Sunday, 30 September 2012

"You're just to good to be true" - RIP Andy Williams

It's been a few days now since the sad news of the death of Andy Williams, but I still wanted to say my bit on the loss of a true 20th century musical legend.

I've always had a great fondness and love for the crooning, mellow sounds of the 'Rat Pack' era. Be it Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin or more latterly the likes of Matt Monro, I have never strayed far from those cool, relaxing tones that soothe away the tensions of the day.

I can very happily and easily add Andy Williams into that list and I grew to adore his sound ever since the Welsh football team unofficially took his anthem 'Can't Take My Eyes Off You' as their own in those heady days of 1993 when we came within a whisker of qualifying for the 1994 World Cup.

Years later in the autumn of 2002, Wales reached those almost unreachable heights when we beat Italy 2-1 in the Millennium Stadium in a Euro '04 qualifying match. I vividly recall signing-along from the upper reaches of the stadium to Andy and this wonderful song as it came over the tannoy to celebrate a famous win.

Happy days and happy memories!

But Andy Williams was no one-hit wonder. Here are just a few of  the songs from a long-ranging back catalogue which I abolutely adore.

But of all of those mentioned above, including the headlining song of this post, there is possibly one other that, due to the nature of modern advertising, I have fallen in love with and possibly adore above all others.

It's 'The Quest' and Andy Williams' 'Impossible Dream'.

He was an icon of his age and of his profession and a part of my wonderful, musical upbringing.

Thank you and RIP Andy Williams

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Andy Murray - US Open Grand Slam Champion!

It's 3am and I stayed up to watch it. Andy Murray gave us tension and anxiety in the bucket load as has become his way but it was worth it.

In fact, it has all been worth it. The long journey to watch that prodigious young talent from Dunblane in Scotland make his way to Olympic glory and now to this, the first British man to win a Grand Slam since Fred Perry himself lifted the US Open title back in 1936, is over.

Andy Murray - 2012 US Open Champion
It's been a rollercoaster ride but Andy Murray can now rightly claim to be a truly world class tennis player.

This of course is hopefully only the beginning. His coach Ivan Lendl went on to win a hat-full of majors after his first on his 5th final attempt - just as it was with Murray today.

The future now is looking bright. With the confidence of knowing that he is good enough to win a major, anything is now possible.

Well done Andy, a truly memorable way to bring down the curtain on a truly memorable British summer of sport!

Oh and my tip for British Sports Personality of the Year!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

"What The World Needs Now" Hal David

Everyone knows the name Burt Bacharach. Or at least they should do. Yet does everyone know the name Hal David? To my eternal shame I must admit that I didn't until I read about his death this morning aged 91.

Hal David was as American lyricist who was famed for his musical collaborations with Burt Bacharach. David won two Oscars for his work on the soundtrack for the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - one for best music, and the other for the song Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head. Both awards were shared with Burt Bacharach.

Many of their greatest collaborations were with Dionne Warwick but there were so many more. Here are only a handful of timeless hits which I have adored since childhood and which I had not realised, until now, were all influenced by the great Hal David...

Popular culture know-it-all and all-round good-egg Paul Gambaccini called him " of the giants of all-time of popular music songwriting". I can't really top that.

RIP Hal David (1921-2012)

Amsterdam's Finest Tulips for Max Bygraves

Life can be very peculiar sometimes and so it has turned out once more.

I must admit that I have never considered myself a great Max Bygraves fan. It's nothing to do with his era or his genre - indeed, I am as much a fan of 1950s and 1960s music as I am of any other decade. My father's influences have clearly resonated with me throughout the years.

Indeed, I can add that his comic hit 'You're a Pink Toothbrush' really grated with me and didn't endear the man to me.

Yet despite this, I have happened in recent weeks to have fallen upon another favourite of his which I have taken too. 'Tulips from Amsterdam' is a beautiful, melodic song which I adore. As it happens, Alyson and I have spoken about our thoughts of travelling for a short break in Holland and this musical revelation has added an orange colour to my summer. I was only listening to the song and singing along to its simple but happy lyrics yesterday morning.

So it was with great sadness that I heard yesterday that Max had passed away in Australia at the grand old age of 89.

He can forget his toothbrush, be it blue or pink, but let there be tulips awaiting him as he moves along to a quieter and more peaceful place.

RIP Max Bygraves