Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Wood-and-String Music Men, Adam Faith, an Empty Record Sleeve and the Extended Holly Hiccup

Hey, what's cookin', you hep cats? These wood and string music men live on the desk here amidst the detritus in the House of Cobwebs. Generally, however, as they are not very stable and fall over at any opportunity, they are usually to be found sitting in a small pile, often with their heads broken off, gathering dust. But I have posed them resplendently here for your enjoyment.

I can't remember where they came from but they used to live inside a vintage cocktail cabinet I had in Amersham in one of my previous lives. I'm guessing that they are circa 1960s and that there might be one missing. In repeated efforts to convince myself that they are supposed to be The Beatles I have often found myself trying to assign the identities of one member of the Fab Four to each of them, but to no avail. You can't get round the fact that this bass player is not left handed. Still, pretty groovy, eh? Straight outta the fridge, Daddio.

While we're on the subject of music, take a look at this - from a time in British music before Beatles.

If you haven't seen it, Beat Girl is a terrific British rock n' roll exploitation picture from the late 1950s. Everyone goes on all the time about how it features a young Oliver Reed (and, yes, it does) but perhaps more importantly, quite apart from the foxy chicks (Gillian Hills and Shirley Anne Field) pictured here, it is a showcase for the much maligned but much underrated Brit fop-pop star and actor Adam Faith.

Soon after this film was made, with the first wave of rock 'n' roll rebellion tamed and morphing into 'pop' music, Mr Faith's image was revamped somewhat - he was given smart tailored suits, and some foppish pretty-boy songs to sing (e.g. Poor Me, Someone Else's Baby and, recommended for die hard devotees only, the ultra-saccharin seasonal number Lonely Pup in a Christmas Shop, complete with kiddie choir). Popular with the young ladies, he became rather a fixture in the Hit Parade in the early 1960s, before The Beatles came along and changed everything. Adam tried to keep up with the beat groups, and he recorded some rather fine tougher-sounding waxings with his own backing combo, The Roulettes, but the kids weren't fooled. But, in his day, he was big. My old man assures me that, once upon a time, so famed was the young Mr Faith that he was known simply as 'Adam' the same way Presley was known as 'Elvis'. Yeah, right. But I love the idea, and, though I suspect that my old man has allowed his own enthusiasm for Adam to cloud his memory, I choose to believe him. Anyway, everybody laughs it up these days when they hear Adam's slightly flat, drippy, ultra-twee Buddy Holly-esque vocals (hiccups all over the place - where Buddy would use one every now and again, Adam would often attempt to get as many as he could into virtually every line, with his own particular twist on the idea being to extend the hiccup as far as possible; e.g. Poor Me becomes P - aw-aw-awa-awa-ahaw-oor Me-ee-ha-her-hee-ee) but it's all great fun and the early singles all feature great, lush, echoing orchestral backings by John Barry, and I like to listen to Adam warbling along with them while I am in the bath.

Let's have another close up look at sulky Adam and his 'dolls', down at the espresso bar drinking the new continental invention 'frothy coffee', the young rascals.

He's so mean and moody. Unfortunately, there is a sad end to today's tale. I have the Beat Girl E.P. sleeve, but not the record that goes inside! Horrors! This was another Hounslow Heath Car Boot buy, for 50p, from a bewildered seller that couldn't understand why I would possibly want to buy a record cover with no record. I combed the stall for the platter, but alas...

That was many years ago. Of course, I live in eternal hope that one glorious, happy day I might locate a sleeveless copy of the disc, and then...but why torture myself, eh?

You will find this empty record sleeve in THE HOUSE OF COBWEBS.


  1. Jerry Fairweather5 February 2010 at 18:55

    I too have a set of 1960s wooden-faced, mop-topped 'mini-men'... however, mine are attired in Viking costumes, brandishing WEAPONS and HORNS! Mrs. Fairweather finds them "sick and offensive".

  2. I remember those little fellas x