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Saturday, 28 March 2015

Digging into the archive - The NME September 26th 1958.

A piece I wrote for a programme for one of Bip's gigs at the Core.

The NME September 26th 1958. 

Here's a quiz question to get you all thinking; what was the number one record on September 26th 1958? Now alright you would need to be a genius or a mastermind on pop music to answer this, but it was in fact, Stupid Cupid by Connie Francis. 

It was quite coincidental that looking through a pile of old newspapers I’ve hoarded, there is a New Musical Express issue 611 from this very day 56 years ago. Costing sixpence, the front cover displays photographs of Connie Francis, Tommy Steele, Elvis Presley, Johnny Mathis and a group photograph of the Mudlarks and the Kalin Twins backstage at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London. Connie has just reached number one in the charts with Stupid Cupid /Carolina Moon. The elevation obviously helped by my mother buying the single from Curtis Balin's Electrical shop on Studfall Avenue. (Where the new Tesco is for those trying to figure that one out). Elvis was apparently; 'On the high seas in the U.S transport ship 'General Randall' en route to Germany and on course for a career as an 'all round entertainer' in a series of films which would send his street cred plummeting. Let's be honest, they might have been not bad at the time but they haven't dated very well.
Advertised at the bottom of the page was The Cossor Automatic Record Player boasting a 4 speed change and able to load ten records for the princely sum of 21 guineas. For the less affluent, The Fidelity Record Player was 'sensational value at only 10 guineas'. Maybe it was but when you could only play one record at a time it was probably fair to say it was a pain in the backside!

This week's Top Ten had Volare by Dean Martin trailing Connie in second place. The Kalin Twins with When at number three. At 4 was Dean Martin with Return to Me. 5 was Peggy Lee and Fever. 6 saw Ricky Nelson and Poor Little Fool consolidating its place from the week before. Climbing from 11 to 7 was Bernard Bresslaw's Mad Passionate Love, no doubt helped by the actor starring in BBC television's Army Game. Bird Dog by the Everly Brothers was at 8 followed by another comedian, Charlie Drake and Splish Splash at 9. Making up the ten was Marty Wilde and Endless Sleep.

The Letters Page was always good reading and this week's issue included a disgruntled John Waterfield from Devon complaining about our own local hero Jim Dale who was compering the BBC Saturday Night 6. 5. Special Show.
'What has happened to Jim Dale? This business of forgetting artist’s names is a badly used gimmick. Or is it that Jim Dale really has a bad memory and as compere can't remember the names? The first programme in the new series left a lot to be desired. I mean, its all very well giving us new faces, but I wonder how many of these artists have had any real stage experience?'
Jack Reid of Ayrshire writes 'I read with disgust that Elvis is recording an album of hymns in memory of his mother. Why doesn't he leave hymns to people who can sing them? I have heard his Peace in the Valley EP and if ever a record showed how not to sing religious songs, then this is it.'
Of course it s all a matter of opinions and if I had been around I would have argued the case on that one. Peace in the Valley showed everyone that Elvis could turn his hand to any kind of genre, religious included. The album he was referring to was His Hand in Mine, a remarkable collection of gospel songs if ever there was one. In my opinion.

What else was happening at this time? Well it was announced that 87 Corby men were unemployed. They obviously didn't fancy shift work at the steelworks and with very little alternative decided they would have a break. Or they were just bone idle!
A Hula Hoop craze was sweeping the nation which brought an early indication as to the way this country was heading down the path to a nanny state. Following reports from Japan that that the Hoop was 'bad for your health' and a German chap keeling over mid swivel with a heart attack, authorities were moved to pass warnings about the danger, particularly to the neck. Nonetheless down every street there would be a crowd swiveling themselves away, hips swaying, head bobbing, not caring if they didn't have an aspirin in the house.
There was a shortage of 'single shillings' - believe it or not. Banks were running out of bobs. Now that wouldn't make much sense to many nowadays, but the bob was an intricate part of our lives back then. You needed one to put in the electric meter! If the bob ran out, you were up the creek unless you had one in your pocket.

On the local music scene, skiffle was still the main source of entertainment for the youth not being called up for National Service with The Hepcats and The Size Seven at the forefront providing the music of Lonnie Donegan and the Vipers for punters at the Welfare, Raven and Nellie's Bin. 

Globally, nuclear tests were being carried out throughout the year by the USSR, USA and Great Britain. America's and Britain’s on the Pacific islands of Bikini and Christmas. Which couldn't have been much joy for the locals. The tests stoked up the fires and protesters in Britain marched on to the U.S. Aldermaston Air base to vent their fears and disgust.
Richard Nixon, Vice President to Eisenhower was sorry he left home for a short tour of South America; Tricky Dicky was booed, shoved and spat on in Peru, attacked by rioters in Venezuela. One wonders what he said to old Dwight D. when he returned; 'thanks a million, next time you can bloody go!' Well maybe not but you can visualise it.
Eisenhower also claimed the first radio speech from space with his broadcast over Christmas; 'To all mankind, America's wish is for peace on Earth and Good Will to men everywhere.' What about the women then Ike? What about the poor souls on Bikini Island?

As Tommy Edwards sang on his number one record at the time' It's all In the Game.