information taken directly (and with permission) from
you've delved this far into the RPM web site you'll
know that every so often RPM like to bowl our collectors
a googly. Sometimes it's the restoration of a long lost
classic such as The Teenage Opera (RPM 165); occasionally
it's a barely musical but gloriously kitsch experience
along the lines of the 1970 England World Cup Squad
album (RPM 805); or it could be a slice of real pop
culture like last year's fabulous Janie Jones Singles
Collection (RPM 177).
it should not be a surprise that RPM has again taken
on one of pop's more bizarre offerings - Peter Wyngarde's
one and only recording venture - an album steeped in
myth and controversy, and one which encompasses ALL
the categories above. Withdrawn within weeks after it
first appeared back in 1970, and mired in contractural
complications ever since. The CD was scheduled to appear
on Creation's reissue label Rev-Ola, until the powers
that be (in the form of Alan McGhee) said "no", and
RPM (as a genuine indie label!) were able to offer it
a more than suitable home.
Wyngarde's masterful portrayal of Jason King,
the TV sleuth masquerading as a crime- writing shag-monster,
was so rooted to its rakish era that a revival seemed
as likely as the return of the classic Bentley Continental
whose Jason King character was first created for ITC's
Department S show in 1968, epitomised Easy culture
- a decorative hirsute look comprising sideburns, a
matching collar-and-tie of raw silk, and a suit that
made heads turn right round. For women, most of whom
still remained chained to the sink, Jason King was the
Romeo who'd come to liberate them from suburban domesticity.
For a time in the UK Wyngarde was the countries number
one male pin-up, and his fame spread abroad wherever
the show was screened - he found himself mobbed in Australia
by thousands of females when he arrived there to do
some personal appearances.
of which makes Peter Wyngarde's vinyl love-letter, originally
released on RCA Records in 1970 when the actor was at
the peak of his prowess, even more bizarre. A collection
of contemporary standards it was not. The album included
songs which exploded into rampant rages of male sexuality,
couched in an aesthetic abandon that set off alarm bells
even in those permissive climes.
had long been sniffing round hoping to get Wyngarde
into a studio; getting a top TV personality to cut an
album was a sure-fire way to make a quick buck, regardless
of their musical abilities (cf. Patrick McNee trying
to sing "Kinky Boots"!). RCA came up with an offer.
They told me I could do what I liked. That's what really
appealed to me! I saw the record as an entertainment
in its own right to be enjoyed tongue-in-cheek.
central idea was to string the songs together into one
long suite and none were more interesting than the opening
quartet of "Come In", "You Wonder How These Things Begin"
and "Rape". Truly the album's centrepiece, it's this
suite which has given the record such cult notoriety
that collectors happily shell out up to £400 for
a copy. Wyngarde defends the piece on which his musical
infamy is based. Is it politically incorrect? I've really
no idea. It's about all kinds of rape. There is so much
rape going on rape within bureaucracy, rape at so many
government levels, rape of countries. You know, even
attempting to explain it totally defeats its purpose.
record's outrageousness often overwhelms what would
still be one of the more bizarre episodes in popular
music. The listener is unlikely to forget "Hippie And
The Skinhead", where Wyngarde reads out a letter written
to "The Times" by two Home Counties skinhead girls,
or the tale of "Billy the Queer, Pilly Sexy Hippie",
sung over an incongruous, Nashville backing. And there's
even something for discerning lovers of late Sixties
English rock as he takes on the Attack's "Neville Thumbcatch",
written by Vic Smith.
now, "Peter Wyngarde" has largely circulated on enthusiastically-copied
cassettes. That's because the record was quickly snuffed
out when RCA realised just what it had on its hands.
Over a quarter of a century later, perhaps the rest
of the world has finally caught up with Wyngarde's postmodernist
bent. As with all RPM's releases, this reissue has been
lovingly crafted. Careful sound restoration is coupled
with another of our large fold-out inlays, covered in
pictures, and carrying detailed notes about the recordings
by a well-known Record Collector writer (and Peter Wyngarde
fanatic)Christopher Valentine, who has interviewed Wyngarde
especially for this project (along with other characters
central to the album's production). Wyngarde's original
liner notes, which he penned as if they'd been written
by Jason King, are also included in full - and
provided us with our CD title.
least two "easy" clubs are lining up to do Peter Wyngarde
nights to mark the reissue, so keep an eye open for
events like that over the next few months. Meanwhile,
savour the CD cover for perhaps the suavest TV detective
the world has ever seen!