I just don’t know what to do with myself….Dusty part 3

 Well boys and girls……..if the sixties were when Dusty (and a lot of others I guess ) lived out hers and everybody elses fantasies, then the seventies was the decade for facing the realities of the life she was so hell bent on creating and destroying for some reason !!

Personally, I think that ‘our girl’ had it in her mind to take the States by storm by firstly moving to LA, buying a superstar type Hollywood mansion in Laurel Canyon, with a HUGE pool and a  tennis court and all the usual star trimmings (well you would wouldn’t you?).Interesting to note here that Dusty couldn’t swim or play tennis, “apart from knocking a few balls back and forth for ten minutes with whatever star happpened to be around at the time or untill the schlapp started running down her face” Our girl decided to take a break from recording, live the life of the rich and famous, which unfortunately included the sex, drugs and rock and roll aspect of being a STAR !!!!!.

Unfortunately the pop business and more importantly “the fans” are very much like children and they need to be ‘fed product’ on a regular basis to sustain their growth and interest, and if this product is the type they know and love all well and good. That, in Dustys case, in the most part at least meant “churning out those big ballady things” that she loved,of course, but she was feeling more than a little trapped in that genre and as always had an eye and ear for the new music emanating from the states. Singer songwriters like Carly Simon, Carole Bayer Sager, Joni Mitchell, Mellissa Manchester, Carla Bonoff, the list goes on !! I must say I was very much with her on this one as ‘standing still’ has never been one of my favourite places to be either.

Unfortunately our girl was having too much of a good time partying and rubbing shoulders with the American glitterati. It appears that some of the decisions she made and maybe some were made for her whilst ‘under the influence’ of God knows what, meant she wasn’t ‘feeding’ her fans what they wanted. I loved the early seventies stuff she recorded, more wistful, laid back (God if she was any more laid back she would have been behind herself)!! There are some beautiful recordings of (ooo Janis Ian I forgot her) Janis Ian songs, Mellissa Manchester as well as some Carole King (of course SHE was changing course rapidly too, and how!) along with Michel Legrand,Charles Aznavour masterpeices. I love, to this day, Yesterday when I was young, written and recorded by Aznavour but in an almost monologue format. Dusty gave it the old majic and created, to my mind, a masterpeice of pathos and drama enough to satisfy her millions of fans, perhaps herself who knows, but…….the record company didnt’, for reasons best known to themselves, release it as a single but as a track on the See all her faces album, which they didn’t promote and Dusty was off having a ball (tennis probably), hindsight is a wonderful thing, I guess ??

Dusty went into the studio again soon after this album to record what should have been an absolute stunner. To include songs and vocal accompaniments( which she loved the idea of I’m sure )by all the above mentioned artists. It had a couple of different working titles but ended up as Longing… Apparently over the next few MONTHS (not days or weeks) Dusty was in such a mess that they barley managed to get 5 or six completed tracks from her. Apparently the vocals were poor, with her voice almost nonexistant on some of them, great musical accompaniments (as usual) but, she was off with the fairies.. Twenty years later some of these (cleaned up) tracks were released on the four disc compilation entitled …Simply Dusty…(lots of things dahling but SIMPLE never!!).

I am your child , Dustys voice on this was heartbraking honestly, she barely forces notes out and the words just kind of hang in the air waiting to be strung together…(.oh the pathos and the drama) co-written by Barry Manilow, who was just making a name for ‘herself’ at that time, singing along with and playing piano for the DIVINE Ms. Bette Midler. In the winter, a Janis Ian classic that Dusty took to a whole new level. Even the writer told our girl that she would never have imagined that anything she had written could be so beautiful (praise indeed). Another couple of gems, one from Mellissa Manchester, Home to myself and Exclusively for you, written by a very talented young man that had ‘found ‘ himself in LA, Colin Bluntstone. He was the lead singer in a very successful band from the sixties, The Zombies (yeh really!).

As I said earlier, this album fell flat on its face before they even finished the final recordings. Dusty was hooked on booze, pills and some things I dont think she (let alone her fans) wanted to remember. She was ‘cutting’ herself on a regular basis apparently and a few times attempted suicide !!! She was surrounding herself with hangers on, bleeding her dry both emotionally and financially. “you wouldn’t want to leave your handbag alone with them let alone be in their company”.

