Movin' Away - Kenny Lynch
It's a salutary fact that there are usually one or two (or sometimes as many as five or six) deaths of famous people over the Christmas period. This Christmas we started a little early with Kenny Lynch, who died on December 18th at the age of 80. Kenny was born in Stepney and was a member of the London working class popular entertainment fraternity. If you look at his life, he's like a black, British Forrest Gump, appearing on the fringes of just about everything throughout the sixties and seventies, beginning in 1963 by being the first artist other than the Beatles to record the first ever version of a Lennon McCartney composition, "Misery". He started out by by recording songs in the soft soul style of the Drifters, indeed the first of his two top ten UK hits was a cover of their "Up On the Roof". He was unusually enterprising for a minor showbiz Londoner, writing most of his own songs and setting up his own music publishing company and record store in Soho. He acted in numerous British tv shows including Z Cars, Room at the Bottom, Till Death Us Do Part, Spike Milligan's "Q" as well as ten movies ranging from British noir and horror, through comedy to seventies British softcore sexploitation fare.
You've all seen a picture of him whether you know it or not, as he was one of the few successful British black singers and actors of the early sixties, and you have almost certainly seen him on the iconic cover of Paul McCartney's Wings album "Band on the Run" along with such notables as James Coburn and Christopher Lee.
Cowritten with drummer Bob Wackett, this is regarded by some as a Northern Soul classic, although I've always seen it not so much as a dancer but the last song, just before the lights come up, a couple clincher.
And here he shows not only his skill as a composer, but also as a versatile singer with a power ballad a million miles away from his more famous soul style. The orchestral arrangement (his too) gives the song majesty, walking the tightrope between overproduction and irrelevance and landing plum in the middle with tragic epic, strong yet tender. Jack of all trades maybe, but master of most of them too.