Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Importance of Being Eric And Ernest (And Eddie)

The Fall - rapidly turning into BBC2's direct answer to Broadchurch - held steady for its second episode on Monday night, according to overnight ratings figures. Gillian Anderson's crime drama dipped around one hundred thousand viewers week-on-week to 3.38 million at 9pm - a massive figure for a drama on BBC2. Earlier, The Chelsea Flower Show attracted 3.02m at 8pm on what was a very good night all round for the channel. On BBC1, The ONE Show was the most watched programme outside of soaps with 4.27m at 7pm. A repeat of Miranda had an audience of 2.63m at 8.30pm. The Panorama Hillsborough documentary How They Buried the Truth was, tragically, seen by just 2.84m at 9pm. The fact that risible odious tripe on ITV like The Dales, featuring risible odious Ade Edmondson (3.05m at 8pm) got more viewers than a genuinely important piece of TV journalism highlight exactly why a significant proportion of the general public are, simply, beyond redemption and need a damned good slap in the mush, hard, with a wet haddock. But, it wasn't all bad news. Now sinking faster than a very big stone trying to see if it can float on the surface of a pond, Vicious dipped over one hundred thousand punters to 2.55m at 9pm meaning that, over the course of just four weeks it has, effectively, lost half of its initial audience. The Job Lot - a much better comedy, albeit in places still rather obvious in its targets - also fell to 1.91m at 9.30pm. On Channel Four, Superscrimpers brought in nine hundred and forty three thousand punters at 8pm. Channel Five's Ohio Slave Girls documentary was seen by eight hundred and forty two thousand at 8pm. And, was actually rather decent and well put-together, perfectly obscene tabloidesque title notwithstanding. CSI was watched by 1.82m at 9.15pm. BBC4's Only Connect picked up its usual healthy audience of six hundred and eighty six thousand viewers at 8.30pm, while the documentary The Somme was watched by six hundred and forty seven thousand at 9pm.

Amanda Abbington has claimed that she had to 'up [her] game' on the set of Sherlock. The actress - who is married to Martin Freeman - will play 'a mystery role' in the hit detective drama's third series. 'Working with Martin on Sherlock is really quite inspiring, because he's so good at his job,' she told the Radio Times. 'He and Ben have this fantastic chemistry. Coming into Sherlock, you have to up your game, because they're so good together.' Abbington - who is rumoured to be playing John Watson's future wife Mary Morstan - also revealed that she has experienced some 'mad' online interaction with Sherlock fans since her casting was announced. On the subject of her role, she said: 'Was I marrying Molly [Louise Brealey] maybe? I put that [idea] on Twitter and they all went mad, all the little Sherlock nuts. Not mad - they're very sweet girls. But there is a fandom.' Who will now, like as not, take great delight in referring to themselves as 'The Little Sherlock Nuts'. Or, maybe not. The third series of Sherlock is currently shooting in London and Wales.

It's been a pretty awful year for many of us so far - and, indeed, today, it got worse (see below) but, there is one ray of hope on the horizon. Twatting About On Ice is to be axed after one further series. Although, sadly, not with an actual axe. And, truly, there was rejoicing across the land. When the news was announced, total strangers were observed hugging in the street and sworn enemies were seen high-fiving each other in sheer delight. The risible, obnoxious, full-of-its-own-glakeish-self-importance ITV series, which regularly pulls in more than seven million tragic crushed victims of society, will be screened for the last time in early 2014. Yes. Good riddance to odious rubbish. Ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean announced that it would be their final series on Tuesday morning. TV 'bosses' are understood to have thought that the show had reached 'the end of its natural life.' Speaking on ITV's breakfast flop Daybreak Dean said he and his skating partner felt it was 'the right time to go' as this year marks thirty years since their ground-breaking Bolero performance. Christopher said: 'It's come full circle for us. We've had the most wonderful experience doing Twatting About On Ice and we just wanted to finish at the top of our game and for the show to be on top of its game so we just felt it was the right time.' Torvill and Dean later tweeted: 'You followers are the best there is thank you for your support. We want this to be a celebration this year. I hope we see you all soon.' ITV's Director of Television Peter Fincham said: 'Torvill and Dean are the most successful ice dancing partnership of our generation and brought huge integrity, skill and professionalism to the show and with their departure, it feels like the series has reached its natural end.' The - dreadful - series first aired on ITV in 2006. This year's z-list celebrity skaters included former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas, former X Factor winner Shayne Ward and Coronation Street actress Samia Ghadie. Which probably gives those who avoided it like the sodding plague some idea of just how desperate it was. Gymnast and London 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist Beth Tweddle was the winner. And the funniest thing about all of this, of course, is that - yet again - the curiously orange Christine Bleakley has been brought in as host to 'improve' a show and ended up seeing it cancelled on her watch. The woman is a joke. And box-office poison, it would seem.

