Saturday, 26 November 2022

Cos It's Good For My Voice

 It is a by-word for luxury motoring.  Ask someone, anyone to name the luxurious car, and their response will be Skoda Favorit Rolls-Royce.

Established in 1904 when Charles Rolls and Henry Royce joined forces with the express intention of making the worlds most luxurious car.  And with Royce's Model 10, selling through Roll's car dealership the quest began.
The company re-located to larger premises in Derby and began work on a flagship new model.  This is also marked a notable change in stance, as all previous models were discontinued and all efforts focussed on a single model - making it the best it possibly could be.
They also found the time and capability to diversify into the aero-engine market, and it was Rolls-Royce engines that powered the first transatlantic flight in 1919.
A slight slump in sales after Word War I led to the introduction of a smaller, cheaper (but no less luxurious) model, before Rolls-Royce were able to expand by acquiring Bentley.
With support from the British Government, Rolls-Royce went deeper into aero engine production, building the Merlin and Griffon engines that were strapped to, most notably, the Spitfire in World War II.
After the War, Rolls-Royce sought to bring all production in-house buying panel pressing companies and coachbuilders , and by 1950 launched the ultra-luxurious Phantom IV.  In 6 years, only 18 were built and the policy of "Royalty and Heads Of State only" applied.
The Phantom V though, launched in 1959 did not apply this policy, and with money sloshing around the music industry, owners of this vehicle (apart from Queen Elizabeth II) included Elvis Presley, John Lennon (famously with a psychedelic paint job), Liberace, and some time later Elton John.
(Nicolae Ceausescu also had a Phantom V, but when you only make just over 80 cars a year you can't always be too choosy about who buys them).
But despite being a by-word for luxury, famous owners, and a rock solid reputation, Rolls-Royce seemingly over-stretched themselves and by 1971 were facing receivership, and were nationalised (primarily due to the importance of the aero-engine production).
By 1973, a new Rolls-Royce Car company was launched and the range expanded to include Convertible and Coupe version of the iconic Silver Shadow.
But with cash running low again, Rolls-Royce was sold on to Defence, Shipbuilding and Engineering company Vickers .
New models arrived in the 1980s - they had the opulence, but lacked something of the "magic" of earlier models, and Rolls-Royce was sold on again to Volkswagen in 1999, and then again 5 years later to BMW.

Marc Bolan was born Mark Feld in London's Eat End in 1947.  As a teenager he had a deep interest in 2 things - clothes and music.
It was the clothes that first brought attention to Mark Feld - first as a model in clothing catalogues, and then featured in a magazine article about burgeoning Mods about Town.
He then turned his attention to the music and found a manager who put him into a demo studio.  Nothing came of those first recordings, but in short order he changed management and name - to Toby Tyler - donned a corduroy cap and returned to the studio with (if we're being honest) sub-Donovan folk whimsy.
After another change of name and a new record label brought no success, Marc Bolan (as he was now monikered) knocked on the door of Simon Napier-Bell and announced he was going to be a star.
Napier-Bell initially pushed the solo route, but another single with no success led to the thought that Bolan could be placed in one of the two bands he also managed.
Briefly considered for Ther Yardbirds, Bolan joined up with John's Children, just in time for a riotous tour of Germany with The Who (where they out Who'd The Who).
His time with John's Children was brief and he departed to form his own band.  He advertised for musicians in Melody Maker, assembled a band, and played their first gig as a full-on rock band.  Problem was, the formation and the gig happened in about 3 days flat, so the band disbanded as quickly as it formed.
Retaining the drummer, Marc Bolan stripped back the sound, upped the mystical sub-Tolkienisms, sat cross-legged on the stage and Tyrannosaurus Rex was born.
And fairly quickly picked up 2 influential supporters - John Peel gave them air-time and exposure, Tony Visconti worked closely with Marc Bolan to hone and define the soundscape.
By 1970, it was becoming clear that the mysticism and poetry was not finding a mass market - there had been some success with a couple of singles, but the albums found only a niche / culty audience.
The sound was beefed-up, and the name abbreviated and by late in the year "Ride A White Swan" was a hit, and Marc Bolan was keeping his promise to Simon Napier-Bell of being a star.
2 number one singles, a number 2, and a number one album in 1971 assured the position.
1972 was really the peak of popularity for Marc Bolan and T.Rex - his own record label (supported by EMI), 2 more number one singles, another number one album (plus a resurgence of interest in early Tyrannosaurus Rex material, and a cash-in compilation album from his previous record label) his own film (directed by Ringo Starr), and spending a total of 58 weeks on the singles chart.
The last single of 1972 - "Children Of The Revolution" - was held off the Christmas Number One spot by Little Jimmy Osmond's "Long Haired Lover From Liverpool".  This continued the sequence of losing out on the top spot to novelty records.  In 1970 "Ride A White Swan" lost out to Clive Dunn's "Grandad", and in 1971 "Jeepster" played second-fiddle behind Benny Hills "Ernie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)"

