Aug 07

PETERS AND LEE – “Welcome Home”

FT + Popular124 comments • 13,399 views

#334, 21st July 1973

Suppose one wanted to give “Welcome Home” a low mark – what actual grounds would one have for saying it’s a bad record? It’s a catchy, memorable, uptempo song, delivered in a friendly and honest way. It’s sentimental, but a level of sentimentality is almost inevitable when you’re trying to communicate big emotions in a small song. Certainly its sense of calm and relief doesn’t transmit as phoney.

But I don’t want to listen to it again, either – I can make myself empathise with it but that doesn’t come naturally. It’s not an exciting record. It doesn’t want to be, so this is another unfair criticism, but one which gets closer to the contentedly huge gap between what “Welcome Home” offers and what I want. Pop music needs to agitate me somehow, contain questions or conflicts, provoke reactions (physical ones are fine!), build imaginative worlds – but “Welcome Home” is all resolution, a happy ending without a story to lead me to it. In the end I can’t respond to it, not because it’s bad, or poorly crafted, but because it feels too complete. Maybe later.



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  1. 31
    mike on 21 Aug 2007 #

    But then again: if it wasn’t for OpKnox, we wouldn’t have had “Those Were The Days” or “Who Do You Think You Are”, unimpeachable classics both…

  2. 32
    Doctor Casino on 22 Aug 2007 #

    The song does nothing for me and I have nothing to say about it, but that dull backdrop only makes me appreciate the wonderfulness of the Popular comments thread all the more. I can only imagine that half the joy in this project for Tom comes from reading wonderful posts like these. The mix of honest personal narrative, pop-trivia-hounding, and general insight into culture (‘pop’ and otherwise) in times gone by is compelling. Speaking solely as a fan of this blog, thanks to all y’all for the regular edutainment. Seriously.

    On a selfish note, I can’t wait till we get to the 90s and I start being able to offer my own comparitive take!

  3. 33
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Aug 2007 #

    That might be a rather long wait, Dr C… ;-)

    But had it not been for OpKnox we wouldn’t have had the Shortwave Set either, since one of the central samples they use on their album comes from the singing miners Millican and Nesbitt (the Robson and Jerome of their day).

    Wasn’t Bonnie Langford on Junior Showtime rather than OpKnox? As far as Junior Showtime goes, we mustn’t forget one of 1973’s scariest Top 40 hits, “Milly Molly Mandy” by Glyn Poole. Although I’d half forgotten about the Handley Family, OpKnox’s very own failed Osmonds.

    In addition OpKnox ’73 produced 15-year-old choirboy Michael Ward with his heartrending “Let There Be Peace On Earth” which Dale admitted not remembering on POTP but I remember it all right: “Let therrrrrre be peeeeeeace on Earrrrth/Let it begiiiiin with meeeeeee…” Ah kids, they don’t know they’re born today…

    *SPOILER ALERT: OpKnox ’74 people I’ll talk about more when we get to the, um, black eyed boys…*

  4. 34
    Erithian on 22 Aug 2007 #

    On the other side of the ledger, MC, we can credit Op Knocks with two Liverpool bands who were pretty good. One which produced one of the best No 1s of 1976, we’ll come to them in due course; the other being Natural High, who appeared on Op Knocks in 1974 and took 13 years to have a massive hit album, and several outstanding singles, under the name The Christians.

    Millican and Nesbitt were another Blackpool Pier act, I saw them there once. Hmm. Mind you, unlike Robson and Jerome, they’d put in a few shifts first.

  5. 35
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Yes, Natural High/the Christians (*SPOILER ALERT: whom we’ll also be meeting on Popular on at least two occasions in the fullness of time and in the company of others) – I’d completely forgotten about that!

  6. 36
    mike on 22 Aug 2007 #

    The only other hit-making OpKnox act I can think of is Berni Flint, but we needn’t dwell…

  7. 37
    mike on 22 Aug 2007 #

    (Also, thanks VERY much to MC for setting up the Handley Family’s Junior Choice favourite “Wham Bam” as today’s unshakeable earworm… make it stop, make it stop!)

  8. 38
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Sadly I can’t remember any of the Andy and David Williams oeuvre offhand…

  9. 39
    mike on 22 Aug 2007 #

    “I don’t know why I love you like I do, I don’t know why, I just do…”

    Sung flat, as I recall.

    Incidentally, and re. #24/#27 above, Andy Williams Senior did a cracking version of “MacArthur Park” on his recent (and final) UK tour…

  10. 40
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Aug 2007 #

    It has to be better than the version I saw on the Rolf Harris Show, where the Young Generation came in at the fast bit (curiously not yet available on YouTube)…

  11. 41
    Brian on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Another song that I hadn’t heard of but I feel that I have when I read Marcello’s comments at # 4. Inspired.

    And I have to second Doc Casino at # 32 – this is what it’s all about.

  12. 42
    Waldo on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Remember that idiot Bob Blackman, whose sole “act” was to sing “Mule Train”, whilst whacking his bonce with a tray? Did he appear on OpKnox or was it possibly New Faeces?

    Junior Shotime’s Glynn Poole was intend a very ill child and “Milly Molly Mandy” should have seen him sectioned and removed from polite society. He released another record “Good Time Song” (“…that cheers me up when things go wrong”). This one didn’t chart to my astonishment.

    I believe that Bonnie Langford was indeed on OpKnox but stand to be corrected. Incidentally, Bonnie is currently on the road with Sandi Toksvig in a very entertaining theatre show. The audience inevitably has a large gay representation (men to see Bonnie and women to see Sandi) but the show does not dwell on this and is marvellous fun. Toksvig particularly is wonderful, as she always was on “Call My Bluff”.

