PETER WYNGARDE: THE ALBUM

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Album: Released by RCA Victor (1970) – Catalogue Number: SF 8087.

Produced By: Vic Smith and Hubert Thomas Valverde.

Original Value: 39 Shillings and 11d (Approximately £2.00). Current Value: £250.00+.

Single: 7″ RCA 1967. Original Value: 5 Shillings (25 pence). Current Value: £10.00 – £15.00. Released by RCA Victor (1970) – La Ronde De L’Amour/The Way I Cry Over You

Format: Gatefold sleeve with portrait photograph on the front and with a picture of him facing a wall full of graffiti referring to the track ‘Rape’. In the centre, is a full-length photograph of the waxwork dummy of Peter, which was said to have been displayed at Madam Tussaude’s in London.

Recorded at Olympic Sound Studios in Surrey, England.

A Personal Message from Jason King

(Taken from the original sleeve notes)

PETER WYNGARDE’s personal blend of sophistication and the incurable ability to laugh at himself is epitomized in this album. The outrageous is never far behind and irrepressible when sex leers its inquisitive head as in Rape and the Hippie and the Skinhead. Cynicism has a sneaking glance too and the cruelty of such lyrics as Flight Number 10 and Try To Remember To Forget to Forget are given such a romantic sound that on first hearing they appear disarmingly innocuous which they certainly are not. This was intentional with the invaluable help of Hubert Valverde whose music has the intangible lyricism that makes a love song that is felt and seen when it is heard.

In Vic Smith they have found a partner who has brought his own cool mastery of connection – blending the two talents into a unique combination without distracting when he subtly injects his own particular sound in the marvellous arrangements. But of course it is PETER WYNGARDE’s unique and personal magnetism that shines through. I can think of no other album that has brought such continuous pleasure than this outrageously funny, original and versatile one.

Jason King

SIDE ONE

Track 1.

Come In.

Written by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE.

Opens with a strident percussion rhythm, which fades to uncover a familiar voice singing excerpts from a later track, ‘La Ronde De L’Amour’. PETER is evidently making preparations for a female guest – this establishes the album’s leaning towards the romantic side of his image, obviously building upon the Jason King following of the time. The lyric – penned by Peter himself, displays all the modesty of his alter-ego who, as the connoisseur of all things sensual, a single sniff is all that is required to determine his lady’s particular brand of perfume. However, one wonders as to the status of his companion with the inclusion of the line, “No, the lights haven’t fused, it’s candlelight!” The track establishes a relaxed, intimate mood, but implies that all might soon change. “Here’s to a pleasant evening… and a few surprises.!

Track 2:

You Wonder How These Things Began.

Written by Schmidt and Jones.

No initial surprises as we move swiftly on to track two. Here the sensualist theme continues as Peter offers up a softly spoken piece of poetry backed by a gentle harp, celebrating the communion with nature that comes with Springtime and first love: “Recall the secret place? You’ve been there, you remember? Where someone held your hand, and love was sweeter than the berries or the honey, or the stinging taste of mint.” This place obviously made an impression on Peter, as we find him utilizing its strong imagery later on in one of his own lyrics. This track concludes gently with him that it is “a perfect time to be in love.”

 Track 3:

Rape.

Written by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE.

Without so much as a pause for breath, we go straight into the next track – the strident beat returns and we find ourselves heading at speed into the most controversial piece on the entire album: ‘Rape‘. Guttural exclamations and female screams lead us to Peter, who informs us that “It’s utterly amazing how many different kinds of rape there are!” We are then treated to his perceptions of rape around the world – Italy, Japan, America, China, Britain, France, Germany and Russia – no major power escapes observation. On paper it all sounds rather nasty – but here I have to agree with Jason’s sleeve notes. I find the piece outrageously funny. German rape is a particular favourite: “In Germany it isn’t always remembered, what with Litz, Wager and Tannhauser. The rape is synonymous with whips, bunkers and Mausers, which makes it all comparatively kinky, with gas thrown in to get rid of the stinky.” There is without doubt some strong and evocative imagery in ‘Rape’, and it is definitely not a track to play full blast in the car with the windows down! I won’t even begin to try to justify it inclusion on the album – only PETER can do that, but I would say that it should not be dismissed out of hand. If it really bothers you, try replacing the word “rape” with “sex”, and listen for the humour once again. After all, as Jason King would say, “It depends so much on what you fancy!

