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Jul 06

ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK – “The Last Waltz”

Popular54 comments • 5,305 views

#237, 9th September 1967

EngelbertAfter the write-up of “Release Me” I got several comments and emails from Engelbert fans. They ran along familiar lines: Engelbert is a superb performer, he has a remarkable voice, his fame and renown will far outlast your puny blog.

The last of these I concede without a quibble (though perhaps with an eye-roll or two). As for the others: yes, Engelbert Humperdinck has a magnificent, rich, sumptuous voice. But “The Last Waltz” is evidence that he’s not any kind of a performer.

Each verse of “The Last Waltz” carries different weight: unexpected triumph in the first – unsought loss in the second. It’s a song of bittersweet regret and hard-gained experience, that Humperdinck takes in a well-greased monotone, swooping and booming and investing nothing of himself at all. There’s no inflected difference between the verses, no emotional hooks, the performance is just an unctious slick on a torpid pool.

At the end he bellows “It’s over!” (you might reach for Roy Orbison here, but let’s spare Engelbert the embarassment). But it isn’t over, there’s a chorus of “la la la”s to take us to the finish. Tricky things, “la la la”s – nothing specific to convey, which can make them the hardest part of a performance to get right, the moment where you know for sure whether the singer’s pulled it off and got inside the mood of a song. The “la”s in “The Last Waltz” are – sadly, expectedly – a cocoon of nothing.

But what a magnificent voice!

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Comments

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  1. 26
    Mutley on 3 Mar 2012 #

    I think both Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson are still alive (aged about 90) and have excellent Eurovision form as runners up in 1959.

  2. 27
    mintness on 8 Mar 2012 #

    And just when you (and he) thought the Hump was going to be the oldest performer at this year’s contest…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXuqejF1qZM

  3. 28
    wichita lineman on 8 Mar 2012 #

    I wonder if the Greeks will boo them for not taking it seriously enough? They’ll have to bottle up their frustrations. Who could boo a cuddly baboushka?

    I’m reminded of this recent story. How to stop architecture lovers kicking up a fuss when a landmark makes way for a retail park:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-16567792

  4. 29
    Mutley on 8 Mar 2012 #

    Not serious enough? For the first 20 seconds I thought it was House of the Rising Sun.

  5. 30
    Jimmy the Swede on 19 Mar 2012 #

    Ken Bruce played The Hump’s entry this morning. It’s a typical slow easy-to-follow Engelbert ballad and I personally think he has more than just a chance of bringing this thing home. But as Eng told Ken himself: “It’s all on the performance”. Only an old pro would say that. Best of luck to him.

  6. 31
    Jimmy the Swede on 27 May 2012 #

    Aww, poor ol’ Hump! He certainly didn’t deserve that.

  7. 32
    Mark G on 28 May 2012 #

    Well, it was a fight between a song that had made number one in a few countries other than it’s own (and doubtless here too, in before the bunnyban applies there), and a song that didn’t even make the top 40 in it’s own country. (and a bunch of other songs too).

    Also, that if it had done reasonably well, another song for EH’s permanent set list. As it is, it’ll be quietly dropped in a couple of months…

  8. 33
    Lazarus on 28 May 2012 #

    I think it’s somewhat unlikely that “Euphoria” will even chart here, never mind make number one. I may be wrong but I don’t think any Euro winner has made the Top 40 since Lordi, six years ago. Far cry from the three consecutive number ones in the early ’80s. That was interrupted by the (rather nice) “Si la Vie est Cadeau” the 1983 winner for Luxembourg sung by Corinne Hermes failing to make the top 75, and UK chart positions since then have mostly been on the low side.

    Was this year’s winner really such a strong song? All chorus, I thought, and somewhat dated.

  9. 34
    Erithian on 29 May 2012 #

    IIRC Alexander Rybak’s “Fairytale” got to number 10 here in 2009, but you’re right it’s rare these days. It’s not my style of music by any means, but am I right in thinking that if you went to raves “Euphoria” is the kind of thing you’ll have heard pretty well all night?! Even to me it didn’t sound original.

  10. 35
    Iain F on 29 May 2012 #

    Euphoria is still #2 on iTunes days after the contest. It may not last the week but it’s a safe bet for the top 10.

  11. 36
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 May 2012 #

    The young lady who fronted the Greek entry was more than a little cheeky.

    No human rights concerns about next year’s hosts probably..

  12. 37
    Mark G on 29 May 2012 #

    “Euphoria” sounds a lot like a ‘rave’ version of “my heart will go on”. (Is there such a thing? It sounds like a familiar manifest)

  13. 38
    punctum on 29 May 2012 #

    That’s what I thought when I first heard it on Saturday: Celine Dion produced by Calvin Harris.

    I note (thanks to Mark for alerting me) it is already #2 on iTunes, behind Rudimental’s quite magnificent “Feel The Love,” so it’s likely to be a very decent chart this week.