Another day, dear blog reader, another example of Keith Watson of the Metro's superb TV reviews, in this particular case, Monday night's The Fall: 'The opening eight minutes of the second episode of The Fall (BBC2) was surely the coldest, creepiest slice of TV drama we’ll see all year. In near total silence, the scene switched between Jamie Dornan's chilling killer painstakingly painting the nails of his latest corpse and Gillian Anderson's cool detective slaking her libido on the gym-pumped bod of the young cop she'd pimped for herself at a murder scene. Two people getting exactly what they wanted, feeling momentarily satisfied, yet ultimately left hollow at the core. It was a double shudder. Where all this mood and psychodrama is taking us remains to be seen. We know precious little about Dornan's motives but The Fall is an object lesson in stealthy tension, its understated moments the perfect counterpoint to the carefully rationed moments of genuine horror. With The Fall, less is definitely more.'
We highlighted yer man Watto's review of the Doctor Who series finale in an earlier blog (and very good it was too). Some of his colleagues also provided a few chunks of worthwhile critique concerning The Name Of The Doctor. In the Independent, Neela Debnath wrote: 'The Name Of The Doctor has everything that you could possibly want from a good episode of Doctor Who. It was an utterly brilliant instalment, from the performances to the aesthetics. The archive footage was a big surprise but a welcome one. Those who say that Moffat has forgotten the classic series or suggest that the show is not what it used to be should watch this episode; it is a wonderful precursor to the fiftieth anniversary.' The Torygraph's Michael Hogan argued that 'This has been a patchy series, but thankfully it has finished on a high. The last two episodes – the Victorian romp, then the return of The Cybermen – have been a return to form. This climactic episode was even better. It was momentous, moving and thrilling, yet somehow still found time to be very funny in flashes (mainly thanks to the highly quotable Strax). The only downsides? A tad too much clunking exposition, the odd spot of creaky CGI and some unconvincing metaphors about soufflés and leaves. However, the biggest catch of all is that it's now a six-month wait for November’s fiftieth anniversary special. Still, that should be just enough time to digest this breathless, brilliant finale.' In the Gruniad Morning Star, Dan Martin wrote: 'And so the mystery of Clara is finally resolved. Your demented theories as to her true nature have been fantastic, but I always thought it would be something much more simple than her being Susan or Romana or The Rani. She chases The Great Intelligence into the grave, fracturing herself through time and space, in endless copies and versions: sometimes Clara the governess, sometimes Oswin, usually soufflé girl. The Clara we meet now is the real one, with different facets of her saving The Doctor in different eras. The pre-credits sequence, with all The Doctors, actually made me fall over. The solution is both straightforward and mindbending. But that doesn't quite get over any of the question marks about what Clara is like as a person. I still don't feel I know her. Patrick Mulkern in the Radio Times added: 'The Doctor’s name was obviously going to be a red herring. Did anyone really imagine that it would be revealed? It is key to the story, however, as well as a key River uses to unlock the TARDIS-tomb. So – phew! – the Doctor can safely remain "Doctor Who" into his golden anniversary. But his darkest secret tumbles out.' SFX's reviewer added: 'Arguably this story started last autumn with The Asylum Of The Daleks (arguably, because you could say it started in winter 1963) and it'll (probably) end this autumn with the fiftieth anniversary. So, The Name Of The Doctor is just a lot of middle. A stepping stone. A mere cog in a massive continuity machine. Who cares when the cog is so gorgeously crafted it transcends mere function and dazzles in its own right? It may make no sense outside of the machine but that doesn't make it any less striking. Viewers without a degree in Who-ology might miss out on some of the more esoteric references, and certain plot beats may not make a lot of sense to them, but they're still going to love the broad strokes. Those of us who can spot a line from Castrovalva or a sound bite from the First Doctor or a reference to The Doctor's penultimate incarnation, well, we're simply being rewarded that little bit more.' Finally Entertainment Weekly considered: 'After half a season of standalone episodes, all strung together by the question of what cosmic force kept bringing companion Clara back to life in different times and on different planets, the finale circled back to some of larger themes that Moffat has been tinkering with since season five: The lasting impact of previous companions Amy and Rory; the lasting love between the Doctor and River Song; the goodness of the Doctor’s friends; the havoc (both momentous and random) that time travel can wreak. Also: Trenzalore! We saw The Doctor and Clara forced to head to that long-talked-about place, which we learn is The Doctor's future grave, in order to save their friends. Trenzalore is also the resting place of The Doctor's greatest secret (and was apparently the site of a giant battle). Do we learn much more than that? Not really!'

