Songs Of The Day 1/10/2016: Delia Derbyshire with Anthony Newley – “Moogies Bloogies” + “I Decoded You”

Delia Derbyshire (1937-2001) was an experimental music trailblazer who spent much of her time in the '60s at the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop. She's best known for taking the theme music to Doctor Who and reworking it as an electronic piece, which knocked original composer Ron Grainer for a loop. They used it on the show, one of the very first electronic music themes in TV history. Anthony Newley (1931-1999) was an English singer and actor, but also a pretty slick songwriter and composer of musical theater in collaboration with partner Leslie Bricusse: "Feeling Good, "What Kind of Fool Am I?," "Goldfinger," "Who Can I Turn To," and the freakin' Willy Wonka song score so back off. He was a song-and-dance man but tended to pick performing outlets that were a little more complex, even satirical, than other artistes of his stripe.

Derbyshire and Newley worked together on these two novelty-esque pieces in 1966. Newley wrote the words to "Moogies Bloogies" and sought a change of pace from his usual backdrop of swelling orchestras and upswings of mood, so he called Derbyshire for some electronic backing. According to a Derbyshire wiki, she spent 64½ hours in August 1966 working on the not-quite-2½-minute song, "including a single monster session of 16½ hours on the 9th and a 'radical rethink' on the night of Wednesday 10th." Newley's lyrics began as nearly childish lamentations for a missing love, but quickly devolve into curated naughtiness in the spoken break. "I'd written this beautiful little innocent tune, all sensitive love and innocence," Derbyshire said, "and he made it into a dirty old raincoat song."

"Moogies Bloogies" was played as part of a BBC "concert for electronic music" on September 10, 1966 called Unit Delta Plus, performed at Watermill Theatre near Berkshire, England. It was the only known performance of the song, which was never officially released to the public while both its creators were alive. It remained in limbo unheard from then until 2001.

The accompanying track "I Decoded You" was another beast altogether, and a great example of how prescient a constructionist Derbyshire was. Officials at Trunk Records, who remastered the two songs for re-release in 2014, said, "We realised when mastering the track that this was not all it seemed – it’s classic Newley vocals but certainly not classic Delia Derbyshire sound generation. We put our heads together and came to a most interesting sonic conclusion: this is Delia sampling. Yes, sampling in 1966. We believe the background sounds are made up of a number of samples from other sources, standard BBC Radiophonic tape loops for SFX or white noise generation, and a fascinating edit of 'Evolutionen 5: Waltz' by Dutch electronic pioneer Henk Badings."

"Pure Imagination" indeed.

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