03 April 2005

Lord Rockingham's XI - Hoots Mon

Decca Records
45-F 11059
1958




A piece of novelty fluff from the late 50s, this track nonetheless has a serrated lunatic energy and punch that makes it well worth a listen.

A romping primal rock n roll instrumental with daft breaks of spoken Scots, it's one of the few genuinely great and raucous British rock n roll records. That distortion on the intro isn't me badly encoding, the thing was deliberately released that way.

It kicks deep and hard and yet retains a strong sense of daftness throughout, making it a great dancefloor record. I've DJed this one at 3am during an all-nighter and had people go fuckin nuts.

Lord Rockingham's XI - and what a fantastic name for a band that is - were the house band on Oh Boy!, the late 50s ITV rough and ready competitor to the more staid Six Five Special on the BBC. At the time, these were the only TV outlets for any kind of rock n roll or pop music, and so the significance is not to be underestimated.

In point of fact, the XI's leader was the unennobled Harry Robinson, and there were actually 13 of them. They only released three singles, only two were hits, and only this one was a big seller (500,000 copies sold in the UK, number one for three weeks).

In the kind of thing that always seems more unsporting for novelty records than for more serious work, Oh Boy!'s creator Jack Good fought a legal battle with Harry Robinson for the Lord Rockingham name, culminating in a weird splitting of the rights.

There are one or two little biogs for the band online, and most end with the Rockingham thing. But there's an extra weird twist.

Ten years later - not long after an unsuccessful comeback attempt for Lord Rockingham's XI - Robinson was working as an arranger. In total contrast to the established structure and comedic overtones of Hoots Mon, he did the astonishingly beautiful strings on River Man by Nick Drake on the Five Leaves Left album.

As I've said elsewhere, Nick Drake is as good as music can possibly get. And River Man's arrangement is perfect, being like Drake's work itself, strangely ethereal, timeless, lilting, melancholic, balmy, intimate and otherworldly. A truly remarkable piece of work and as far removed from this rocking stomper as pop music could get whilst still being really good.

[MP3 removed to free up server space for new posts. Sorry!]

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd love to hear the mp3 please email it?

CreditCoach said...

I don’t know anything about him, but I’d like listen this. You know I like the TRUE old sound. That time the music was fair, not like the modern popular music…

Anonymous said...

mp3 avalible at

http://www.last.fm/music/Lord+Rockingham's+XI/_/Hoots+Mon!

( over 50years old so out of copyright if from the original )

the orginal 45 often turns up on ebay.

Another version was on a Polydor 33 by 'the giants' live mid 1960s