Big-haired risible Queen guitarist Brian May has written a scathing attack on BBC's The Voice, describing the talent competition as 'dull, dumb and vile.' Which, might well be true although, in this blogger's opinion that's also a damn-near perfect description of mad-haired May's former band and their tuneless, pompous over-produced, self-important horsewank. Opinions, see. That's what this game is all about, dear blog reader. In a blog posting on the Bri's Soapbox section of his website, this ridiculous hairdo said that he wanted the TV show to die 'a natural death very soon. Every time I catch a glimpse of young singers busting their guts trying to win somebody's attention, who is rudely sitting with their back to the singer I feel sick,' said May. 'It brings singing down to the level of a stupid obstacle course on It's A Knockout. This is not – NOT – what music is about.' May said that music was about 'subtle emotions' and 'beauty' and argued that 'body language', 'facial expression' and 'eye contact' were 'important' to performers. He also claimed that the format was 'poisonous to the growth of young performers.' May's comments are, just possibly, influenced by the failure of his close personal friend and sometime musical collaborator Kerry Ellis, who auditioned for the show's first series. Despite having previous West End experience, Ellis failed to make it past the Blind Auditions stage. Of course, it may be nothing whatsoever to do with that,. Who can say? And, whilst we're about it, get yer hair cut, hippie, you look like George III.

Yer actual Ben Miller will host the seventeenth TV Choice awards in September at The Dorchester. Fans have until 14 June to choose their favourites.

The Obama administration has investigated a reporter with FOX News as a 'probable co-conspirator' in a criminal spying case after a report based on a State Department leak. The Justice Department named FOX News's chief Washington correspondent James Rosen 'at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator' in a 2010 espionage case against State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. The accusation appears in a court affidavit first reported by the Washington Post. Kim is charged with handing over a classified government report in June 2009 which said that North Korea would 'probably' test a nuclear weapon in response to a UN resolution condemning previous tests. Rosen reported the analysis on 11 June under the headline North Korea Intends to Match UN Resolution With New Nuclear Test. The FBI sought and obtained a warrant to seize all of Rosen's correspondence with Kim, and an additional two days' worth of Rosen's personal e-mail, the Post reported. The bureau also obtained Rosen's phone records and used security badge records to track his movements to and from the State Department. FOX News issued a sharply worded statement on Monday calling the episode chilling. 'We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,' FOX News executive vice-president of news editorial Michael Clemente said in the statement. 'In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.' Rosen has not been charged with a crime in the case. Yet. Kim was indicted in August 2010 on charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, one of a batch of six cases in which the Obama administration began to use the first world war-era spying law to prosecute suspected government whistleblowers. Even in cases of historic import in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute whistleblowers, notably the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, the government did not, in spite of strenuous efforts, find grounds to prosecute the media for publishing the results of a leak. The government has not charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the publication online of an unprecedented amount of classified material. However, Assange, who has taken refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has said that he 'expects' to be charged. If he ever comes out, that is. The government has prosecuted and even imprisoned journalists in leak cases in the past for the journalists' refusal to disclose a confidential source. In such cases, notably the 2005 Judith Miller case, journalists have been charged with contempt of court. Instead of relying on the threat of a contempt charge to get journalists to divulge their sources, the Obama administration has used wiretapping and dragnet records seizures to identify who is talking to whom. Last week it emerged that the Department of Justice had seized phone records for more than twenty lines used by the Associated Press, in possible violation of regulations governing such seizures. There have been no reports of the government accusing journalists of criminal activity in that case.

