Friday, October 12, 2007

Stirring up a storm

It seems that my last blog entry on Terry Dene's gig at the 100 Club has ruffled a few feathers. The link appeared alongside the photo I took of Terry which appeared on the Tales From The Woods website (the link's now been removed - presumably by public demand!) and as a result quite a few people read what I had to say. I thought what I wrote was inoffensive and quite positive, but clearly that wasn't the view of some readers and there's a clutch of comments attached to the entry. It's nice to know that people read The Vinyl Word occasionally but I can't help it if my views differ from those of others. I thought the gig was OK and that Terry Dene made a decent stab at performing other people's numbers. But it was hardly the gig of the decade.
I know I am not alone in believing that nearly all British rock and roll of the late 50s and early 60s was rubbish - pale imitations of what was coming out of America. Even at the age of 12 or 13 watching 6.5 Special or Oh Boy! I knew that what I was watching wasn't the real thing. I just had to compare what I was hearing to the music coming our way from the States. Terry Dene was just one of a whole host of British singers who produced tame, middle of the road covers masquerading as rock and roll. Only Billy Fury (pictured in characteristic pose) rose above the mediocrity that consumed British rock and roll. The rest couldn't hold a candle to Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and the rest.
So although it was interesting to see that Terry Dene has survived and can still sing after nearly 50 years in the shade, it was just that - interesting, rather than exciting or brilliant.


At 8:53 am , Blogger Nick said...

I've had a couple of emails from Ken Major and Tony Papard saying they tried to put a comment on the blog but failed. So here's what they had to say:
Ken said:
I've now read the Blog comments.
Cripes, as Nick Sands once said, "now you know why I go the USA for good music".
I just can't believe that there is actually a debate going about Terry Dene. Nice bloke that he is, come on guys, are we really debating the merits of the one british singer that we all hated. Did we not compare the worst records we ever heard to Terry Dene ?
Every, every, every record collecting, gig going mate from the early '60s HATED pioneering british rock n'roll, and Terry Dene was top of the RUBBISH HEAP, how many Terry Dene records do you own folks (Bill Haynes beats you to the post!). Nice bloke as I've said- yes, can warble - yes, but there it ends. Jesus, we'd be promoting Charlie Drake if he was still around, but then there is Norman Widsom, I am sure somebody considers him a GREAT british Rocker, maybe he wants a second career. Even Woodie (is he still?) Alan Hardcastle could not take all the british hype of recent, and asked to be closed out from the emails, goodness knows what he must think of the "sensational" Terry Dene (I expect somebody will come in with "sensational").
The fact that I actually type "Terry Dene", let alone read a review fills me with dread, again some of my old record junking friends would turn scarlet if they knew there even was a debate let alone a live show (rock on Paul Sandford).
Terry Dene is nothing special - end of story, if you think he is then your name ends in Dene !
However I still say to TFTW, get him on the r/billy circuit with some boy wonder bands

At 8:56 am , Blogger Nick said...

And Tony said:
Seems Nick's caused a lot of controversy in what I felt was a quite reasonable article, but one person at least, sigining himself/herself 'anonymous', is clearly very upset.

My own view is that the Terry Dene concert was entertaining enough, and deserved to be better supported. The backing band was excellent. It was a bit 'over-the-top' to describe Dene as the best rock'n'roll singer Britain has produced perhaps, but this is all part of the build-up any artist would receive before coming on stage. I'm sure Vince Eager, Wee Willie Harris, etc. would have had a similar build-up.

We all have our favorites. British rock'n'roll is not recognized as having any merit at all by many purists, and it is true that a lot of awful cover versions of original American hits were put out by the Parnes/Meek stables. As might be expected from these two guys, 'looks' were at least as important as talent, but this was also the case in America at the time with the likes of Fabian and the 'flock of Bobbies' coming on the scene and pushing true gutsy rock'n'roll out of the charts.

Personally, I feel we did have a handful of really good rock''n'roll and pop stars in that era of the late 1950s/early 1960s, including Cliff Richard (who's first hits were great rock'n'roll originals and who has proved his remarkable hit-making staying power over subsequent decades), Lonnie Donegan, Wee Willie Harris, Rick Richards/Hardy who certainly suprised me with his amazing talent, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury - even Screamin' Lord Sutch, who was a great entertainer, if not the greatest singer in the world (though he had some pretty original recordings like 'Jack The Ripper', 'Dracula's Daughter', 'Black & Hairy', etc. which I still find great fun in the Screamin' Jay Hwkins rock-horror tradition).

But let's not forget the British and Continental talent which came along after this era in the rock'n'roll/rockabilly area such as Graham Fenton's Matchbox (and his earlier Houseshakers and Hellraisers line-ups), Shakin' Stevens & The Sunsets (before he became famous and went 'pop'), Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers (who write most of their own material), Sandy Ford's various Flyin' Saucers line-ups (and Sandy Ford himself, the real Peter Pan of rock'n'roll - he never looks a day older!). Also Lucas & The Dynamos, who recently re-formed, Big Boy Bloater, Mike Sanchez, and the great German group The Lennerockers, etc., etc..

If anybody is interested, my own blog can be found at . Recent blogs include: 'Weekend TV: New Europe, Emmylou & Dylan' (Oct 13th), 'Totalitarian Architecture' (illustrated - October 8th), 'Voyage of Discovery' (about scientific studies of 'life-after-death - Oct 5th), 'George Miller: 27.5.43- 29.9.91' (illustrated with a picture of me and my life-partner George - Sep 29th), 'False Economies' (on NHS/pensions, etc. - Sep 28th), 'Michael Pallin's New Europe' (illustrated with Socialist-era flags, naturally from an old Red like me! - Sep 23rd) and 'Sailing the Seas of Memories' (about my recent Med cruise - September 19th.) Comments are invited on any or all articles on this blog.)

At 5:45 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Ken Major

We all hated? I didn't and if 'you' did then really you are not the right person to give judgement about him and/or what he should be doing next.

I don't see your name in the Guiness Book of Records or Best of British, either, in fact I don't recollect seeing your name anywhere.

We will all have different opinions about Terry, the fact remains however that ‘The White Sport Coat’ in the first 7 weeks sold in excess of 300,000 copies and together with ‘Stairway of Love’, which remained in the charts for 8 weeks running, and his British version of ‘Start Movin’ at number 14, put his records in the top 20 twice in the same year.

Have some respect.

With this I will end my interaction with a site that is not worth getting into at all.

A site that does not stand out for novelty (picks up where everyone has left), or coherence(why would anyone go and see an artistist that they can't stand and have the audacity to even make suggestions as to what they should be doing in the future, I haven't got a clue). I bet nobody asked.

You all stick to what you really like and let everyone else enjoy what they really like, too.

My opinion about Terry will never change.


Even better, So Long.

At 3:18 pm , Anonymous Big Ed said...

Re Terry Dene.

I was around at the time of his "short" army career. Same unit I believe though I never met him.
Shouldn't be too hard on the guy as I believe if he'd stuck in with his National Service he may have been around the pop scene as Elvis managed.
O.K. Nobody around that time was exactly Mr Wonderful but for the time and Pop infancy he wasn't far away from making the grade,and probably would have lasted the pace a little better had it not been his spat with military discipline, which did his potential career much harm.


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