Despite car references peppering his song titles and lyrics:

  • "Mustang Ford"
  • "Buick McKane"
  • "Hot Rod Mama"
  • "You're built like a car, You've got a hubcap diamond star halo" - from "Get It On"
  • "Just like a car, You're pleasing to behold, I'll call you Jaguar if I may be so bold" - from "Jeepster"
  • "Take me down to the country honey, in a Jeep that's neat" - from "Country Honey"
Marc Bolan never had a driving licence, so when in 1972 "Children Of The Revolution" he stated "I drive a Rolls-Royce, cos it's good for my voice", what he should've said was: "I get chauffered in a Rolls-Royce, saves me losing my voice shouting at other road users"

Children Of The Revolution

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

It Just Happens To Be That Year

In 1947 the Austin Motor Company tasked it's subsiduary, coach-builders Vanden Plas, to design and build a high end luxury vehicle.  The original competitors were perceived as Bentley and Rolls-Royce, but available at less than half the cost.
In the early 1950s, Austin was subsumed/combined in the British Motor Corporation, and both the Princess and Vanden Plas badges were used to signal luxury versions of existing BMC vehicles.

BMC brought together the marques Austin, Morris, MG, Riley and Wolseley.  Jaguar joined the party in 1966, and then later merged with the Leyland Corporation which owned Triumph.
The main problem for BMC was a reliance on basically the same vehicles but bearing different badges.
After the merger, British Leyland was formed with the express intention to stop the badge-engineered duplication of vehicles.
The first fruits of this strategy were the Austin Allegro and Morris Marina - not exactly awe-inspiring looking cars (or reliable cars for that matter) but it did show that British Leyland was putting a stop to the duplicity in the range.

In 1975, British Leyland looked to fill a gap in the market (that didn't really exist) with a luxury family car, and the Princess name was resurrected.
The car was a relatively radical design - a wedge shape - which suggested aerodynamic sleekness (even though it has the aerodynamics of a breeze block.
The original intent was to have a hatchback hence the sloping back, but British Leyland decided that the existing Maxi was to be the hatchback in it's range, so the Princess was given a solid back end with a boot of a compromised size.
The Mark 1 version was a return to BMC's previous problems, by creating Austin, Morris and Wolseley variants of the same vehicle.  The basic design was the same, and the differences subtle - mainly bonnet lines, front grilles, and headlight configurations.
In terms of luxury, it was only the Wolseley variant which provided this with uprated trim levels and larger, smoother engines.
The Mark 2 was badged as British Leyland, ending the different badge names, but was also being built through times of Industrial strife for British Leyland.
Build quality, realiability, and reputation all affected sales.  As did it's pricing position - it was basically more expensive than each of it's competitors, and was also loading out to increasing imports of more realiable (and better looking) Japanese cars.
In the early 80s, the Austin-Rover Group (as British Leyland consolidated, streamlined, and renamed itself) gave it one more shot with the launch of the Austin Ambassador.
The design was similar, if more rounded, and it was eventually given a hatchback.  But the same issues prevailed - reputation, reliability, pricing - and production ceased within 2 years.