Police have reportedly searched the Commons office of the MP Nigel Evans in relation to what they describe as 'a "serious arrestable offence.' The search, which took place on Sunday, was conducted after a warrant was approved by Preston Crown Court. Commons Speaker John Bercow said that he had considered the warrant personally and taken advice from the attorney general before allowing the search. Evans was arrested earlier this month in relation to allegations of sexual assault. He denies the allegations. The Ribble Valley MP, who was questioned by police earlier this month, has said the allegations are 'completely false.' Evans, who is also a deputy speaker of the House of Commons, has agreed that he will not resume his duties in the chamber while police continue to investigate allegations against him but will continue his constituency work. In a statement, Lancashire Police said that they had 'searched offices in London' in connection with an investigation, adding that they had 'gone through all the appropriate and necessary procedures before taking this step.' Bercow said that he had consulted the attorney general and the solicitor general before granting the police's request and had also sought the advice of the Clerk of the House, who advises the Speaker on procedure and parliamentary privilege. In a statement at the start of parliamentary business, Bercow said he had been advised 'there were no lawful grounds on which it would be proper to refuse its execution.' He told MPs that the 'precincts of Parliament are not a haven from the law. The Serjeant at Arms and Speaker's Counsel were present when the search was conducted,' he added. 'Undertakings have been given by the police officers as to the handling of any parliamentary material until such time as any issue of privilege is resolved.'

An engineer found a nest of reptiles in a Virgin TV cable box. Martin Burgess-Moon, of Whitleigh, noticed a problem when his TV signal started breaking up and his Internet access failed, the Daily Scum Mail reports. 'The Internet at our home in Whitleigh went down and our TV picture was dodgy, so we called Virgin who sent an engineer out,' Burgess-Moon said. 'When he opened the box outdoors he discovered what looked like a nest of snakes. It appeared to be a mother with lots of babies, all wrapping themselves around the cables. He was worried but soldiered on nonetheless.' He added: 'Thankfully our Internet and TV are now working. Our guests remain in the box and can stay as long as they like.'
Police have tracked down a man who allegedly posed as Peter Kay's brother to con pub landlords. Peter Stead has now been charged with five counts of fraud, after it was claimed that he took money to stage charity stand-up nights that never took place. The fifty-year-old is said to have told five bar owners in the East Midlands that he was Danny Kay, Peter's brother, and that he was raising money for The Lewis Mighty Fund for children with cancer. Police have been seeking Stead since 2009, and put out an appeal on Crimewatch earlier the next year. They renewed their efforts last month. Derbyshire police confirmed that they arrested and charged Stead last week, adding: 'We put out a reappeal for information last month which led to a number of calls from members of the public with possible sightings of him across the country.' He has been remanded in custody to appear at Derby crown court on 31 May. Lewis Mighty, who was from Derby, died after a four-year battle with neuroblastoma last year, at the age of seven.

