Monday, 21 March 2011

Translating Cliff

I am working away, translating, then we go for a walk, and I remember that Jet Harris (late of The Shadows) is dead at 71. I say to C: Jet Harris is dead. She knows. I say to her: In those days that was the sort of name you had to have: Jet, Cliff, Billy Fury, Marty Wilde. I begin to wonder whether Ricky Livid really did exist or not. Did Freddy Frantic? Micky Manic? Or am I confusing him with Rock Hudson? And then a Shadows tune comes into my mind. Is it Apache? Or Wonderful Land? Or something else? One of those straight guitar twangers that foreshadows Enzio Morricone and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, a faint cowboy trace, a sense of galloping, and the hard true tune turning just a little bitter at the edges like smoking on a rainy night in someone's doorway.

Then I come home and work again and remember I have Spotify. So I put up a bit of the Shads: Jet and Bruce and Tony and, of course, Hank, boys in suits doing a mild kick forward (not unlike Diana Ross at that World Cup, I reflect) to the sound of girlish screams. And after listening through to Apache and Wonderful Land and Foottapper, I go on to Cliff, to some of his first proper rock 'n roll hits. I listen through to Dynamite and Mean Woman Blues and Whole Lotta Shaking Going On. And then there's this clip.

I know, I know... Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Little Richard, Eddy Cochran, Elvis of course... but there's quite a lot of this sort of Cliff. The movement is very short of Elvis or Jerry Lee, but it's definitely rock 'n roll. So the translation proceeds, surprisingly enough. By the way, Jet is the blond one in the middle.

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