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Biography

Music Henry

My earliest musical memory involved hearing either “A Walk in the Black Forest” or ” A Mouse Lived in a Windmill (In Old Amsterdam)”. I loved those dinky tunes. The theme from Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” proved just as enjoyable, and does even now. All seem typical of the kinds of melodies children respond well to. I spent a large portion of time , prior to attending primary school, defacing the cover of my mother’s Black & White Minstrels album with a felt tip. I also regularly enjoyed dragging the needle of my sister’s boxy, “Elizabethan” record player across her copy of “Help”. This might have been worth a fortune today if I hadn’t knackered it, but this destructive exercise was worthwhile as it became interesting to hear how “Ticket To Ride” sounded backwards and at variable speeds.

My first, proper audio purchase wasn’t that bad in retrospect – a single by The Turtles called “She’d Rather Be With Me”, bought for me by my mother from a record shop in Broadway near Norris Green. Little did I know that many years later, I would be enjoying the rather more unorthodox vocal stylings of that American group’s two main singers, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan., during their early 70’s stint in The Mothers Of Invention (many other Zappa fans didn’t, I gather). The second audio purchase was, I kid you not, “Careless Hands” by Des O’Conner. That’s right,  “Careless Hands” – well at least it wasn’t “Dick-A-Dum-Dum”. This might have been in response to discovering that Liverpool FC fans had sung it somewhat sarcastically to Gary Sprake, Leeds’ goalkeeper of the day, during a match at Anfield when, in motioning to throw the ball out to one of his team mates, Sprake suddenly changed his mind, half clung on to it and hurled the damn thing back into his own net. A cruel, and yet somehow beautiful, sporting moment.

From the ages 7 to 15, my sister’s record collection became ripe for plundering. She liked Motown and was always playing “Motown Chartbusters Vol III”, a VINYL LP with a shiny, silver sleeve. This album had on it “SOS (Stop Her On Sight)” by Marv Johnson, Junior Walker & The Allstars’ “Road Runner” and, for good measure, “Get Ready” by The Temptations. She also had The Supremes’ Greatest Hits, Stevie Wonder’s Greatest Hits (has there ever been a better harmonica solo than the one in “For Once In My Life” ?) and very many choice singles ranging from “I Can’t Help Myself” (Four Tops) to “Behind The Painted Smile” (Isley Brothers). Beyond this, she had LP’s by Glen Campbell, The Walker Brothers, Jim Reeves and The Carpenters, while her grandest claim to fame centres around being present at the Liverpool Empire in 1967, to witness a bill comprising  – in this order – The Walker Brothers, Engelbert Humperdinck and Jimi Hendrix. Hard to imagine an equivalent today. It might be  something along the lines of Lady Gaga, Daniel O’Donnell and Queens of the Stone Age – with, undoubtedly, Daniel wiping the floor with all of them.

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