Monday, 4 October 2010

The Commentators 'N-n-Nineteen Not Out'

Chart Peak: 13


Despite what I said in the previous post, we don't quite get a whole side of R&B, because we take a slight detour here. We do still get a slight convergence with some of the other stuff on the album though - Paul Hardcastle's '19' was yet another big hit of 1985 that eluded the compilers, and whilst he did appear with some of his later hits, his first representation was in the form of this parody. It's rumoured that Hardcastle produced this version himself under a pseudonym, which could account for the speed with which it was released, only a couple of weeks after the original had dropped from the top of the chart.

Anyway, this is the first intentional comedy record ever to show up on a Now album, and, I think we can safely say, the only cricket-themed novelty single ever to reach the Top 19. It was also the first most of us would have heard of Rory Bremner, a few years before he began starring in his own TV shows (though I think he may already have been working on Spitting Image by this time). I have to wonder how he must regard this now that he's better known as a satirist, as this is much closer to the broad showbiz comedy he first made his name with. It's probably also funnier if you understand more about cricket, although I do get the central premise that David Gower's batting average in the 1984 West Indies series was only 19 - apparently that's actually true, whereas Hardcastle's numbers are somewhat disputed. Some people might question the taste implications of the parody as well, especially the "side-on" line, although for my money it's silly enough to get away with it. Not that you'd want to listen to it too many times, I suspect.

Even if you did, as far as I can tell the track's never been released on CD. But the wonders of the Internet enable you to hear it, and indeed the 'Second Innings' B-side, which is largely more of the same but slightly less good. It does at least clarify that the voice that sounded a bit like Zippy is supposed to be the late John Arlott. Also thanks to the net, we can see what might be the oldest extant image of monkeys playing cricket.

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