Tuesday, 8 June 2010

2005 Tony Christie featuring Peter Kay: Is This The Way To Amarillo

Ah now - a song that seemed a permanent fixture on the radios of my childhood,* taken at face value then 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' has no place at all in the 2005 charts. That it's here is down to 'Comic Relief' - McFly may have had the 'official' single, but comedian Peter Kay recorded a promotional video where he lip synched the song while flanked by an endless succession of B grade celebrities. Which is where the 'featuring Peter Kay' credit comes from - Kay doesn't actually appear on the song which is in fact a straight re-issue of Christie's original 1971 single.

Originally written by Neil Sedaka, 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' and Christie's junior Tom Jones posturing and vocal always had an all inclusive footstomping, glitzy cabaret charm tailor made to open (or close) any Vegas wannabe show on the chicken in the basket circuit.
But whilst no song with the audacity to rhyme "Amarillo" with "hugging my pillow" can ever lay claim to being high art, this 2005 'comic' setting and Kay's gurning lowers the tone by tarnishing it with an unwelcome taint of kitsch and bawdiness that's camper than a troupe of boy scouts in the woods. The result is an uneasy feeling that someone is having the piss taken out of them. And ok, I guess by the very definition of 'Comic Relief' then someone is, but any money raised for a 'good cause' notwithstanding, digging 'Is This The Way To Amarillo' from out of its seventies grave in this way does neither it nor Christie any favours in the long run; Christie's subsequent promotional duties unfairly set him up as a fool singing a fool's song. Fair enough that he was game enough to play along, but better by far for both song and artist to have no legacy at all than this one. Both deserve more.

* But then I could be getting it mixed up with an ubiquitous television commerical for Armadillo sherry that used a re-recorded version of the song ("Show me the way to Armadillo") to encourage punters to turn up at their local off licence with any plastic containers they could get their hands on which would then be filled with budget sherry by the gallon and straight from the tap. I bet it tasted rank.

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