At AROUND AND AROUND: Dandelion was John Peel and Clive Selwood’s short-lived 1969 to 1972 record label, named after Peel’s hamster. John Peel was an icon at the time, but displayed a remarkable lack of acumen in choosing artists for his label. It’s quite a story, full of acerbic quotes from co-owner Clive Selwood on the artists. LINK TO DANDELION ARTICLE.

I’m getting through the 2022 film releases. The latest review (Follow the link) is THE PHANTOM OF THE OPEN with Mark Rylance, Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans. This is based on the real person, Maurice Flitcroft, who wangled his way into the Open Golf Championships several times, and did so badly that he was known (to his annoyance) as The Worst Golfer In The World. A genuinely heart-warming comedy. Seethe review. No plot spoilers.

Review of CRAZY FOR YOU at Chichester Festival Theatre (LINKED). It’s on to 4 September if you can get tickets, though it seems a certainty for London transfer. The musical was written in 1992, based loosely around songs from Gershwin’s Girl Happy, with a new ‘book’ and additional Gershwin songs from elsewhere. This production has the original New York choreographer, Susan Stroman, choreographing and directing thirty years on. It’s perhaps the best musical we’ve ever seen!

Just published. Now available from any amazon store as Kindle or Paperback, or as an iBook. This is a prequel to the Dart Travis “Sixties Series” set in 1966, so perhaps the best place to start the series. The paperback copies are large format ‘Trade Paperback’ size designed to be a pleasant reading experience, like a hardback novel.

It’s 1966, and times are not so much changing, as starting to change. Steve Bury is in limbo between school and university, and is on a steep learning curve on love, life, drama and the way the adult world works. Steve has ended up at a local college while applying to university. The story revolves around temporary jobs on the beach, and in a bizarre museum where all the other staff are in their 60s. Then there’s a misguided student drama production of ‘Richard III’ which his new wealthy girlfriend lures him into joining. He’s experiencing the generation gap (the generation before him is still living in the 1950s), the gender gap, and also the class gap, with a girlfriend and people so much better off than him. The story mixes comedy and romance, tinged with background tragedy. It’s also meticulously researched on the factual background and music of 1966.



Chichester is on a phenomenal run of plays this year. The latest is SING YER HEART OUT FOR THE LADS by Roy Williams. (LINKED). The play was written in 2002 and set in a pub, watching the England v Germany World Cup Qualifier in October 2000. It’s an incredibly dramatic fast moving evening … don’t worry about football, the real theme is racism. Rarely has a play had this many five star reviews. We were in the pub seating around the stage area. One of the most dramatic dramas I’ve seen. It played in Chichester in 2019, and was due to move to The National as Covid started. The revival has 10 of the 14 cast.

Esquire label

New on AROUND AND AROUND, the ESQUIRE label (LINKED). This venerable jazz label ran from 1947 to the 1970s, releasing some of the best British andAmerican jazz. It was a survivor which carved out a niche. The music is not the currently fashionable end of jazz, but the 1950s and 1960s sleeve designs are of greater interest.

We did a two show visit to Bath, with August Wilson’s JITNEY the second day at Bath Theatre Royal. This 1979 play is the first in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle and this production is a Headlong / Leeds / Old Vic co-production which is currently touring. It’s set in an African-American jitney (unlicensed taxi) cab waiting room in 1977. Marvellous acting from the nine person ensemble. See the review. I’ve focussed on characters (which helps_ but no plot spoilers. The jumps from humour to tension are expertly handled.

Review of The Tempest at Bath Theatre Royal’s Ustinov Studio (LINKED). A powerful and strangely different production from the new artistic director, Deborah Warner. It’s still on next week- there are as always a few ‘Covid gaps’ in the theatre. It’s one to see for the sound and light and a mesmerising Ariel from Dickie Beau.

Follow the link to CYRANO (here), directed by Joe Wright, and starring Peter Dinklage in the title role, with Haley Bennett as Roxanne and Kelvin Harrison Jnr as Christian. It’s based on the stage musical and is now out on DVD. It’s one of my short reviews.

I haven’t added to the 60s Retrospective for ages. Then I noticed that 1963’s ‘Live It Up!’ was getting a lot of hits. I have no idea why. But it had a “pop exploitation” movie sequel BE MY GUEST, in 1965, (LINKED) also starring David Hemming just before ‘Blow Up’ and Steve Marriott, just weeks before he co-founded The Small Faces. It was a B-movie ad there wasn’t much online. You don’t have to watch it, but the review might be fun. I give away the plot. The picture has David Hemmings on guitar, Steve Marriott on drums.