30 years ago today, “We Built This City” was first released in the US. Many people know that some radio stations tailored the DJ chatter section near the end to add in their own local personalities; scroll down to Special Recordings here to listen to no less than four different versions created by CBS-FM.
A lesser-known fact, however, is that for some markets the front of the song was customised as well. Called a singover, or a power intro in more modern parlance, this involved jingle singers singing the station name over the front of the song. And seeing as every single post about jingles on here seems to come back to JAM Creative Productions, it’s hardly a surprise that they were involved with this little bit of fun over the airwaves – and posted about their part in it recently. Let’s take a listen:
Download “We Built This City singovers” (Original post on Facebook)
YAY I LIKE RADIO I THINK IT’S COOL.
But what I find especially interesting about this is: this is how plenty of people would mainly have heard the song at the time. Their local radio station, playing all the hits. Assuming that the radio stations actually used the audio on a regular basis1 – and I see no reason why they wouldn’t – many people would always have experienced that song with their favourite station’s name sung over the front of it. A memory that fades through the years, with each passing experience of the song on endless compilation albums or later radio plays… until nobody remembers that how they’re now hearing the song is not how they first experienced it.
A minor historical detail, perhaps. But I bet if you played that audio to certain New Yorkers who listened to Z-100 in the 80s, their brain would spark up, and they’d instantly recognise something they’d entirely forgotten – and send them hurtling 30 years back through time. And that’s worth a hell of a lot.
It’s always worth remembering this stuff. It’s so easy for things like this to slip through the cracks. And remembering history in a way which isn’t just endlessly recycled, obvious clips takes constant vigilance.
■ Posted 1st August 2015 @ 8pm in Jingles, Radio. 1 Comment.
So, that’s it – the Indiegogo for the “live immersive experience” of The Crystal Maze has closed, with an absolutely whopping £927,252 raised – a full
185% 85% over target.
If you haven’t heard of the project, this from the Indiegogo page sums it up:
“In the 90’s, The Crystal Maze, was one of the UK’s favourite television shows. Now we’re planning for it to return as a live immersive experience right in the heart of London!
You’ll get to play the maze just as contestants did on the original show – placing you at the centre of the action. What we really want, is for people to live the magic of the hit television programme for themselves.
We will be lovingly recreating the famous set just as it was on the original show. All four famous zones will be present; Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Futuristic, not forgetting of course, The Crystal Dome!”
But the part I want to concentrate on is the following:
“Modern audiences want to do, not watch. In recent years, there has been a cultural shift towards entertainment that audiences can engage with in a more active way. More and more we are finding new audiences who want to experience, interact, and play as opposed to watch.”
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■ Posted 19th July 2015 @ 12pm in Live, Television. 2 Comments.
So, a new series of The Brittas Empire is apparently in development.
“The show ran for 53 episodes from 1991 to 1997 and regularly attracted nearly 10 million viewers.”
“During its six-year run, some 53 episodes of the show were broadcast.”
“At the height of its success, The Brittas Empire would draw an estimated 10 million viewers for the BBC, running for 53 episodes between 1991 and 1997.”
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■ Posted 10th July 2015 @ 4pm in Comedy, Journalism, Television. 4 Comments.
Another month, and another set of articles I’ve written over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite where Rob Grant’s daughter once posted the immortal words “John is a whore”. This month, I’ve been posting a few joke history investigations:
You will note from the update at the end of that last article that I am currently making my way through the entirety of The Burkiss Way. As punishments go, it’s not exactly a severe one.
■ Posted 25th June 2015 @ 12am in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
I try my best to make Dirty Feed a proper blog with actual commentary and shit like that – but sometimes you just want to chuck a great link out there, then cut and run. So it is with Unforgettable – published this month, it’s the latest in a long series of jingle montages from Ken Deutsch. This particular selection all come from jingle company PAMS between the years of 1960-1974 – a time which has a special meaning to Ken:
“For me this era represented my teenage years and early 20s, a time I fell in love with top-40 radio and its jingles in particular. People have come and gone in my life. I married, gained a stepson, watched the world change in many serious ways, but the PAMS jingles from the 60s and early 70s will always remain “unforgettable” to me.”
