Music Reviews

Peter Wyngarde

When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head

RPM

This is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre, outrageous, and interesting recordings of its type that I’ve ever heard. Conceived as a spin-off album of the late ’60s British television series Department S , which revolved around the exploits of a sleuth/crime-writer/love machine named Jason King, the themes reflect the attitudes of the late sixties’ ultra- hip.

RCA, the original issuer of this album, gave total artistic control to Wyngarde, the Valverde Brothers, and producer Vic Smith. The result ended up being an album that was banned by the BBC due in large part to the “Rape” cut that seems to make light of the act. The original 1970 release sold out in 3-4 days, resulting in Wyngarde being one of RCA’s most successful acts ever (second only to Elvis) based on initial album sales. Despite this, due to the controversial nature of the album, the decision was made to make no further pressings of this recording. Since its original release, this album has achieved a legendary status over the years, with some copies of the original album fetching as much as 400 pounds sterling on the collector’s market.

This release is comprised of a collection of high-camp, spoken-word-poem-like pieces framed by several differing styles of music ranging all the way from Chamber Music to Nashville to some fairly powerful progressive Rock and Roll. Standout cuts (other than the cut responsible for getting it banned) include “Hippie and the Skinhead” and “Neville Thumbcatch.”

This recording ought to go over well with true fans of Austin Powers , The Avengers , or other campy shagmaster-type characters. By the way, prior to landing the role of Jason King, one of Wyngarde’s more memorable guest-starring roles had him taking a whip to Emma Peel in The Avengers series. This proved to be sort of a harbinger of things to come. This recording comes with a printed warning that reads “If your knees jerk uncontrollably, Wyngarde’s attempts to come to terms with the darker side of human behaviour could set them off – so don’t buy it.”

RPM Records, 41 Garfield Rd., London, UK E4 7DG


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