Hello and welcome to another edition of the Vintage Media Millennial blog. I have tried to publish these on a regular basis, and hopefully, that will continue into the new year. The month of December is upon us, and I have already begun to get into the festive spirit. As part of my role at Old Time Review, I have already watched and listened to much festive-themed content! I used to have a problem with doing this in November, as my birthday falls on the sixth of December, but each year sees me embrace it even more!
Have Yourself Another Swingin’ Little Christmas
Earlier this week, I reviewed a new Christmas compilation from Bear Family Records. As I have come to expect from the German record label, there was a mix of tracks that complimented each other well. The idea of focusing on the genres of Jazz, Swing and Easy Listening with dashes of Country and Rhythm & Blues was excellent. After hearing the same tracks year after year, I always find it a refreshing change to hear something ‘new’.
To hear rarely-heard versions of Christmas standards alongside lesser-heard tracks from well-known artists, was a heady mix of joy, intrigue and nostalgia. Before this album, I never knew I needed to hear a six-minute rendition of Jingle Bells, performed in several different ways I didn’t realise that Eddy Arnold singing Jingle Bell Rock would be such a bop, or that I would still be humming Bill Darnel & The Smith Brothers’ Too Fat To Be Santa Claus a week later! One thing is for sure, I shall be revisiting this album next Christmas. Have Yourself Another Swingin’ Little Christmas Is Available From Bear Family Records
Hank Ballard Rocks
A recent addition to the Rocks series of compilations from Bear Family Records; Focused on Hank Ballard & the Midnighters. Thirty tracks of rhythm and Blues, Do-Wop and Rock & Roll infused recordings from the late 50s/early 60s.
Tunes such as Sexy Ways, Tore Up Over You, Don’t Ever Change Your Pretty Ways and Henry’s Got Flat Feet, populate the speaker with heavy instrumentation, harmonies and Ballard’s confident vocals. Moments of solid RnR are to be had from Sugaree, Shaky Mae and a certain dance craze! The Twist might be more associated with Chubby Checker, but the song was originally written by Ballard as a B-side. Ballard’s original 1959 recording contains all the pieces that made its cover successful, and then some. Ballard’s vocals mixed with the chaotic but hot instrumental make it irresistible.
The album is a fascinating collection that gives a solid introduction to the artist through the tracklisting and extensively researched booklet. Hank Ballard Rocks is available from Bear Family Records.
Give Us A Clue
As a connoisseur of classic American game shows of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, I can’t sometimes help but feel a little envious. The US versions of shows such as What’s My Line, To Tell The Truth, and Match Game are packed to the rafters with celebrities. The UK made similar television productions, but many of them are lost as a result of the wiping policy at the time they were made. A few have surfaced over the years, but not enough to really scratch the itch.
Enter Network Distributing, the excellent company that revives classic movies and television shows on physical media. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have bought something in a Network sale and discovered something obscure. They have just released a boxset of Give Us A Clue, the TV panel game which ran on ITV between 1979 and 1992. It was hosted by Michael Aspel until 1984, and this is what the set focuses on. A whole world of familiar celebrity faces awaits you, and a few you may have forgotten too!
My household and I have been bingeing this series, and can’t get enough of it. Who would have thought that a simple game of charades with a host of likeable celebs would bring so much laughter? It really is a cocktail party atmosphere, the kind seen in classic episodes of Gene Rayburn’s Match Game, which is wonderful. I reviewed the set earlier this week and found it difficult to put into words just how entertaining it is. I still, five discs in, think about Tony Selby’s Chopper Squad hilarity on a regular basis. There are so many episodes spanned across the expansive thirteen-disc set, that we are constantly discovering new moments that ensure laughter. Who knew Britain had its own celebrity-filled show that actually exists? Give Us A Clue is available to buy on DVD from Network Distributing.
Thank you for reading this edition of the Vintage Media Millennial Blog. If you’d like to get in contact to discuss anything written here, please email Jamie@OldTimeReview.co.uk or tweet @OldTimeReview on Twitter.