Soho Blondes & Peeping Toms, album review

An entertaining collection that promises more than it delivers

Rather like the top-shelf magazines that decorated newsagents’ shops in the Sixties (and which would seem incredibly demure compared with today’s lads’ mags) this CD promises rather more than it delivers.

From the title you’d think you were in for a bit of what Kenneth Williams might have referred to as “How’s your father”.

Actually what you get are some mildly suggestive pop songs and a clutch of instrumentals which are less bump ’n’ grind and more shake ’n’ vac.

Still, it’s an entertaining collection compiled by that curator of exotic pop titbits Bob Stanley of St Etienne fame. World of Suzie Wong actress Jacqui Chan whispers her experiences of an English gentleman in bowler hats taking her to quiet spots “where we can’t be seen” where they suggest things “which aren’t quite nice” in “Gentlemen Please”, while crooner Scott Peters, it seems, prefers to “breeze out of Cornville” and “spin the cool platters, moody and mean” in “Kookie Talk”.

Then there’s UK singer Don Fox who, somewhat creepily enjoys the company of “Three Swingin’ Chicks” or “three swinging queens all in their teens”. I should give him a wide berth, girls.

The more sophisticated Lyn Cornell comes over like a British Peggy Lee on the gently swinging “Like Love”, talking of the men who “burn me then spurn me” while a few tracks later we get the incomparable Miss Lee herself on the striking “Sweetheart” with its smoky jazz backing of bongos and organ.

Of the instrumentals, the best is “Hi Flutin’ Boogie” by Johnnie Scott, an uptempo, flute-led number that sounds as if it’s escaped from a “Look at Life” cinema documentary from the Sixties. It’s an obvious favourite of Mr Stanley’s since he’s already included it on a compilation he did for another record label.

Best of all though is what should be the completely embarrassing “Safety Sue” a paean to British Safety Council where various celebs of the day, including cricketer Dennis Compton, racing driver Stirling Moss and self-publicising toff the Duke of Bedford tell us in excruciating spoken verse why we should “take precautions day by day and act with care in every way” so that we can stay friends with the eponymous Sue.

It’s probably one of the worst records of all time, but sadly, one of the catchiest, too.