If you've read the previous instalment of this look back at distasteful, off-colour or just plain baffling space-filling nonsense from the TV Times archive, you'll be aware - or, if you'd rather, forewarned - that there was even more in the way of dubiously chirpy junk food adverts to come. And, well, here are the leftovers, so let's get straight on with them before Bruce Forsyth puts on his oversized comedy chef's hat and tries to fashion them into a recipe...
Before we go any further, remember that Mars advert with Bob Monkhouse pulling a worryingly frenzied face and indulging in way too many words beginning with 'm'? Well, it turns out that none other than Jon Pertwee also contributed to the campaign, though he seems to have swerved the effects that the combination of Milk Chocolate, Buttery Caramel and Chocolate Malted Milk had on poor old Bob, and appears here with an expression that merely suggests he is about to embark on one of his 'million voices' that all sounded the same. Meanwhile, note how careful the advert is to reiterate that the eating of Mars should take place in the mouth.
Speaking of all things bouche-amusing, here Wrigley's give their antisocial wares a plug with the assistance of some sub-Beverley Sisters clean-cut presentable young ladies, taking care to emphasise the somewhat debatable alleged dental care-friendly properties of chewing gum. This is cunningly rendered plausible through the diversionary mention of the even more spurious 'Birchmint' variant, a supposed flavour of which the World Wide Web throws up absolutely no corroborating evidence whatsoever. Note also how the one who was given 'Standard' flavour appears decidedly less happy about this turn of events than the others.
Opinion seems to be divided on whether the average mid-sixties football fan was a rattle-waving toff in an Uncle Sam hat or the 'I Shot J.R.' bloke from Father Ted overstating his Caledonian heritage, but there's one thing we can all be certain of - they never went to a match without an impractically-sized tin of Nuttall's Mintoes to hand. There's also a promise of 'five minutes of extra time' attached to them, which presumably meant something at the time but now just leaves you wondering if said mints could somehow extend the match either spatio-temporally or literally.
In possibly the most direct and to-the-point advertising campaign ever, the not exactly unmurderous-looking 'Mr Pontelli' plugs the mints that share his name simply by demanding 'BUY SOME TODAY'. A gambit that clearly paid off as we're all always racing off down the corner shop to stock up on Pontelli Mints even today. Mr. Pontelli also advises us to 'Watch out for me on ITV', presumably in reference to his continually making random unscheduled appearances in Saturday Night At The London Palladium and Gideon's Way.
On a slightly less minty theme, this giant talking joint at least has the decency simply to ask us to 'enjoy' Bensons Oranges & Lemons. Wonder which one of them made you larger and which one made you small?
Meanwhile, the ones that mother gave you didn't do anything at all, which is presumably why this inexplicably Wild West-fixated youngster is demanding real Spam from his mam, as opposed to all that fake Spam they're always trying to palm off on us. In fact it goes as far as to confirm that genuine Spam can only be bought in a 12oz can, so keep an eye out for those crafty imitators. Meanwhile, quite why his mother is standing in the exact same pose as a Subbuteo goalkeeper is not specified.
Afterwards, why not wash your genuine Spam down with a nice bowl of Wall's Strawberry Fayre, a Battenberg-esque ice cream treat that is essentially just Neapolitan without the cumbersome inconvenience of chocolate. To be, boom boom, 'fayre', it does actually look quite nice, and the 'New as square strawberries' tagline is one that holds up as true even now. Though 'Not invented yet and never likely to be' would be more technically accurate.
Parents should also apparently take note that not only do children 'love' Weetabix (no, they really do), but it's also 'wholewheatedly' good for them, and 'packed with goodness from end to end right to the very end' - assurances that make it sound like a nice healthy alternative and, crucially, do not stand up to any kind of actionable legal scrutiny whatsoever. Steve Davis seems perfectly happy to endorse this standpoint, mind.
Years before somehow inexplicably managing to become the preferred option to Fanta, Tango offer an all expenses paid round-the-world trip to anyone who can identify which countries these none-more-sixties illustrations are sporting the patronisingly stereotypical national clobber of, and - more importantly - buy some more cans of Tango. The genius of that ad campaign was clearly still some distance from their grasp. No, not the one you're thinking of. The one just before that with the two kids in Miami Vice-inspired getup with Felix Howard haircuts playing pinball to the sound of Apache. Because that was better. Yes it was. Shut up. You should bloody well know when you've been Tangoed.
It's surprising that it's taken us this long to get round to a mention of Spangles, the much-'remembered' multi-flavoured boiled sweet that was frankly nice enough to warrant all that nostalgising and yah boo sucks to anyone who used to leave them until last in their Selection Box. First up is an actual entry form for the competition based on the question-mark denoted 'mystery' flavour, the identity of which was apparently never actually revealed, though that didn't stop, erm, someone from co-opting the iconography into the logo for a certain podcast. This is followed by some witty inter-Mod japesmithery on the subject of whether the pixie-cutted pillion passenger has neglected to stock up on something that, if not a suitable all-night-dance-facilitating legal stand-in for Purple Hearts, is apparently even more essential to the smooth operation of a moped than petrol. In fact, you could almost say she's forgotten to remember Spangles. As you were.
And finally, here's Zing, the bar that has 'everything'. Presumably on a planet composed entirely of chocolate and biscuit and nothing else.
Not that she has anything to do with any of the above either, but it would take too long to explain exactly why Diana Dors was being disclaimered as having 'nothing to do with geography', though doubtless the pre-Alternative Comedy funnymen could have come up with a billion hilarious 'reasons' within seconds. Anyway, join us again next time, when we'll be taking a look at some of the ways in which ITV conspired to convince viewers that they weren't watching enough television...
Needless to say, TV Times took to the associated advertising revenue with great enthusiasm. Crisps, sweets, fizzy drinks, biscuits, chocolates and 'adult' beverages took up such a large percentage of the available page space that you half expected Pig to somehow emerge from the listing for Pipkins and scoff the whole magazine in one go. Or indeed that elsewhere in the issue, you'd find Bruce Forsyth in an oversized comedy chef's hat making a meal from sweetshop-skewed 'leftovers'. And here are just some of the delights on the menu...
