2007   AUGUST 23   #235

Bob Anthony - We'd Like To Teach You Sing

We'd Like To Teach You To Sing
1 Introduction (1:57)
2 Finding Your Singing Range (4:47)
3 Breathing/Throat and vocal chords (2:57)
4 Producing the correct amplification (1:47)
5 Vowel exercises (1:05)
6 Vibrato (1:12)
7 Vowels and consonants (2:11)
8 Rhythm exercises on scales (10:48)
9 Time demonstration record (1:52)
10 Time backing track (1:53)
11 Contemporary exercise (2:00)
Images: Sing 1, Sing 2, Sing 3, Sing 4, Sing 5

I found this self-help album in a charity shop many years ago. The first thing that struck me was the odd tone of the title. It's not positive as in 'We will teach you to sing' or 'Learn to sing' but 'We'd like to teach you to sing', ie a bit unsure about itself. It reminded me of comedian Victoria Wood's airport departure lounge sitcom 'We'd quite like to apologize'.

The project was the brainchild of one Bob Anthony and his company Pro/Mu/Sing Ltd. He demonstrates all the vocal exercises and sings the songs on the album. However a different, anonymous figure introduces each section. His nasally tone and speech impediment reminds me of Lady Penelope's chauffeur Parker from Thunderbirds. I keep expecting him to say 'Yes M'Lady' after each sentence.

The record claims to be the first teaching LP of singing. It may well have been but at just 33 minutes playing time it's a bit light and there are actually not that many exercises to try. A lot of side 2 is taken up with a series of instrumentals in different tempos 'to practice singing to' as well as showcasing Bob's new song 'Time' which appears several 'times' in both vocal and instrumental versions.

After checking the included 24-page booklet all becomes clear when you realise that the record is just an introduction into the art of singing and any budding cabaret stars (not just singers but also comedians and 'all round entertainers') are encouraged to fork out a further £18 for the Pro/Mu/Sing ten-lesson correspondence course. Hopefully the course was more comprehensive because the booklet doesn't give a lot away. It includes advice on practising vowel sounds, breathing exercises, a suggested plan for your cabaret/club act and 'how to sing with a smile in your voice', but like the record it is padded out with headings in 40 point type, line drawings of vocal chords and some photos of Bob 'at the mike' in a dodgy wig.

Whether anyone actually did learn to sing by buying this album and/or using Bob's correspondence course isn't known. The company claims that all aspects of the entertainment business will be covered including booking artists into cabaret, clubs, radio, tv and recording. This is a little hard to swallow when old Bob wasn't exactly a household name. I don't recall ever seeing him and sidekick Parker on the telly.

But hey, a guy's gotta make a living, and all this might just be acceptable were it not for the fact that Bob's own solo records are not much to write home about. This is especially true (and strangely appropriate) of Ile D'Amour, a tribute to the holiday island of Jersey in the Channel Islands. It's not clear whether Jersey Tourism sponsored this project or Bob was trying to make a fast buck selling a themed album to holidaymakers at the hotel where he was appearing in cabaret that year. Either way it's impressive that he managed to write 12 songs about Jersey, mentioning as many places as he could (as was his remit), but his vocal delivery is an acquired taste. He's okay while doing ballads where he can employ his vowel-juggling cabaret style to the max, but he struggles a bit on the up-tempo disco numbers.

Ile D'Amour
12 Ile D'amour (3:24)
13 The Jersey Polka (2:12)
14 Down To St. Helier (2:48)
15 It Happens At St Ouen (3:05)
16 The Castle At Gorey (2:26)
17 The Lighthouse At Corbiere (3:16)
18 Rozel (4:21)
19 The Beautiful Valley Of St. Peter (4:46)
20 The Night At St. Brelade (2:53)
21 At Plemont (3:44)
22 Sunday On The Island (3:58)
23 Au Revoir Ile D'amour (2:46)
Image: Front Cover

Musically it's not bad and the project had a lot of money thrown at it with a big budget production including strings, horns and backing singers. The intro to The Light At Corbiere reminds me of the 1970s BBC nightly news theme.

Bob's geographical sense leaves a lot to be desired. Historically The Channel Islands are a mixture of English and French cultures, but Bob delivers The Jersey Polka as a hoe down complete with Spanish 'olés', while the wah-wah guitar driven Down To St Helier sees references to 'German Nights and disco lights'. Also check the lyrics. 'It Happens At St Ouen' keeps repeating the title but never specifies what it is. If you're out there Bob please tell us!

As a bonus I have also included Bob's 1978 double A side single on his own Regis Rose label. As it's festive-themed the sleeve doubles as a Christmas card. He presumably figured a lot of guys would buy this for their mums at Christmas. By this time Bob has relocated from sunny Jersey to less exotic Bognor Regis on the mainland south coast.

24 Mama Please Light A Candle For Me (3:52)
25 Christmas In London (2:44)
Image: Front Cover

- Contributed by: David Noades

We'd Like To Teach You To Sing
Media: Album
Label: Pro/Mu/Sing/Eden
Catalogue: Eden LP49
Year: 1973
Credits: Recorded at Eden Studios.

Ile D'Amour
Media: Album
Label: Ile D'Amour Records
Catalogue: IDA N2
Year: 1975
Credits: Featuring the voice, music and songs of Bob Anthony. Arranged and produced by Peter Bye. Recorded at Basing Street Studios, London. Cover art concept: Bob Anthony.

Mama Please Light A Candle For Me/Christmas In London
Media: Single
Label: Regis Rose
Catalogue: RR29
Year: 1978
Credits: composed and produced by Bob Anthony