On 27 May 1955, as predicted by the polls, the Conservatives won the General Election, with their new leader Anthony Eden back in power with a majority of 31 seats, up 17 from Winston Churchill’s success four years previous. Labour’s infighting between the left and right (sound familiar) had caused them substantial losses. Their leader, Clement Atlee, who had achieved so much after World War Two, was unlikely to make it to a sixth general election in a row, whenever that might be.
On the same day, Tony Bennett’s Stranger in Paradise was overtaken to number 1 by Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White, but it wasn’t Perez ‘Prado’s version of Louiguy’s mambo tune, which had topped the charts only a few weeks previously. This was a cover by popular British trumpeter Eddie Calvert, also known as the ‘Man with the Golden Trumpet’. Calvert was a big star at the time, and had been number 1 with Oh Mein Papa in 1954. He was also one of the writers of Vera Lynn’s only chart-topper, My Son, My Son, later that same year. Back then it was perfectly normal for several versions of the same song to be in the charts at the same time. See David Whitfield and Frankie Laine‘s Answer Me, for instance, which were even both number 1 at the same time for one week.
There’s no denying Eddie Calvert’s ability on his version, but it’s inferior to Prado’s. It’s missing the authenticity of the King of Mambo, and seems a little too mannered. It reminds me of the Strictly Come Dancing band’s covers of songs. The passion has been sucked out. But at the same time, Calvert actually goes off script more than Billy Regis does on Prado’s version, and does some nice little improvised playing in the song’s latter half, so it’s a decent cover. It’s certainly aged better than Oh Mein Papa.
Calvert, like many other 50s stars we’ve already seen, suffered when rock’n’roll and later the Beatles changed the musical landscape. He left the country in 1968, angry at the amount of tax he was paying under Harold Wilson’s Labour government, and moved to Johannesburg. There he remained until he died in 1978 of a heart attack, aged only 56.
Written by: Louiguy
Weeks at number 1: 4 (27 May-24 June)
Clash drummer Topper Headon – 30 May
Author Val McDermid – 4 June
World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee – 8 June
Footballer Alan Hansen – 13 June
Comedian Paul O’Grady – 14 June
Radium therapist Jacob Moritz Blumberg – 14 June