36b. The Goodies Sing Songs From The Goodies

The Goodies Sing Songs From The Goodies

January 1974

It was never my intention in this Goodies Retrospective to cover the lads’ extensive Goodies oeuvre beyond the television programme. However, their first LP has such an obvious connection—in title, in content, in release date—that I feel compelled to add it to the mix. ‘The Goodies Sing Songs From The Goodies’ was released in January 1974 and reissued the following year as ‘The World of The Goodies’. It is a distinctly odd, distinctly Oddie, production.

The first point to note is that it isn’t what most Goodies fans (today, and for as long as people have been discussing the music) would have wanted. Rather than offering a straight reproduction of Bill’s original compositions, sans all the laughter and sound effects, it actually does what it says on the cover. The songs are re-recorded. With the exception of ‘Taking You Back’, which was taken from the original sessions, The Goodies resort to covering their own material.

Why adopt such an approach? Why not release the actual music, which viewers were known to love? (Answer by rhetorical question: the same music the BBC hunted down and actively destroyed, save a few reels illicitly rescued by sound supervisor Adrian Bishop-Laggett, bless him, and released in 2018 as ‘The Cricklewood Tapes’? Yes, that music.) The BBC, as evident elsewhere in their junking of video recordings, had no appreciation whatsoever for the commercial value of what they possessed (or yearned no longer to possess). In The Goodies they had material to release a soundtrack album every series. Instead…

Instead, the music was left languishing and ‘The Goodies Sing Songs From The Goodies’ was released more or less as a comedy/novelty album, cashing in on the Super Chaps’ emerging celebrity profile and testing the waters for future bomb-dives in this direction.

Which brings us to the second point: song selection.

If I were, off the top of my head, to choose songs representative of the first four series, I’d plump for recurring numbers ‘Needed’ and ‘Run (I’m Coming to Get You)’ as must-have inclusions, plus ‘Kitten Kong’ and some of the funkier instrumentals. If forced then to skew towards Series 3 and 4, I’d add from my pick of ‘It’s My Home’ (from ‘The New Office’), ‘Ride My Pony’ (from ‘Hunting Pink’), ‘Stuff That Gibbon’ (from ‘That Old Black Magic’), ‘Desert Island’ (from ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’), ‘They’re Taking Over’ (from ‘Way Outward Bound’), ‘I’m Taking You Back’ (from ‘Camelot’), ‘Do the Bunny’ (from ‘Invasion of the Moon Creatures’), ‘Medical Man’ (from ‘Hospital for Hire’) and ‘Motorway Madness’ (from ‘The Race’).

Three of these songs did indeed make the cut: ‘Ride My Pony’, ‘Stuff that Gibbon’ and ‘I’m Taking You Back’. For the most part, though, the choice of material is way off the mark, showcasing neither the most prevalent, most loved, most memorable nor even simply the best material available, let alone songs that would work cohesively together. The result is a mess—much sought after by desperate fans, but nonetheless a travesty of what might have been!

Which brings us to point number three: the cheapening effect of kitsch. Instead of trusting in the music (as the BBC clearly didn’t), Decca[1] pushed for the record to be an extension of the Goodies’ on-screen personalities. Thus, we’re given ‘Mummy I Don’t Like My Meat’, ‘Sparrow Song’, and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ (a head-scratching inclusion justified only by the briefest of appearances during ‘The Goodies and the Beanstalk’[2]). ‘Winter Sportsman’ is modified from lowkey, gravelly nostalgia (think Bill doing the Kinks’ ‘Sunny Afternoon’) to a twee novelty number with Tim on vocals. ‘Stuff that Gibbon’ is countrified and comedified/silly-buggerified to the point of being near unlistenable[3] (with all due respect to Graeme’s faux-western delivery).

The overall effect is a record of Jekyll-like musical excellence succumbing, with self-aware angst and palpable, teeth-gritting despair, to a Hyde-side of puerile, man-child, who-the-fuck(even-in-the-70s)-was-this-aimed-at codswallop. To take each track as it comes:

A1. All Things Bright and Beautiful.
Due to copyright issues, a late replacement for ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (a memorable bit of showmanship from ‘The Music Lovers’, though itself hardly representative of the show’s incidental music).
Big, choral, inexplicable.

