One of the great delights of watching old light entertainment programmes for me is when the camera pans across the orchestra. I'm enough of an anorak to be able to put names to many of the faces that show up, as they parp, honk and bash away in the service of the business they call the show. I know I'm not alone, because I've sat in darkened rooms watching shows with close friends (male, as if you needed to ask), all of us cooing "Ooooh, look, it's Kenny Clare" at the appropriate moment. One such occasion was when a friend showed me Pop Go The Sixties, a BBC/ZDF co-production from 1969, showcasing the best musical talent of the decade. In among the likes of Tom Jones, the Shadows and the Who were the Johnny Harris Orchestra, then the house band on Lulu's show. Aided by some fairly rubbish dancers, they stormed through a fantastic version of 'I Can't Get No Satisfaction', powered by the stellar drumming of Harold Fisher, whom I've mentioned here before. I've been wanting to see that bit of the show again ever since, so I was delighted when it turned up on BBC4 the other night. The bass playing is superb, too. I'm not sure who's responsible - Johnny Harris usually worked with Herbie Flowers, but it doesn't look like him to me. The Harris is pretty groovy in his own right. You can't imagine Harry Rabinowitz conducting like this.
Just one reservation: I'm not entirely sure about BBC4's decision to chop such a major show into bite-sized chunks to be used in tricky 5-minute gaps in the schedule. Let's see the whole thing in context. Even less sure am I of the right of the person who chopped the show into those chunks to claim a producer's credit for an editor's job, as one Robin Keam did.
Meanwhile, this one turned up in a TOTP2 shown on Dave (shite name, half-decent channel) the other morning. It's the Top of the Pops Orchestra under Johnny Pearson, offering their version of 'El Bimbo' by Bimbo Jet. As the camera moved across the band, I identified Clem Cattini on drums, Lowestoft's own Derek Warne on electric piano, Rick Kennedy and Bobby Lamb on trombones, Paul Keogh and Chris Rae on guitars, and Kenny Wheeler, Ian Hamer and Leon Calvert making up the trumpet section. It's playing candyfloss like this that enabled Kenny Wheeler to make several stunning, but marginally profitable albums for ECM. We must be profoundly thankful. If anyone else can identify any of the musicians I've missed, please add a comment. In particular, the southpaw bass player is unknown to me.
What the hell, while we're here, let's have some of the real stuff. Might be time for some Phil Seamen stories...