Sunday 21 January 2024

Radio on Record – Radio Loves You

Writing a song with radio in the title is a surefire way to grab some airplay. With luck that airplay will translate into a hit record. Perhaps that thought was going through the mind of songwriter Paul Battle when, in 1977, he penned Radio Loves You a paean to the joys of listening to the radio “a love affair on the air.”     

Promotional copies of the single were sent round to US radio stations with a stereo mix on one side and a mono version on the flipside, to cater for both FM and AM stations. Paul’s version was released in the States and in Australia by A&M and in Europe, or at least the Netherlands, by CBS. On the B side was another of his songs Baby, I’m Falling in Love With You. Paul Robert Battle (1949-2012) wrote over 200 songs but this song remains his best known.  

But it doesn’t end there because in November of that year another version of the song was released, this time by an act calling themselves Gadzooks. It seems likely that Gadzooks was a group of session players and singers brought together for this recording. Again a stereo/mono promotional copy was circulated. It went on general release on the GRT label with Holiday, written by Jack Grochmal, on the B side. Interestingly the lyrics for the second verse were re-written for the Gadzooks version.

The original lyrics read:

Lovely maid in your Cadillac that day was serenaded by the sounds of I’ll be true,

The three of us were there, no one seemed to care, not the radio, not me or even you.

These were changed to:

You’re feeling down and your chin is on the ground from the hassles in your life from day to day,

Then you hear your song and you start to sing-a-long as the radio blows all your blues away.  

Both songs did get US airplay; according to the comments on YouTube uploads stations WRSU-FM, WCOR, KKUA, KSTN, KACY and KHJ are mentioned. As far as I can tell chart success eluded both releases as they failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 or the Dutch or Australian charts.

My attention was drawn to these recordings when they were featured recently on Jon Wolfert’s weekly show on Rewound Radio. Jon also shows us how the Gadzooks record was used by JAM Creative Productions to create a bespoke version for WAKY radio in Louisville. Here’s how this played out on Jon’s show on 7 January 2024.

The song lived again two years later when, in 1979, Swedish group Säwes recorded it under the title Radion spelar för dig with lyrics by Björn Håkanson (you can find it on YouTube). Säwes seemed to specialise in cover versions as their records also included Let Your Love Flow, Paloma Blanca and RFSU (their equivalent of YMCA).   

Jon’s three hour show, a mixture of music and jingle features, can be heard online on Rewound Radio each Sunday at 3 pm US Eastern time.    

Friday 12 January 2024

Not the A to Z of Radio Comedy: W is for Wow Show

In the 1980s any young radio light entertainment producer worth his or her salt was scouring the comedy clubs and the Edinburgh Fringe looking for the next big thing and signing them up for a Radio 4 series.

In 1985, the year in question for this blog post, BBC Radio 4 was already offering listeners the fifth series of Radio Active and the second of In One Ear. It was also the year you could hear the short-lived sketch show In Other Words...The Bodgers (though this did begat Absolutely) and the second series of Don’t Stop Now-It’s Fundation, an early outing for Hale and Pace. And in January 1985 the latest show to join the comedy schedule was The Wow Show.

The Wow Show was written and performed by four young actor/comedians who were already well known for the fringe stage show bearing the same name. The quartet was Stephen Frost, Mark Arden, Lee Cornes and Mark Elliott. Frost and Arden were teamed up as The Oblivion Boys and worked together on BBC1’s Carrott’s Lib as well as appearing on Blackadder, The Comic Strip Presents... and The Young Ones. Cornes also had The Young Ones and the same Comic Strip episode under his belt. Elliott (also billed under his full name Paul Mark Elliott) had more straight acting credits but like the others also popped up in the Comic Strip (the frankly bizarre s02e07 episode Slags which can be found on YouTube).     

The Wow Show
ran for two six-part series in 1985, the first starting in January and the second in October. The producer was Jamie Rix who’d joined the Light Entertainment department in 1981 initially producing Beat the Record, Pros and Cons and Three in a Row for Radio 2 before picking up comedy duties in 1983 on Radio Active, In One Ear and The Bentine Years.

Radio Times 19 January 1985

From the first series comes this second episode titled For Your Hives Only, a surreal tale set in a beehive. There’s a feel of I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again about this show judging by some of the puns and, a couple of minutes in, Lee Cornes as The Queen Beatrix Herself, sounding not unlike TBT’s Lady Constance de Coverlet.

First broadcast on Saturday 12 January and then repeated on Friday 18 January (which is the transmission I recorded) like all of The Wow Show it’s never had a subsequent repeat, the BBC having wiped or dumped the lot.   

Postscript: Since I wrote this post BBC Radio 4 Extra are now due to repeat this very same episode as part of one of their All Request Weekends on 10 February 2024. I understand that some off-air recordings were returned to the BBC. 
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