She was at rock bottom,borrowing from what few friends she had left and living either with these friends or renting rooms in a not so nice parts of Town, all this in six or seven years. She needed a lifeline and luckily a couple of friends from early in her career threw it her way………and she grabbed it with both hands and held on tight !!!! It appears that the hardest thing to do at this point, was get herself clean from the booze and drugs, it was gonna be a long hard road, but I’m sure she could see (notwithstanding her shortsightedness) the light at the end of the long dark tunnel, bless her……..

I’m worn out now, I need to cry a little, put some Dusty on the ‘gramaphone’ and pour myself a large glass of something red and fruity……NO NOT RIBENA!!!!….. saluditos guapiton. xx

Tamboerskloof……interesting history.

 

 

 

 

 

We have now lived in Tamboerskloof for a couple of months or more and I like to go walkies’ as often as I can to soak up the atmosphere and obvious history of the area. What I love about new  places is getting an idea of who, what, where and when and then after that my imagination kicks in and we’re off and running.

It’s obvious to me that Tamboerskloof has been a truly cosmopolitan ‘village’ for at least a hundred and twenty years. There are a number of beautiful, beautiful Victorian Villas in the most stunning locations and occupying huge plots with views to die for and I WANT ONE !!! ..From that era untill the Deco period (1930’s) the most amazing residences were built quite obviously for very affluent residents. I have taken a few pic’s which I think should help illustrate my ideas. On or around the 1930’s there seems to have been quite an influx of foreigners especially from Italy. These new residents lived mostly (as far as I can see) in ‘Deco’ apartment buildings with names evoking the land they had left; Bella Hombre, Bella Vista and Prima Vera, to name just a few.  ….I, with my vivid imagination can imagine the families occupying these graceful buildings, with a handful of kids, Dad working, maybe cooking or gardening, Mum taking in seamstress work or maybe the reverse, who knows, you know how these Italians can be almost as perverse as the English ( pushing it there Tony I think !!)

 

 

 

 
Also around this time (30’s or 40’s) there are a number of apartmnets with Jewish names such as Mount Carmel, Glatal Court and so on. It is clear to me that many thousands of Jewish people left Europe at that time to escape those Nazi bastards,and what a beautiful option South Africa must have been at that particular time, it still is I think. There still are very large Jewish and Italian communities in Cape Town helping to form the diverse and interesting structure of this City. Bellisima and Mazeltov !!

 

There are a number of ‘newer’ apartment buildings probably from the 50’s and 60’s. (We stay in one such building) that have very Afrikaans names; Blaukopp, Luewenhof etc. that are much larger and, but it has to be said, not so estically pleasing (thats a posh way of saying ugly and built from cheaper facebrick !!) However it does prove one very important (to my mind at least) thing that the World and his wife have been living here in Cape Town getting on with stuff and living very happily together, it seems.

Coming up to date, this same atmosphere prevails but with different peoples. We now have Black, Coloured, English, Afrikaans, German people all living,for the best part, in “perfect harmony”, sorry to paraphrase Paul McCartney here but it seems very relevant somehow and I’ve always loved that song. Also another great song from the 1970’s in this vein is Melting Pot, by Blue Mink. This band was made up of Madeline Bell a great voice and former girlfriend of the lovely Dusty Springfield and Roger Cook and (Paul I think) Greenaway, they wrote some great ‘pop’ songs during that period…..I’m going into digress mode again aren’t I ???

The atmosphere here in Tamboerskloof is still very villagey and we love it. Some of the side roads further up towards Signal Hill are still that lovely cobblestone effect that brings out the old romantic in me every time, God knows why but it does. perhaps I have lived in that era and still hanker after the horse and carriage thing when the Men wore elegant clothes and the Women made their own ( clothes that is not the Men) Who knows what went on behind closed Victorian doors. Whatever it was I’m sure I would be included in the thick of it, probably one of the instigators if I’m honest with you and I can be honest ‘cos we’re friends aren’t we ?? I also think I was around during the period of the Holy Roman Empire, but I think that was purely for those gold trimmed togas and gold laurel tiaras, or whatever they were called !!

Have a great week and take time to smell the roses. x

Eating out.

Now lets get one thing straight here, Paul and I eat out often and , for the most part, have been happy with our choice of restaurant. We are often asked to recommend places but I am a little loath to do so whole heartedly to be honest, for different reasons, self preservation mostly.

