After ‘Monty Pyhon’s Flying Circus‘, Eric Idle went on to write and star in one of TV’s lost comedy classics, ‘Rutland Weekend Television‘. The series co-starred Neil Innes, Henry Woolf, Gwen Taylor and David Battley, and ran for two series over 1975 and 1976. ’RWT’ was required viewing for a generation of impressionable youngsters, myself included, who had arrived late to ‘Python’ and were just at the right age to enjoy the brilliance of Idle, Innes et al.
For me, ‘Rutland Weekend Television‘ was better than ‘Python‘, as it was edgier, closer to Spike Milligan‘s ‘Q‘ series and all the better for being mainly one man’s vision. Now ‘RWT‘ is best known for unleashing The Rutles: Ron, Dirk, Stig and Barry, the original Prefab Four, who first appeared in a comic musical homage to The Beatles’ ‘Hard Day’s Night’ and then later in 1977, through Idle’s and Innes’ genius collaboration with ‘Saturday Night Live’ producer, Lorne Michaels, in the brilliant mockumentary ‘All You Need Is Cash‘.
Now, over 30 years later, The Rutles return with ‘Lunch‘, one fan’s brilliant musical celebration of Idle’s and Innes’ original concept. ’Lunch‘ owes much to the Cirque du Soleil’s show ‘Love‘, which was based on a cycle of Beatle songs, and even claims to be a collaboration bewteen Rutle Stig O’Hara and Circle of Hay’s founder, Captain Liberty.
Have a listen and hear how Rutlemania brought joy and laughter to the world, and made The Prefab Four wider than Elvis and taller than The Beatles. Enjoy.
Listen here: The Rutles – Lunch
The Rutles – ‘With A Girl Like You’ (from ‘All You Need is Cash’) This was released as The Rutles first single
The Rutles – ‘Piggy in the ~Middle’ (from ‘All You Need is Cash’)
The Rutles – ‘Cheese and Onion’ (from ‘All You Need is Cash’)
1. (n.) The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference.
2. (n.) Sufficient means for a comfortable livelihood.
Happy Birthday Ken Russell.
Few British directors have been as successful or as controversial as Ken Russell.
With the exception of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, few directors have managed to produce a body of work that has appealed to mass audiences across such diverse genres as science-fiction (‘Altered States‘), espionage (‘The Billion Dollar Brain‘), musicals (‘The Boyfriend‘,’Tommy‘, ‘Listzomania‘), biography (‘The Music Lovers‘, ‘Savage Messiah‘, ‘Mahler‘, ‘Valentino‘), drama (‘Whore‘), comedy (‘French Dressing‘), horror (‘Lair of the White Worm‘, ‘Gothic‘), historical drama (‘The Devils‘), and literary (‘Women in Love‘, ‘The Rainbow‘, ‘Salome’s Last Dance‘).
Like the greatest of cinematic auteurs, Russell has created his own distinctive visual language that makes his work instantly recognisable, unforgettable and artistically important.
If this weren’t enough, Russell produced an outstanding body of television films, which has yet to be equalled for their intelligence (‘Delius – The Song of Summer‘), artistry (‘The Debussy Film‘) and controversy (‘Dance of the Seven Veils‘). Indeed it was Russell who devised the bio-pic or drama doc with his BBC film ‘Elgar‘, a form that has been relentlessly copied since.
Today Russell turns 83, and as we wish him a very Happy Birthday, we hope that he is encouraged and supported to produce more of his wonderful, inspiring and idiosyncratic films.
11th December 1968 was the first time John Lennon played publicy in a band without The Beatles. It was a fractious time for the Fab Four. During the recording of the ‘White Album’ tensions flared - Lennon and Paul McCartney recorded their songs separately; George Harrison worked with Eric Clapton as guitarist on ‘My Guitar Gently Sleeps’; while Nicky Hopkins played keys on Lennon’s ‘Revolution’; and Ringo Starr had quit the band in August, then rejoined in September, just in time to form a united front for the famous ‘Hey Jude’ promo. The Beatles were changing, as their personal lives had greater influence on their individual creativity.
This was particularly true for Lennon, who was about to start one of his most prolific, creative and headline-grabbing phases.
In October, Lennon and new love, Yoko Ono were busted in a set-up raid at their London flat.
That same month, Ono suffered a miscarriage, but not before Lennon recorded the unborn baby’s heartbeat and released this unsettling murmur on the couple’s next album ‘Unfinished Music No 2: Life With the Lions‘.