Years before the not even remotely racist or sexist advert stressing that you can stand it with Bandit (which, crucially, was "as big as jail door"), everyone's favourite trapezoid wafer bar opted for a much simpler telling-it-like-it-is approach, with particular emphasis given to the all-important flavour-enhancing hue of the wrapper. It's certainly putting a smile on the face of that Millicent Martin-a-gram, at any rate. Note also that it was still being made at that point by original manufacturers Macdonalds, before they joined forces with McVitie's and Crawfords to form the gigantic Doctor Who Christmas Special-esque supermarket aisle straddling behemoth United Biscuits.
Quite how 'marvellous' Mars really is when it's making Bob Monkhouse adopt a frenzied expression and go totally off-the-scale alliteration-crazy is open to question. Note also how the tagline seems more like a threat than an enticement.
Huntley & Palmers Ltd, esteemed manufacturers of the Lemon Puff, The Butter Shortie, and the satire-inviting 'Butter Osborne', here risk the wrath of the Advertising Standards Authority, not with any false promises about their wares but with the idea that anyone in their right mind could consider this a 'lovable' clown. Even in a decade when TV was absolutely awash with the fuckers, it still stands out as a particularly evil-looking example of the genre and it's likely that even punters with two appropriate biscuit wrappers to spare politely declined the offer.
Advertisers were quick to capitalise on the newly-minted purchasing power of the 'teenager', though some were quicker than others. Here Corn Flakes make a half-hearted I Have A Horsey Neigh Neigh-level attempt to counter Rice Krispies' phenomenally successful deployment of a blistering Rolling Stones jingle by attempting to convince parents that what their check-shirted daughter really wants while listening to her decade-old record player and swooning over discarded photos of generic 'dreamboats' is to wolf down a load of dry Corn Flakes straight from the packet. They've even included a special song she can sing while doing so, daddy-o! Hang on, what do you mean, 'they were both made by Kellogg's'?
Now then. Here's the ever-exotic Fry's inviting purchasers of the 'Big Fry' range - Crunchie, Picnic, Chocolate Cream and Turkish Delight - to win either an Austin Mini or a 'magnificent' record player, simply by stating the order in which they would play certain records if they were a bona fide Disc Jockey. Given that even the Light Programme would probably have baulked at placing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones alongside Marcello Minerva and, erm, Glenn Miller by the mid-sixties, this must have taken some doing. Note also that the competition rules stress the need to behave like a real life DJ and put together a 'truly balanced family programme'. Moving rapidly on...
Not to be outdone, 'froth'-fixated polar bear 'Cresta' is moving with the format-upgrading times and offering a free cassette recorder on the condition that you can reassemble the lyrics of his signature song into the correct order. And of course purchase at least two bottles of a drink of such water pollution-threatening viscocity that they turned it into a key advertising point. Sorry, did we not mention that?
Yes, you heard. Whether you're settling down for The Generation Game, Parkinson and Match Of The Day, or Credo, Highway and Seal Morning, grab yourself a great big slab of butter and get scoffing. It's the law.
I have no idea what these two have been surprised in the middle of, but I suspect that it's best left that way.
Anyway, let's stop avoiding the elephant in the sweetshop. Surely there was a time before Nestle became enthusiastic sponsors of global evil and the focus of a billion Mark Thomas rants and dystopian rap songs and overall the sort of foodstuff manufacturer Skeletor might approve of, and were content to simply plug their taste-tastic wares in a nice, polite and wholly inoffensive way?
Yeah, good luck with that. Nice to see The Queen asked for her eyes to be blocked out to prevent identification, though.
For no reason other than a bit of a distraction from all that unpleasantness, here's a rare colour photo of Julian Chagrin and 'E.R.I.C', the man and the computer from, erm, TV's A Man And A Dog. Anyway, this is all just the tip of the Toblerone, so join us again next time for a second helping of glutinous sugary muck...
Let's face it, pretty much every issue of Smash Hits for the entire eighties was memorable from start to finish. But for some reason, the one published 16th July 1986 - with, of all people, The Jesus And Mary Chain on the cover - has the edge over all of the others. Well, for one really quite obvious reason.
Although the issue was jampacked with start-of-the-school-holidays hilarity, this reason wasn't the debate on whether we should keep the Royal Family (against - Bronski Beat, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Sade, Robert Smith, Annie Lennox, Mick Hucknall, Morrissey, Spandau Ballet, OMD, Dr Robert, The Housemartins, everyone involved with Red Wedge basically; for - Gary Numan, Claire Usher). Nor was it the deliberately tedious Cream facts tying in with I Feel Free showing up in "that Renault 21 TV ad where some rich snoot-bloke gets in his motor car and swishes off down country lanes", or the Sam Fox/Sly Fox-inspired boxout on Great Foxes In Pop (including, inevitably, Bruce "Fox"ton, "bass player with The Jam whose ties were ever a visual "treat" and whose solo "career" has been a blazing inferno of silence"). Nor the 'Get Smart' special on The Smiths, Black Type consulting The Party Pop-Up Book Of Unexplained Phenomena by "Dr" Jonathan Miller and Roy Castle ("remaindered" at 95p - a snip!), Cock Robin's album getting one out of ten, or the utterly pointless and unwarranted 'Day In The Life' of Roses-toting One Hit Wonder Haywoode (who would of course experience a brief One Hit Aftershock with the release of Hits 5). Not even the rightly snorted-at photo of The Cult posing moodily with some gung-ho American Football players.
No, it was the hilariously flippant attempt by some staff writer - most likely Tom Hibbert and/or Sylvia Patterson - at filling up a particularly threadbare instalment of regular gig listing "Happenings" with a spurious billing for Upper Bubblington Village Fete, featuring such top in-joke derived attractions as Reg "Reg" Snipton And His Banjo Boys, Reg "Reg" Snipton And His Banjo Gals, Mad Goths, The Complete Bastards, Flower Arranging And The Feminist Experience (Group Activity Orchestrated By Dame Margot Riviera), Pepe And Lord Alfred, and Throw A Coconut At Reg "Reg" Snipton. That isn't really enough to base a full-length article on, though, so instead let's turn our suitably summery attention to the other real memory-imprinter in that issue of Smash Hits - the advert for Now - The Summer Album.