Eddie Braben, the comedy scriptwriter most associated with Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, has died at the age of eighty two. He died on Tuesday morning after a short illness, his manager Norma Farnes confirmed. Eddie was a key member of The Morecambe & Wise Show team from the late 1960s onwards, and was credited with contributing to their huge success by introducing elements from their off-stage relationship into their act. When Braben took over from Eric and Ernie's previous writers, Dick Hills and Sid Green, he made the on-screen partnership considerably deeper and far more complex than during their Two Of A Kind days at ITV. Eddie attributed the 'characters' he created to having studied Eric and Ernie at rehearsals and said that he merely 'exaggerated' their existing characteristics to best effect. The TV critic Kenneth Tynan noted in 1970 that, with Braben as writer, Morecambe and Wise had an utterly unique dynamic among comedy duos - 'Ernie' was, essentially, a comedian who, actually, wasn't especially funny, whereas 'Eric' was a straight man who very much was. The 'Ernie' persona became, simultaneously, more egotistical and yet also more naïve as the series progressed whilst Eric was becoming the world-wise one. Morecambe pointed out in interviews that Braben had specifically written his character as 'tougher, less gormless, harder towards Ern.' It was Braben who scripted Glenda Jackson to appear in Ernie's Antony and Cleopatra and gave her the grandly delivered line: 'All men are fools, and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got.' André Previn was the long-suffering conductor of Morecambe's massacre of the Grieg Piano Concerto, admittedly playing 'the right notes – though not necessarily in the right order' and Yehudi Menuhin was told he could not appear on the show without his banjo. But it almost didn't happen. After Braben had worked for Ken Dodd for more than a decade, Bill Cotton, the BBC's head of light entertainment, suggested that he come to the BBC and work for Morecambe and Wise. This was immediately after Morecambe had suffered his first heart attack. The self-doubting Braben thought that he was not good enough. He tried to ignore the approach, especially as he had a wife and a young family, had no intention of leaving Liverpool for London, and thought the risk too great. However, he eventually agreed to write some specimen material. The BBC asked for 'a few pages.' For a week, until the meeting with Cotton and the two comics, Eddie burned the midnight oil typing out thirty pages of sketches and routines. When he encountered Morecambe and Wise in person for the first time, they hit it off immediately. Reading the provided sketches, they laughed so much that Morecambe had to take his spectacles off to wipe his eyes before declaring that they couldn't do the material. Cotton convinced them otherwise, and the first Braben-written show went out on BBC2 in July 1969. Memorably, Morecambe made his usual solo entrance, opened his jacket, looked at his fragile heart and said: 'Keep going, you fool!' Eddie also wrote for comedy greats such as David Frost, Mike Yarwood and Ronnie Corbett. Although, admittedly, he wrote for Jim Davidson as well. Farnes said that Bill Cotton 'recognised the brilliance of Eddie's writing was the ideal marriage that would guarantee the success of Morecambe and Wise.' Comedians have been paying their respects on Twitter including Jack Dee who tweeted: 'What a great and lasting contribution Eddie Braben made to British comedy.' David Baddiel called Eddie 'a man who, comically, played all the right notes, in the right order, all the time.' Eddie became a full-time comedy writer in the 1950s, and produced scripts for many comedians of the time, being most associated with fellow Liverpudlian Ken Dodd. He worked with Doddy for nearly fifteen years before being being lured to work at the BBC by Cotton. His first experience of Morecambe and Wise was as a teenager when he saw them perform at the Liverpool Empire supporting Lena Hall. 'I wasn't a fan when I first saw them,' he told the BBC in 2004. 'I thought they were too American: Ernie was abrasive and Eric was a bit silly.' Speaking to Miranda Hart in March this year, Eddie remembered the anxiety of working his the comedy duo at the height of their success. 'The Morecambe & Wise Show became more important than Christmas,' he said. 'The real pressure came when I was sat in front of that typewriter with all those blank pages and there was a deadline and there was nothing happening. That's when you realised there were twenty or twenty five million people looking over your shoulder - all saying "make me laugh."' Although he kept the burden to himself, Eddie admitted that he did 'pay a price with health.' Shortly after winning a BAFTA in 1972 for his work with Eric and Ernie, he suffered a nervous breakdown. It would be two years before he returned to The Morecambe & Wise Show. Eddie was born in Liverpool in 1930, where his father was a butcher in St John's market, and was generous enough to invest in a fruit and vegetable stall for his son after he finished his schooling and national service in the Royal Air Force. Though Eddie hated crying his wares from the stall and was reduced to monosyllabic grunts, he loved writing jokes and dreamed that one day famous comedians would use them. He sent bundles of them to stage and radio comedians and in 1945 one of his favourite comics, Charlie Chester, bought one, reportedly for the princely sum of two shillings and six pence. Eddie was a big fan of another Liverpudlian, Arthur Askey, who rose to stardom in the first regular radio comedy series, Band Waggon. 'As a small boy I stood mesmerised standing in front of that small box called the wireless,' said Eddie, whose first aim was to be on the radio. It was not until the mid-1970s that he starred in his own radio comedies, including The Show With Ten Legs in which he appeared alongside Dad's Army actor Bill Pertwee. In 2001, Eddie collaborated with Hamish McColl and Sean Foley on the Olivier award-winning The Play What I Wrote, a tribute to the relationship between Morecambe, Wise and Braben. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring actor Toby Jones, it opened at the Liverpool Playhouse Theatre before transferring to London's West End. One very personal tribute was paid to Eddie by yer actual Keith Telly Topping's sometime writing partner, Alfie Joey: 'During my time as a brother in a religious order I was best man for Eddie's nephew Stu,' Alfie said. 'Stu told me that Eddie was a tough audience to please. I went all out to make him laugh with 'Best Man's Speech - The Musical.' Mr Braben loved it and told me to swap the monastery for the microphone which I did. He even passed on pictures of me that he took of the act. It sounds daft but his simple comment helped to change my life.' Eddie is survived by his wife Dee, three children and six grandchildren.