We have eaten at The River Cafe in Constania (part of the Constania Uitsig estate) many times and always the food is good, sometimes the kitchen service is a little ‘backed up’ and we have to wait half an hour for our order. But then its usually the weekend and ” it don’t make no nevermind “(quoting the late, great Liz Taylor here). Last weekend  we were there for breakfast/brunch , I had a delicious farmers omelette made with three eggs and two different cheeses and bacon…way to go Tony good for the old cholesterol. I love the jams they have at River Cafe too, Hillcrest brand and sooooo full of fruit (and pips ) raspberry jam, my absolute favourite, back to that childhood thing again about fresh simple foods I guess.  I was stuffed and no complaints really apart from the wait, lah de dah and so…………..we decided to take a stroll through the vines to La Colombe for a glass of bubbly on the terrace, rude not to really. The staff at La Colombe are always delightful and they promptly set about preparing the table under the arbour for us, how sweet and just perfect for a bit of a camp and a carry on !!

However , on Sunday we were invited for lunch at a newly revamped Oasis restaurant in The Mount Nelson. Haven’t been there for a long, long time. Yes the decor had changed but the intrusive service and indifferent food , not so much. Also the Morgenstern Rose we ordered was warm and had to stand in the ice bucket for a while and we had watered down Rose because of the need to add ice to bring it to a reasonable temp.Doesn’t a revamp include a wine fridge that works ?? Strange, that this a location to envy and with the resources of “Nellies’ and the help of Chef Rudi Leibenburg it should be great place to recommend, sorry can’t do that Rudi, maybe its teething troubles, who knows, but teething troubles are yours why should they suddenly be mine.

 Oh I almost forgot (not really readers, not really !!)……..the previous week we had lunch with Tanya, of Wine at the Mill fame, at her neighbouring restaurant Burrata. Nice, small but beautifully marked (like me) menu and some interesting wines. We started with a nicley chilled Prosecca,(dont do starters very often). The food was really good, Tanya went for a different take on pizza (very inventive) I had ribbon pasta with a stripped rib filling and a spicy sauce ,Paul had the risotto, “very nice” ! But, listen to me dear reader, dont take your own wine as they charge (or try to) 60 rand !! I asked if that includes the table napkins to take home as well, but apparently not, be warned dahlings.

Its our anniversary tomorrow so I think we’ll keep it simple and have a bottle of Moreson Rose MCC and visit the Maharajah restaurant here on Kloof Nek, its two minutes stagger (sorry walk) and the food is fabulous and  extremely good value…….Saluditos guapiton. xx

COME FOR BRUNCH……..

was the casual if forceful invitation from Glenn-Douglas one day last week. “I’m having a few people over”…….understatement of the year dahling, there must have been twenty people, great and right up me calle !!

Glenn moved from Town a while back taking a lease on a smallholding just outside Stellenbosch, tucked away alongside  a small stream and in the shadow of the Franshhoek Mountains….stunning doesn’t cover it at all.      We were given a list of who was coming and who was making what to contribute to the banquet !! Except  Paul and I, we were listed as “Tonys choice”..no pressure at all then Glenn. Really it was absolutely fabulous the way people entered so well into the spirit of the occasion. There were roasted chickens, salmon and pasta, salads,cervice with prawns,breads,cheeses and some superb desserts (YIPEE)….I had made a quick mental stock take when we (Paul) were preparing the foods in an enormous buffet on the dining table and surrounding surfaces. ………AND THE BOOZE , I HEAR YOU SCREAM, WHAT ABOUT THE BOOZE ??..Technically this was brunch.10.30 for eleven and it was as a ‘well we’re drinking dont know about anyone else’ kind of approach from Paul and I…what did we know ???   I think the guests must have had a premonition that the World was going to run out of wine that weekend because, yes you’ve guessed it…STUPENDO, all the MCC a girl (or Man) could drink. MCC for the uninitiated is South African champers, and we all know what I’m like on that particular avenue of enjoyment….let me at it dahling.

Needless to say we had a great time (Thanks again Glenn) his guests were a great bunch of people from all walks of life and differing political and religous leaning, again right up me calle dahling, light blue touch paper and retire immediately. I think that it was around four in the afternoon when were thrown out (sorry took our leave)!! …I always have a slight pang of concience and guilt after these sort of do’s as whilst I understand the concept of designated driver, I never seem to quite seem to apply it to myself, strange that, I hear you cry !!  Paul must really love and understand me (“cos I don’t) to put up with my carryings on and I at my age I should really know better, but I DONT SO GET OVER IT !! Hedonism thy name is Tony !!!   I’m going now its past wine o’clock and there’s a bottle of Rose’ with my name on it in the fridge…..hasta pronto dear reader. xx

ITS DUSTY TIME AGAIN !!!