In actual fact, there were TWO adverts for Now - The Summer Album in that issue; the regular full page full colour launch promotion from Now! themselves (strapline - "You Can't Imagine Summer Without It"), and another informing readers that it was available for 'A Cool £6.99' from John Menzies ('subject to availablity'). The announcement of any new Now! Album was always an attention-catching moment, of course, but this wasn't just any new Now! Album. This was a direct follow-on from the previous December's massively successful Now - The Christmas Album, and as such it boasted a double-album's worth of 'Golden Oldies' rather than recent chart-toppers. The only factor that unified them was that they were all in some way related to the vague and amorphous concept of 'Summer'. And, as we shall see, often that really was the only way in which they were related. And sometimes even that didn't really apply.
Lacking the cohesive precision-targeted line-up of cohesive precision-targeted seasonal cash-in records that at least aimed towards a recognisably similar sound of Now - The Christmas Album, Now - The Summer Album vaulted between decades, moods and musical styles like someone showing off on the trampolines at Pontins, and generated about as much sales excitement as the three days of hot weather we get before it starts throwing it down with rain again. It was, basically, aspiring towards the kind of summer that we just don't get over here, where Hot Rods, Holiday Romances, Beach Parties and Sizzlin' Food Shacks took second place to interminably delayed car journeys, endless imported children's serials on both channels, extortionately priced Big Feast variants, and weather-battered 'staying with relatives' seaside breaks where the highlight of the holiday was watching local fishermen helping to right a fishmonger's white van that had overturned on wet sand. True, many experienced all of the above and more on their actual summer holidays wherever in the Mediterranean was 'in' that year, but they preferred to remind themselves of this by bulk-buying the current novelty dance-pop favourites of Europe's leading discotheques and didn't we know it (that year's primary offender - Brother Louie by Modern Talking). The sort of Summer Hits that Now - The Summer Album compiled sort of came and went without ever really lodging in anyone's memory as a musical reminder of hot fun in the summertime. It was, if we're being blunt about it, the soundtrack to the sort of summer that the average Now!-album buyer never actually had.
Suppose, though, that you were the sort of average Now!-album buyer who had a keen interest in pop music from 'them days' at a time before it was really very easy to actually get hold of any of it. Suppose you'd been fascinated by a tracklisting that even looked esoteric in an advert when you didn't know what any of the songs sounded like. Suppose you'd even chanced upon a copy in an actual John Menzies whilst seeking refuge from the rain on exactly that sort of holiday, and rued the fact that you were unable to afford it, not least because you'd only just bought Now! That's What I Call Music 7. Suppose also that, some years later, you'd chanced upon a stray copy abandoned in a by then all-Compact Disc radio station and ensured that it 'accidentally' 'fell' into your bag. How would this most angular and unlikely of Now!-spinoffs (and that's angular and unlikely even in comparison to Now Dance) measure up against the promise of that imagination-firing advert?
Well, it's all such a strange and haphazard arrangement of musical selections that it's probably worth looking at them in very loose 'genres' rather than any kind of sequential order. Though don't assume from this that they're grouped in any sort of logical or coherent manner; the actual album zigzags back and forth with such casual disregard for mood, style and tempo that you have to wonder exactly what kind of a barbecue it might conceivably have soundtracked. It's perhaps surprising, then, to discover that an entire quarter of the double album is given over to what could loosely be described as relatively recent hits. That said, this in itself highlights two of the major issues affecting Now - The Summer Album - the baffling absence of certain tracks that you would have thought would have been first on the list for inclusion, and the fact that even within this narrowly defined subsector, there is little musical coherence or indeed any relation at all between any of them.
You'll search in vain for fresh-in-the-memory big-hitters Club Tropicana, Here Comes The Summer, I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Long Hot Summer or Holidays In The Sun - all of them either on Now!-affiliated record labels or indeed by Now! regulars - on Now - The Summer Album. In their place you'll find a fair half-dozen Raiders Of The Pop Charts-troubling contemporaries of dubious 'summer' credentials and, in some cases, limited appeal. The Level 42 song that non-Level 42 fans 'quite like', but that Level 42 fans aren't that fussed about, The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) is as much about nuclear paranoia as it is about casual sex with that girl 'making eyes' in a flourescent-and-chrome holiday camp nightclub. It may well have been the breakthrough fairly successful mid-chart hit for the Isle Of Wight funk group, but for all the expected slap bass dexterity it doesn't really go anywhere and doesn't feature anywhere near enough high-pitched Mike Lindup vocal silliness or Angus Deayton-lookalike mundanity Boon Gould guitar. And above all doesn't really have that much obvious to do with 'summer'.
Similarly, KC And The Sunshine Band's irritatingly chirrupy Give It Up represented the very last gasp of disco and became a de facto 'summer song' by virtue of its chart timing and theme park tannoy-friendly sound, as the lyrics just seem to be a phatic declaration to some girl that she might as well go out with him if she feels like it. Presumably it was the ‘Sunshine Band’ bit that helped swing its inclusion here. In contrast Walking On Sunshine by Katrina And The Waves (previously of course on Now! 5) at least makes some effort towards a valid 'summery' theme, both in its lyrics and in its studiedly contemporary-yet-retro sound, notably that surftastic one-note guitar solo. Although it was a substantial hit at the time, Walking On Sunshine was one of those records - like its close contemporary The Whole Of The Moon - that subsequently became even more popular still; one of the select few 'oldies' that even the up-to-the-minute commercial pop stations kept on playing and playing and playing, and an inevitable choice of accompaniment for roller discos and bouncy castles and the like. In fact, it probably became more of a summer favourite after the release of Now - The Summer Album.
