the looming presence of the City of London Philharmonic orchestra and chorus, with the use of (moveable) huge dressing-room mirror frames to shape and highlight the intimacy of different scenes. Particularly effective was the way the mirrors were used (especially in the operatic duet One More Kiss (performed beautifully by Charlotte Page) and the rumbustious Who's That Woman?) to "reflect" the showgirls singing and dancing in time with the "ghosts" of their younger selves.

Speaking of Who's That Woman? - this was Miss Dobson's finest hour (she allegedly learned to tap dance specifically in order to lead this "old chorine/young chorine" ensemble routine); I for one have never known such a tumultuous standing ovation for one number in the middle of a show before. We saw her hubbie Brian May before the show - he must have been so proud.

And what of the "big name troupers"? Of the "turns", only the duet between Miss Harris and Mr Hudd Rain on the Roof, sweet and cuddly as it was, failed to "gel"; they are not natural duetists, it seems, and were somewhat wobbly. Miss Luft was as brassy and belting and brilliant as we could have hoped on Broadway Baby, the predestination of her genes saw to that. Miss Powers was a revelation - we never realised what a fabulous singer she is, and her Ah, Paris was a delight.

Miss Buckley was simply great on I'm Still Here - she's no Stritchy, nor Eartha, but she twinkled and purred and evoked exactly the right world-weary tone for the lyrics, before ramping it up a gear or several for the climactic final verses... Wonderful!

Good times and bum times, I've seen them all
And, my dear, I'm still here
Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I'm here

I've stuffed the dailies in my shoes
Strummed ukuleles, sung the blues
Seen all my dreams disappear but I'm here.
I've slept in shanties, guest of the W.P.A., but I'm here
Danced in my scanties
Three bucks a night was the pay, but I'm here

I've stood on bread lines with the best
Watched while the headlines did the rest
In the depression was I depressed?
Nowhere near, I met a big financier and I'm here

I've been through Gandhi, Windsor and Wally's affair, and I'm here
Amos 'n' Andy, Mah-jongg and platinum hair, and I'm here
I got through Abie's, Irish Rose, Five Dionne babies, Major Bowes
Had heebie-jeebies for Beebe's, Bathysphere
I got through Brenda Frazier, and I'm here

I've gotten through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
Gee, that was fun and a half
When you've been through Herbert and J. Edgar Hoover
Anything else is a laugh

I've been through Reno, I've been through Beverly Hills, and I'm here.
Reefers and vino, rest cures, religion and pills, and I'm here
Been called a 'Pinko', commie tool, got through it stinko by my pool
I should've gone to an acting school, that seems clear
Still someone said, "She's sincere", so I'm here

Black sable one day, next day it goes into hock, but I'm here
Top billing Monday, Tuesday, you're touring in stock, but I'm here
First you're another sloe-eyed vamp
Then someone's mother, then you're camp
Then you career from career to career
I'm almost through my memoirs, and I'm here

I've gotten through, "Hey, lady, aren't you whoozis?
Wow, what a looker you were"
Or better yet, "Sorry, I thought you were whoozis
Whatever happened to her?"

Good times and bum times, I've seen 'em all
And, my dear, I'm still here
Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I'm here

I've run the gamut, A to Z
Three cheers and dammit, C'est la vie
I got through all of last year, and I'm here
Lord knows, at least I was there, and I'm here
Look who's here, I'm still here!

[...ah, Stritchy, how we miss you...]

However, none of the aforementioned ladies (and gentleman) were the actual stars of the show. That honour went to Miss Henshall and Miss Baranski (ably matched by Alexander Hanson as "Ben" and Peter Polycarpou as "Buddy").

Miss Henshall was in fine voice (and was very convincing) as the "woman-on-the-edge" Sally, rejected in love as a girl by Ben and desperately making herself and the errant philanderer Buddy unhappy in their subsequent marriage as a consequence. Her poignant In Buddy's Eyes (which sounds like a love song, but in context is anything but), and fraught Losing My Mind were definite highlights, as was her and Mr Hanson's duet about their long-ago romance Too Many Mornings.

But nothing compares to the magnificent Miss Christine Baranski in full-on bitch-mode... Icily dismissive of Ben, their high society lifestyle and everything in-between, silently mourning what could have become of her life had she stayed in showbiz yet all the time realising she's left it too late, she performed an absolute corker on The Story of Lucy and Jessie - and her acidly bitchy Could I Leave You? was utterly wonderful!

Leave you? Leave you?
How could I leave you? How could I go it alone?
Could I wave the years away? With a quick goodbye?
How do you wipe tears away when your eyes are dry?

Sweetheart, lover, could I recover?
Give up the joys I have known?
Not to fetch your pills again every day at five
Not to give those dinners for ten elderly men from the UN

How could I survive? Could I leave you
And your shelves of the world's best books
And the evenings of martyred looks, cryptic sighs
Sullen glares from those injured eyes?

Leave the quips with a sting, jokes with a sneer
Passionless lovemaking once a year?
Leave the lies ill-concealed and the wounds never healed
And the game's not worth winning and wait, I'm just beginning

What, leave you, leave you? How could I leave you?
What would I do on my own? Putting thoughts of you aside

In the south of France, would I think of suicide?
Darling, shall we dance? Could I live through the pain
On a terrace in Spain? Would it pass? It would pass
Could I bury my rage with a boy half your age
In the grass? Bet your ass!

But I've done that already or didn't you know, love?
Tell me, how could I leave when I left long ago, love?
Could I leave you? No, the point is, could you leave me?
Well, I guess you could leave me the house, leave me the flat

Leave me the Braques and Chagalls and all that
You could leave me the stocks for sentiment's sake
And ninety percent of the money you make
And the rugs and the cooks, darling, you keep the drugs

Angel, you keep the books, honey, I'll take the grand
Sugar you keep the spinet and all of our friends and
Just wait a goddamn minute!

Oh, leave you? Leave you? How could I leave you?
Sweetheart, I have to confess, could I leave you?Yes
Will I leave you? Will I leave you?


It is no wonder that is one of my favourite songs - and watching/hearing such an icon as Miss Baranski give it her full Broadway treatment was an utter joy.

[It could never match David Kernan's "gay version" in the original London production of "Side By Side by Sondheim"; then again nothing can...]

[...but I digress...]

Full accolades must go, of course, to the younger versions of the cast - especially the leads Sally (Amy Ellen Richardson), Buddy (Jos Slovick), Phyllis (Laura Pitt-Pulford) and Ben (gay pin-up-du-jour Alistair Brammer) - all of whom were vocally excellent, and showed tremendous skill when (frequently) called upon to be the synchronised "ghosts", dancing and gesticulating in time with the older stars. Full marks to choreographer Andrew Wright for the excellent routines!

Despite the imbalance between opening segment (two hours) and finale scenes (half-an-hour); despite the awkwardness of being seated in "the pit" at the Hall, where the audience's heads are all at one level; and despite the venue selling out of programmes before we had even arrived, this was a truly awesome (and once-in-a-lifetime - we'll never see this cast perform together again!) experience. I was blown away by it all (and I am still humming the choons).


PS I think Meryl enjoyed it too. We didn't speak.