Not that you need to have grown up in the US during that era to get something out of this collection. There are few better ways to dip into the world of radio jingles than listening to material of this vintage – some of the very best jingles ever made. Give it a try. A glorious slice of Americana.
Even if the start of Track 7 may make you wince somewhat.
■ Posted 11th June 2015 @ 9am in Jingles, Radio. No Comments Yet.
Having spent yesterday praising a blog about television, today I thought I’d slag one off instead. Always a dangerous game when in the past you’ve published things like the top post on this page, but never let it be said that I am not courageous.
On one of my random click-anywhere-and-see-what-happens jaunts on which I waste most of my life, I came across Mouthbox, a “TV reviews & media blog”. Oooh, a a review of House of Fools – I’ll give that a read. I disagree with most of it – especially the part about being “protected from the truth”, also quoted below – but that’s not the point of this post. The part I want to concentrate on is the second half of the following sentence:
“Reeves and Mortimer also have enough friends in high places at the Beeb to be protected from the truth, and a second series has probably already been commissioned despite the glaring problems with this pilot.”
Which is a very odd thing to write, as this piece was published in March 2015… in the middle of the show’s second series.
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■ Posted 10th June 2015 @ 10am in Comedy, Internet, Television. No Comments Yet.
If I can tear myself away from the latest opus from Sam Wollaston, my current favourite piece about television is this absolutely magnificent post by Jason Hazeley: is there a missing episode of Ever Decreasing Circles?
“For many years, British television series were produced in runs of six, seven or thirteen weekly episodes. There was a good reason for this: a 52-week year divides nicely into thirteens, and thirteens split into sixes and sevens. Often, that seventh episode was a bonus – say, a Christmas special. Currently, series length is more fluid: fours are common, and there have been some very good (and shout-about funny) series that have only run for three episodes: Cowards, for instance, the first series of Getting On, and the first two series of The Thick Of It.
Series one of Ever Decreasing Circles (1984) has five episodes. That’s odd. (And not just literally.) It’s one short. The second series has eight. That’s one over (even with its bonus Christmas episode). Was one programme lost from the first series and cashed in on re-commission to make up the shortfall? And if so, why?”
It’s a tale which will take you through half-remembered actor’s recollections, to cold hard facts with scanned scripts and programme numbers. Crucially, however, it also sheds some light on what the show was perhaps intended to be… and how differently it turned out. What looks at first to just be about an unproduced script actually turns out to be about the entire heart of the series. It’s one of the best investigative pieces on sitcom I have ever read.
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■ Posted 9th June 2015 @ 11am in Comedy, Internet, Television. No Comments Yet.
I’ve linked to many jingle montages in my time. This, however, is something special. The above audio is 2 hours 10 minutes long – and is really less of a jingle montage, and more of a journey through one man’s radio history.
That man is Duncan Newmarch – former radio DJ and producer, current BBC television continuity announcer. I caught up with him for a brief chat about his creation… and what radio means to him.
JOHN: So, what the hell is this, and why have you made it?
DUNCAN: (laughing) That’s a good question! I’ve got to come up with an answer.
Well, the idea was to mix hissy old cassette recordings with lovely clean copies from master tapes and CDs of all the things I just loved listening to as a kid. This is the radio and the jingles that I have grown up with. I did play a few little bits and pieces to somebody and they said: “You can hear where it goes from the crappy quality to lovely, crisp clean explosions… why don’t you just make the whole thing mono and make it sound like it’s from a medium wave speaker?” And I thought “Well, that’s not the point”. I think anybody can find old cassette copies of old radio. If you could have taken all that radio from the 80s and the 90s, how would it have sounded through their headphones? Because I grew up listening to Radio 1 in medium wave, and it sounded horrible for most of the time! But of course, in the studio, they were listening to it sounding beautiful.
But yeah, how do you describe it in one sentence? It’s a radio trip down memory lane, isn’t it?
I just spend so much time in the car. I wanted to have something that I could start at home, and get all the way to work and it still hadn’t finished. And the problem is, I don’t think I’ve changed a lot from being a ten year old – I’m still listening to really weird stuff in the car, rather than just putting the radio on. As a kid, like most kids of the 80s, I had this drawer under the bed which was just full of cassettes. But rather than them being filled with music, I was one of those boys who recorded the Top 40, and had my finger over the Pause button – but rather than recording the music and stopping the tape when Bruno Brookes would start to speak, I was the wrong way round! So I’d be recording what he said, to try and get copies of all the jingles, and all of the silliness in-between.