Graham Fellowes was a drama student at Manchester University when he asked in a local record shop if they knew of any independent labels that might release a couple of songs he'd written.
He was directed to Rabid Records, who picked up on the demos and with Martin Hannett at the controls, released the record - albeit in limited numbers.
One of these found it's way to John Peel who suggested on air that if the record were picked up by a record company with larger means then they might have a success on their hands.
EMI International did just that, and shipped nigh on of 500,000 copies of "Jilted John" / "Going Steady".
They even provided the funds to allow Graham / John to create a concept album titled 'True Love Stories'.
But John retired at the end of 1978, with Graham Fellowes going on to appear in several episodes of Coronation Street.  Soap star fame did not happen, and by the mid-80s a new character was in development.

John Shuttleworth's first tilt at fame was trying to get his song "Pigeon's In Flight" accepted as the British entry for Eurovison.
But fame and notoriety probably doesn't sit comfortably with John, preferring the mundane, normal, and very probably dull.
John's "unique style" of songs celebrate(?) the horror of finding 2 open margarine tubs in the fridge, the greatness of the A1111, balancing the notty problem of having 1 or 2 cups of tea, the inability to return to savoury course once you've started on your pudding.

John drives an Austin Ambassador.  A 1982 Y Registration version.

Friday, 11 November 2022

A Celebration

Not content with being one of the biggest manufactureres in the US, a strong presence in Europe, a successful motor sport programme, and continually securing the top seller spot in the UK, Ford decided that they wanted to enter the small car market in 1972.
The prime competition was seen as the Mini and the Fiat 127.  Development began just as the 1973 Oil crisis took hold and the world was clamouring for smaller, more efficient vehicles.

Originally named Bravo, Henry Ford II instructed a rename to his preferred choice of Fiesta - the Spanish word for a celebration.  And furthering the Spanish connection, Ford invested in factory space in Spain, and expanded it's Dagenham plant to provide the components which were bolted together in Valencia.
The Fiesta was launched in 1976 (arriving in Britain in 1977), and very quickly beat off the competition to join stablemates the Cortina and Escort at the top of the sales lists.

The Fiesta was briefly entered into rallying and proved relatively successful, but the force of Ford Motorsport remained with the Escort - the pre-eminate rally vehicle before the Audi Quattro re-wrote the rulebook with 4 wheel drive.
The dalliance with Motorsoprt led to the introduction of the 1.3 Supersport version, partly to expand the range but mostly as Ford's competitors were developing their own "hot hatch" variants.
This was soon followed by the XR2 which pretty much became the benchmark affordable hot hatch (OK, it wasn't truly "hot" having less power than it's main rivals.  But it was cheap to buy, cheap to run, relatively reliable, and looked the part).

Since it's launch there have been 7 Marks of the Fiesta, always popular and selling well.  It's estimated that over it's lifetime, the Fiestas has sold over 22 million units.  So when it was announced that June 2023 would see the last Fiesta roll of the production it was difficult to understand why.  There is seemingly no direct small car/supermini replacement on the way.  Maybe Ford is just looking to refine the range and focus on multiple use Electric Vehicles - it's prime candidate being the Focus.

So, after 47 years I guess it's time to say adiĆ³s

Around the time that the Fiesta was transitioning from the Mark 1 to the Mark 2, squatmates and ex-members of The Nips and The Millwall Chainsaws joined forces to form Pogue Mahone with the intention of combining Punk with traditional Irish Music.

Led by the prolific writer and drinker Shane MacGowan, the band expanded and became as solid as Shane was unstable.
They quickly established a live reputation around the London circuit, andtheir first recordings - "Dark Streets of London" / "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" was released on their own Pogue Mahone label, gaining national airplay on Radio 1 and invitations from John  Peel for Radio sessions.
The band named was altered to The Pogues when they were subsequently banned by the BBC when it was pointed out that the Gaelic translation of their name was Kiss My Arse.

Supporting The Clash on their 1984 Tour brought more attention, and most importantly a record contract from Stiff Records.
They entered the studio and within a month their debut album 'Red Roses For Me' was recorded and readied for release.
Critically hailed, but not translating to commercial success did nothing to knock the spirit out of the band.  Their live shows continued to be the cornerstone of their reputation.
The problem was getting that re-created in the studio and down on record.

