Tony Penultimate

Peter, Poppy and the Nazz

I first heard this strange song in 1980 when I returned from a three year ‘university of life’ style hiatus in France (when I should have been at a proper university). It was a particular favourite of DJ Kenny Everett at the time, and although he played it to death on his radio show, it never caught on with the public and remained a 'turntable hit'.

Everett had quite a good record of bringing bizarre songs to public attention - it was he who broke Queens ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by playing it constantly on his radio show. The Nazz is not a really a rap, but a sort of freeform ‘spoken word’ jazz poem - written by the 50’s hipster and nightclub performer Lord Buckley. Its a derivation (in hipster argot) of the Bible story in which Jesus (The Nazz) heals a paralysed woman. I remember liking it so much that I bought the record.

So while I was looking around for a new ATTC project to film on our flight over to the JFK for the UOGB tour in April, this seemed like a good one to do. Unlike other films I do this one would not be ‘props heavy’ as I didn’t want to drag a bunch of hats, horses or other inflatables around the US for three weeks in my suitcase.

All I needed was my filming kit, dress in my pseudo pilots outfit and take a couple of puppets in my hand luggage to mime to the chorus and backing vocals. However this ‘shoot’ if I may pretentiously refer to it as that, would be different. For the first time I would be using two iPhones simultaneously in each toilet to film myself, giving me much more freedom when it came to editing.
The recording itself, to which I would sing along to (it’s too noisy on a plane to sing ‘live’) had been made months earlier and featured my 12 year old daughter Poppy’s backup signing and was produced by DJ friend & Remixer Philip Larsen.


The flight from London to JFK is about six hours and it was my good fortune that it wasn’t too full, moreover no one seemed to be using the toilets at the rear of the plane, so I was able to have unlimited use of the four facilities for long periods.
But the most interesting part of writing this has been researching the original recording and the mysterious John Sinclair, who released the record under the band nom de plume ‘The Word’
Sinclair seems to have been heavily involved in the music business in the early seventies and was the brother of Jill Sinclair, wife of the record producer Trevor Horn (Video killed the Radio Star). He was one of the founders of the famous Sarm West Studios in London where many hits were recorded in the eighties. According to this thread he might even have been involved with the initial idea for the Rocky Horror show - but there is very little about him online.
It turns out that in the 1980s, Sinclair felt a spiritual calling (much the same as Cat Stevens - who became Yusef Islam) and became a Talmudic scholar according to the Jerusalem Post.
Life is very strange sometimes!

You can download my version of the track here

 

Comments

I guess you may well be right Rich....
I guess this is where David Bowie got 'He was the nass' for Ziggy Stardust from although obviously had to change it slightly with azz not being a word. With jazz originally being called jass I suppose some sort of cosmic musical balance was restored!
 

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