The Mark Steyn Club was born twenty-four months ago in May 2017, which means we are now two. A year ago, when we turned one, we rounded up a few other people who were also one - Number One, that is, on the Hit Parade across the decades. And so, courtesy of the Steyn archives, I talked to Paul Simon and Lulu and Andy Williams and Bananarama and Artie Shaw about various Number One records of theirs. So, having set that precedent, I said rather jocularly on the air a few weeks ago that, now we were turning two, I supposed I'd be rounding up a few singers and songwriters who were Number Two on the charts.
This format may be showing severe strain by the time The Mark Steyn Club reaches its 47th birthday, but for the moment we're sticking with it. So, in yet another compilation from the Steyn archives, I talk to a variety of musicians who've had Number Two records - sometimes in America, sometimes in Britain, sometimes in Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Austria, South Africa, and sometimes all around the planet.
My guests span almost ninety years of pop success, from the great Broadway star Mary Martin to socialist singer-songwriter Billy Bragg; from protean rocker Chuck Berry to the writer of "Goldfinger", Willie Wonka and Dr Doolittle, Leslie Bricusse; from celebrity maestro Leonard Bernstein to the man who put the orchestra in the Electric Light Orchestra, Louis Clark; from a mainstay of the BBC's Goon Show to a beloved Aussie rock band to a Latin heartthrob. And we're going to roam freely across the decades from the Thirties to the Nineties, with plenty of big records along the way ...but always stopping just shy of the top spot.
Some of the above guests are no longer with us, some I haven't seen for many years, some are fast friends and a few are even members of The Mark Steyn Club and have been very supportive since the litigious wankers at CRTV/Blaze TV plunged me into two-years-and-counting of legal torment. But all the above bring back happy memories, and along the way we'll also hear Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson, Sammy Davis Jr and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with music ranging from rock'n'roll to film music, classical disco to the very first Disney song hit, plus two very different city serenades about London and New York, and written by songwriters as varied as Hal David, Charlie Chaplin and Bach. Oh, and at least one of my guests was chosen because David Kelley-Wood, a First Day Founding Member of the Steyn Club, chanced to mention him in the comments the other day:
The first singers other than Tom Jones who come to my mind when I think of Wales are Shirley Bassey, and from a bit earlier still, Harry Secombe. Almost hate to start a list.
Don't hold back, David. We may do a St David's Day special next year.
As some of you will know, my own CD Feline Groovy: Songs for Swingin' Cats was a Number One jazz bestseller, a Top 20 album on the Billboard chart, and a Top 30 album on Amazon's pop chart. But we're saving albums for another day, and I don't really feel today's hit parades parade the hits quite the way they used to. So instead we're pleased to celebrate The Mark Steyn Club's second birthday with an all-hit dance party of Non-Stop Nearly Number Ones. If you want actual dancing and cork-popping that will have to wait until September's Second Annual Mark Steyn Club Cruise, on which we hope to see you.
To enjoy an hour-and-a-half's worth of non-Terrible Twos on this Mark Steyn Club anniversary edition of On the Town, simply click above. Last year's original show of Non-Stop Number Ones can be found here. And do join me later today for another important anniversary - followed by our Song of the Week and Episode Ten of our current Tale for Our Time, The Island of Dr Moreau.