Saturday, December 26, 2015

The origin of Boxing Day




Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada celebrate Boxing Day which falls on December 26. (St. Stephen's Day). *Stephen was chosen by the Apostles, along with six others, to distribute alms to the poor. Stephen was arrested, accused of blasphemy and sentenced to death by stoning. St Stephen was the first Christian martyr. In 460 AD, a basilica was erected by Eudocia, the wife of Theodosius II, outside the Damascus Gate, on the spot where, according to tradition, the stoning had taken place.



Whilst the origins remain unknown, many Christians believe Boxing Day relates to the day when parish priests opened the church's alms (charity) boxes on the day after Christmas to distribute the contents to the poor. From the middle ages Boxing Day was the day money and other gifts were given to charitable institutions, needy individuals, and people in service jobs.



Aristocracy were also known to give gifts in boxes to their servants on December 26. The boxes might contain food and or clothing including shoes. Much later this was extended to beyond the household staff to trades people who had performed services throughout the year. Boxing Day is now a bank holiday.

*St Stephen is the patron saint of casket makers, coffin makers, stone masons, deacons, headaches, horses, diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky and the cities of Kessel (Germany), Passan (Germany), and Prato (Italy).

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Lulu




Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie was born in 1948 in Lennox Castle, Lennoxtown, Scotland, the daughter of a butcher. Marie grew up in Dennistoun, Glasgow, where she attended Thomson Street Primary School and Onslow Drive Junior School. Little Marie loved to sing as a child and started at the tender age of 12 year old with a local group called the Bellrocks. At 14 she joined The Gleneagles and had a regular spot at the Lindella Club, Glasgow. The owner of the club had a sister (Marion Massey) who was one of a few female theatrical agents based in London. In 1962 Marion signed up the new girl and gave her the stage name Lulu and the backing band The Gleneagles became The Luvvers. Lulu and the Lovers became part of the Decca stable of artist. The precarious nature of the music business and the vulnerability of a young girl was enough for Massey to invite Lulu to live with her family in her London home. Lulu attributes much of her success to having had a family-oriented and mature manager in Marion Massey. Decca released Lulu’s first record in 1964. It was a raucous cover version of The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” and it became an instant UK hit and reached #7. She was fifteen.



Decca quickly followed up with the more soulful ‘Here Comes The Night' (1964), 'Leave A little Love' (1964) and 'Try To Understand' all of which reached the lower end of the UK charts.











By the end of 1965, Lulu was voted 'Britain's Most Promising Newcomer in Showbusiness, ' but the lack of major chart success forced her to leave The Luvvers behind and join Columbia where she was teamed with producer Mickie Most. In April 1967 she returned to the UK singles chart reaching number 6 with the more poppier "The Boat That I Row", written by Neil Diamond.



The relationship between artist and producer was not always as harmonious as her singing but the results in chart success gave her the most successful years in her career. All seven singles cut with Most made the UK Singles Chart. These included: 'Let's Pretend,' 'Love Loves To Love Love, ' 'Me The Peaceful Heart', 'Boy' and 'I'm A Tiger. '



















Lulu appeared with The Monkees at the Empire Pool, Wembley, in 1967 and there were rumours she and Davy Jones were an item. She would prove a credible actress and co-starred with Sidney Poitier in E. R. Braithwaite's 'To Sir with love' directed by James Clavell's Lulu also sang the title song.



Lulu was well on her way to become a polished performer and toured extensively. In 1968 she co-hosted a new TV show (BBC) entitled Three Of A Kind, with Mike Yarwood. Lulu was such a hit she appeared regularly until 1975. Her popular variety shows went under various titles including: Lulu's Back In Town, Happening For Lulu, Lulu and It's Lulu, which featured Adrienne Posta. Her BBC series featured music and comedy sketches and star guests, including Jimi Hendrix, who chose to pay an impromptu tribute to Cream on live TV.



In 1969 Lulu was chosen to represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest and won with, "Boom Bang-a-Bang", written by Peter Warne and Alan Moorhouse.



In the same year Lulu married Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees). A romance which started after the couple met backstage at Top of the Pops. Sadly careers and his heavy drinking forced them apart and they divorced in 1973.



