Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Bigwoods - Paradise Beach (1971)

As I mentioned in the previous post, accordionist extraordinaire Bobby Bigwood had 'form'. Joined by his sister (Barbarella, left, drums) and mate (Sonny Bono, right, guitar and vocals), the trio cut their teeth entertaining punters of the nascent Caribbean cruise trade in the early 70s. Sailing between the islands they would play fairly unreconstructed versions of popular Caribbean songs alongside a few originals, complete in some cases with now somewhat un-PC cod accents. There's not really a great deal else to say about the simple pleasures of this music, except to point out the rather compressed sound which is definitely not an artefact of my rip.

I wonder if the album was actually paid for by Cunard, judging by somewhat crude product placement in the sleeve notes? Regardless, I like the unusually florid and mildly psychedelic cover, which looks like the sort of thing that a Japanese soft pop collector would auction grandma for. Also interesting from a record collector's perspective is the fact that the record is housed in a US-style pasted sleeve - these are notorious for the fragility of their seams and susceptibility to ring wear. UK examples are pretty uncommon in my experience, sufficiently so in fact for me to wonder if this was indeed a domestic pressing. The firm which used this idiosyncratic technology is not credited on the sleeve - again unusually - but the cover reveals the label to have been based in Margate (a nice contrast to the tropical beach pictured above its address). Plus the record is definitely made in England, panic over.

I also wanted to draw attention to a small detail of the rear cover. Initially I wasn't 100% sure that this was the same Bobby Bigwood I've already mentioned. But look at the band photo above, there he is in exactly the same pose, with exactly the same instrument (in exactly the same clothes for all I know) as his Mainly Country album, but 9 years earlier. His signature, on the inner sleeve, is the same too, and he's already wishing us luck! Two moments, nine years apart, the continuity is somewhat reassuring.


COBBLERS COVE
The Bigwoods - Paradise Beach
Chance Records/Phase II Records BAR 102 1971

Side 1
1. MEDLEY (Matilda, Nobody's Business, Mary Anne)
2. ISLAND GIRL
3. SHAME AND SCANDAL
4. YELLOW BIRD
5. MONTEGO BAY
6. BEAUTIFUL BARBADOS

Side 2
1. PARADISE BEACH
2. BALEMENA
3. BARBADOS RUM
4. ISLAND IN THE SUN
5. CRUISING CALYPSO
6. THE SLOOP JOHN B.
Travelling on baord "The Greatest Ship in the World" is an enormous pleasure; but when that ship cruises the Caribbean Sea...this is surely many people's idea of Paradise.

When asked which is their favourite island in the Caribbean, the Bigwoods answer "The one that floats: Queen Elizabeth 2." The group has performed aboard this floating island for the past two winters and fell in love with the carefree, lilting music of the Caribbean. Their very favourite spot is a beautiful beach and the hotel in Barbados. The beach pictured here, and the Paradise Beach Hotel inspired the title song on this album.

Each song in the collection has been chosen to capture the true atmosphere of these beautiful islands, as a lasting reminder of carefree days amongst the gently swaying palms, magnificent beaches and warm blue seas at the Paradise Beach Hotel and Cobblers Cove Hotel in Barbados, La Toc Village and Hotel La Toc in St. Lucia and the Montego Beach Hotel in Jamaica...all fine Cunard-Trafalgar Resorts.

The music of the Caribbean...songs from an Island Paradise: the sounds of THE BIGWOODS.
(P) 1971

CHANCE RECORDS
34 Roman Road, Broadstone, Dorset
14 Giles Garden, Margate, Kent

5 comments:

  1. Amazing to see this album again. I'm the one on the right!! Yes -still alive and making music. Halcyon days before there were hundreds of cruise ships.
    Stephen Wyatt-Gold (Robb Wyatt in 1971!!)

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  2. Can't believe I have come across this! I was working for Steiner Hairdressing on board the QE11 when I was 20 and knew the Bigwoods. They took me 'under their wing'!

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    1. Hi
      I'm Robb Wyatt and remember the Steiners girls very well. Which one are you - I've still got photos of us all. Contact swyattgold@wanadoo.fr

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  3. Hi
    I remember seeing the Bigwoods regularly at the Royal Exeter Hotel Bournemouth back in the 1970s. That Cordovox accordion made a fanrastic sound.

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