It's often forgotten that, for all their singalong punchy brass-driven radio-friendliness, Katrina And The Waves had their roots in arty post-punk experimentalism, and the remainder of the 'current' acts on the compilation occupy a similarly uneasy middle ground between proto-indie and pop. Not that any of them sound particularly like each other, mind. Nick Heyward and his fellow hair-mousse-overdoers in Haircut One Hundred give Fantastic Day a hazy jazzy summery jangly sound with Weekend Break-alluding lyrics to match, though it's quite surprising to discover that the song was actually a hit much earlier in the year. It's also got an unnervingly similiar chord progression to the end theme from Camberwick Green, though cunningly sped up so 'Clown' would never suspect a thing. Martha And The Muffins' somewhat over-lauded Echo Beach, on the other hand, opts for sub-Numan yearning for some dystopian futuristic Beach Of Tomorrow rather than holidays in sunnier climes, and is quite icily synth-driven in its New Waviness to boot, but it says 'Beach' in the title so in it goes. The Barracudas, with their Arthur-Lee-catching-a-wave Pirate Radio-friendly musical sensibilities, always sounded like they'd rather have been anywhere but the early eighties, and their stray hit Summer Fun makes this explicit with its use of an actual sixties American radio ad as an intro (not to mention the slightly less successful follow-up single (I Wish It Could Be) 1965 Again). Ironic, then, that their Ramones-meet-The-Beach-Boys-at-a-leaky-bus-stop number is the closest yet to actually evoking a typical British summer, making no false promises of anything other than an opportunity to make the most of a brief window of sunshine.
Above and beyond their recognisability and obvious commercial appeal, it's difficult to see what these inclusions had to offer thematically to this most thematically ambitious of compilations. The era in which they'd dominated the summer airwaves (well, even that wasn't applicable for Fantastic Day) was still too recent for anyone to feel anything resembling nostalgia towards it; in any case, for certain pockets of the UK, those late seventies/early eighties summers were something that they were most likely in no hurry to look back on. In all seriousness, they would have been better off putting Summer Run, Junior's reworking of Mama Used To Say as the theme for the short-lived yet seemingly endless TV-am Summer Holiday Morning fill-in Data Run variant of the same name, on there. At least it would have had some semblance of actual summer-related nostalgia value.
Needless to say, there is a good deal more focus, point and purpose shared by the equal number of tracks that had clearly been brought in to represent the so-called 'Summer Of Love'. Amazingly, for once, the compilers of a mainstream compilation managed to pick out a handful of tracks that, while not quite The Waltham Green East Wapping Carpet Cleaning Rodent And Boggit Extermination Association, still all managed to sit more comfortably on the folky semi-psychedelic half-mind-alter-y side of things than the twaddle they usually pull out of the bag whenenever Polly Toynbee starts droining on in short sentences about miniskirts and 'flower power' and That Was The Week That Was. In fact, they work so well in this context that you can practially hear Kevin Arnold going into a voiceover reflecting ruefully on the lessons he learned from whatever moneymaking 'chores' he had been handed in tandem with those three other kids that he hung around with whenever Winnie and Paul went away for the summer.
On Groovin', those previously clean-cut and presentable Young Rascals start their descent into full-on hippydom, a move that saw them daringly drop the 'Young' bit of their name in order to appear more 'far-out' (just wait until you get a load of It's Wonderful, Mr. America!). It's a strong and inventively-arranged song only slightly marred by its reliance on that Brian Hyland-esque shrill treble-heavy production that too many people inexplicably thought was a good idea in the sixties, and a clip-cloppy home on the range feel that, while certainly ideal for 'groovin' on a sunday afternoon or otherwise in the Midwest, made it somewhat less than sonically relatable for youngsters trying to chat up girls playing tennis in the local municipal park while dark clouds swirled three o'clockishly overhead. While we're on about unnecessary apostrophes, there's the ever-splendid California Dreamin' by The Mamas And The Papas, which may have a suitably summery sound but - and it's always worth pointing this out - is set in the autumn and spends almost its entire duration complaining about cold weather. And therefore, whatever their intent back in 1967, is inadvertently the most accurate depiction of a British summer that you're likely to find in a pop song.
This would be all very well and good if it wasn't for the fact that, but for a couple of misguided souls who drew CND symbols and wrote 'Imagine' on their school bags, by the mid-eighties hippydom, 'flower power', soft psychedelia and the Summer Of Love itself were all as naff as naff could be. They were the preserve of bores who kept going on and on about how much better everything was in 'the sixties', daytime TV presenters dressing up in kaftans and doing ludicrous 'hip lingo' for silly features, and impenetrable nostalgia documentaries that sought to draw a clip montage straight line between Thunderbirds and Jean Shrimpton. Crown Prince of these Clown Princes was 'The Voice Of' Scott McKenzie and his drippy call to whatever the opposite of arms is, San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair). While the media's insistence on depicting this weedy Walter The Softy Takes Acid folk-pop effort as the high watermark of psychedelia still rankles, and it was decisively trounced by both The Flowerpot Men's Let's Go To San Francisco ("where the flowers grow up to the sky", apparently) and The Animals' amusingly ridiculous San Franciscan Nights, distance and perspective allows you to appreciate that it's actually a fairly decent song and that sitar bit is really quite impressive and dramatic. Still, its tinkly and faraway bell-shaking peace and love vibes held little resonance for youngsters for whom 'summer' and 'flowers' meant either an interminable enforced trip to the garden centre (where they had invariably just sold out of the ice lollies that your parents would not have sodding well bought you anyway), or some live edition of Gardener's World expanding exponentially into the timeslot of your favourite comedy show. Speaking of which, that old-skool sweeping orchestral Gardener's World theme would probably be side one track one of a more geo-culturally realistic version of Now - The Summer Album. Let's not even meet these damn hippies halfway.
Let us be thankful, then, for the unpromisingly-named The Lovin' Spoonful, who show up with two consecutive tracks on side four (which still looks a tad incongruous even now, though as we shall see they are far from the only act to get two songs on the album) and offer a somewhat more robust Electric Jugband glimpse of the moment just before 'flower power' broke; when there was definitely something in the air, but on this evidence it was anyone's guess whether it would be a blissful heat haze or hammering hailstones. This is especially true of Summer In The City, a traffic-paced stop-start ode to the lack of joys of gainful employment in the sweltering heat as contrasted with ‘skirt’-pursuing nighttime balminess, embellished with enough ear-infuriating rush-hour sound effects to make Michael Douglas snap in Falling Down all over again, and which accurately evokes the sheer annoyance and discomfort of not being free to groove, wear flowers in your hair or even live it up until the sun goes down on a swelteringly hot day. It also, it's worth pointing out, bears more than a passing resemblance to the theme song from Children's BBC migrane-inducer Stop-Go!, and indeed Paul Weller's entire solo career. On the other side of the coin, there's also the loping whistly anthem for lounging around doing fuck all (apart from, erm, falling on your face on somebody’s new-mown lawn) Daydream, which occupies similar territory to Groovin' but with a more abrasive sound and a drier sense of humour.