A2. Ride My Pony
A bit more ‘big band’ than the original (from ‘Hunting Pink’). More emphasis on the horns, less on laid-back tickling of the ivories. Lacks the soul backing singers. Nonetheless—
Funky, grooving, a showcase.

A3. Stuff that Gibbon
Whereas the version from ‘That Old Black Magic’ had a scratchy square-dance charm, the arrangement here is that of a pissed man-child’s impromptu hoe-down party singalong. Bill’s vocals are swapped out for Graeme’s.
Fiddly, facetious, ffs— why?

A4. Mummy I Don’t Like My Meat
Whether from repetition or lack of context, this novelty tearjerker (from ‘Superstar’) lacks the impact of its first appearance. Too smooth by half.
Out of place, overproduced, a one-off afforded way too much prominence.

A5. Show Me the Way
This one harks all the way back to Series 1’s ‘Snooze’, yet sounds nothing whatsoever like its on-screen precursor. Country twangs? Big-swell gospel? It’s vocally akin to ‘Nappy Love’, only takes itself seriously.
Brazen and bewildering. Bleh.

B1. Goodies Theme
A funked up version of the Series 3-4 opening theme. Perhaps outstays its welcome a tad, but (unlike most of this record) captures the sublime jamming essence of the show itself. Are we sure this isn’t the A-side??
Quirky, soulful, joyous.

B2. Sparrow Song
Graeme’s affectedly feeble ditty from ‘Superstar’, included here as if to mollify any novelty record–buyers offended by the previous track’s musical qualities. Deliberately off-key? Screams “We are not to be taken seriously!”
Painfully ill-advised.

B3. Taking You Back
Hard-hitting licks of growly, guitar-driven rock taken straight from the BBC recording sessions (for ‘Camelot’). Listening to this boss the turntable, one can only wonder at the LP that could have been put out.
Grungy and glorious. More!

B4. Sunny Morning
Bill’s attempt at a jazz standard? Apparently composed for Series 2 but never used (not hard to see why). Sparse piano and overly-emoted vocals. Not bad, but not what any fan of the show would expect.
Plucked from nowhere, for no obvious purpose.

Sparrow Song (Reprise) [unlisted]
A ‘shoot me now’ novelty recrudescence of a track that shouldn’t have been there in the first place, switching 'butterfly' and 'flutter' for 'sparrow' and 'tweet'.
#TheGoodiesSingSONGS #WhereAreTheSongs?

B5. Winter Sportsman
This rendition (vocals by Tim) is a pale, raspberry-pie echo of the original (from ‘Winter Olympics’). Not so much Bill Oddie, Mike Gibbs and band as Bertie & Wooster meet bubble-gum novelty pop. The faux record-scratch ending says it all.
Sigh.

B6. Spacehopper
The LP concludes with a relatively faithful adaptation of ‘Spacehopper’ (from ‘Charity Bounce’). A bit frenetic, perhaps, but retaining a soulful, yearning quality within its driving frisson. The less said about the party skit at the end, the better.

Jacob Edwards, January 2024

Tweets:

Text: 50 years ago this month, the Goodies released their first LP, ‘The Goodies Sing Songs from The Goodies’ (reissued as ‘The World of The Goodies’). Tonight, I shall listen along and wonder at what might have been. #Goodies50
Picture: The LP sleeve (front and back) of ‘The Goodies Sing Songs from The Goodies’. Most notably shows the lads on their trandem, with bongos (Bill), guitar (Graeme) and tambourine (Tim).

Text: Happy 50th anniversary to ‘The Goodies Sing Songs from The Goodies’, a musical misstep clutched to our bosoms only in light of the BBC’s already having kicked us in the teeth. #Goodies50
That’s 36 and a bit episodes down in my Goodies retrospective: https://www.jacobedwards.id.au/36b-the-goodies-sing-songs-from-the-goodies/
Picture: The LP sleeve (front and back) from ‘The World of The Goodies’.

[1] Or possibly Bill. Perhaps he chose this direction deliberately, selling out to fuel ambitions of novelty pop stardom?

[2] And chosen for pre- Season 4 release as a single (October 1973), because, hey, who’d want to buy ‘Run (I’m Coming to Get You’) or any other song made famous by the programme purportedly represented?

[3] And so, of course, released as the one and only single (April 1975) from the reissued ‘The World of the Goodies’.

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