Thursday, 17 February 2011

Zum Gali Gali

And there we must leave all things jazz for the moment, though like Bod And His Friends, they'll be back - as there's many more diversions to make, stretching all the way from John Coltrane to Jamiroquai. And believe me, that's a long way, even if Jay Kay can indeed walk up walls and on the ceiling like he keeps doing in his puzzlingly repetitive videos.

Indeed, it was in the era that he was busy jumping around on The Word wearing a pretentious girl student's bag as a hat that, quite by accident, in a true moment of zen I found without trying what I'd long since lost sight of the fact that I was actually searching for. For there, in a charity shop, inadvertently yanked out of the decaying carboard box alongside a Johnny Dankworth LP, was a white sleeve bearing what appeared to be a certain near-mythical title rendered in the same sort of font as that old-skool stripey BBC2 '2'. Yes, it was Music From BBC Children's Programmes. At long, long last.

For a second I stood transfixed by the cover. Then I tried to actually decipher the weird visual jumble, made up of a headache-inducing Grog-On-Blue-Peter-Boat graphical nightmare of a load of programme logos all piled on top of each other. Some of these could just about be breathlessly made out, and gave exciting pointers as to what might be contained within. An excitement that was immediately tempered by the presence of two bland and well-mannered youngsters in the bottom left-hand corner.

You see, until a long-overdue incidence of getting-with of the times in the mid-eighties, the BBC were always irritatingly fond of using clean-cut, fresh-faced young innocents (often toting toy trains) to iconographise their children's output, as a reflection of the improving Reithian values that children's shows like Blue Peter and The Song And The Story were supposed to embody (Zokko!, we can only assume, must therefore have been represented by some unkempt screaming incoherent that they kept locked in the airing cupboard for their own safety). The kind of youngsters who would dutifully watch BBC Schools programmes even when they weren't at school, singing along enthusiastically to Music Time yet all the while failing to appreciate the unanticipated joys of that mental AOR instrumental thingy that accompanied the 'dots', or the jazzy theme from Watch, or indeed its comely presenter Louise Hall-Taylor. The sort of children who made it past the opening titles of Go With Noakes. The sort of children, in short, who could ruin this most mythologised of albums. Come on in, they seem to be saying, it's all good clean fun here. You'll find nothing to trouble or disturb you. Apart from possibly The World Of Doctor Who.

But we were already in way above our heads. I'd spent too many hours and seen too many Mario Lanza album covers to be dissuaded now. There was a potential doorway to retronostalgic nirvana just waiting for someone to say "ready to knock, turn the lock", and no amount of sepia-toned goody two shoes-es were going to stand in my way. It was time to actually listen to Music From BBC Children's Programmes.

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