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Noel Harrison At Unika
Possibly the rarest of all Noel Harrison's albums, at Unika was only released in South Africa.
As this live record was recorded at about the same time as the similar At The Blue Angel, many of the tracks are the same. The only real difference is the production quality on Unika, which is not as good as the previous record.
Of the tracks not included on The Blue Angel, the stand-outs include Noel's versions of Mack The Knife, La Mer and Aint Misbehavin'.
Other tracks are mainly in the Calypso style Noel was known for at the time, which has now aged rather badly.
The record itself was recorded at a major event in Johannesburg (see sleeve notes below) and helped raise money for a children's hospital.
Today, the rarity of the record means it sells for between £30 and £50. But as many of the tracks are include on At The Blue Angel, which is available much cheaper, The Blue Angel really is the best one to get for an example of Noel's early work.
What Are Little Boys Made Of? +
Is She Is Or Is She Aint?
The Pig +
Bal Petit Bal
Mack The Knife
Rum and Coca-Cola +
Red Bug *
Ain't Misbehavin' (listen)
Credit with foresight the man who named the Union Carnival Village at the Zoo Lake 'Unika', because nothing like it has ever happened to Johannesburg before, and nothing will touch it for at least another half-century to come!
A two-mile-long procession led the City to Unika - spring-stepped drum-majorettes, fabulous floats filled with the loveliest girls in the country, masked harlequins, clowns with great mardi gras heads, dance bands, military bands, councillors, mayors - and a streamer-throwing Governor-General!
Unika itself was a £100,000 international miracle, incredibly of hessian, hardboard and paint, where one could watch bopping teenagers and 2,000 years old Chinese ceremonial dances, where epicures indulged in everything from candy floss to caviare…
Here Johannesburg streamed. Bus queues stretched half-a-mile, traffic jams covered three. The climactic £3,000 fireworks display had a quarter of a million spectators, the largest crowd in Johannesburg’s history.
And more than anywhere else, they flocked to Britain’s great, gay “Chez Gilbey” tent, realm of superbly talented Noel Harrison. Son of royal Rex, but crown prince in his own right, Noel held court over the carousing Golden City, his vivid guitar his mace of office, his songs his festive decree.
About Noel Harrison: Although still middling in his twenties. Noel has gone just about as far as an international cabaret artist can go. At home (beyond taking to wife one of Europe’s loveliest honey-blondes) that amounts to engagements in London’s hallowed West End - at the Blue Angel, the Colony and Quaglino’s. Also a regular TV show with over 300 performances to his credit.
In America it means night-club appearances in the cabaret-mecca of New York, and TV showings before audiences of up to 50,000,000.
In Europe it adds up to cabarets in just about every capital. (Noel sings a very fluent French, German and Italian.)
So if the similarity of charm, smile and glint of eye tend you to get your Harrisons confused - remember, Noel is the one who also sings!
PART PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THIS RECORD WILL BE DONATED TO THE HOPE CONVALESCENT HOME FOR CHILDREN.