So there was all these cassettes which I found recently, and I thought: “Well, what the point of having this if you don’t listen to it?” There are lots of jingle collectors, and I don’t blame them, but they’ve got all these jingles and they never listen to them. So I wanted to archive all of those cassettes, and then, rather than just listening to them, mix these hissy old recordings with lovely clean quality versions of all the jingles and the beds and all the things I loved listening to as a kid, and unfortunately still love listening to them now.
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■ Posted 5th June 2015 @ 12pm in Jingles, Radio. No Comments Yet.
As this place is a bit quiet at the moment, I thought I’d point you towards some stuff I’ve been doing over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite where my writing has been recently described as “uneducated, vulgar and puerile”. (To be fair, at least two of those descriptions are entirely correct.)
My latest series of articles has a rather bizarre history. The first one was published in 2007, but I only got round to finishing the rest of them over the last couple of months… a full eight years later. (My excuse is that I got very depressed at how bad the actual episode was when I tried to write the second article, but an eight year delay may well be taking things a bit too far.) The subject matter, however, is very much one of my favourites – comparing different versions of the same material. Previous examples on this site include a comparison of the broadcast and VHS edits of Smashie & Nicey: The End of an Era, and a look at the pre-watershed edits of I’m Alan Partridge. Very much in this vein, this set of articles compare the original broadcast versions of four episodes of Red Dwarf with the extended versions released on VHS/DVD.
It strikes me that these articles are exactly the kind of thing which induce a rather glazed look in some people’s eyes. I vividly recall, when talking about a planned article comparing the broadcast version of a Men Behaving Badly episode with its original script, somebody posing the simple question: why?
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■ Posted 23rd May 2015 @ 6am in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
April Fools’ Day tends to get a bit of a bad rap these days. Every year, my Twitter feed gets more and more filled with complaints about how lame it is. As someone involved in a few April Fools over the years, I admit I find myself getting a bit defensive about it. My argument: it’s easy to get hung up on the “prank” aspect of it, with a roll of the eyes, or a scowl. The very best April Fools take the prank aspect as a starting point… and do something interesting instead. The real joy in most good April Fools gags is them going off and doing something else entirely.
The best example of this that I’ve been involved with was pretending the script for the Red Dwarf movie had been leaked. Sure, of course we were trying to fool people into thinking it was true. But beyond that, the actual script extracts we wrote as part of it… kinda have their own interest. They certainly set my mind thinking as to how a Red Dwarf movie would work – which ends up being far more interesting than the actual prank itself.
Still, I get it. Perhaps the internet does make the day lose a bit of its lustre. These days, as soon as you wake up on April 1st and check online, you’re inundated with EVERY WEBSITE DOING A FUNNY. It can get rather wearing, especially when there’s so much crap about – and as you’re automatically on your guard, the whole thing is far less fun. In the old days, it was different. The April edition of a magazine might plop on your mat, way before April 1st… and maybe, just maybe, catch you unawares. The whole thing had a… less mechanical air.
Which leads us to this article. Some of my favourite April Fools growing up were in the pages of Acorn User and The Micro User; two Acorn computing magazines I was absolutely besotted with. I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the April Fools they ran over the years. It’s not a complete rundown of every single one they ever did – just a sample of some of the more interesting ones. Neither are they all gold: I’ve not cherry-picked just the really good ones just to make my point. But it’s a nice reminder of the days when April Fools gags were given just a little time to breathe.
It’s also perhaps a reminder that some of the best April Fools gags are often ones targeted at a very specific audience, rather than a general one. By their very nature, April Fools are a bit self-indulgent – and they’re one place where in-jokes can run riot to very good effect. (Another reason why I think some of the Red Dwarf ones I’ve been involved in work so well.) If you don’t have the background knowledge required for some of these, they’ll inevitably fall rather flat. I’ll give some notes as we go, but that’s very much Worth Bearing In Mind.
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■ Posted 1st April 2015 @ 12pm in Best Of, Computers. No Comments Yet.