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'. A bit unsure about itself. It's sentiments reminded me of comedian Victoria Wood's satirical airport departure lounge sitcom 'We'd quite like to apologize'.

The project was the brain child 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 a little 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 little 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 own song Time). It was perhaps a taster to encourage would-be students to sign up to the full singing course that is advertised in the 24 page booklet that accompanies the record.

The booklet text reveals that 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. This was probably a good idea because the booklet doesn't give a lot away but includes advice on practicing 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 somewhat padded out with headings in 40 point type, line drawings of vocal chords and some photos of Bob at the mike.

Whether anyone did learn to sing by buying this album and/or using Bob and Parker'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, television as well as recording.

Bob's own career included making the album 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 culture-hungry holiday makers. Either way it's impressive that he managed to write 12 songs about Jersey, mentioning as many places as he could, but his vocal delivery is an acquired taste. He's okay when 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 pretty good and the project clearly had a lot of money thrown at it with a big budget production including an anonymous band with strings, horns and backing singers. The intro to The Light At Corbiere reminds me of the distinctive 1970s BBC 9 O'Clock News theme. Down To St Helier goes all funky with some nice wah-wah guitar licks while Castle At Gorey is a nod to The Beatles All You Need Is Love with it's French National Anthem intro.

The only worry is Bob's geographical sense which 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 Down To St Helier sees references to 'German Nights and disco lights'. Also check the lyrics of 'It Happens At St Ouen'. Bob keeps repeating the title but never specifies what ‘it' is. Bob please tell us!

As a bonus I have also included Bob's charming 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 had seemingly 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