Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Alan Price Set: Simon Smith and his Amazing Dancing Bear
Earlier this week I came across a paper by a psychologist called Simon Smith and I have been thinking of this song ever since.
We last saw Alan Price as the keyboard player with The Animals, a band which was formed as The Alan Price Rhythm and Blues Combo. He left them in 1965 (the reasons are discussed on Price's own website) to form The Alan Price Set.
This song reached number 4 in 1967, and I just about remember it from the time. It was written by Randy Newman - Youtube has a video of him performing the song himself.
Looking at the video today you can see why Lindsay Anderson later asked Price to write the music for (and briefly appear in) O Lucky Man! His smile and whole performance - guileless yet somehow knowing - are reminiscent of Malcolm McDowell in that film. Note too the pleasing satirical effect as the applauding musicians become the audience for the bear's performance.
Two other members of the Set are worthy of mention. The trumpet player is the late John Walters, who was for many years John Peel's producer at the BBC. And the tenor saxophonist Steve Gregory went on to play the sax solo on George Michael's "Careless Whisper", which the young people may have heard of.
Price is a public supporter of the Liberal Democrats - or at least he was a few years ago. I once had a phone call from Lib Dem News asking for clarification of some point of parliamentary procedure or electoral law "because Alan Price wants to know".
The general view at Liberator at that time was that the party should ask him to re-record The Animals' We Gotta Get Out of Third Place.