I’VE been revisiting my teen years courtesy of TV. And what a time it was.
First came Mr Cool, Sammy Davis Jnr, crooning away as only he could, pausing easily between musical phrases to take a quick drag from a cigarette.
Next, in startling contrast, the focus was on Cliff and Cilla looking like a couple of escapees from a costume drama.
Shot in moody monochrome, the film clip had Cliff, all lanky Lord Fauntleroy in velvet and tumbling lace, and Cilla looking incredibly young in frothy white.
While he sang Look Of Love, Cilla concentrated on Walk On By. It was a cracking duet despite the odd wardrobe choices and it was just one of a series of performances that had me hooked. On nostalgia.
I’d tuned in to a TV documentary about the music of Burt Bacharach, lured not just by the maestro’s mega songwriting credits but by names like Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield.
And it was one of the most entertaining hours I’ve shared with the box in ages.
The music spoke for itself but there was fascination too in the way this documentary had been edited seamlessly from clip after clip of top popsters through several decades.
Best of all, there was no intrusive commentary. The musicians and Bacharach’s music were left to speak for themselves.
Kicking the whole thing off with a music video created for Dionne Warwick’s early version of Do You Know The Way To San Jose turned out to be absolutely priceless.
We travelled on that journey – by donkey. And what an actor it was.
It sniggered, trotted, stared unflinchingly into the camera lens and generally hoofed its way through a sun-drenched landscape. It would have been treacherous to howl down Dionne’s terrific vocals, but I almost did.
As the clips of film unrolled, I marvelled at how well groomed and sassily dressed our British Sixties songstresses were.
Cilla looked like she’d been dressed by a top couture house with swish evening gowns for her TV appearances. Dusty glittered in dazzling fuchsia pink and beading while Sandie Shaw looked effortlessly elegant in bandana and bare feet.
The men were a bit of a fashion disaster. I remember the vocals of B J Thomas on Top Of The Pops in the early Seventies, but not the fringed cowboy style jacket.
Jack Jones in a tan sweater sang like an angel but looked like a gingerbread man.
And Val Doonican! Well, his duet with Billie Joe Spears on What The World Needs Now oozed the good nature and warmth that rocked audiences through Sunday nights for years. But again, did he always wear an orange shirt with a jacket that wouldn’t have looked out of place at a country pursuits fair?
Mind you, Billie Joe wore enough rhinestones on her blue trouser suit to outshine any cowboy.
I couldn’t make up my mind which was more distracting. His jacket, Billie Joe’s razzle dazzle or the fireplace plonked alongside them.
Still, it was the music that counted. And hearing Dionne Warwick and Dusty Springfield in full flight was a blast straight from the past.
Over the years I’ve seen both in concert and, for me, they were the stand out female vocalists of their time.
One singer I did have a problem with from my early years was the sideburn king, the man who at 75 will be representing the UK in the annual TV extravaganza that I work hard to avoid, the Eurovision Song Contest.
Gamely Engelbert is sticking his neck and voice on the line for his country. But since this money pit of a contest is more akin to a game of Russian roulette these days, I’m not quite sure why he’s bothering to turn up.
I have to confess that hearing him warbling away in satin and flounces on that TV documentary made my hair stand on end.
Though it’s not his fault. Picture the scene. I used to arrive home from work, often for a quick turn round, a snack and 10 minutes quiet before heading out again, usually to do a theatre review.
I found that break between office and theatre worked wonders. Unless my neighbour was home.
She was a model semi-detached wall sharer in many ways. Except for her music habits.
I’d put my key in my front door only to discover someone warbling away about “A chair is still a chair, even when there’s no-one sitting there.”
Yup. Eng, as I came to call him. In full flow. Trouble was, my neighbour would also be home and her first job was to head for the sitting room, put on an Engelbert track and turn up the volume full blast so that she could sing along in the shower. Upstairs.
Music and memories, you see. A House Is Not A Home? I know exactly what you mean Eng. But I still wish you the best of luck and no hard feelings.