In 1970, she embarked on a trans-American tour with Englebert Humperdinck and also took time out from her heavy schedule to co-host television's 'Andy Williams Show' with singer Ray Stevens.



She toured Australia, New Zealand and the Far East and was at the peak of her career. Despite this chart success eluded the singer then in 1974 she performed the title song for the James Bond film 'The Man with the Golden Gun.'



In the same year she released a cover version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World" and "Watch That Man". Bowie and Mick Ronson produced the recordings.







"The Man Who Sold the World" became her first top 10 hit in five years, peaking at number three in the UK chart and was a top 10 hit in several European countries. It proved to be one of Lulu's biggest record successes. The follow up 'Take Your Mama For A Ride' sold reasonably well but was only a minor hit.



In 1976 Lulu married London Hairdresser, John Frieda and split in 1990. Lulu continued to have chart success in the US with 'I Could Never Miss You (More Than I Do), 'If I Were You' and the Grammy nominated track 'Who's Foolin' Who'.











She continues to entertain and from time to time has successfully diversified into acting. Lulu remains without question the greatest Scottish Female entertainer of the 20th century.



Worth a listen
Shout (1964)
Here come the night (1964 )
Leave A Little Love (1965 )
Try To Understand (1965 )
The Boat That I Row (1967 )
To Sir With Love (1967 )
Let's Pretend(1967 )
Love Loves To Love Love (1967 )
Boy (1968 )
I'm A Tiger (1968 )
Me, The Peaceful Heart (1968 )
Boom Bang A Bang (1969 )
Oh My Oh My (1969 )
The Man Who Sold The World (1974 )
The man with the golden gun (1974 )

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sir Jimmy Shand (1908 - 2000)



Born in East Wemyss in Fife, in 1908 and was the sixth of nine children. The family soon resettled in Auchtermuchty. His musical father played melodeon and taught Jimmy to play mouth organ. The young Jimmy mastered the fiddle and quickly established himself as a talent playing at social events and competitions. Jimmy left school at 14 and worked in the local mines until he was prevented from doing so after doing benefit gigs for striking miners during the 1926 General Strike.



He carried on playing in small dance bands and built a solid reputation and was eventually given an audition at the BBC in 1929 but failed to impress because he kept time with one foot. While working for the Fife Power Company a chance visit to a Dundee music shop in 1933 gave Jimmy a chance to play an accordion. He played it so well he as offered a job as travelling salesman and debt-collector. Jimmy recorded a couple of records with Regal Zonophone label in 1933 but his career really took off two years later when he switched to making 78s for the Beltona label.



Meantime Jimmy was uncomfortable with the design of his accordion and rejigged it in 1939. The "Shand Morino" became a firm favourite with other musicians up until the 70s.



Unable to enlist in the RAF he continued to entertain throughout the war years and became a popular player of Scottish Country Music. On New Year's morning on 1945 he made his first BBC broadcast with "Jimmy Shand and Band" and soon after became a full time musician.



The Shand Band made many radio broadcasts and recorded many titles suitable for Scottish Country Dancing and their records sold in millions throughout the world.



In constant demand as a live act the group toured the UK endlessly entertaining audiences with his trademark bald head, Buddy Holly specs, British chromatic button accordion, and full kilted regalia. The band played Scottish reels, jigs and strathspeys to North America, Australia and New Zealand audiences as his fame grew internationally. He signed for EMI/ Parlophone label and under the direction of George Martin released one single per month in the mid-fifties. Jimmy Shand and his band had a top 20 hit in 1955 with "The Bluebell Polka."



He was a great favourite with the Queen and Queen Mother and played for them at many royal functions at Balmoral and Windsor Castles. Due to illness in the family Shand went into semi-retirement in 1972 and only played only small venues in out-of-the-way places for a reduced fee. During his career he is credited with writing more than 330 compositions and recorded more tracks than the Beatles and Elvis Presley combined. He released a retrospective album called “The First 50 years” (1983) and an album and video with his son, Dancing with the Shands (1990).



Jimmy Shand was knighted in 1999 for his services to Scottish culture. Jimmy Shand died after a five-week illness in 2000 at aged 92.







Worth a listen
Scottish Waltz (1942)
The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (1942)
Medley of reels (1942)
Gay Gordons (1942)
Comin’ through the Rye (1950)