RAPE

 Track 4:

La Ronde De L’amour.

Written by Straus and Decreux.

The fourth track brings us to yet another slice of the unexpected, as PETER treats us to a wonderful rendition of ‘La Ronde De L’Amour’. Unfortunately, my French won’t stretch to a full translation, but I will say that it does have female recommendation as being a beautiful offering – sentiments with which I cannot disagree. It is quite a change after the shock of the previous track to come to something as gentle as this. If, as I suspect, the inclusion of this song was inspired by the film from which it is taken, this is a clear demonstration of the softer side of PETER‘s nature, and easily dispels the possible perception which could be garnered solely from hearing ‘Rape’.

 Track 5:

Jenny Kissed Me.

Written by Hunt and Smith.

Another piece of poetry forms the basis for track five, ‘Jenny Kissed Me’. This is a short but very sweet piece which is led in by an incongruous semi-fanfare which will again form the basis of a later track. ‘Jenny…’ itself is supported by a soft acoustic guitar, and there’s nothing further I can say, since the piece is so short that to give a true impression it would have to be quoted in its entirety. It is however, lovingly delivered by Peter, who also gives us a more swinging version on Side Two.

Track 6:

The Way I Cary Over You.

Written by F. & H. Valverde.

Swirling violins introduces track No.6 – a spoken piece of intimacy. ‘The Way I Cry Over You’ – again, powerful imagery: “Like the rain that comes without warning, or the breeze that a blind man can feel. Or the sun that shadows a rainbow. Like an empty dream in your mind. It’s the way I cry over you.” You cannot help but feel that in the hands of a lesser performer, these words could not be done justice. Yet Peter’s gentle, restrained delivery manages to be both poignant and dignified at the same time, giving true depth to this lovers lamentation.

Track 7.

Unknown Citizen.

Written by W.H. Auden.

Unknown Citizen’ brings us to yet another change in style from Peter. As a poem by W.H. Auden, this could have been done as a straight recital. However, by slipping into yet another character, Peter dives into the mood of the poet – adopting his best accent of civil servant pomposity to deliver this seemingly innocent eulogy to a model citizen. The gravity of tone set by this character makes the satirical sting in the tail all the more painful: “Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd. Has anything been wrong? We really should have heard.”

Track 8.

It’s Then When I Touch You.

Written by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE.

Once again it’s back to romance for the final track on Side One. This segment is again a sensual experience – as manifested within the title – as PETER‘s lyric examines another facet of human relationships; the hesitancy and insecurity of longing: “Maybe you want to care, once bitten, twice shy.”

untitled

 SIDE TWO

 Track 1:

Hippie And The Skinhead.

Written by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE.

The flip side opens with, arguably, the best track of them all – ‘Hippie And The Skinhead’, which had been inspired by a letter from two skinhead girls to the Sunday Times in 1969, who’d written in to put the record straight concerning a previously published article about their aspect of youth culture. The letter demonstrated the age old intolerance of anything “different”, and quite obviously had fired PETER’s imagination as he wrote a wonderfully humorous and biting lyric. The music cranks up into a full-blooded Country and Western stomp (complete with banjo!), with PETER launching himself wholeheartedly into the tongue-twisting verse: “Billy was a queer, pilly, sexy hippy. He wore his gear – frilly, hairy, zippy. Mohair in the Winter, less hair in the Summer. His mac was black, scarf immaculate, tied loosely, knots interfered with promiscuity.” Thus the spirit of the song is set. Definitely tongue-in-cheek – slightly provocative. The story develops when Billy meets a skinhead…“Kenny was a dour, pimply, silly drear, whose only joy was knocking down a queer.” The resulting altercation leaves Kenny clutching Billy’s hippy locks (a wig!): “A pair! A pair O’Skinheads! Cor! What a pair! She’s a bird!” So PETER not only pokes fun at the similarly androgynous fashions of the time, but also delivers the clear message that what you see isn’t always what you get. Be careful when judging that book by its cover! ‘Hippie And The Skinhead’ is a great track – the humour just comes bursting through. A good one for slightly tipsy parties

Track 2.

 Try To Remember To Forget.

Written by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE.

