Sep 03

THE STARGAZERS – “Broken Wings”

Popular14 comments • 5,593 views

#7, 10th April 1953

Pretty much all the interest here is in the instrumentation, the now-expected orchestration replaced by a fragile electric organ and a break played on what might be a cracked cornet. The production makes for an effective bit of slush, which as a bare song doesn’t hold the interest for longer than its premise (“With broken wings no bird can fly”). The plug on the organ is pretty much all that separates this from the earliest slow songs I’ve heard, dance ballads from the 20s or even before. The singles chart was now several months old but listening to this I get the – probably na’ve – idea that there was still a lot more luck than judgement in fashioning a hit.



  1. 1
    intothefireuk on 4 Nov 2007 #

    I have no idea who the stargazers were but they sound far too much like the Mike Samms Singers for my liking. The MSS featured in the hellish radio series ‘Sing Something Simple’ which blighted my Sunday nghts for some years (thanks Mum !). The addition of a crappy organ and depressing muted trumpet solo only adds to the misery. Into Room 101 it goes.

  2. 2
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Nov 2007 #

    Actually Sing Something Simple featured the Cliff Adams Singers, who evolved from the Stargazers. They appeared as one of three regular musical acts in the very early series of The Goon Show (when it was still called Crazy People and Michael Bentine was in it).

    Meanwhile the Mike Sammes Singers were responsible for the assorted “whoooh”s and “oompah oompah stick it up yer jumpah”s on “I Am The Walrus.”

  3. 3
    jeff w on 5 Nov 2007 #

    yes, don’t be doing down Mike Sammes. His singers appear uncredited on more British pop classics than you might think.

    Check out also the sad story behind the recently issued Music For Biscuits.

  4. 4
    intothefireuk on 5 Nov 2007 #

    Ok fair enough – the Cliff Adams singers it was – the Mike Sammes singers are repreived.

  5. 5
    Marcello Carlin on 6 Nov 2007 #

    That is a sad story about Mike Sammes. Blimey. I must check that CD out.

    One of the Stargazers is the dad of the lead singer out of Johnny Hates Jazz.

  6. 6
    DJ Punctum on 29 May 2008 #

    In case I haven’t already mentioned it somewhere else, the Mike Sammes Singers’ Music For Biscuits compilation is urgent and key listening. Brilliant and inventive, especially “Dulux Super Three” (most of the track titles do resemble a Stereolab album tracklisting, it has to be said).

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 19 Mar 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: The Stargazers were often on television in the fifties, but none of these performances survive;

    THE BENNY HILL SHOW: with The Stargazers, Jeremy Hawk, Kenneth Horne, Cleo Laine, Kenny Baker, Susan Denny, Anne Reid, The Tommy Linden Dancers, The George Mitchell Choir (1957)

    THE SHOW BAND SHOW: with Lonnie Donegan, The Stargazers, Shirley Wilson, Tony Martin (1956)

    THE SHOW BAND SHOW: with The Stargazers, Billy Daniels (1956)

    THE SHOW BAND SHOW: with The Stargazers, Michael Holliday, Shirley
    Wilson, Winifred Atwell (1956)

    SIX-FIVE SPECIAL: with Marion Ryan, Jon Pertwee, The Stargazers, Max Geldray, Freddie Mills, Marty Wilde, Kenny Baker and the Dozen, Johnny Duncan and the Blue Grass Boys, Don Lang and his Frantic Five (1958)

    SUNDAY NIGHT AT THE LONDON PALLADIUM (VAL PARNELL’S …..): with The London Palladium Girls, Bruce Forsyth, The London Palladium Orchestra, Billy Daniels with Benny Payne at Piano, The Stargazers (1956)

  8. 8
    Howie on 26 Sep 2009 #

    But this is a totally beautiful tune – La Golondrina (The Swallow), and there is a superb recording of it by Placido Domingo on YouTube.

    It’s apparently an old Mexican song, played whever someone is leaving, at funeral, and events where a sweet sad mixture of joy and sorrow are mingled.

    The words tell of the wandering swallow saying farewell. The song was apparently composed by Narciso Serradel Serradel Sevilla (1843-1910), a native of Alvarado, Veracruz, Mexico.

    I can only agree with one of the YouTube comments: “soaring and exquisitely sensitive…. a most extraordinary and beautiful song”.

    It may be that the Stargazers’ version was shaped by the kind of sentimentality of 1950s music, both in the words and the arrangement – but just listen to Placido Domingo and you’ll cry with sadness and joy!

  9. 9
    Tom on 26 Sep 2009 #

    Thanks Howie – at the time of writing the 50s entries I didn’t have much of a ‘feel’ for this kind of music (still don’t I suspect!) so it’s really good to get contributions from people who do know and appreciate it better.

  10. 10
    enitharmon on 26 Sep 2009 #

    I’m inclined to agree with Howie – it really is a lovely tune, and one that sticks around in the head. The presentation seems, not an alien language exactly but a bit like reading Chaucer in the original; it’s recognisably our language but in a form which now seems very remote, as if seeping through a worm-hole in space.

    To me it conjures up the senses of early childhood; gathered in my grandma’s house with the big old valve wireless – Hilversum! Sottens! Kalundborg! Names to stir the infant loins! And a miasma of naptha and boiled cabbage. In ten years the language of popular music will begin to look modern to us, but the gulf between 1953 and 1963 is a big one.

  11. 11
    mathew anderson on 26 Apr 2010 #

    I remember the radio announcer saying `The Stargazers are on the Air`and was one of my late parents favourite radio programmes -this led to cliff adams singers and to sing something simple on the light programme(RADIO 2).Yes I listened to that show as well for years and knew it well.Anita Harris has an interview in the news of the world sunday 25th april 2010 where she tells of her and a young gerry dorsey(ENGELBERT HUMPERDINK)both aged 17 being part of the cliff adams singers.As dorsey was born in 1936 this must been 1953!

  12. 12
    Johnny on 7 Sep 2010 #

    I must agree with Howie. This beautiful tune was played in the film ” the wild bunch ” as the gang rode out of the Mexican village.

    The stargazers effort in 1953 is still a nice song to listen to

  13. 13
    Eli on 19 Dec 2010 #

    Now, I’m a devoted ’50s lover, but this is dirge, frankly. I’m not surprised at all to find the tune was originally meant for funerals. One of the few 50s #1s I have no time for at all.

  14. 14
    Gareth Parker on 9 Jun 2021 #

    Would agree with Tom’s 4/10 here.

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