Soho Blondes & Peeping Toms!: Saucy Vocals and Piquant Pop from the ’50s and ‘60s

11th November 2015

Title: Saucy Vocals and Piquant Pop from the ’50s and ‘60s

Label: Croydon Municipal

Going back a few years, the compilation was seen as a method for a major label to squeeze every last penny out of poor punter’s wallets. There was little or no thought behind them. They could have been named Compilation No.1, Compilation No.2…ad nauseum for all of the imagination behind that things. Since then, compilations have taken on a new stripe. Now, there is a much more inventive use of songs and common themes that run throughout.

Sometimes, though, you wonder if some companies are trying just a little bit too hard. Take this one which desperately tries to tie all of the songs into the seedy London Soho sub-culture of the 50s which combined drink, drugs and sex in and around some of the most creative bohemians that the UK has ever seen herded into one small area. More than this, the CD has tried to label, not the culture, not the clubs, not even the exploited girls that performed on stage but the audience that watched them. I quote, “…here we have a bunch of songs which could…be themes for the audience members – the tricksters, the smooth talkers and the shy young things out for an education.” Oh come one! Thus another dead cat is flogged.

In terms of the music itself, what we have here is a pretty interesting list of compartively obscure music which will provide the cognoscenti with gems and treasures. Tracks such as Bu Bam from the obscure Dave Barbour whose main claim to fame was to be Peggy Lee’s husband, songwriter Johnnie Spence who made a living arranging and writing songs to be sung by Matt Munro and Tom Jones and the quite extraordinary Safety Sue a variant of the public information film or, in this case, song that is sung or, rather ‘said’, by ex-Formula 1 racing driver, Stirling Moss, trajedian speed-freak Donald Campbell and the Duke of Bedford (what the hell was he doing there?) Plus cricketeer Dennis Compton – again, why? – and Sheila Van Damme, rally champion, who are both uncredited.

One of the most intriguing compilations I’ve seen in some time with one of the most suite of eclectic tracks around and, incidentally, the most pathetic theme of all time to tie them all in.