And that was just the job taken on, and pretty much delivered, by Elvis Costello with 1985s 'Rum, Sodomy And The Lash'.
He manged to capture (or closely capture at least) the bands live show.  However he was also getting romantically involved with Pogues bassist Cait O'Riordan, which soured the relationship, and Elvis stepped aside (subsequently marrying Cait, resulting in her leaving the band)

Re-configured with a new bassist, The Pogues were invited by Irish Folk royalty The Dubliners to perform "The Irish Rover" on Irish TV.
Released as a single, The Pogues & The Dubliners secured a top 10 single, but ...
This success also coincided with Stiff Records tanking, meaning any profile they'd gained was (possibly) being slowly eroded as they were unable to record or release any new material.
By early 1987, the Stiff situation was resolved and the bands own label Pogue Mahone was re-lifed under the support of Warner Music.

They linked up with producer Steve Lillywhite and entered the studio with a mix of old demos and new music.  Lillywhite assisted with arranging the new material, and dusted down the old demos recorded with Elvis Costello.
Amongst the tapes he found an raw duet between Shane and Cait, reciting a tale of a down and out couple in New York.  The backing track was re-recorded, and Lillywhite was working on them further in hos home studio when he asked his wife - Kirsty MacColl - to add a guide vocal with Shane's part to be recorded later.
Shane recorded his parts, and Kirsty's guide vocal remained untouched - indeed the two never met in the studio for the recording of this song.  One of the first times they did come together to perform it, was a mimed version on Top Of The Pops.

Released in late November 1987, "Fairytale Of New York" quickly started selling a rising the charts - ultimately denied the coverted Christmas Number 1 slot by Pet Shop Boys version of "Always On My Mind".
"Fairytale ..." has latterly received more official re-releases and is now recognised as a Christams "classic" of modern times (ie one of the seven that will be played on a loop in every Shopping Centre throughout December)

The success of "Fairytale .." boosted sales of it's parent album 'If I should Fall From Grace With God' when it arrived in early 1988.  It is a very good album - maybe a little smoother with less rough edges than previous, but shows The Pogues pushing on and proving themselves to be a very capable, inventive band, and the songs encapsualte many of Shane's most poetic storytelling lyrics.
Personally, I think 'Rum, Sodomy And The Lash' is a stronger album (just my opinion).  The presence of "Fairytale .." I am sure pushes focus (and sales) towards 'If I Should Fall From Grace With God', but it should be remembered that there are 14 other tracks on there too.

This being one of them:


Thursday, 3 November 2022

Foxton & Hastings - The Butterfly Effect

 From The Jam bandmates branch out under their own names.  This being their third joint offering - 2012’s Back in the Room, 2016’s Smash the Clock - and is another consumate collection of tracks that nag like you've heard them before and ultimately reward as a stand-alone work.
The Tribute Band might be the day job (and a very popular one at that), but after nearly 15 years working together Bruce and Russell have forged a strong writing partnership with a nod to their influences, their past, and their on stage presence.
I can't be the only one hoping they sneak in a few tracks into their From The Jam shows - they have done it before, much to my enjoyment (but not always that of the crowd as they fall a bit silent patiently waiting for another Jam shout-a-long).

'The Butterfly Effect' is comforting in that it's like a run through a fine record collection mixing Motown, psychedelia, Beatles, Small Faces, and a bit of blue-eyed soul.
Influence worn on the sleeve certainly, but no this is no copy-cat collection.  This is an album stuffed full of great tunes delivered with confidence, recognition of the past, and one eye on the future.

The vocals are strong, the bass is strong, the drums are solid (courtesy of Mark Brzezicki) - in fact that is a basic fundamental throughout the whole album.

"Electronic Lover" re-imagines the bassline from The Beatles "Come Together" adds a bit of Yardbirds and (to these ears at least) a smidgeon of Sam & Dave.  "Feet Of the Ground" has a chilled summery feel, almost Jazzy and a nod perhaps to the soulful stylings of where Bruce's ex-bandmate went next.  "Wanted" performs a similar trick (and dare I say this) is not far from a Paul Weller track (Russell Hastings is no mimic, he's just blessed with a voice that sounds like Mr W)

Lead single "Lula" storms along (I hope that is one they decide to put in their live shows.  And the next track - "She Said" - power pop par excellence (with added mandolin).

