Song Of The Day 8/18/2016: Brian Protheroe – “Pinball”


The Hidden '70s, Part 2 – One of the more exceptional songs I'm featuring in The Hidden '70s series is from a full-time actor who only took up pop music as research for a part. Brian Protheroe had been involved in the folk scene in the 1960s but took up acting full-time in '66. In 1973 he played a pop star in a stage thriller ominously called Death on Demand. The play's author gave Protheroe a lyric for him to set to music, and out came "Pinball" (#60, 1975). The playwright liked it so much he shopped it to labels; Chrysalis bit and signed Protheroe to a contract. In England the song made #22. For some reason the playwright's name was left off the composing credit, which went strictly to Protheroe. I can't find the name of the playwright on the web that easily, either. Could it be.... MURDER?

Pinball the album followed soon after, produced by Del Newman, string orchestrator to the stars (Elton John, Paul Simon). It's adventurous in a very low-key way. Might be what Nick Drake might have sounded like if he had Harry Nilsson's temperament and more interest in woodwinds. I highly recommend you plunder its depths. Protheroe released three more albums, then went back to acting, which he still does. As for the song, Morrissey is on record as being a fan of "Pinball" and encouraged Noel Gallagher to give it a listen. You can hear a good deal of the influence on "Riverman" from Gallagher's High Flying Birds album Chasing Yesterday. Especially the saxophone solo. Never would've pegged Noel as a guy who would tolerate saxophones. But tolerate he does. 

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