……. In the early part of 1968 after almost five years at the top of just about everything, Dusty decided to leave her manangement in the U.K. that she had been with since early 1962 whilst still with the Springfields and cast her eyes towards ‘the States’. Now, this was no real suprise when you think back on it. She had been in love with the “idea of America” and had been bought up on 20th.Century Fox musicals “all those leggy blondes dancing and singing on the silver screen”, she must have seen this as the next logical step to International stardom. We have to remember that the world wasn’t so global then and the States and the U.K. were really (in lots of ways) two different worlds. I can’t imagine that she thought she was going to become another Ginger Rogers or Mae West but maybe the idea of of somewhere between Alice Faye and Doris Day (ask yer Mum) might have had its attraction. She was certainly talented enough to sing and dance with the best of ’em and God knows she had the charisma to take on those Hollywood glamorous songbirds but……… the old doubts and insecurities came flooding in bigtime. Just at that time she was offered a recording contract with Atlantic records in Memphis who were responsible for such huge recording stars as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin,Percy Sledge,Wilson Pickett. All black singers with HUGE reputations and HUGE voices. Well……….wouldn’t you know it, as soon as Dusty got into the studios she developed “monstrous laryngitus”,which was in fact plainly and simply, FEAR !! Apparently the producers, wonderful men like Thom Dowd, Arif Mardin and Jerry Wexler (much later to do great things with The Bee Gees) were telling Dusty ” this is where Aretha recorded this and where Ray Charles did that” ….all this was too much and our girl just mentally headed for the hills !!. The wonderful orchestrations these guys had prepared were as much”‘out of there bag” as Dustys vocals were expected to be out of her comfort zone. The vocal backings were also amazing with a collection of ladies,The Sweet Inspirations, guaranteed to lift the roof off, including Whitney Houstons Mum, Cissie. Dusty had always been comfortable with “big mushy vocal background singers to help me along”. In her early days she had Madeline Bell, Doris Troy,Kiki Dee and a tiny young lady with a stunning voice by the name of Lesley Duncan, belting out the sounds. The Middle of Nowhere is probably the most obvious single from Dustys earlier recordings that highlight the ‘girls’ input. I digress (again), Dusty had to go to New York to  a rented studio somewhere on Fifth Avenue before she could sing a note. BUT………..wasn’t the fantastic Dusty in Memphis album a credit to both her and her recording guys abilities and determination. Where would we be without Son of a Preacherman,Just one smile, I dont wanna hear it  and The windmills of your mind.? There wasn’t a bad track on the whole album but WHAT A SCHLEPP!!  From a visual point of view Dusty had began to show a softer more relaxed look on her album cover and the p.r. releases of that time, some might almost say SEXY……oh no we didn’t want to bring up that old can of worms now did we ??

Well, as we have (the Royal we here)………Dustys somewhat ambiguos sexuality/love life had always been an unhealthy source of interest to the ‘boys of the press’. Probably because they were so upset by the fact that this glamorous, sexy, stylish blonde didn’t show the remotist interest in them or their invitations (I don’t think she did in anyone much really, she was totally involved with her career) they thought it would be fair game to declare open season on this girl. She was in fact in her mid twenties by the time she became famous and was very far from being a silly impressionable  girl and wasn’t about to be treated as such and drop everything (including her underwear) just because this ‘famous’ pop star (Mick Jagger for one) or well known writers for the Daily Mail or The Times sent her flowers with the obligitory implications. In this day and age no one is suprised when a Lady singer stands up for herself and nails her colours to the mast (or anywhere else really) but then, it was a differnt ball game entirely !!  Way to go Dusty and so she took herself and her current girlfriend Norma Tanega, off to the U.S. of A……not a good move dahling, they were even more homophobic than Europe and still are I guess.

An interesting point to note here, is that when Dusty changed her record label, her recording manager Johnny Franz (who incidentally had been with Dusty since the Springfield days ) her musicians, p.r. people etc.and took on advisors as to the type of music she should be singing INSTEAD of doing what she had done so well for five years or more, her career took sideways move. Hindsight is a wunnerful thing hey  ???

watch this space…have a good week.