Some Musical Finds: Kenny Everett, 23rd Turnoff, The Merseys, and Duke Ellington

Hello. I am starting up a blog again. You may recall that I had a blog in 2004. OH OF COURSE YOU DON’T.


We’re gonna start off with a couple of recent musical rediscoveries, and one discovery, that I consider important.


In 1968 through 1970, as an adolescent, on Saturday mornings I would sequester myself in my room, in our flat off Holland Park in London, to listen to The Kenny Everett Show. Kenny was the epitome of English zaniness, right up there with Monty Python and the Beatles themselves. Here is a nice 10-minute sampling of his radio work.



He also did a number of TV shows, mostly in the ‘70s and ‘80s, but his first TV show was called “Nice Time”, produced in 1968. That show was co-hosted by Germaine Greer, who in 1970 published The Female Eunuch, a feminist best-seller. On the show she was a perky girl with a mess of black curls. They called her Golly. See, because the curls made her look like a Golliwogg. Ahem. Something with which Britons were still pretty familiar at the time; not so much over here. I’m not finding any standalone clips from that show, but there are some brief clips and stills from it in this 1988 interview.


ANYWAY, I loved me Ken. And I remember that he put out a single called “It’s Been So Long.” The other day I went looking for it. Turns out it was written by Harry Nilsson. Harry’s version is here.


And here is Ken’s version. So fun. So silly.



So but now here is the Holy Grail. This is a song that I remember having been played on The Kenny Everett Show, and for 40-odd years I’ve been asking people if they remember it, and nobody does. I put pedal to the metal the other day on the Web, determined to find it, and I did. Via, a reference I had somewhat forgotten about, because generally Wikipedia plus YouTube do the trick, but there I found out that the song I was looking for was done by a group called (and yeah, this is memorable) 23rd Turnoff. And here it is. It’s really, really cute.



Except. This still didn’t quite sound like what I remember. And in my further cyberspace travels yesterday I saw that the song had been covered by The Merseys, a duo consisting of remnants of The Merseybeats. And here is their version:



And that, I am pretty sure, is what I heard in my purple room in London when I was 13 or 14.


Catchy, huh?


Now lastly, I don’t recall exactly how I ran across this. I find it pretty amazing. And with only a thousand hits and change at present. 1969. The  Apollo 11 moon landing. The ABC network. A special song for the occasion, written and performed live in the studio by Duke Ellington. “Moon Maiden.” He announces that this is his debut as a vocalist. Surreal.



He recorded “Moon Maiden” for one of his last albums, The Intimate Ellington. The recorded version is somewhat more bizarre. I prefer the TV version. But…ya gotta hear this too.