Claps, Clicks & Whistles #14

A few months ago, I made a bad joke about featuring a record by whistler-in-chief Roger Whittaker on these pages, only to be rather taken aback by several requests to actually post something by him.

Well, there’s some more obvious songs by more obvious whistlers to post before I get to Our Rog.

Like this lot for example:


Whistling Jack Smith – I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman

That song managed to reach the giddy heights of #5 in the UK charts back in 1967. The true identity of the actual Whistling Jack Smith has remained something of a mystery; the whistler here is believed to be John O’Neill, a trumpeter and singer with the Mike Sammes Singers, who are known to have performed on the recording.

However, just like when Black Box hired Katrin Quinol, a French Caribbean model, to become the face of their 1989 smasheroo “Ride on Time” rather then just admit they had sampled Loleatta Holloway’s single “Love Sensation”, or like when that girl mimed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, or every record that Milli Vanilli were ever involved in: when it came to performing on Top of the Pops, actor Coby Wells was used to mime the whistling, and later toured as the public face of Whistling Jack Smith.

Coby Wells’ real name was Billy Moeller, who was the brother of Tommy Moeller. You know Tommy Moeller, right? Lead vocalist, guitarist, and pianist with Unit 4 + 2..? Yes, that Tommy Moeller.

Here’s their most famous moment:


Unit 4 + 2 – Concrete and Clay

Many of you will know that Dexys Midnight Runners front man Kevin Rowland released an album of controversial cover versions which contained that song. Actually, it wasn’t so much the cover versions which were controversial, more the covers of the album, “My Beauty” and the singles which were released from it:


Kevin Rowland – Concrete and Clay

(“Pssst! Kevin!! Kevin!! You didn’t tuck yourself in properly when you came out of the Gents!”)

So controversial was his choice of clothing, that the audience pelted him with bottles of…erm…liquid when he appeared on stage at the Reading Festival to perform tracks from the album back in 1999. But they did the same to Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler back in 1988, so he was really just carrying on a rock ‘n’ roll tradition.

And speaking of dubious cover versions, let it not be forgotten that “I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman” itself got worked over in 1977:


The Wurzels – Farmer Bill’s Cowman

And yes, the Quality Control desk is closed tonight.

More soon.

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17 thoughts on “Claps, Clicks & Whistles #14”

  1. I love that Kevin Rowland album. I don’t care what a bunch of pissed up festival idiots thought: it is a classic.

    Plus, Meatloaf & Bonnie Tyler rock too.

    1. It really is. Apologies if I appeared disparaging about it. Meatloaf & Bonnie is a case of better off in their own right, though.

      1. No apologies necessary, I just have to defend that album whenever I can. Never has there been a better case of “Don’t judge by the cover…”

    1. Love them too, saw them at Glastonbury in 2010, happiest day of my life. And owned two albums by them when I was a kid…

  2. Very good whistling song you’ve posted (I’m not referring to The Wurzels, that’s just annoying). I’ll be saying nothing about Meatloaf or Ms Tyler.

      1. I’m always on holiday, Jez. Does that mean there’ll never be a Wurzels week on these pages?

  3. I keep coming back to leave a comment but keep being thrown by that very disconcerting pic of Kevin Rowland – Either that or it reminds me of the many times I’ve accidentally left my skirt tucked inside my tights. Thankfully more of a trouser girl now but wish Kevin had been as well.

    Like both these versions of Concrete and Clay.

    1. Be grateful – had I posted an album track I’d have been obliged to post the cover where, if memory serves me correctly, he’s wearing even less…

  4. Alan McGee used to claim Rowland’s album only sold 500 copies for Creation. That number has since been debunked, but it was a colossal flop by any measure. I’m sure the cover didn’t help. We wouldn’t get another album from Rowland/Dexys for 13 years. Turned out to be worth the wait. One Day I’m Going to Soar is one of the best from this decade.

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