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October 08, 2004

Last of the Goons.

This won't mean anything at all to Americans but Max Geldray, the last of the voices from the Goon Show, has just died. Not only was he part of the most original radio show ever, he also toured (he was a harmonica player) with Frank Sinatra, jammed with Django and even played Queen Elizabeth II's (as she wasn't then) 18 th birthday party. In later years he was a member of staff at the Betty Ford clinic:
"There was nothing better designed to cheer up a jaded British pop star or film actor than a staff member with a familiar name which could summon up memories of the insincere tones of Major Dennis Bloodnok or Little Jim's cry, "He's fallen in the water"."
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, or why this 1950's radio show still resonates, you should look for "The Goon Show" on one of the p2p networks. "Tales of Old Dartmoor" is probably my favourite, where Dartmoor Prison goes on holiday to the Chateau D'If. Even into the early 1980's. the BBC World Service would broadcast an episode of this, then, three decade old programme on Christmas Day, just after the Queen's speech. If you need another reason? This is the show in which Peter Sellers got his first break. If you've heard of Spike Milligan, well, this was his finest hour. (The other two main people were Michael Bentine and Harry Secombe, famous to Brits but not elsewhere, and Ray Ellington, another musician on the show.)
For a shorter version of the near lunacy which was the show, look for the "Ying-Tong" song. Good, but even better is the B side, "I'm Walking Backwards for Christmas" which has, from memory, the lines:
"I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
I've tried walking sideways, and walking to the front,
but people just look at me and say,
It's a publicitiy stunt,
So I'm walking backwards for Christmas,
To show that I love youoo".
Err, yes, we are slightly different on this side of the pond. This is Prince Charles' favourite show.

October 8, 2004 in Music | Permalink


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