CHANNELLING THE BEAT: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO UK ‘60S POP ON TV by Peter Checksfield
(CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, UK, 2018, paperback, 696 pages)
Sometimes, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do—and I suspect that the motivation behind this maiden offering as an author had little to do with self-aggrandizement or even financial gain, but the humble satisfaction of a single-minded job well done—for Peter Checksfield has produced what will stand as the standard work for this particular subject. A vital addition to any Swinging Sixties connoisseur’s library, it covers, in chronological rather than alphabetic order, television appearances, home and aboard, from the late 1950s to the present by Britain’s major pop acts—and many minor ones—who emerged from rock ‘n’ roll. Moreover, because entries are often accompanied by intriguing and unerringly accurate commentary, Channelling The Beat is elevated beyond a dry work of reference, directed only at satisfying the souls of those derive deep and enduring pleasure from studying raw data. Indeed, if you’re not careful, you’ll dip into this vast tome and be unable to dip out easily.
Among very few bitsmissing are information about, for example, when the Pretty Things featured ina Checkpoint-typeITV probe about their landlord’s attempt to evict them from their flat; TomJones & the Squires’ impassioned “Chills And Fever” and “What’d I Say” on TheBeat Room;or any mention whatsoever of the Downliners Sect, but God knows how Petermanaged to excavate, say, the US slots by a post-Van Morrison Them; when theWarriors mimed “You Came Along” on Thank Your Lucky Stars; theedition of Z-Carsinwhich the Swinging Blue Jeans undertook a cameo; the number Johnny Kidd &the Pirates did during their only slot on People And Places; whythe Fourmost didn’t look or sound much like the 1960s hitmakers on Unforgettable, aChannel Four nostalgia series; Sounds Incorporated’s debut on Shindig!orJulie Driscoll taking the headliningrole in a 1970 edition of TheWednesday Play.
Did you know that a broadcast entitled Ministry Of Information was the last time Syd Barrett was seen on screen with the Pink Floyd; that Phil May was noticed dancing with the ‘Miss England’ winner when the rest of the Pretty Things didn’t arrive for a Top Of The Pops performance; that Marty Wilde blew a harmonica solo during an arrangement of “Money” on The Arthur Haynes Show; that bit-parts in two separate movies by a 1961 line-up of The Dave Clark Five were filmed on the same day or that, purportedly, it was Mike D’Abo’s spot with his Band Of Angels on A Whole Scene Going that prompted Manfred Mann to short-list him as a replacement for Paul Jones?
Covering an epitomical waterfront from the wholesome, self-improving reek of Six-Five Special to the epoch-making Ready Steady Go! to Lunch Box, the lightest of light entertainment shows, there’s hours of enjoyable time-wasting to be spent reading and rising from the armchair now and then to search the Internet, perhaps in vain, for Twinkle’s go at “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” on Germany’s Beat Club; specific guest spots on respective weekly series with huge budgets starring the likes of Cilla Black, Lulu and Scott Walker; Tony Sheridan’s electric media junket in a brave attempt to lift his Just A Little Bit 0f... LP off the ground; Freddie & the Dreamers residency on Little Big Time; Mary Hopkin’s screen debut in Holland; the Undertakers giving ‘em ‘Mashed Potatoes’ on The Mersey Sound… I cannot go on… (Alan Clayson)