Sunday, October 19, 2014

Acker Bilk: Stranger on the Shore

There was a clarinetist busking in St Mary's Place, Market Harborough, yesterday and because he was playing this I stopped to give him some money. Because it was pure nostalgia for me.

We did not have many records at home when I was a little boy, but one of them was an Acker Bilk
EP which included Stranger on the Shore. Released as a single in 1961, it reached no. 2 in the UK and (remarkably for a British record in those days) no. 1 in the USA.

Still playing at 85, Acker Bilk was one of the stars of the British trad jazz boom that preceded the British invasion groups of the 1960s. Such was his fame that people used to joke about their being a Bilk Marketing Board.

Stranger of the Shore was written by Bilk and originally named after his young daughter Jenny. It got its new title when it was used as the theme for the BBC television series Stranger of the Shore.

I had always imagined this was a mystery story of some kind, but Wikipedia says it was about a French au pair living with a family in Brighton.


Jane said...

Wasn't the B side "A Taste of Honey"? Or was that another single? I can't remember.

Jonathan Calder said...

According to Wikipedia the B-side was "Take My Lips" - not one of the tracks on the family EP.

Anonymous said...

Stranger On The Shore was indeed as described in the Wikipedia article.I believe I watched both series and enjoyed them but the only specific incident I recall was a political one - Penelope the English daughter,is a CND supporter who gets herself arrested and,under the influence of a left-wing clergymen intent on prison himself,has to be talked out of refusing to pay a fine by a kindly judge.Can't remember what the French girl's take on all this was.

Taste Of Honey was a separate hit for Bilk a year later,an American composition attached to the Broadway version of the British play.A hit for Bilk in early 1963,the Beatles covered the American lyrical version on their first album, one of the ways in which they managed to make the album a clever blend of the familiar and the very new.