"Circles" is a storming rocker lifting the tone and is  followed by the horn-drenched "Time On Your Side" (very probably one of the best tracks here).
"Two Of Us" maintains the intereest with echoes of the past again with Small Faces-like "sha-la-las" (sounds a bit rubbish when written down, but believe me, it has earworm written all through it)

The mood slows with the contemplative "Rain" bridging into the string washing of "Too Old To Cry, Too Young To Die".  The jazzy feel of "Walking With Me" continues the downbeat tone.  The grouping of these 3 songs together is I think the right thing - separated and peppered elsewhere on the album, I think they would lose impact.

How do you close an album?  Well you need something upbeat and epic.  And "Anything You Want" does just that.  A horn driven intro opening into a verse, middle eight chorus as good as anything on this album.  And then a swirling Hammond kicks in completing the picture.  There are echoes of "Got To Get You Into My Life" in the horns and chorus melody, and an almost Revolver-esque pschy coda.
But I repeat coincidence and influence - as Foxton and Hastings say: "It's not about "oh this one must sound like The Who, let's stick a bit of Beatles in here and some Jam there", it's about is it a good tune or not?"
And they are all fine tunes constituting a very very fine album - best consumed in one sitting to take in all the various influences and rises and fall in mood.

It's a fine album and one I hope finds a bigger audience and outlet than the Merch table at a From The Jam gig.  It deserves it.

She Said

Time On Your Side

Anything You Want

Monday, 31 October 2022

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott - NK Pop

When Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott re-group to release a new album, one can pretty much guess the order of play.
Songs bouncing around musical styles, some perfect blending of vocals, wit and acerbic lyrics, maybe some political comment, some choice rhyming couplets explaining a phrase or feeling to a tee.
And 'NK Pop' delivers what one expects.

From songs about Pubs and clientele that have perhaps seen better days ("Good Times"), more examinations of the human condition and relationships ("Too Much For One (Not Enough For Two)", "I Drove Her Away With All My Tears"), some upbeat feelgood rails against the world ("When The World Would Actually Listen", "Sunny Side Up"), and a touch of the finest balladry ("Who Built The Pyramids").  All tacked to varying Rockabilly, Ska, Music Hall, a dash of disco funk, and unadulterated radio-friendly Pop backing.
It has the ability to raise a smile, a knowing nod of recognition, and also a sharp intake of breath ("Still") as our narrators take on the stark reality of an uncommon subject for song, infant mortality.

The album rises and falls in mood, but never relents and continues the run of a very fine catalogue of songs.
It is arguably a bit too smooth and could maybe benefit with a little more fire or barb in the lyrics, but 'NK Pop' will deliver a comfortable listen with no skipping necessary.

Paul Heaton's recording career goes back 35+ years, and Jacqui Abbott's approaching 30 years.  Between them they continue to produce strong songs with glorious melody and harmony.
Is there a duffer in the back catalogue of The Housemartins, The Beautiful South, and Paul and Jacqui's combined work?  I'm not sure there is to be honest

And the videos they produce are none too shabby either.
Exhibit A: Too Much For One (Not Enough For Two) featuring Trev and Simon, and Phil Daniels

Sunday, 23 October 2022

Where My Studebaker Takes Me

The Studebaker Company was formed in 1852 manufacturing horse drawn carriages and wagons.
It can lay claim to a number of firsts in the automobile industry, namely:

  • first electric car (1910)
  • first labour strike in the industry (1913)
  • first manufacturer to build it's own development track (1925)
  • first to go into receivership (1933 - it did survive for another 33 years though)
After World War 2 though, Studebaker - like many Independent manufacturers - was just unable to compete with the Big Three (Ford, General Motors and Chrysler).  In 1963, it began winding down operations, and was later sold/merged with Packard (another independent car maker).  The last independent Studebaker rolled off the production line in 1967.