    Mike – Berni Flint rocked. And as Dale would say “so there!”

  13. 43
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Ah yes, the Mule Train tray headbanger. The good old days of pre-TV music hall when you could tour the same five-minute act around the country for thirty years. Alas, TV swallowed him up in the same five minutes. Almost as bad as Roy somebody or other who used to slither across the screen in a prison suit saying “Weiiiiiiird” and “You’ll all be doing this tomorrow.” No one did.

  14. 44
    mike on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Waldo: Bonnie Langford was in fact a graduate of Junior Showtime, whereas Lena Zavaroni came from OpKnox.

    Looking forward to a similarly in-depth discussion of New Faces as and when we get to it… which won’t be for a few Number Ones yet.

  15. 45
    Waldo on 22 Aug 2007 #

    Mike – I’m obliged for the Bonnie correction. I wouldn’t be surprised if she also cut her teeth on “The Good Old Days”, which were anything but. Leonard Sachs was cosmic as master of ceremonies but as soon as he introduced Bernard Cribbens singing “Follow the Van” it used to lead me straight to my parents’ drinks cabinet. Harveys Bristol Cream on a good night. Johnnie Walker Red Label on a better one.

  16. 46
    Doctor Casino on 23 Aug 2007 #

    Now I’m convinced you guys are just making all these acts up!

  17. 47
    Caledonianne on 23 Aug 2007 #

    #43 Marcello

    That would be Roy Jay. “Spook. Slither”. Think the Laughter Show, or Bob Monkhouse type things…

  18. 48
    Marcello Carlin on 23 Aug 2007 #

    Roy Jay, that’s it! Thanks, Anne!

    Googling reveals that his career went abruptly downhill – though wouldn’t that presuppose an uphill stage? – when he exposed himself PJ Proby-style on stage in the mid-eighties. Apparently he was last witnessed doing the exact same act in a dodgy bar in Benidorm a couple of years ago (i.e. spook/slither/etc. rather than PJ Proby).

  19. 49
    Erithian on 23 Aug 2007 #

    If you think we’re making these acts up, Doc, check out Tony Holland, the Musical Muscle Man – he won Op Knocks six weeks running in the mid-60s.

  20. 50
    Marcello Carlin on 23 Aug 2007 #

    Confirmed/backed up!

  21. 51
    Snif on 24 Aug 2007 #

    Dianne Lee is married to Rick Price, former Wizzard bass player turned Peters and Lee tour manager…they apparently perform as a duo here and there now and then.

    And didn’t the Bonzo Dog Band appear on Opportunity Knocks? (there’s some footage on YouTube that purports to be such)

  22. 52
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Aug 2007 #

    The Bonzos certainly did not appear on OpKnox but they were the house band on the proto-Python Thames TV kids’ show Do Not Adjust Your Set; the songs they performed on the series are collected on the Tadpoles album.

  23. 53
    mike on 24 Aug 2007 #

    Ah, Do Not Adjust Your Set… I used to watch that. Members of The Scaffold used to pop up on it as well. It’s right on the fringes of my memory, along with Kenny Everett and Germaine Greer’s comedy sketch show Nice Time, which seems to have been completely forgotten about.

    I once saw Roy Jay supporting the Three Degrees. Barbican Centre, 1981 or 1982.

  24. 54
    Pete Baran on 24 Aug 2007 #

    I always like to mention that Germaine Greer was Kenny Everett’s sidekick on a TV show in the late sixties. People never believe me.

  25. 55
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Aug 2007 #

    The only way I remember Nice Time is from the clip they keep showing on archive progs (which I guess is the only clip remaining) with Greer and Everett doing their ballet routine. Odd couple.

  26. 56
    Waldo on 24 Aug 2007 #

    Erithian – I can remember not so much a Musical Muscle Man on OpKnox as much as a Muscle Boy, whom I distinctly recall flexing along to “The Tea For Two Cha-Cha”. I don’t think this was Tony Holland. I don’t know who the hell it was. I also remember a German kid called Wolfgang, who “came through the door of opportunity” once or twice as a child novelty ivory tinkler. I think he played Beethoven just like Schroeder from Peanuts. Huughie loved the lad, so he did.

  27. 57
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Aug 2007 #

    No, “Wheels Cha Cha” man was most definitely Tony Holland; he still crops up on C4 list shows to talk about it.

    Also we must not forget Russ Conway wannabe Bobby Crush who persists to this day from the fame afforded to him following his number 37 smash hit “Borsalino.”

  28. 58
    Waldo on 24 Aug 2007 #

    Bobby was a “favourite with the grannies” and always looked about 14. It’s rather strange that since this guy was so popular that this did not convert itself into chart success on even a partial basis to that of Russ Conway. Not that this brought tears to my eyes really. As for “persisting to this day”, could it be that Mr Crush has been obliged to ply his trade on the dreaded (last) resorts of The North Wales Shuffle?

  29. 59
    Snif on 25 Aug 2007 #

    Oops, you’re right, it was apparently “New Faces” that the Bonzos appeared on..and I think it’s time Germaine to be in another comedy TV show, she seems so unhappy these days.

  30. 60
    Mark G on 28 Aug 2007 #

    My fav P&L story, sort of, is:

    Andy Rourke hearing Morrissey and Marr working out the tune to a particular song they’d just written together, and saying “Youse two sound like Peters and Lee!!”

    (Check Johnny’s harmony vocal on “Feel Every Beat” Electronic”)

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