Thursday, 27 October 2011

On this day: 27/10/77

As said the other day, were Darts Showaddywaddy's fault? There must have been some lift-off point for doo-wop and 1950s rock and roll tropes becoming popular. Whatever, Darts had the not so secret weapon of the nuts bass vocalist's nuts bass vocalist Den Hegarty, here taking advantage of the fact Pops literally couldn't fit the pianist on the stage by attempting, albeit hidden largely from our view by the audience, to take the man out himself.

- 1977: Here's some careful and sensitive analysis of political and religious turmoil. Yes, it's Boney M's Belfast.

- 1983: one clip from this has been on here before, King Kurt (not Curtis, Tony) getting tarred and feathered. From the same week, Musical Youth dress as junior wine waiters and cover Desmond Dekker.

- 1988: somewhat missing the point, Tom Jones and the reductive (as in only two of the original five still involved) Art Of Noise take great minimalist pop and maximise it. Of course he gets on the piano. Elsewhere, Milli Vanilli. Miming. Obviously.

- 2000: Blur's last appearance in the original line-up, and Graham Coxon takes the opportunity to break out the deerstalker.


Bob Stanley said...

Probably hard to understand now, but Darts were an education to some (inc. me, and like-minded school friends). I never heard the original Daddy Cool or Come Back My Love until many years later, and it's to the credit of It's Raining and Don't Let It Fade Away that they're not disgraced as (original) singles sandwiched between covers of The Boy From New York City and Duke Of Earl. There was simply no way of hearing 99% of 50s/early 60s doo wop/R&R, unless you had a rocker 'uncle' with a decent record collection. They existed. I knew one, but he disgraced himself and split from my 'auntie' before I was old enough to get my hands near his Coral collection.

Pity poor Darts, then. No one is going to give them their due as an inspiration, as to modern ears what they did sounds like little more than elaborate karaoke. Their cause isn't helped by their spivvy looks (I'm leaving lovely Rita out of this). One of them was called Bob Fish. Even now I can't tell how old they are - could be anything between 25 and 55.

Adam Maunder said...

Bloody hell - I've to follow Bob Stanley on here now, have I? Well, before we get down to the discussion at hand, may I first prostrate myself and say THANK YOU, sir, for a) everything you & the Etienne have ever done, and b) every album you've ever compiled. Quite how I ever managed to get through life without The Town I Live In by Jackie Lee, or anything on Tea & Symphony, or Songs for the Dog & Duck etc etc, I don't know, but there's plenty of us in serious debt to you.

Back to Darts & the RnR Revival. Whereas the US line through Sha Na Na, American Graffiti, Happy Days et al is easy enough to trace, in this country it's all a bit murkier. You got the odd Jungle Rock-style breakout, but not many.

In terms of Darts, though, there's one crucial thing to remember: they were one of a number of young hopefuls who all gravitated towards one man, and one show - Radio London's Honky Tonk, with Charlie Gillett. They opened one edition of this definition of 'cult' programming with a live-in-the-studio acapella rendition of this, another original:

Anybody listening to that unawares must've assumed it was Dion & the Belmonts having a practice/rehearsal, not the rough-looking geezerish types we soon came to recognise, and that IS important.

For my part, being catapulted into existence in the strange & scary year of 1985, I was unbelievably lucky in that I HAD the requisite family member to hep me to all of this: my dad, so by the time I was about 6 I was singing along to the Crows' Gee, not Brian Harvey.

Of the generation that went through all the most important changes - he was born in '47 - he was at the same sort of level of inquisitive, knowledgeable types like Gillett, Colin Escott, Bill Millar, Adam Komorowski & so on who were driving interest in the older rock forms, hence the massive outpouring of rockabilly reissues on the major labels in the later 70s, and your sprouting of all the proudly retro revivalist types like Showaddy, Darts and Shakie to come.

As Mr. Stanley's already noted, they chose the material exquisitely. Where Darts are concerned, they just picked up on the most perfectly catchy numbers that would've sold if performed even moderately well; by a curious happenstance, the record I've heard most often this week has been the 'original' cover of the Wrens' Come Back My Love, that by the wonderful Cardinals.

Not that they didn't also dig deeper in search of more of a challenge; I'm told Darts had a crack at this one somewhere along the line, and I'm willing to believe they gave it a bloody good go:

Foof. Well, that's me chuffed for the next week! ('I was in a discussion with Bob Stanley...!')

Noax said...

I can only echo Adam's graceful thanks to Bob Stanley and the band for their body of work. The reissues of the albums that came out over the last couple of years got me through my Accountancy exams (rock and roll eh?!)

As for Darts, I was also around 6 years old when they were having hits and nowhere near knowledgable enough about the style of music - to me it was just quality pop - but I do remember going to a mate's birthday party where, having just bought 'Daddy Cool', he played it about 10 times in a row. That's something you only ever did with 7" singles. It still sounded great after the 10th play as well...

Simon said...

There is something in the continuing reappropriation of early rock'n'roll into the early 80s (Shaky, Stray Cats, The Lion Sleeps Tonight, right down to Coast To Coast) and whether it's of a piece with, say, the girl group sound revival 2006-2009 or the mid-90s easy listening thing.

Plus Teddy Boys were still around and active in the mid-70s, many punk luminaries have talked and written about how keen that culture became on beating punks up, Rotten and Strummer among those.

wilberforce said...

don't forget that shakin' stevens (with his band the sunsets) spent the 70's trudging around the lesser venues of blighty (including playing my home town where the only slebs who otherwise appeared were radio 1 jocks), keeping the flame of rock 'n' roll alight for the faithful before becoming an overnight success with "this ole house"...