The Studebaker is not mentioned much in popular culture though - The Muppets had a 1951 Studebaker Commander in 1979s Muppet Movie, but no other major film outing that I know of.
And song wise?  The vehicle is mentioned in some songs, and obvious one being Billy Joels's "We Didn't Start The Fire".  Steve Miller went down to Mexico in one, but the Studebaker references are few and far between.  And certainly not in the UK.  Or is that true ...

It is possibly one of the greatest debut singles, and the songs itself is one of those that doesn't mention the title until the very last words.

The greatness of Roxy Music can be divined as to when you first heard them.  If you caught them at their debut album, or the couple after then they were probably the most exciting bands out there, and not simple to pigeon-hole (are they Glam? are they Prog? are they Art Rock?  Is that a bit of Jazz in there somewhere?).

If however it was later on when Bryan Ferry was in full lounge lizard mode (circa "Jealous Guy" / "Avalon") then there's a chance that Roxy Music would be re-defined as Poxy Music and generally laughed off.

1980s Roxy Music (Ferry, Manzenera, and Mackay) can also lay claim to be possibly the oddest inclusion in the Smash Hits Sticker Book .  The 3 stickers of them showing them standing (almost accountant-like) on a South Of France beach, just seemed out of place alongside Culture Club, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet (mind you, The Fall, Cliff Richard, and David Essex were also in there)

Hearing "Street Life" rectified my stupidity, and I scurried backwards and found myself feeling a proper fool

Formed in 1970 by Bryan Ferry, Andy Mackay and Brian Eno (a self-confessed non-musicain, but he owned a synthesizer and joined a a Technical Consultant).  The line-up was completed by Phil Manzanera and Paul Thompson.
Ferry had previously auditioned for the vacant vocalist slot in King Crimson - he was not successfful, but King Crimson were impressed enough to get EG Management to handle him.  And it was EG that funded the recording of the debut album, and then placed Roxy Music with Island Records for release in 1972.
With Island's backing "Virginia Plain" was recorded as a stand-alone single to promote the album.
It's fair to say that their appearance on Top Of The Pops was one of those iconic "stop the world" moments, and pretty much assured Roxy's legend and legacy.

'For Your Pleasure' picks up where the eponymous debut leaves off, and in no way suffers from Second Album Syndrome.  If I'm pushed, I prefer 'For Your Pleasure' (probably more due to the presence of "In Every Dream Home A Heartache", than any specific artistic or technical merit)
However it was to be the last album with Brian Eno, who left to pursue a solo career citing artisitic and personality differences with Bryan Ferry.  Others in the band were also experiencing similar, but decided to stick with it.

The loss of Eno may have left a hole in the experimental tendencies, but in no way affected their commercial appeal.  The next 2 albums  'Stranded' and 'Country Life' may well be their peak outings.  Maybe not as experimental or eclectic as previous 2, but no less essential.  Roxy at full pomp.

'Siren' rounds off Phase 1 in no little style - some critics cite 'Siren' as the best of the bunch.  It is a very very good album, but I can't find enough to place it above the first 4.

They split in 1976 (at the end of the tour) and pursued their own Projects and diversions, before re-uniting again.

Roxy returned in 1979 with 'Manifesto' - the bombast of old has been smoothed, and the feel is more an extension of Bryan Ferry's solo world.  There is no doubt Ferry is calling the shots - 'Manifesto' just doesn't feel as complete.  This state of affairs continues with 'Flesh + Blood' (although I think this album is slightly better)
'Avalon' though is stronger again, but listening in retrospect one can't help note that this is a band running to a standstill - they can't just replicate past glories, but attempts to move into new sounds find them softening and almost trying too hard.

Virginia Plain

Like any truly iconic moment, it's one that is ripe for comparison, tribute, and even gentle ribbing

Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer (both big Roxy Music fans themselves) perform Virginia Plain

Thursday, 6 October 2022

I really wish I had a Cortina

I firmly believe that anyone who grew up in Britain in the 1970s had at least 3 degrees removal experience of either a Ford Escort of Ford Cortina.