And even more sad news, I'm afraid. Ray Manzarek, keyboard player and founder member of The Doors has died aged seventy four. He formed the band with Jim Morrison - whom he had known at film school - in 1965 after a chance meeting on Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Manzarek, who had battled bile-duct cancer for many years, died in a clinic in Rosenheim, Germany, with his wife and brothers at his bedside. The Doors sold more than one hundred million LPs worldwide and Manzarek became one of the best-known keyboardists of his era, his artistry colouring hits like 'Riders on the Storm' and 'Light My Fire'. In his latter years, Manzarek played in many other bands and artists including Iggy Pop and Echo and the Bunnymen (whom he also produced). In the 1980s, Ray had a strong hand in the emergence of another quintessential Los Angeles band when he produced several LPs for the cult punk quartet X. He also recorded a rock adaptation of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana with Philip Glass. In 2000, a collaboration poetry CD titled Freshly Dug was released with British singer, poet and actor Darryl Read. Read had previously worked with Ray on the Beat Existentialist LP in 1994, and their latest poetical/musical collaboration was in 2007 with the CD Bleeding Paradise. In 2006, Ray collaborated with composer/trumpeter Bal. The CD which resulted, Atonal Head, was an exploration in the realm of electronica. The two musicians integrated jazz, rock, ethnic and classical music into their computer based creations. In 1998, Ray wrote a best-selling memoir, Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors. Drummer John Densmore paid tribute to Manzarek, saying he felt 'totally in sync' with his 'musical brother. There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison's words,' he added. Guitarist Robbie Krieger, who continued to play with Manzarek following Morrison's death in 1971, said he was 'deeply saddened' to hear the news. 'I'm just glad to have been able to have played Doors songs with him for the last decade. Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him,' he said. Manzarek, who was of Polish descent, was born and raised in Chicago before studying cinematography at the University of California in Los Angeles where he first met fellow film student Morrison. 'There was no idea of forming a rock and roll band at the time. Jim was a poet and a film maker - and not a very good film maker but a really good poet and a real intellectual,' he told Suzi Quatro in a BBC radio documentary. Ray took classical piano lessons as a child which later contributed to the fusion style of The Doors' music. 'The introduction to 'Light My Fire' was my little Bach study. I had a good time with that,' he said. 'The whole point of The Doors was a fusion of rock and roll but with some jazz, a little bit of classical, Robbie Krieger's flamenco guitar, and my classical background.' In January 1966, The Doors became the house band at The London Fog on Sunset Strip. According to Manzarek, 'nobody ever came in the place. An occasional sailor or two on leave, a few drunks. All-in-all it was a very depressing experience, but it gave us time to really get the music together.' The Doors later transferred to the Whisky-a-Go-Go initially supporting Van Morrison's Them and it was whilst at the Whisky that they were signed to Elektra. The original line-up made six studio LPs (five of them really very good indeed) in their six years together. The death of Morrison, from heart failure in a bath in Paris in 