those of you who read and hopefully enjoyed my post on Shatner and the magic of The Transformed Man might well have noticed another oddity of an album in the picture of the two copies of The Transformed Man sat on the shelf. if you didn't and want to click on that link there, you should spot it. or, if you can't be bothered and are pretty sure you know what's what, going on the title of this post, do read on!
going through my discs and albums has suggested that i have a number of strange records. a few of them are due to my tastes, one or two are certainly as a result of my mate Spiros getting them for me. the winner of the most absurd, bizarre and quite possibly the most offensive - that last one being impressive as my collection includes Bad News, NWA and Denis Leary - album has to be this one.
originally and briefly released just as the name of the artist, the album When Sex Rears Its Inquisitve Head by Peter Wyngare is, shall we say, not an album for everyone. few on this planet seem to have heard it which is reasonably strange considering just what a big star Peter Wyngarde was in when this was released. i have not seen much of either, but he was the star of shows called Department S and Jason King, so him releasing an album then was a big deal.
quite a big deal to the record labels in the industry, as it happens. on the one side EMI were very, very excited about him doing an album of classics and standards, the sort of thing Dean Martin or Mr Sinatra might knock out in a studio. RCA, however, stepped in and took the in retrospect suicidal decision to record whatever he felt like recording. this is something he very much did.
a quick look at the inside booklet for you, with the original album cover there at the bottom.
the album by Peter Wyngarde that RCA eventually released was about as far away as a "quick cash in" set of cover versions as you could imagine. although the album features one or two (maybe three) actual "songs", the record is made up for the most part of whatever tickled the fancy of Peter Wyngarde and his chums.
i am not going to bore you with the details and specifics of how and when it was recorded, instead taking you on a journey through the tracks.
be warned, all who carry on past this point. there is an exceedingly good chance that one or two things in the following will confuse, bewilder, upset or offend you. you carry on reading entirely at your own risk.
shall we begin?
01 Come In
After a giggle and a devastating, misleading drum and bass break that would do most music of today proud, we get to hear Peter Wyngarde apparently doing the dishes, singing to himself and eventually inviting someone in, either us the listener in some avant garde fourth wall breaking thing or an actual or possibly pretend person. a lady, going on the dress comments.
02 You Wonder How These Things Began
Wyngarde with his somewhat seductive voice speaks of April, beautiful scenery and such things as someone or other strums a guitar. for about a minute.
the single most misogynistic, offensive, sexist, xenophobic, racist and obscene three minutes and thirty seconds ever recorded. in regards of the myth and legend of this album and its disappearance, frequently this song is considered to be the reason why. i would love an instrumental of this, as the music is a rather swanky, jazzy piece that's rather good. unfortunately on the album for half of the song Wyngarde just shouts "rape" repeatedly, with the second half given over to Wyngarde speculating how rape happens in countries around the world, using every stereotype you can think of and some that you cannot. i have no doubt curiosity will get the better of some of you and you will seek a copy to hear this - well, you've been warned!
04 La Ronde de l'Amour
this is probably what RCA was expecting an album by Peter Wyngarde to be full of. except that it is in his native French. a nice bit of violin or cello on it.
05 Jenny Kissed Me
a rather dramatic opening gives way to some more spoken word Wyngarde action. less than a minute of him remembering when Jenny Kissed him.
06 The Way I Cried Over You
like track four, only in English. this was in fact released as a single prior to the album. actually not really like track four as he mostly does his recital thing rather than sing. a basic lament over a lost love. what few outside of acting circles knew at the time, though, was that it would have been a lament for another chap.
07 Unknown Citizen
i do not know if this is Wyngarde talking in a quasi-Peter Sellers impression silly voice or if someone else did it. a two minute recital of the W H Auden poem.
08 It's When I Touch You
Wyngarde goes on to seductive mode, to a degree. more of his deeped voice recital of lines rather than any sort of singing, accompanied by some decent enough orchestration. this exists presumably only to play on his seductive voice.
09 The Hippie And The Skinhead
something of a triumph. for the most part this features Peter Wyngarde reading a letter sent to the Sunday Times newspaper by someone wishing to make the differences between (then) modern hairstyles and fashions clear. this seems to inspire Wyngarde to perform a sort of country & western number about a gay chap called Billy and a skinhead called Ken. Peter Wyngarde sort of signs this one.
10 Try To Remember To Forget (Riviera Cowboy)
and we are back to some recital stuff. off he goes on one of his lament and reminisce things. he has a bash at signing the last line.
11 Jenny Kissed Me And It Was
a return to the earlier track. Wyngarde shows off his amazing talents by presenting it in a different way. there is some truly amazing, possibly ahead of its time, backtracking and backbreaks on this. musically it is very funky indeed.
12 Widdecombe Fair
a thirty second interlude, with a chap and a lady singing.
13 Neville Thumbcatch
a glimpse at what might have been, really. Wyngarde narrates away, whilst a lady gives some backing vocals. the brilliance here is the pop sensibilities and production values. this plays and sounds like a classic 60s pop or psychedelia record. one imagines that RCA had just assumed that the album would have a good deal more of this sort of track on and a good deal less of practically everything else on it.
14 Once Again (Flight Number 10)
on which we hear that Peter Wyngarde actually has a rather good, bass loaded singing voice. a bit of a shame that he declined to use it for the most part on this record. a bit of singing, then a bit more of Wyngarde speaking, yet again a tale of lament and lost love. rather good, truth be told.
15 Pay No Attenion
basically a return to the sound of You Wonder How These Things Began, but with Peter Wyngarde singing to himself, save for part where he says "pay no attention to this part".
and here we finish off with a return to the bassy, jazzy sound of the opening. Wyngarde basically speaks of how brilliant this record has been and offers to do it all again. good luck with that.
i am not at all sure if my track by track rundown has done it all that much justice, to be honest. if my comments have seem strange, disjointed, all over the place, critical and yet oddly impressed, then i think i have given you a clue as to what the album is like. seek it out if you are intrigued, or indeed if you dare.
i mentioned earlier on that it is an album not many have heard, and indeed it was unavailable for well over 30 years. why is that? the popular legend is that RCA just released whatever Wyngarde did then took the time to look at and hear the content and quickly moved to withdraw it. the truth is somewhat less interesting. RCA actually thought that allowing a TV actor to make an album was bound to be a failure. rather than giving him artistic freedom to record what he wanted, it was the case that they just did not care. the plan was to release the album and then write of many thousands of pounds as a loss in terms of the taxman, presuming sales to be low and somewhat generous figures being handed over in respect of what it cost to make. in truth, it sold out its initial run, and many fans wanted to get their hands on it. RCA simply didn't produce any further copies, otherwise their elaborate "tax efficiency" plan would be ruined.
for the best way to see how their plan was to have worked, look no further than the brilliant Mel Brooks film The Producers. basically, the same principal - have a massive stated overinvestment in it, so the poorer the album sales are the bigger the loss appears.
whereas the original vinyl sells for many hundreds of pounds, you can with some ease pick the CD release up for less than £10 these days. if you do buy it, then you shall at least forever know what the strangest, oddest and most unusual album in your collection is!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!