The second track on Side Two is one of those detailed in the sleeve notes as initially appearing innocuous whilst possessing, in reality, a rather sharp and cruel lyric. ‘Try To Remember To Forget’ is once again penned by PETER, and carries for some reason the subtitle ‘Riviera Cowboy’. Soft orchestration again backs up a marvellous voice, which renders with feeling a whimsical lyric which would appear to have its roots in a matter of personal history. That is the authors’ way of telling you that he finds the words thoroughly confusing. Nevertheless, it’s still a nice song, which fits in well with the other romantic themes of the album.

 Track 3.

Jenny Kissed Me And It Was…

Written by F. & H. Valverde.

I’m going to say little about this track, other than it is short, sweet and sensual. Indeed, there is so much heart-felt relish in the closing sigh that if the track is based on personal experience, I envy the author!

Track 4.

Widdicombe Fair.

Written by Vic Smith.

ProgrammeReversed recordings and a chunky piano-sound reminiscent of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, herald another change in style as we slip into a brief burst of floating psychedellia. This track seems to be more than a segue into the next humming chorus leading us deftly into…

Original RCA press advert for the album ⇒

Track 5.

Neville Thunbcatch.

Written by Smith and Bain.

The song opens with a tinkly electronic piano and deep resonant cello, reminding me of experimental Beatles tracks. It tells the story of Neville, who is such a hard worker and keen amateur gardener, that he totally forgets that he has a wife at home. Needless to say, this doesn’t make for a happy family life, and soon Mrs Thumbcatch – a woman whose sole comfort is an alabaster gnome, leaves: “She said at last her future now was free of doubts, with George the milkman, she’s have kids not Brussels Sprouts.” With his wife gone, Neville is kept away from his beloved allotment by the necessary housekeeping.“Thumbcatch…”, although not written by PETER, is another facet of humanity on which he reflects. A circus fanfare motif appears throughout the latter part of the song. “As the Neville Thumbcatch show goes on…and on…and on…”

Track 6:

 Once Again (Flight Number 10).

Written by Hubert Valverde and PETER WYNGARDE.

As the thick funk bass line of ‘Neville Thumbcatch’ dwindles away, so is the tragic loneliness of the last track replaced by the isolation of ‘Once Again’. Subtitled ‘Flight Number 10’, this WYNGARDE lyric has the author waiting for his lady at the airport: “Flight Number 10 from…where? She would take the last flight!” An appropriate sense of isolation is built up by the light punctuation of the music, which gradually builds up to a crescendo then diminishes to a supporting background string-sound. This is the second track which, according to the sleeve notes, has an underlying cruelty in its lyric: “I know I’ve been waiting too long, I just don’t know why. My life has been spent behind doors, on platforms, exits and wharfs.” With such poignant words, I think that the only cruelty that might be perceived here is the cruelty of the situation in which the author finds himself. Again, Peter delivers his material in a manner most suitable to the subject. It again demonstrates his awareness of basic human nature that he manages to find humour in the midst of disappointment: “I wonder what they’re waiting for? Can’t be flight Number 10? Wish that boy would stop picking his nose!”

 Track 7.

Pay No Attention.

Written by Vic Smith and PETER WYNGARDE.

And so to the end…‘Pay No Attention’ arrives in a fit of Medieval jollity, and yet another mood change. Frivolously, this little piece of self-indulgence lifts the mood, perhaps attempting to end on a high note: “Pay no attention to this part. It is the end. It is the end!” The track trots along with its reeds and pipes, building up to a full orchestration, which finally gives way to a contemporary sound, heralding the beginning of…

Track 8.

April.

Written by Vic Smith and PETER WYNGARDE.

‘April’ retouches theme’s from Side One’s ‘You Wonder How These Things Began’. Here, however, the romantic images are dropped in a lyric by PETER that must qualify as being the most intense on the album: “You may think I have not those intimate, improbable thoughts which shade in your eyes.” This track speaks of sharing shame and disillusion. It intimates a brooding nature behind the façade we have witnessed over the past fifteen tracks – perhaps even a hidden torment? “Why is April more or less the month of love, and all the rest a restless wander of my soul?” But suddenly the entertainer emerges, and we are sent off with a happy reprise of “Olde Worlde” music from ‘Pay No Attention’. And that is the end!

SIGN

PETER with members of staff from Selfidges department store in London’s Oxford Street, prior to signing copies of his album at the store’s Record

SINGLE

 32730

Click here for Album Lyrics


The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society: https://www.facebook.com/groups/813997125389790/

 

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