It's odd to think that, despite their huge success only a relatively short while earlier, The Lovin' Spoonful were virtually forgotten by 1986 and were probably the second most '...who?' inclusion on Now - The Summer Album (we'll be coming to the 'most' one later). The same could not be said, however, of The Monkees, not least on account of the fact that the BBC had been repeating their series relentlessly over the past couple of summer holidays (and you can read more about that here). This was especially true of 1986, when the scheduling of episodes of The Monkees seemed to stretch gloriously on into infinity, alongside an equally if less glorious stretching on into infinity of youngster-aimed 'make your own entertainment' show Why Don't You...?, and those moments when the actual schedule itself seemed to stretch on into infinity (which once again you can read more about here). This Nesmith-driven tempora-spatial disruption assumed even further mind-blowing dimensions if you were prone to spending your school holidays at a local pool's 'swim club' which habitually included A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You in the cheery backstroke-assisting sounds pumped out across the tannoy. As you're by now expecting, Daydream Believer has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with 'summer' (not that you should pay much attention to anyone claiming that it does have any particular 'meaning'), but its presence here finally gives us something tangible and recognisable that we can latch on to as specifically 'summery' for the sort of people who would have been buying this album if they had actually been able to afford it. If only it had come accompanied by Hazel O'Connor singing Get Set For Summer.
Moving on from The Monkees and The Lovin' Spoonful, and indeed thankfully Woodstock-fixated didacticism, to 'The Sixties' in general, Do It Again is often fanfared as a triumphant return to The Beach Boys' 'classic' sound, but actually feels a tad polite, restrained and apologetic when compared to their actual 'classic sound'. They were always at their best when Brian Wilson and Mike Love were waging an art-vs-commerce creative war that culminated in the SMiLE-related studio dustups, and no matter who you feel 'won', the fact remains that once the battle was over they were never quite the same again. Unluckily for Do It Again, California Girls is on hand elsewhere on the album to demonstrate just how that 'classic' sound actually sounded, with the rug pulled from under Mike Love’s ode to the comparative average arse size in varying American states by Brian Wilson tacking on one of the most peculiar intros in pop history. It's not difficult to see how barely six months later, they were squaring up to each other in the studio about a song sung from the perspective of a crow. Stitch that, ‘Murs’.
By 1986, of course, The Beach Boys had become 'hip', at least with the too-cool-for-school types in school more normally to be found practicing their high fives in letterman jackets. This was largely on account of the cheap and easy availability of SMiLE-averse compilation 20 Golden Greats in all of its fuzzy sound quality glory, though more cynical types might teasingly suggest that they all knew California Girls better from sendups like Russ Abbott's hilarious Upper Norwood Girls and that not at all remotely sexist British Caledonian advert. Less fortunate in this regard were Those Beatle Boys, who - despite a sneaking upsurge of interest in Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - were still roundly dismissed as being as naff as, well, Scott McKenzie. Perhaps that's partly why, oddly, EMI briefly began allowing their songs to appear on high-profile compilations in the mid-eighties, in the hope of luring in a whole new generation of punters who could be persuaded to pay full price for the same songs seventeen million times. These included the Music For Pleasure collection 20 Fab No.1's Of The Sixties (and, erm, Savile's Time Travels - 20 Golden Hits Of 1963), and - perhaps surprisingly - two songs on Now - The Summer Album.
At this point, you're probably running through the entire Beatles discography in your head and trying to work out which two songs were actually about the 'summer'. Well, the answer is that there aren't any, but that didn't stop Ashley Abram and Box Music from marching straight on with their track selection. Presumably sidestepping I'll Follow The Sun on account of its somewhat negative 'Dinners'-goes-walkabout vibes, and Sun King because they wanted listeners to keep hold of whatever remained of their sanity, they opted instead for the rather more popular choices of All You Need Is Love and Here Comes The Sun. Although its only tenuous connection with the theme of this album is that it was Number One for the majority of the 'Summer Of Love', All You Need Is Love is an interesting inclusion here in the sense that, while on actual Beatle albums it's invariably swamped by more inventive, psychedelic and melodically/instrumentally interesting numbers, when it's in isolation you realise what a deceptively clever (and wittily performed) song it really is. Here Comes The Sun, which if we're being honest about it never even really sounded that much like it was by the actual Beatles and not just George, can't help but stand there doing an I Have A Horsey Neigh Neigh number next to its more illustrious counterpart, but in fairness at least it actually mentions the summer.
Far more deserving of a place on this album, both on account of its subject matter and its redolence of a lost era when everyone would politely head off for seaside towns for a week and join in with all manner of uncool holidaymaking hilarity, rather than get stressed about going to, staying at and coming back from some 'sophisticated' destination interspersed with gallons of jagerbombs, is Summer Holiday by Cliff Richard And The Shadows. For anyone who doesn't know, this was the theme from the rather quite splendid 1963 film of the same name in which Cliff, The Shadows, Lauri Peters, Una Stubbs and Jeremy Bulloch borrow a double-decker bus for a spot of European sightseeing, and was knocked off the top of the charts by the also-from-the-same-soundtrack Foot Tapper by The Shadows, now more commonly known as the music when Your Old Mate Brian Matthew says that's the lot for this week, see you next week. It should be emphasises that at no point do they have cause to shout "LOOK OUT! VYYYYYYYVYAN!", though they are joined at one point by a stowaway that Cliff is especially cross to find out is actually a fully grown woman in disguise and not a young boy after all. Moving rapidly on, Summer Holiday was exactly the sort of film that anyone listening to this compilation would have seen a million times on interminable Summer Holiday afternoons while trying to work out what a 'Bachelor Boy' was and what was so good about being one, and so this jaunty, likeable and fantastically arranged number is a very welcome inclusion here. Even if it is hard to avoid the temptation to shout "it's raining, nyeh-hehhhh" over the top. More of a surprising inclusion, but an even more welcome one, is The Day I Met Marie, Cliff's Hank Marvin-penned Baroque Pop ode to how he'll not forget that happy night he chanced upon some young lady in a haystack. They didn't send a camera crew to cover that.
