January 17th, 2008

life on mars

Olden Days

Really, what started as a mostly books and gardens blog is turning into a TV one. A couple of days ago I recorded Verdict on Pop: the Sixties and watched it a chunk at a time. Stuart Maconie chatted to Neil Innes, Tony Blackburn and Eddie Hiller (who?) about whether sixties music was any good, whether music could change the world and other knotty questions. First up they pointed out what I am always banging on about: that the best selling artists of the sixties were not the Beatles and the Stones but Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and ahem, Ken Dodd. Hiller had never even heard of The Seekers, whose The Carnival is Over was one of the best sellers of the decade.

Some of the chat was rather plodding: Bob Dylan was influential, they opined. Wow, that took some working out. I was slightly dashed to find that I have so much in common with Tony Blackburn, notably a dislike of long, boring guitar solos. At the end of the programme I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe they’re not going to mention The Kinks!’ when Maconie announced that they would finish with another classic track and on came Ray Davies, with that enchanting, naughty smile of his, singing Days.

BTW if you want a real glimpse into life in the allegedly swinging sixties, watch this clip from Juke Box Jury (all right, it's 1959) and check out the suits (and David McCallum). As far as the BBC was concerned, nothing much had changed ten years later.