Saturday, 21 November 2009

two decimalisation-themed 45s

I always rather enjoy records pertaining to events, fads, and campaigns; in addition, I take a perverse delight in owning just one or two discs by folk whose music I generally find unpalatable : Cliff Richard's Thunderbirds movie song Shooting Star is great, but is pretty much all the Cliff I can cope with. Similarly, Des O'Connor's dance craze cash-in Twist Drive and his swinging London paean Dick-A-Dum-Dum are the only Des necessary. And I find Shirley Bassey's Bond film work sufficient too.
Max Bygraves is one of those cringe-inducing light entertainment characters to whom I've always given a wide berth - but I'm pleased to possess his 1970 single Decimalisation (Pye 7N.17999) in its blue wavy-top paper company sleeve. A Gordon Rees/Ernie Ponticelli composition, Decimalisation is a close relative of Cliff's irrepressible '68 Eurovision smash Congratulations (note the extra syllable in its one-word title) - and thus sounds at least two years out of date for its release year.
Halfway through, Max tries his hand at rapping : "The half-crown too has gone for good/ A coin that foreigners never understood" is my favourite couplet. Earlier, Max rhymes "shilling" with "milling" : "A fifty pence piece hasn't got a milling" is perhaps the sole instance of this word's use in a pop song. I prefer not to ponder the lengthy career of the British institution that is Max, save for to mention that I once learned that a Canterbury charity shop was refusing donations of Max's numerous albums for the reason that the sheer quantity, combined with the regular passing-on of members of his audience who'd agedalongaMax, meant that supply far outstripped demand. And Max's son recorded a few glam-era sevens (like Banana Pie) under the name "Ant".
A companion piece to Max's single is by a labelmate, a little lad name of Sebastian (no surname). My advance copy of D.E.C.I.M.A.L. (Pye 7N.45048) is rubber-stamped with the release date 26 FEB 1971. I guess this was Sebastian's only record. Penned by Roker and Beadle, its jaunty, easy listening pop backing isn't too far off what Dawn were doing in '71. Sebastian opens with, "Once upon a time we divided up our money into units called l. s. d." - those initials raising a smile coming from the mouth of one so weeny. Like Max, Seb does a little rap towards the record's close, and there's a great three-times-over call-and-response part worthy of James Brown : "Have you got it ?" "Yeah !" The flip, The Decimal Theme, has Seb prattling away precociously, displaying his knowledge over a spot of m.o.r. : "Now if a pound of meat costs 42 new pence what do three pounds cost ? The answer is 126 new pence which is the same as 1.26 pounds. Decimals are easy !"
I don't know how many decimal currency records appeared around D-Day-time, though I do have the BBC's 1970 Decimal Points L.P. (REMO 46M) upon which is explained the inevitable inaccuracy of a system which sees ten transposed onto twelve, and the resulting perceived short-changing of irritated customers by shopkeepers. I still seek Albert Steptoe actor Wilfred Brambell's CBS single The Decimal Song... was that the lot ? I've a decimal currency song from down under, on the magnificent Antipodean Atrocities double, but that's another story/continent...

Link to piece with Sebastian reference :,9171,904712-1,00.html.

two decimalisation singles

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