The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club – 10th August 1974

wheel s02e03-01

Tonight’s Turns:

Remember This
Duggie Brown
The Multichords
The Playmates
Roy Orbison

Remember This open the show with a bracing blast of Rock ‘n’ Roll nostalgia. It seems odd to think that by the mid seventies this type of music had already become a period piece, but I guess that’s musical trends for you. The band are dressed like a scruffy version of Showaddywaddy and if their energetic performance isn’t eye-catching enough then there’s two dancers – a man and a woman – placed centre stage to inject a little more oomph. It’s good stuff (Rock ‘n’ Roll Music is the main song they cover) although Colin Crompton (reading the Beano) seems less impressed with them ….

An old face from The Comedians, Duggie Brown faces attacks on two fronts – Bernard on the left and Colin on the right. Presumably his put-downs to them were off the cuff (like all club comedians he no doubt had to face down his fair share of hecklers). That’s easily the best part of his spot, as his gags are fairly ordinary (but his confidence and sheer personality enables him to make a decent impression). Since there’s only five acts today, this allows some turns to get a little longer – Brown is one recipient of this generosity as he’s able to close his act with a fairly straight song at the piano.

The Multichords are up after the commercial break. There’s two of them, playing their harmonicas for all they’re worth (and not just through their mouths either). Don’t worry, it’s nothing too terrible – one of them elects to play Wooden Heart via their nose. This is the sort of act I find fascinating – not least since you can’t help but wonder whether they were able to sustain a decent living from it. I’ve not been able to find out too much about them, but my researches continue.

Described by Bernard as a “knockabout act”, the first member of the Playmates (she’s blonde and wearing very little) draws an appreciative ripple from the audience. The other playmate – he’s small and goofy – isn’t likely to stir any hearts but the incongruity of their partnership is no doubt what makes it work. There’s a few decent acrobatic moves thrown in, but it’s mainly an excuse for the man to race around the audience prodding the females. Well, it’s a living.

Quite what Roy Orbison, waiting backstage, would have made of this is anybody’s guess but by the mid seventies he would have been quite familiar with the typical clubland bill. After the hits dried up, he made a decent living (if not an artistically satisfying one) by touring venues like the Wheeltappers.

Needless to say, The Big O is the class act of tonight’s show. Gifted ten minutes (a generous amount of time for this era of the programme) he sings three songs – Lana, Sweet Mama Blue (the current single) and Oh Pretty Woman. It’s just annoying that Oh Pretty Woman plays over the credits (and is cut short as well). Baffling that Orbison’s biggest hit received this treatment – maybe in retrospect trimming a few minutes from Duggie Brown’s act would have been the sensible move.

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