Ten days after the ‘White Album’ hit the UK No 1 spot, Lennon guested on ‘The Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus‘, with a hastily assembled supergroup, he called ‘The Dirty Mac’, in snide reference to latest chart flavour of the month, Fleetwood Mac.
The Dirty Mac consisted of Cream’s Eric Clapton on lead guitar, The Stones’ Keith Richards on bass, Mitch Mitchell, from The Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums, and Lennon as Winston Leg-Thigh on rhythm guitar and vocals.
The Mac should have been the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band ever. But this was just a one-off gig, where they performed a Beatles’ cover, Lennon’s ‘Yer Blues’ and gave a backing jam to Yoko Ono’s improvised warbling.
This odd mix of good and bad performance revealed some very unique talent at its height. But, it was also tarnished with a self-indulgence that meant such supergroups, such artists, were soon to be out of touch with a younger generation who sought their lead and aural pleasures with The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Roxy Music and The New York Dolls.
Lennon tried his hand at another supergroup the following year, this time with Clapton, Ono, Klaus Voorman, and Alan White, performing a Live Peace gig in Toronto.
Norma Tanega was a camp counsellor in the Catskills when she joined New Voice Records in 1966. Her first single, ‘Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog’ charted at 22 in the Billboard 100. It was her last major chart success, and the single was sadly consigned to the list of novelty one-hit-wonders.
Though Tanega continued her Folk career, she dedicated much of her time to her long-term relationship with the legendary and brilliant singer, Dusty Springfield. The couple had an intense relationship during the 1960s and remained life-long friends, until Springfield’s untimely death in 1999.
Tanega moved to England in the 1970s, and signed to RCA. She eventually returned to America, where she obtained an MFA in Painting and started a career as a teacher.
Though she has performed with the World Music group Hybrid Vigor, it as an artist that Norma Tanega is best known today.
With thanks to Ian Bruce
In these interviews ranging from an early revealing walk and talk with Janet Street-Porter in London (where we can see Lydon dressed like some Dickensian character); through a tense Public Image Limited press conference, with Keith Levene, for PiL’s first tour of the USA; to a press launch for the 1983 film ‘Order of Death’; we see the wit of Lydon’s intelligence and the passions that fuel his anger.
In my world there are a few songs which should have won the Eurovision Song Contest without question, but sadly were never entered into that twinkly, satin, pant-suit, singing competition. One that comes instantly to mind is ‘Mr Eurovision‘ by that greatly under-rated genius, Neil Innes.
With ‘Mr Eurovision‘ Innes combined the very best of what Europe had to offer with a ludicrously catchy tune. Why the UK never entered this work of unparalleled brilliance, I do not know. Perhaps there was a hidden threat that the song could literally take over the world by invading friendly countries, bringing their nightclubs to a standstill, and leading their brainwashed populations to dance gaily up and down the high streets at all hours of the day and night.
‘Prisencolinensinainciusol‘ should have been Italy’s Ace card in the Eurovision stakes, but it was never entered. We can only assume that a fear of earthquakes probably stopped one of the greatest Euro dance tracks ever produced bringing Western civilization to a standstill.
First released in November 1972, ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’ was written by Adriano Celentano, and recorded by Celentrano and his wife, actress Claudia Mori.
When asked what ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol‘ meant, Celentano claimed that having recorded albums of songs on social and environmental issues that meant something, he wanted to record an album of songs that meant nothing. He added that if ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’ meant anything it is about the “incommunicability” of modern life.
This all might be true back on planet Earth, but here on Planet Paul, dancing is one of the greatest forms of communication, and, at the moment, ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’ says everything we want to say on the subject.
This is what it’s all about and always will be: creative self expression.
It’s what the Haul Girls do so well
And what these young troubadours called Chair do with unfettered joy.
This pair, like two cool anti-heroes from a John Waters movie, sing about the angst, pain, unhappiness and hurt that is one of the main building blocks in growing up. They don’t flinch from sharing the personal stuff that everyone, somewhere down the line, can identify with, and that’s what makes ‘I’m Fat And Nobody Likes Me’ a work sheer youthful genius.
Moreover, what Chair, the Haul Girls and all the the other Web, WordPress, YouTube, Techno Revolutionaries are doing is as important as Rock ‘n’ Roll, Beatlemania, Punk and 101 other youth movements. For like their esteemed predecessors these youngsters have the guts to go out and do something creative, something special that reaches out and connects with like-minded individuals.