Beyond that, there are a couple of Nostalgia Souvenir Spread-friendly sixties-ish types who get a single song on the compilation; and all of them, oddly, with a reason why they don't quite fit. Mungo Jerry's jugband-goes-prog ode to going ha ha this a way ha ha that a way when the weather's fine and you got women you got women on your mind In The Summertime was probably almost genuinely inescapable back in 1970 and deservedly so, but by the time it showed up here was about to fall very rapidly from favour owing to a certain unfortunate line (though the less said about that radio edit that went "have a drive have a drive" the better). Nowadays, you're only marginally more likely to hear it than their famously airwave-eluding chart-topper Baby Jump. As fantastic as it is, someone presumably missed the sarcasm in The Kinks' Sunny Afternoon, and there are those that believe that the narrator may even be deluding himself about the good weather anyway. Lazy Sunday by The Small Faces is up there with The Lovin' Spoonful and The Day I Met Marie as an inspired inclusion, not least because it was still some years before their 'rediscovery' and it probably hadn't been heard that much between 1968 and then. It's an amazing song, but yet again one that - those lengthy Coach Trip To The Centre Of The Mind psychedelic bucket-and-spade interludes (which in themselves make you wonder why we didn't get Good Vibrations instead of Do It Again) aside - doesn't really seem to have very much to do with the summer at all. Well not any more than The Universal at any rate. Which is a touch inconvenient for anyone who might previously have described it as "Anthony Newley Goes To The Seaside Ferdy Ain’t Been Seen ‘As ‘E? changing hut-leaping cockney caterwauling about mods being thwarted in seaside amok-running plans by legions of deckchair-bound disapproving types with knotted hankies atop their heads, leaving quite literally no room for ‘ravers’", but hey ho.
Going back slightly further in time, to the bit in Summer Holiday before it goes into colour if you want to be cinematic about it, there area handful of songs that hail from a long-lost era when holidaymaking was more innocent and simplistic a pursuit, and 'summer fun' was literally just being outdoors. As if to underline this, Eddie Cochran's still thrilling Summertime Blues is a lament for how annoyed he is by 'The Man' (who in all manifestations still seems to talk with the same third-Muppet-from-the-left voice) preventing him from lazing around doing nothing; he even takes his problem to Plastic Bertrand and those Eurocrats in Brussells who regret to inform him that are unable to help, which doubtless struck a chord with a young Nigel Farage. The Drifters' Under The Boardwalk effortlessly captures the tinkly charms of a time when a stroll and an ice cream were high entertainment on a summer's day, though the compilers must have been kicking themselves when only twelve months later, The Drifters and Bruce Willis came up with an effectively updated version that seemed to stay in the charts into the autumn and beyond. Long-forgotten Kramer lookalike Jerry Keller was the man behind hotrods-and-soda-pop celebration of taking your best girl to the park Here Comes Summer, one of those 'golden oldies' that the Radio 1 Roadshow would always insist on foisting upon a Duran-hungry audience, but which - surprisingly - actually turns out to be quite likeable.
And then there's the darkest seventies, represented here by a procession of slick bolted-together pop-soul anthems tailor-made for car radios in true and-they-wonder-why-punk-happened fashion. One of those songs where you can never quite make your mind up whether it's any good or not, The Isley Brothers' Summer Breeze sees Psychedelic Soul take a bit of ‘me time’ after all that early seventies stuff about taking to the streets, stopping instead to smell the roses (well, jasmine) and take in the scenery, including those oh-so-summery ‘newspapers’, but still throwing in a bit of untamed fuzz guitar to scare any passing Republicans. Much the same is true of Lovely Day by Bill Withers, mercifully presented here in its original incarnation and not that hideous 'Woo! YEAH'-heavy 'Sunshine Mix' that blighted the charts shortly thereafter. Mind you, that note he famously holds for ages; it's hardly Captain Beefheart destroying a high quality studio microphone by singing into it, is it. 10cc's (cough) 'problematic' yet inexplicably popular Dreadlock Holiday should not even be allowed on the same holiday island as the rest of their output, and even Elton John himself probably can't remember how Island Girl went. Somewhere, The Barracudas were sharpening their Rickenbackers.
So then... what, apart from all the highlights that we've already picked out, are the real highlights of Now - The Summer Album? Well, oddly enough, it's the two that don't really fit even into any of the loosely-assembled stylistic brackets we've identified along the way. Both must have seemed bafflingly off at a Private Beach-occupying tangent at the time, and to be honest they still do now. And they're both fantastic.
The Girl From Ipanema appears here credited to Astrud Gilberto alone, rather than the two blokes who insisted their name went on the label in a jaw-dropping display of 'stand back luv, the men are in charge'-ness, and sure enough it's a severely truncated edit omitting much of their hoo-hah. It would be tempting to say that music's loss is feminism's gain, except that this does mean that we get to fully concentrate on the gap-toothed first lady of Bossa Nova getting a bit ‘and then they lez up’ about some hottie strolling along the beachfront while each one she passes goes "aaaaah", presumably in a non-Tony Parsons fashion. At the time that Now - The Summer Album came out, the other sixties selections seemed remote and rarely-glimpsed enough; The Girl From Ipanema, and other similar esoteric stray hits from other non-pop genres, were so far off the average pop fan's radar that they may as well have been from another planet. And perhaps that's part of the reason why, a couple of years later, so many of them started raiding charity shops for unlikely-looking albums hiding similarly exotic grooves. After all, you could always guarantee finding so many of them on holiday that you had trouble carrying them all home.
Then there's Summer (The First Time) by Bobby Goldsboro. Wikipedia believes that this tale of balmy evening horseplay with an 'older lady' belongs firmly in the 'Adult Contemporary' genre, but its piercing Test Card F-esque one-note string section, Casio test-tone piano riff, heat-haze synth tones, overpowering sound effects and crashing orchestral interlude designed to denote their 'getting it on' seem to exist outside anyone's established norms of musical genres, coming across as a very expensive lo-fi bedroom recording using highly paid session musicians. It's also got absolutely effortlessly brilliant lyrics, descriptive and elliptic yet highly sexually charged and very much to the point - in fact it's surprising it actually got enough radio play to become a hit back then - with much dwelling on heaving knockerage and, erm, 'helping hands'; although his insistence on emphasising the prominence of her facial features does make his conquest sound alarmingly like Father Bigley. And then at the end, the lyrics simply loop back to the start, as though he's caught in some kind of sexual time loop to rival the opening of Sweet Sweetback's Badasssss Song. Doubtless this drove Mary Whitehouse into short-lived radio-berating paroxysms of outrage, but there are few listeners who won't find that this strikes a chord and stirs up memories of that boy with the summer job at the local newsagents or that girl playing tennis in the park that time. Or, if raining, and it probably WAS fucking raining, whoever you fancied on Home And Away at that point.
