Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Four Girls With No Hairbushes Singing 'Here We Go Looby Loo'

Rubber Soul. Kind Of Blue. Modern Life Is Rubbish. Girls Talk by The Rebel Pebbles. There are many albums where - whether through musical innovation or cultural context or just having a foxy 'Rachel' one on guitar - listening to them for the first time is somewhat akin to that moment in films and TV shows where it goes from black and white into colour. Though as the only two examples that are springing to mind are the equally as tedious as each other The Wizard Of Oz and Doctor Who: The Two Doctors (which, frankly, was an insult to the show's actual black and white era, and its colour era too come to think of it), that's hardly a very helpful analogy.

But that was exactly what I was hoping Music From BBC Children's Programmes would be. A sudden shift from the 'rave'-saturated Americana-dominated realities of the popular cultural landscape of the day into the more kaleidoscopic hues of all those gaudy seventies-fashioned programmes lurking tantalisingly on the fringes of the memory. An hallucinogenic vista wherein musical innovation was Freddie Phillips bashing out a scary disjointed chord, cultural context was the BBC not being able to afford anything more than lone presenters in 'white void' studios, and the nearest thing to a 'Rachel' one was winsome thigh-length-boot-favouring Play School/Play Away folkie Toni Arthur.

Or, if you will, the moment when Black And White Andy Pandy turned into Colour Andy Pandy - for, while it was sadly not represented on Music From BBC Children's Programmes, the full colour remake of Andy Pandy that hovered around the Watch With Mother schedules in the mid-seventies was a textbook example of the esoteric televisual sub-universe that this album would hopefully somehow break through to. Made on ropey oversaturated film stock, and with a disconcertingly 'different' Teddy to boot, it had been an all-too-familiar sight on the small screen for a number of years but now was almost completely forgotten, to the point where people actually accused me (and in fact sometimes still do) of having made it up. In the days before clip shows with Peter Kay doing that counting off an imaginary list on his fingers thing while talking about Spacehoppers, nostalgia for the television of the seventies in particular was almost like nostalgia for something that never actually happened.

But it did happen, and like Lee Mavers and his legendary belief that somewhere out there was an antiquated console with real sixties dust on it that could make the umpteenth re-recording of Doledrum match the sounds that he was hearing in his head, I was convinced that this album with real seventies Space Dust on it was the key to the sounds I was still hearing in my head.

True, a note of alarm had been sounded by those aforementioned genteel youngsters on the cover (who would normally be derisively described as 'Posh Paws', except in this instance it would hardly be treating Posh Paws with due reverence), and true, some half-expected inclusions appeared to be missing while other less palatable-looking offerings took their place, but if we were ever going to reach this higher state of consciousness wherein all was bliss and enlightenment and psychedelic waves emenated from that opening titles drawing of Barnaby standing next to a gramophone, it might be an idea to actually listen to the album first.

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