When I sold my Chevette (with only a minor cash loss - surprising considering it was basically knackered), there were 2 cars I considered - a Vauxhall Cavalier or a Ford Cortina.  Stalwarts of the burgeoning Sales Rep / Company Car market.  I went for the Vauxhall, but many of my friends chose the Dagenham Dustbin.
Having driven many I can get why - it was a comfortable ride, well appointed, and with rear wheel drive you could get the back out on corners if you really wanted to do (boy racer dreams of the past).
They were also cheap as chips and readily available (which means they were also many dogs out there).  The Cavalier just felt a little more refined and slightly better equiped - although with front wheel drive going round corners sideways wasn't easily doable.

The Cortina started life in 1962 when Ford wanted to produce a volume family sized car to compete with the Austin Cambridge, Morris Oxford and Vauxhall Victor.  Not only did they want to compete, they wanted to make it better and sell more units.
When the Mark 1 was released (under the name Consul Cortina) sales were swift, and further boosted by a starring role in Carry On Cabby, where a fleet of Mark 1s were used by Hattie Jacques all-female rival (Glamcabs) to Sid James's Speedee Cabs.
A minor facelift in 1964 dropped the Consul name, and added a Lotus co-design to the range - a car that competed successfully in Rallying and was later to prove victorious in Saloon Car Racing.
The Mark 2 arrived in 1966, and by 1967 was the best selling car in the UK.  Always near the top of the sales list, from 1972 to 1981, it was the best selling car in the UK through all future variants (Mark 3, Mark 4 and Mark 5) until the end of it's life (in 1982) and subsequent replacement by the Ford Sierra.

In the Summer of 79, Lewes residents Jez Bird and Doug Sanders were wearing sharp suits and playing high energy R'n'B locally.  They may not have been unaware of the burgeoning Mod Revival, but what they were doing was not a reaction to, or an attempt to join it.  They were aware of something, but only in their hometown.
However, their first gig came when they talked themselves onto the bill at Hastings Pier supporting The Chords, The Purple Hearts, The Teenbeats, The Fixations, and The Scooters.  Not solely due to the fact they had a The in their name, they were now part of the Revival.
Gigs followed in London, and an approach came from Rocket Records (one of many record companies looking to cash in on the next big thing).

Under the charge of Pete Waterman (and I don't care what anyone thinks of the bloke, he is a music fan fist and foremost, and knows when something is good), they went into the studio with Waterman's producer and business partner Peter Collins.  Their first single - "Go Steady" - didn't break the charts, but their growing reputation saw to it that follow-up single - a cover of "Poison Ivy" - broke the Top 10.
The B-Side to "Go Steady" was a track called "Cortinas" - this was re-recorded for the album 'Beat Boys In The Jet Age' as "Cortina Mk 2"

Like all things Mod, it's the attention to detail in the lyrics which is noted.

"Column change is neat neat neat,
Gives you room for manoeuvre on the front bench seat,
And the disc brakes hold you if you're inclined,
The rear light clusters are a modern design"

"It's a guarantee of sexual conquest,
But be sure to choose a model with retractable arm-rest,
And if she wants to make up,
You can really suprise her,
There's a vanity mirror on the nearside visor"

Not sure about the guarantee of sexual conquest, but the rest could come straight out of the sales brochure

The Lambrettas - Cortina Mark 2

On his first album, Tom Robinson sung about a "Grey Cortina" with a whiplash aeriel, racing trim, a rusty bumper, and a twin exhaust.  He also said he had it fitted with and eight-track machine blaring Brucie Springsteen.  All fine so far, but then he lets himself down with the line "Speed police too slow to nick it".  The Ford Cortina had the aerodynamics of a brick, so it was unlikely the a trained police driver (usually driving a Rover V8, tuned Ford Granada, or possibly a Jaguar XJ6) would be left trailing in the wake of a knackered Cortina.

Tom Robinson Band - Grey Cortina

And just to prove that the ubiquity of the Cortina was not con fined to the UK, it also enjoyed high sales in the Republic of Ireland.  When The Saw Doctors are wanting to evoke memories of childhood and first crushes at school, a red Cortina is the chosen vehicle fior her father to drop her off at the school gates.
(Not a song about a Cortina per se, buit a great song that just happens to mention one)

The Saw Doctors - Red Cortina