Last Night in Soho - Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich
Play loud, as always.
As Salisbury is in the news for poisonous reasons here is a song about nefarious happenings and regrets by a band that originally hailed from Salisbury, in fact as far as I'm aware Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich are to date the only successful band ever to come from Salisbury.
DDDBM&T were a typical middle of the road sixties pop band that generally made a load of commercial rubbish, agreeably tinged with whatever was happening elsewhere from heavy rock to cowboy Mexican to opera. For a while it worked: their Zorba's Dance crib "Bend It" was banned in the U.S. because it was thought to be about masturbation, Don Juan used tunes from Carmen and the glorious "Xanadu" had Tijuana trumpets and regular Rawhide style whipcracks.
They're the kind of group no cool sixties dude would be caught dead listening to and more's the pity. Because a lot of these commercial teen idol bands had at least one gold nugget in their repertoire and DDDBM&T were no exception. The follow up to their only number one "Xanadu" was this fabulous 45. Another song of redemption, in this case failed redemption, begins with police sirens and radios on the organ, menacing low chords on the lead guitar, satanic church organ notes and then:
"You came into my life like rain upon a barren desert
one smile and I was born again..."
...the beautiful melodic opening line sends shivers up the spine every time. Especially with the ole cockney spoons reminding us of his homely East End background and swirling strings emphasising the epic nature of his tragedy.
"I never told you of some things I've done I'm so ashamed of
I thought my foolish life was over and done...."
He's a London gangster who is going straight, redeemed by love, when he is dragged back into the criminal world. An old story and this is his squalid demise, as he struggles for dignity through a last gesture of self sacrifice as he is sent down. And somehow, through the music and especially that magical refrain, he achieves it.
As mini rock opera, it's right up there with Shadow Morton and the Shangri-Las but no-one seems to notice it as it's British and DDDBM&T and the underrated songwriting duo of Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley. The end is sublime:
"Don't cry my baby as they lead me where no love can help me
don't stay around to watch me go
just forget there once was a time
you were proud to call yourself mine
I had love right here in my hand
why could I not understand?"