Of course, there's every chance that Mr. Goldsboro's tales of scoring were every bit as exaggerated as those lurid yet unverifiable accounts of holiday romances in the Mediterranean that the more loudmouthed types in school would venture forth whether asked to or not come September. Yes, we're at the end of Now - The Summer Album, and the end of the school holidays, and the return of, well, school, looms close on the horizon. You're back from your family holiday, you're in that weird end of August limbo with nothing to do (especially if those scrooges at the BBC ended their daytime programming a week early), and Melissa from Great Yarmouth will never write back. What's worse, everyone from home has come up with a new running joke in your absence that you can never quite get to the bottom of. And that copy of Now - The Summer Album remained steadfastly in John Menzies. Ahead lie autumn evenings, Telly Addicts and the interminable stretch towards the next major school holiday... but that's a whole different Now! album.
There's no getting away from the fact that Now - The Summer Album singularly failed to do whatever it was that it set out to do in the first place, but in its marketing-led desperation to fill enough sides of vinyl to actually constitute a releasable album, it somehow became a work of accidental genius. Even on the most lazily slung-together 'Summer' compilation - and there have been many thousands of them since (oh and Summer Chart Party) - you would never find such a baffling and coherency-free collection of mismatched pop songs from mismatched genres and mismatched eras. If Bobby Goldsboro was a themed compilation, then this dates from the very start of that hot afternoon in the first day in June when the sun was a demon. By the time that Now! That's What I Call Summer came out in 2014, he'd seen the sun rise as a man, and frankly we'd lost something a bit more than virginity along the way.
As for Smash Hits, they would continue to mercilessly ridicule anyone who came along with a gimmicky summer smash for many years thereafter. In 1991, highly touted post-New Kids On The Block American act The Party - Chase, Damon, Tiffini, Deedee and Albert - saw fit to inflict a particularly lightweight bit of pop rap named Summer Vacation on the post Now - The Summer Album populace in the hope of scoring a UK chart breakthrough. Their review ran as follows: "Scientific Fact! The Sun is a huge burning ball of gas which one day will burn out and take most of the Solar System with it. How's about that then, 'Albert'?".
Special thanks to Brian McCloskey for finding Upper Bubblington Village Fete - see his excellent Smash Hits Archive here.
Back in the sixties, Radio Times was hardly exactly Spare Rib, but it did at least have some semblance of a sense that the gender balance was changing rapidly and for the better. You were as likely to see a sympathetic feature on a female academic, politician or industrialist - particularly once BBC2 had started up - as you were one of Top Of The Pops' resident dancers The Go-Jos complaining that they couldn't have their miniskirts as mini as they would have liked them. It wasn't always perfect, but it was a start, and you have to start somewhere.
And it definitely, definitely wasn't starting over at TV Times. Very occasionally they might have had to lower themselves to give up valuable column inches to some feminist firebrand who had found herself the focus of World In Action or a mouthy folk singer that those blasted youngsters had demanded appear on Ready Steady Go!, but nine times out of ten it was doubtful that they'd ever even heard of the mere word 'liberation'. Much as they were when doling out 'points' on flagship game shows, women were there to be decorative and to speak as little as possible. After all, we didn't want the readership catching 'opinions' as lord knows what might happen then. They were never quite told to get back in the kitchen - after all, that's where you'd find Brucie in a comedy oversized chef's hat making something out of 'leftovers' - but here are some of the more jaw-dropping examples to disgrace the listings pages back in the decade when Carnaby Street swung like a pendulum do or something...
1965 was the year when The Ipcress File broke significant ground by featuring Michael Caine as a Swinging London secret agent who read for pleasure, took pride in his culinary expertise, and enjoyed a casual and mutually convenient relationship with an independent career woman whom he treated with respect and credited with intelligence. Perhaps alarmed by this, 1965 was also the year when TV Times conducted a survey which concluded that the overwhelming majority of unmarried men would tie the knot as a way of actually getting some laundry done and food cooked, except that in return their wives would probably spend all their money on nothing and prevent them from being able to buy The World's Best Car. And what's more, people were always trying to sneakily fix them up with a smashing gold-digging young lady in a nice frock to boot. Rumours that Cathy McGowan promptly invented the theoretical coding framework for Tinder specifically so she could delete her account cannot be confirmed.
Ann 'Honey' Lantree, the hard-walloping drummer with Have I The Right? hitmakers The Honeycombs, was and is an unsung pioneer and a landmark figure in rock music. Perfectly content to be seen as a musician rather than eye candy, she insisted on taking her turn driving the tour van and swearing at other motorists, snogged the odd male groupie as and when she felt like it, and wasn't afraid to stand up to the band's notoriously temperamental producer Joe Meek. She also, by stamping her foot on a wooden staircase to give the drums some extra punch, created one of the most iconic sounds in sixties pop. But what did TV Times want to know? When she was going to "settle down and become a housewife and mum". It's no wonder Huggybear bit that cameraman.
Seriously, even if you were just looking to see what time Send For Dithers was on, you couldn't move for photographs of assembled bikinied lovelies in sixties issues of TV Times. Above you can see a teenage-boy-misuse-friendly full-colour shot of the Blackpool Night Out dancers apparently lying in wait for the undisputed grand master of the game Lionel Blair, and below that short-lived chart star Eden Kane lassoing a big load of swimsuited hotties and dragging them away for some unspecified purpose. It might of course be innocent and might well say so the article itself, but frankly there are so many dubious opinions espoused therein that it's not worth quoting any of it. Well I Ask You was Eden Kane's big hit, but it's likely any self-respecting young lady would have preferred its little-remembered follow-up, Get Lost.
