I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You


Okay, you may not recognise the female above rocking the red jumper, whose Christmas song I will eventually get round to. She’s Margo Guryan, brought up in Far Rockaway, one of a number of neighbourhoods dotted around Rock, Rock, Rockaway Beach. Not that Margo was remotely rock, I should add.

She only released one album during her late 1960s heyday, Take A Picture, which was produced by John Simon, whose next client I believe would be Janis Joplin, a hollerer about as far away from Guryan’s wispy wooze as it’s possible to imagine. Bet he needed earplugs.

Here is Margo and the melancholic Why Do I Cry, just over two minutes of baroque pop gorgeosity and there’s even some baa, baa, baas. It’s one of those tracks I can just put on repeat and never get tired of listening to. Pour yourself a glass of eggnog and enjoy!

I’m guessing hopes for Take A Picture were initially high or at least highish. Sunday Morning, the opening track, penned by Margo had already achieved top 30 hit status in February 1968, via a cover by Chicago sunshine vocal harmony pop band Spanky and Our Gang. Margo had been a talented musician from a young age, had a number of connections in the industry and was certainly a good looking gal. So, why did the album fail to take off?

Mainly because Margo refused to play the pop game. She declined the idea of touring or promoting herself on TV or radio. Her label weren’t impressed and just about gave up on the album. Sunday Morning did come out as a single and, strangely enough, its B-side was a tribute to the band who had already made it a success. Here is Spanky and Our Gang:

BMX Bandit Duglas T. Stewart is a fan, as is Anton Newcombe and listening to the above track, I think we can safely assume that Stuart Murdoch adores Guryan’s music too. Belle and Sebastian’s Late Night Tales, Vol. 2 various artists collection, incidentally includes a version of Guryan’s Sunday Morning by French ye-ye chanteuse Marie Laforêt, which you can see the singer perform here.

Okay, as Noddy Holder once screeched: ‘It’ssssssss Christmaaaasssssssssssss!,’ so here’s that promised Christmas track. Saint Etienne covered the song for a 1998 fan club record and have been known to play the song live in the leadup to the festive season.

Written specifically for Claudine Longet, an artist that we can safely say is ‘problematic’, here is Margo with I Don’t Intend to Spend Christmas Without You:

Sadly, Margo died in November 2021.

Dolly Mixture & The Link Between The Sex Pistols & Lena Zavaroni

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Dolly Mixture were kinda C86 before NME had even put out their C81 cassette. They shambled. Their dress code was shabby second-hand chic and they’re best remembered for singles issued on Paul Weller’s independent label Respond and their own Dead Good Dolly Platters, although they had started out on Chrysalis. Like many C86 bands, they were inspired to form by punk’s ‘anyone can do it’ credo and were clearly also influenced by early 1960s girl groups like The Shangri Las and Ronettes. Even their name was pure C86.

I saw them in 1981 in Torquay Town Hall supporting The Undertones, a fantastic double bill although the Derry band’s set was marred by some fighting in the audience. ‘And the English say the Irish don’t know how to behave themselves,’ one of the band quipped as order was being re-established. He did have a point. At another show at the same venue that summer, an utterly moronic skinhead took to the stage and punched Siouxsie in the face during the middle of the Banshees’ set. Why? I have no idea, although I did see worse behaviour at the old Glasgow Apollo. And now I think about it, maybe it was The Banshees’ show where Dolly Mixture were in the support slot. It was a long time ago.

A much under-rated outfit, the band may today be best remembered by many as the backing singers for Captain Sensible hits like Happy Talk and Wot! but though far less successful, I much prefer the Cambridge trio’s own music. I was tempted to go with Never Let It Go, which could have been written by Andy Partridge and should have been a single. Instead, I’m going for this gem, Will He Kiss Me Tonight, which should also have been issued on 45 but wasn’t.

This week I’ve been reading In Perfect Harmony: Singalong Pop in ’70s Britain by Will Hodgkinson. It focusses on the 1970s of The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club, The Wombles, Wurzels and Watney’s Red Barrel beer (and lots of other stuff that doesn’t begin with a W); rather than The Clash and A Clockwork Orange (although The Clash are given a few mentions). As are The Sex Pistols and their admittedly slightly tenuous connection to Lena Zavaroni. More on which shortly.

At times I asked myself why I was spending time reading about, say, Middle of the Road but the context that Hodgkinson adds is often fascinating. In a chapter on Europe, he reminds readers that the vote to join the European Economic Community saw some strange coalitions emerge. Leading leftists like Michael Foot and Tony Benn (who took his own mug and plenty of teabags on visits to the continent) were in the anti-camp. As was the rabidly right-wing Enoch Powell. In the course of one paragraph, the author moves from Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep to Abba to I Am Curious (Yellow) and finally to Steptoe and Son. Oh, and Lawrence (who in his Denim days recorded a Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep quoting track called Middle of the Road) debunks the idea that everybody was suddenly setting out on package holidays to Spain as tracks like Y Viva España and Una Paloma Blanca gained popularity. Only one boy at his school visited. I don’t remember a single person from my school making the journey.

In another chapter, Hodkinson tells an amusing anecdote about Lieutenant Pigeon – joining a band with your middle-aged mum does cut down opportunities for some traditional band pursuits – and then tackles the subject of Lena Zavaroni.

As they attempted to navigate her path away from child star status, her management decided that Lena’s image should be updated and a PR company was brought in to help out, and this led to the Sex Pistols connection. This came via their former sound engineer and producer of three of their demo sessions, Dave Goodman, whose pal ran the chosen PR company. Goodman suggested Zavaroni record a couple of Dolly Mixture songs, Will He Kiss Me Tonight and Dream Come True. Released late in 1980, the former sounded a lot glossier than the original despite being recorded quickly in a cheap sixteen track studio in Southall. ‘Lena herself was really great,’ Goodman recalled in International Musician in 1986. ‘Her vocal harmonies were spot on and we triple tracked her so she sounded really Sixties.’ He also claims that, despite encouraging sales, the record was withdrawn when the News Of The World discovered he’d worked with The Sex Pistols and informed Lena’s manager, while also wrongly claiming he’d also been a member of the infamous band The Moors Murderers, a surefire way to harm her family friendly image. Okay, I’m not completely convinced this happened exactly as told.

Once upon a time Lena had sang to royalty, presidents and Frank Sinatra but as the 20th century was drawing to a close, she was living alone and relying on disability allowance. She suffered from anorexia and a deep depression and I’ll just say that she didn’t live to see in the new millennium. It’s a gut-wrenching story and the fate of her mother was equally disturbing.

Here is Lena’s cover of Will He Kiss Me Tonight and I must say I never imagined featuring any of her music on this blog, but she does have a great voice, doesn’t she? I wonder what Debsey, Rachel and Hester thought of her version?