Three Period Pieces

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Beyond The Fringe (3.5*), The Amazing Adventures of the Liverpool Scene (3.5*), Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966 to 1971 (3*)

Nostalgia, according to some, isn't what it used to be, but then again things in general ain't the way they used to be either, which is probably the point behind the whole nostalgia thing anyway.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but when I get nostalgic it's an exercise in recalling the way things used to be and figuring out how they've changed, which is basically the motivation behind my Interesting Times project as I try to make sense of some of the things that I've been on the fringe of over the past fifty-odd years.

Some of them, as the reader may imagine, were very odd indeed, and reconnection with Steve and Rhonda Doyle at Bloodwood brought back memories of JCUNQ Commem Week Revues, gentlemen named Charlie and Kimbo and Saturday night’s Underworld in St Matthew's Church Hall.

Underworld was the scene where Hughesy indulged in the odd spot of poetry reading, and while most of the source volumes are long since lost, I still have a copy of Penguin Modern Poets 10: The Mersey Sound and a slim volume of verse from Roger McGough. 

I haven't revisited those recently, and haven't looked too far when it comes to tracking down copies of The Children of Albion anthology, Pete Brown's Let It Roll, Kafka, or Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture, all of which were key texts in that particular time and place but reminiscences of hirsute gentlemen proclaiming For mine brother Jacob is an hairy man had me heading over to the iTunes Store to check the availability of various early sixties British comedy.

A quick perusal had Hughesy buying the soundtrack from Beyond The Fringe (remarkable value for 42 tracks at $8.99), The Amazing Adventures of the Liverpool Scene ($35.99, but 33 tracks, over two and a half hours of material) and Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966 to 1971 ($10.99).

Now, what's under discussion here isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea, and playing through Beyond the Fringe seems to deliver sequential variations on the same sketch from different sources, but as content to throw some different elements into your shuffle mode listening it works just fine. If Hughesy was still polluting the local airwaves Bowen listeners would probably be subjected to repeated musings on Peter Cook's lack of Latin for the judging, and the memorable Peter Cook and Dudley Moore one-legged man auditioning for the role of Tarzan sketch.

We're talking close to fifty years after the act, which was topical at the time, so there's a certain amount of datedness kicking in, but a wander through the track listing is, at least as far as Hughesy's concerned, a chance to revisit some of the classic years of British antiestablishment humour. 

Tracking down The Liverpool Scene and Scaffold, on the other hand, was prompted by a largely forgotten fascination with the poetry of Adrian Henri (Liverpool Scene) and Roger McGough (Scaffold) and it's interesting to note how the works of the two gentlemen have aged over the years.

The Mersey Poets were, largely, working in pop poetry mode, which was what made them ideal for Hughesy's Underworld readings, and a glance through the index of Penguin Modern Poets 10 reveals a preponderance of McGough over Henri when it went to pieces actually read. 


© Ian Hughes 2012