1971, effectively spelled the end for the band, although they continues to tour and released a further two LPs with Manzarek taking over as the singer. Manzarek occasionally sang with The Doors even whilst Morrison was alive, including the live recordings of 'Close To You' on the seminal Absolutely Live LP and on the song 'You Need Meat (Don't Go No Further)' released as the b-side of their 1970 single 'Love Her Madly'." He also sang on the two Doors LPs recorded after Morrison's death, Other Voices (featuring the excellent 'Tightrope Ride') and Full Circle. The Doors lacked a bassist, so Manzarek usually played the bass parts on a Fender Rhodes electric piano. His signature sound is that of the Vox Continental combo organ, an instrument used by many other psychedelic rock bands of the era. He later used a Gibson G-101 Kalamazoo because the Continental's plastic keys frequently broke. Ray's instrumentation was a key part of The Doors classic sounds, best heard on songs as diverse as 'The End', 'When The Music's Over', 'Roadhouse Blues', 'Break On Through (To The Other Side)', 'The Soft Parade', 'People Are Strange', 'Soul Kitchen' and 'The Changeling'. At their height The Doors were one of the most famous rock bands in the world perfectly straddling the divide between top forty pop (they had three US number one singles, something which is often forgotten amid analysis of their more artsy - and pretentious - side) and dramatic rock-theatre. The story of their rise to fame and the untimely fate of Morrison has since been immortalised in the 1988 film The Doors by Oliver Stone. Manzarek hated the movie (although he said that he'd enjoyed Kyle McLachlan's performance as Ray) once infamously noting 'two of The Doors like the movie. Me and Jim don't!' He added: 'Oliver Stone assassinated Jim Morrison. The film portrays Jim as a a violent, drunken fool. That wasn't Jim. When I walked out of the movie, I thought, "Geez, who is that jerk?"' Ray moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to study film at UCLA where he found himself in the same class as Morrison. It wasn't until a chance encounter on Venice Beach three years later after Manzarek has graduated (and Morrison been thrown out) that the seeds of The Doors were planted. Morrison told Ray that he had been working on some lyrics. The legend goes that Ray asked Jim to sing one of his songs and Morrison did, a proto-version of the song 'Moonlight Drive.' 'That's the greatest song I've ever heard,' Manzerak reportedly exclaimed, excitedly. 'Let's form a rock and roll band and make a million dollars!' 'And there it was!' Ray wrote in his biography. 'It dropped quite simply, quite innocently from his lips, but it changed our collective destinies.' Manzarek and Krieger resumed touring over the past dozen years, playing Doors music with other singers and drummers. Initially, they called themselves The Twenty First Century Doors which contributed to a lawsuit by Densmore against his former band mates to stop them from touring under The Doors name. Densmore eventually won the suit. Ray is survived by his wife, Dorothy, brothers Rick and James Manczarek, son Pablo, Pablo's wife, Sharmin and their three children.

By a horrible coincidence, yer actual Keith Telly Topping had already chosen his Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day before the news of Ray's death came through. Fitting, then, that it's one of his - and The Doors' - finest seven minutes and forty five seconds. Take yer actual Keith Telly Topping's advice. Play effing loud!

No comments: