The rot set in during the 1960s, I would suggest........
This morning, I received from an eBay seller in Canterbury a 51 years old soundtrack 45 of the title song from The Rank Organisation's Eastman Colour drama Nor The Moon By Night, which starred Michael Craig; Belinda Lee and Patrick McGoohan and which was sung by Frank Holder on Parlophone 45-R. 4459. What a lovely song it is, too and I thought why don't they have something as good as this on the Eurovision Song Contest, instead of the tuneless dross featured on there these days, where catawailing females shreik out "songs" in a way that gives the impression that they are making it up as they go along and trying to make up some sort of melody as they go along, too (and failing miserably). The incredibly overrated Andrew Lloyd Webber could never compose anything as tuneful as Nor The Moon By Night.
Nor The Moon By Night harks back to the days when songs had a strong melody that you could sing yourself or whistle as you walked down the street after coming out of the cinema where you'd just seen the film.
In fact, any of the British hit songs of 1958, such as Love Me Forever; The Story Of My Life or The Stairway Of Love, could run rings around the absolute junk put forward for the British entry in the Eurovision Song Contest this year and win the contest hands down. Where has all the composing talent gone? Come back, Lionel Bart!
The rot set in during the 1960s, I would suggest........
Well, 1968's Congratulations, sung by Cliff Richard, was, in my opinion, the most recent British entry to be any good (it should have won, but reached number 2) and that was an incredible 41 years ago!
I love that song, "Nor the Moon by Night". Haven't heard it for yonks. You're lucky to get that, darrenburn - I suspect it might be rather rare.
Not only that, ShirlGirl, but it's a white label demonstration copy, which, no doubt, is even rarer than the regular pressing. It's in excellent condition too and I was amazed that I was the only bidder and I got it for the starting price of £2:50. I've had the 78 rpm shellac disc of it for years and obtaining this 45 rpm vinyl copy has now made my 78 redundant.
name='darrenburnfan']Well, 1968's Congratulations, sung by Cliff Richard, was, in my opinion, the most recent British entry to be any good
I'm not sure what to make of that.
Simple, really, narabdela. Although there have been many excellent British songs released on record since 1968, nothing of any quality seems to get chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest any more. It's the same type of tuneless junk every year.
I just remembered Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz from the early 1980's. That was excellent...but even that's nearly thirty years ago now and I can't recall anything worthy of note since then.
Wasn't the movie one of these few non-Hammer productions scored by Jimmy Bernard?
The last decent UK Eurovision song was COUNTRY GIRL sung by Kenneth McKellar....
name='darrenburnfan']Simple, really, narabdela. Although there have been many excellent British songs released on record since 1968, nothing of any quality seems to get chosen for the Eurovision Song Contest any more. It's the same type of tuneless junk every year.
I would agree with you about tuneless junk, but since 'Congratulations' was such a spectacularly awful song, I wasn't sure if you had your tongue firmly wedged in your cheek.
Yes, James Bernard composed the music for Nor The Moon By Night and the record label credits Bernard and Fisher for the title song.
Country Girl, written by Robert Farnon, was a lovely song. I bought the Decca Songs For Europe EP in 1966 with Kenneth McKellar singing five songs (DFE 8645) and I still have it in my collection 43 years later.
I suppose it depends on your personal taste if you think that Congratulations is or is not a good song. I thought it was very catchy and bought it on my 21st birthday in April, 1968. But it's still got far more of a catchy tune to it than this years entry.
Some years ago, I was a guest at a signing event in London - with the then recently discovered master tapes of Hammer movie music recordings having been discovered in the late music director Phillip Martell's attic. (This was the first of the Hammer compilation CDs). Composer James Bernard and Hammer stars Ingrid Pitt, Caroline Munroe, Martine Beswicke etc were all in attendance to sign the CD.
With time to kill before I was required to attend, I spent a little time in a movie soundtrack store, and found a box by the counter which contained a pile of old 45rpms. One of these was the single from NOR THE MOON BY NIGHT (the vocal by Frank Holder). I purchased it for a minor sum, took it to the event - and when the champagne was flowing at the signing table - presented it to James, since I knew that amongst the many personal possessions that he'd lost - a copy of this vocal was one of them. He was moved to tears, signed it - and refused to take it, insisting that I should keep it. It's one of my treasured items.
Quite apart from the Hammer horror movie scores that James composed for the FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA movies etc - he had a real flare not only for melodic composition, but often a kind of savage 'flourish' in his music that could be heard at its best in movies like SHE and THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY. For anyone interested, I reference that style in my dedication/review to THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES which originally appeared in the book CINEMACABRE, and which is soon to be reprinted in THE LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS magazine published by Dick Klemensen.
Just a little tale that I thought you all might enjoy.
The Midnight Man: The Official Website of the author Stephen Laws
Frank Holder (Parlo. R4459*) also sings of Africa in two songs from the film "Nor The Moon By Night ", the title number and Bechuanaland, being exotically seductive and kwela-beaty respectively. This artist might almost be regarded as Britain's answer to Harry Belafonte
Article | C TEREO* sound is so named because it gives the illusion of three dimension sound and "presence". | Page90 - October1958 - Gramophone Archive
I wonder what kwela-beaty was.... is.....
Rank's score for another McGoohan movie, "The Gypsy & The Gentleman", is also very good, although reportedly Joseph Losey resigned from the picture over it. I have no idea what his musical beef could have been.
What a wonderful story, Stephen, about James Bernard and that Nor The Moon By Night single. Yes, his title music for that film was far removed from what he was writing at the time for the Hammer Dracula and Frankenstein films. His musical talent was wide ranging.
I don't know what Kwela Beaty was, Moor Larkin. Probably an African form of Calypso. Great scene in the film when Patrick McGoohan is driving his jeep through the bush and a cobra drops from a tree branch into the back of it and he deliberately overturns the moving jeep, to eject the snake out of it. John Drake would have done the same, no doubt. It's about time the film was released on DVD.
Kwela is a happy, often pennywhistle based, street music from southern Africa with jazzy underpinnings. It evolved from the marabi sound and brought South African music to international prominence in the 1950s.
The music is rooted in Africa, but later adaptations of this and many other African folk idioms have permeated Western music (listen to Graceland by Paul Simon) and give modern South African music, particularly jazz, much of its distinctive sound and lilting swagger.