    About Engelbert, well, what can be said, except that if you’re going in for Eurovision you need to be able to come up with an instant hit. His song was a grower but millions of viewers with seconds to decide haven’t got time for growers; they want right-between-the-eyes of-course-it’s-gonna-be-a-hit stuff. In addition, these are tough times, and audiences want to be cheered up by Eurovision, not made more miserable by bleak, introspective ballads. You can say what you like about countries voting for their neighbours (like Britain didn’t give 10 points to Ireland) but they did ultimately pull together and vote for what was clearly the best song in the competition, so that argument’s a lot of rubbish.

    Also, poor Engelbert is 76 and last had a substantial UK hit single forty years ago. I’m not the greatest fan of teh Wanted but “Glad You Came” would have sounded far more plugged into Eurovision and given Loreen a run for her money. No point asking Elton either (especially as the song he and Bernie wrote for Lulu in ’69 was outvoted by “Boom-Bang-A-Bang”) – can you remember any song he’s done since 1997 without looking them up? But it was as if the States had somehow wangled their way into Eurovision in say ’75, and sent Bing Crosby. A bit embarrassing.

  14. 39
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 May 2012 #

    Yep, we’ll have to pick more carefully next time. Is Jack Buchanan still alive?

  15. 40
    swanstep on 29 May 2012 #

    Hasn’t Morrissey periodically offered/threatened his services?

  16. 41
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 May 2012 #

    Well, clearly St Etts have gotta do it. How ’bout it, Lino?

  17. 42
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 May 2012 #

    I ENDORSE THIS PROPOSAL

    (suggested title = “my lovely sukrat (and pals)”)

  18. 43
    punctum on 29 May 2012 #

    No, give it to Cowell and Wand Erection.

    Also we would fare much better in Eurovision if Radio 2 were taken out of the equation. Radio 2-type songs will never stand a chance.

  19. 44
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 May 2012 #

    # 42 – No, no, no… “Ode to Mucky Sue”

    Oh, Mucky Sue!
    We know a bloke who’s obsessed with you,
    He just hasn’t got a clue WHAT to do,
    Can anyone show him the way?..

    (Cont’d on P 94)

  20. 45
    punctum on 29 May 2012 #

    “His name is Jimmy the Swede.
    He’s in some dire need.
    Wants Mucky Sue to take his lead.
    I think I’ll toast some breed.”
    (Des’Ree, circa 1996)

  21. 46
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 May 2012 #

    I think we’re onto something, Marcello. I can hear the votes for St Etts now… “Rouaume-Uni, Douze Points!!” And Graham Norton creaming himself.

  22. 47
    punctum on 29 May 2012 #

    Des’Ree must be about 76 now, easy.

    “I drink some cherryade
    Listen to Spandau Ballet’s ‘Parade’
    Eat some Ryvita I have made
    Watch Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade.”

  23. 48
    Mark G on 29 May 2012 #

    Holiday in Ryde Esplanade!

  24. 49
    Erithian on 29 May 2012 #

    In yer faces Jedward!
    I can hear the Swede’s verse to the tune of either “Island Of Lost Souls” or “Spanish Stroll” and of course we’ve got a tune for Punctum’s bit already. Get that voice back Sarah, we’ve a job for you!

  25. 50
    Jimmy the Swede on 29 May 2012 #

    Now we’re cookin’!

  26. 51
    thefatgit on 29 May 2012 #

    Ode to Mucky Sue

    Oh, Sue! Oh, Sue!
    Smeared kohl and Mountain Dew
    Clodagh’s got nothin’ on you

    Yes Sue! Yes Sue!
    Sequins and ballet shoes
    My girl’s jealous of you

    My Sue! My Sue!
    Look straight at Camera 2
    I’m falling deep for you!

    …er that’s about it so far!

  27. 52
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 May 2012 #

    …When he sees you a spinnin’ and a reelin’
    The Swede’s parsnip
    Hits the ceiling

    He’s gotta give it up
    Your dancin’
    Your pantin’
    Your starin’
    All your kerfuffle
    Or he’ll be doing
    The Resurrection Shuffle!

    You’ve captured his heart
    Right from the start
    But he’s trapped in a chart
    The deluded sad numpty…

  28. 53
    Jimmy the Swede on 30 May 2012 #

    May 2013
    Globe Arena, Stockholm
    Green Room
    Much merriment during the interval:

    Graham Norton: “There appears to be a playful exchange going on amongst the UK supporters…”

    Slurred voice off camera: “Stop hogging the champagne, Rosie. There’s some thirsty people back here!!”

  29. 54
    lonepilgrim on 18 Apr 2016 #

    it hardly seems worth getting back to EH’s rendition of ‘The Last Waltz’ an utterly flavourless version of what could be a pleasant ballad with a more invested performance.

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