Women's Football had an early and formidable detractor in Professor John Cohen, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Manchester, who remarked with an apparently straight face that men have sporting prowess in their genes whereas if women - who have been "designed to bear children" - tried to kick a ball their tits might make them fall over or something. And that's not an exaggeration for comic effect - he almost literally word for word says that. They did make sure to get a nice photo of some footballing lady sticking her shorts-clad arse out to illustrate his point, though. Later on he does go in to some bizarre eulogistic celebration of the ball, that estimable sphere that so inflatedly facilitates our sporting enjoyment, but the rest is sufficiently repulsive to make it hard even to get many laughs out of that. Anyone else think a girl might have snuck a couple of goals past him at some point?
Still, the odd Women's Lib crank did occasionally somehow manage to get through, and here's (Mrs.) Doris Chandler flying the flag for the right to female-friendly sex and violence on TV once the kids have fucked off to bed where they belong, and never mind the poor manbabies being deprived of their football and their Eden Kane. You can be fairly sure that she wasn't amongst the callers who complained about Big Breadwinner Hog.
Anyway, to balance things out, let's have a man making a complete prat of himself and insisting on talking even when he has absolutely nothing to say. Thomas Scott of Leeds has a nonsensical observation based on absolutely nothing outside of a bewildering insistence on paying attention to the studio scenery rather than Bernard Levin's incisive political debate, and a complete and profound lack of understanding of how the pop charts, music itself and even the basic rudiments of language work, but he's sharing it with us regardless. Take that, something! Anyway, join us again next time, when we'll be taking a look at how Independent Television almost literally rammed junk food down our throats...
In the days before warehouse-driven online shopping, the Grattan catalogue was where any self-respecting youngster would head for to bulk up their Christmas Present-coveting 'wants' list. Page after page of the latest and most exciting toys and games, arranged in enticing poses and crammed in together so tightly that you frequently had to deploy a magnifying glass to enable closer examination. Back when you had to make your own entertainment, it was so important and fiercely sought-after a resource that it was not unknown for inter-sibling fights to break out over who got to look at it first.
The same was probably never true of the toy adverts in TV Times, though. With the big companies saving their advertising for avenues where it might actually make a difference, i.e. television, there was plenty of affordable space available in the corresponding listings magazine for more cash-strapped toy pushers to push the cheap, the nasty, the boring and, well, the downright terrifying...
Standing at a mammoth two feet and three inches, 'Jackie' was a heavily-plugged doll who could walk, talk, laugh, sing, recite nursery rhymes, and, erm, 'pray'. Yes, you read that right. Pray. The advert doesn't specify where in the USA she was imported from, but we're guessing it was somewhere within the Bible Belt. Note also that the advert does not state at any point that she requires any kind of batteries, suggesting that she didn't just look like she could come to life of her own volition.
Eventually villagers with pitchforks and flaming torches surrounded 'Jackie', who was presumed destroyed in the ensuing conflagration and, erm, whatever the word is for loads of poking with pitchforks. However, you can't keep an evil doll down, and the following year she was back, with an additional nursery rhyme and slightly different hair, posing as 'Candy'. And what's more, this time she had an accomplice - 'Gina', billed as The Most Thrilling Doll Ever, and apparently capable of walking a mile on her own. Not exactly the sort of bold claim that could realistically be tested by purchasers. And anyway, who in their right mind would challenge her on it?
Ah, that's much better. A nice, polite, smartly-turned out Teddy, keeping a dutiful eye on a Duty Free Shop-friendly assemblage of putative presents available at Boots including handbags, tea sets, card games, and an official Concorde electric blanket. The future is now! But why's there a malevolent-looking clown apparently about to eagerly scoff the entire lot? That's not really 'putting the fun back into Christmas Shopping', is it?
Meanwhile, this poor sod's behind bars! Assuming that this wasn't in fact some cunningly subtle and sophisticated satire on that nice Mr. Heath, you do have to wonder how poor old Edward ended up in the slammer, though we'll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was imprisoned for his beliefs. Or that he worked on the controversial 'Teddys' issue of Oz. Anyway, you could help free him by buying baby products from the decidedly unappealing-sounding 'UniChem', apparently once such a big deal that they had their very own 'House' in Chessington. Look on their works, ye mighty, and... actually, no, just have a look what time Gideon's Way is on.
More violence in the name of promotional giveaways from Spillers, who ask only for two dog food labels in exchange for a 'Pongo Puncho', a Disney-skewed inflatable toy whose apparent sole purpose is to encourage children to thump dogs in the face. Mercifully, they appear never to have done one based on The Incredible Journey. Or Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors.
Rivalling Disney in the early sixties rush to get the last remaining tie-in toy in the shops on 24th December stakes were a number of ITV shows, including Fireball XL5, Supercar, The Flintstones, Wells Fargo and Space Patrol, not to mention their rivals at Warner Bros. Somewhat slightly further down the Santa-begging list came Gus Honeybun, the still geographically baffling Westward/TSW rabbit mascot thingymajig rarely sighted outside of 'Regional Variations' and much beloved of ident-obsessed forum-dwelling headcases pining for the days before the 'politically correct brigade : (' stopped The Black And White Minstrels from using hosepipes on their Benny Hill golliwogs. Here a stuffed variant on the Honeybun formula is somewhat ambitiously touted as a 'TV-Land favourite' who is on sale 'locally'. You don't say.
Quite how a *spit* BBC programme found its way into TV Times was doubtless the subject of a major internal inquiry, but all the same here's a plug for Triang's rather quite splendid board game based on The Magic Roundabout, alongside fellow non-television related big hitters like Twister and Frantic Frogs. And, erm, The Sir Francis Chichester Game, which is presumably even less exciting than it sounds. And Checklines, which promises 'simple but thought-provoking rules'. Was it about class mobility or something?!
If she's seeing a pink elephant THAT big, we can only assume that the gift she'll never forget was a crate of gin.
No, we don't know what TV's The Meddling Monk had been up to that warranted this punishment, but that pigeon sure looks like it means business. Anyway, here's hoping you don't wake up to find ANY of the above in your pillowcase on Christmas Morning (sozzled-looking redheads waving large pink elephants are an exception), and join us again next time when we'll be looking at just how TV Times kept those blasted Women's Libbers in their place...