Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Theatricals - Peter Straker

According to Wikipedia, Peter Straker is 'best known for appearances in Doctor Who and the 1985 ITV series Connie.' Is he? Round my way he's best known for being in the 1968 original London cast of the musical Hair, for his collaborations with Freddie Mercury, and for his fabulous androgynous role in the 1971 film Girl Stroke Boy (he's involved in 'a relationship that is as godless as it is fashionable').

Where we're all agreed, then, is that he's not best known for his 1972 debut album Private Parts. But he probably should be, because it's a fine album.

It was written and produced by Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, who had earlier brought us Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich and the Herd. Now, despite having made their name with the simplistic stomp of 'Have I the Right' for the Honeycombs, Howard and Blaikley had pretensions and aspirations. Which is why some of their others hits referenced subjects such as Milton ('Paradise Lost'), Coleridge ('The Legend of Xanadu') and Orpheus ('From the Underworld').

And on Private Parts, they decided to go for arrangements that would match their imagination. The songs are surprisingly non-immediate, but they grow on you, they grow. And the main selling-point is Straker's fantastic voice.

This is 'When Love Was Hard to Come By'. Somewhere there's a West End musical missing its big show-stopping ballad.

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