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Soundtrack Review

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Artist: The John Barry Seven
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 28 June 2010

The 1950s may have seen the birth of rock and roll and a whole new youth craze but the new music was very badly served by TV in the UK. Oh Boy! and the Six Five Special were about as good as it got... and that wasn’t exactly rockin’.

Less well remembered was 1959's Drumbeat, another BBC series, this time with John Barry at the helm. And if for no other reason the programme deserves our attention because of that. Barry would of course go onto greater things but his roots were in pop music and Drumbeat marks out some of his earliest musical steps.

Amongst the stars that graced the programme - which was broadcast live - were Petula Clark, Billy Fury, Paul Anka, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde and Anthony Newley. A veritable who’s who of British pop music of the time.

Sadly, time hasn’t been kind to the music on this CD. British pop music before Mersey Beat was an almost entirely gutless affair, and while it makes for an interesting historical document there aren’t that many tunes presented here that you’ll want to play more than once. And in the case of The Three Barry Sisters singing 'I-Ay Ove-lay Oo-Yay' you’ll be hard-pressed to make it to the end.

There’s a rousing version of 'She Said Yeah' - also covered by The Rolling Stones some five years later - and some solid but uninspired attempts at 'C'Mon Everybody' and 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore that pale beside the landmark versions we know.

The screams from the audience add atmosphere and it’s often clear that the musicians are having fun but the sum of the parts is still lacking excitement. The sad truth is that the music on this CD is the very stuff that got The Beatles and The Stones so angry - weak and watery attempts at rock and roll, mixed with painful ballads and comedy songs.

So the Drumbeat CD is an interesting historical document - that’s for sure - but it makes for truly painful listening. This is the music that was killed off by a wave of Liverpudlian lads and scruffy oiks from London’s art schools. And that about sums it all up...


Anthony Clark

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