Shape Up & Dance With George Best

I had the idea for this website after I emigrated.
I still have a vast amount of music even with being 3000 miles away, but just imagine what it would have been like if I had direct access to Oxfam and other charity shops…

But that hasn’t stopped me from adding to my collection because I still have contacts back in Blighty, they help me occasionally when I need a fix *rubs arm* When I need to find those rarer items.

To this end I have to thank @ChristophLedger for the invaluable assistance in obtaining this particular bit of footie & music gold. (What I’m saying is if you want somebody to blame…)

Your full attention now as I do a minute-by-minute report of the 1984 release of the fitness LP from George Best and his then girlfriend, the model (and Miss World 1977), Mary Stavin.

They were one of those involved in the Shape Up & Dance series, others included Angela Rippon, Suzanne Dando and Felicity Kendal…

A bit of background before I start:

In the early 1980’s there was a fitness boom. If you switched on breakfast TV back then you would have seen Mr Motivator or Mad Lizzie jumping around getting you active.

This all started with the actress Jane Fonda and her workouts. The idea of a famous person encouraging you to be fit caught on like wildfire and soon every celebrity was jumping on this bandwagon.

Sadly for us George Best was caught up in this cash in…

I would love if this thing didn’t exist but it does. So let’s address it and then move on.

Another sad fact is that years ago the post-playing career of a well known name, if they didn’t go back into football as a manager or something, was a tough one. You have to make money somehow and one of those ways was in the entertainment industry. And in this case fitness and music.

So I will give a running commentary as I listen to each track on the album. I hope that you’ll help me play through the pain and listen along with me…

As I said I’ll be going track by track, which usually involves Mary (mostly) giving you the fitness instruction over the incidental music, with George interjecting too.

georgebest_mary_stavin_it_takes_two_single
BUT… An additonal side note about the first track – In order to get maxium publicity for this album, they released a single. Yes that’s right. We get to hear George Best “singing”.

Singing in quotation marks there because, well, when you listen…

» George Best & Mary Stavin – It Takes Two

This was years before the auto-tune, but the producers still managed to do something weird with his voice.

Started out with the worst. The rest after this are just Mary & George with the workout instructions. Accompanied by an instrumental, session musician version of a big hit of the day:

» Just Got Lucky

Ah the forgotten classic from JoxBoxers…
This one begins with George telling us to stand up and face him. Then he instructs the ex-Miss World to put her hands on his hips… *ahem*.. Now we have to swing our legs and hop in between.. George then tells Mary that he’s ready to swing if she is.   Is it getting hot in here ?   After that I can’t tell if George is repeatedly saying “hop” or if it’s “ow !” as if Mary is constantly standing on his foot. Oh now there’s a slight football thing with George instructing us to flick kick. Mary wants to take a breather but Bestie is pumped up baby ! C’mon !
But they are finally spent, Mary puts her arms around George and they have a post-aerobic fag…

» Amazon (An obscure B Side this one.)

Mary instructs us to sit down facing each other, with your legs wide apart… stop it now, concentrate… and then stretch her legs with your feet. And then she is wrist grabbing… something else with the feet… got a bit lost now. Then on the 7th beat..8th beat… very lost. Let’s just listen to Mary counting shall we ? Oh now we have Mary putting her feet on George’s ankle and more counting… This is a bit of a dull one to be honest. Bit complicated instructions which sound more like you’d hear in a game of Twister.

» Just The Two Of Us

“Mary…” says George, “lie flat on your tummy and legs straight, arms out to the side, and your head is raised.”

“And what do you do George ?” replies Mary. Well he stands over her, feet astride over her hip and he bends his knees and… Shouldn’t there have been a warning sticker on this album ? Carrying on… He’s going to arch her back, and this is how he’s going to do it…
  That’s your vivid imagination now. Oh wait it isn’t – George; “And hold on to your biceps…. I’m going to pull you towards me…” Kids. Leave the room NOW ! Oh now he’s counting…WHAT ARE THEY DOING ?! “…And down…2…4..4.. and UP…2…3…4..” This is Hustler material y’know. Ah and it’s Mary’s turn. George is getting on the floor, Mary is telling him to tighten his muscles as she pulls him towards her; “Making your back as strong as a lion.” “Mmmm..” murmors George, “that stretching feels gooood…” “Ooh yeah..” breaths Mary… Look I’m going to take a moment here. I don’t think I can continue right now…

» Love Is A Stranger

George takes immediate control and instructs Mary to put her back against his, her shoulder err and her knee… sorry I’m lost already. Oh we are going to sway from side to side and bounce now. I’m still not sure what position we are in but come on, join in – sway left and bounce, sway right and bounce… Time to turn around and face each other… more complex instructions… sorry Mary I didn’t quite get that can you repea.. Too late we are off again. Bend… rise…I’m still lost here, I’m just going to listen to them counting. Terrible cover of the Eurythmics song by the session musicians by the way. There’s some weak singing too (by the musicians, not Mary & George)

» I’ll Never Stop (Another one from the same people who wrote the above Amazon song. They are called Zinc.
I think we know who the musicans are now.)
“Mary” says George “this is for your thighs and I’ll do it with you…” They both sit on the floor and there’s a mountaineers grip.. I don’t know what that is but being a person who doesn’t like heights I’m sure this grip is a very, very tight one. Oh hold on, I think Mary asked George to stroke her thigh with his right leg… this is Twister !
There are more complicated instructions and I’m lost again. The music is awful by the way.

» Come Dancing
Ah not the Kinks classic ? Is nothing sacred ?

Another one with complex instructions, can hardly hear them over the music. Luckily they included photographs in the booklet (see below) because otherwise you wouldn’t have a clue on what to do. Still don’t actually.
What are they doing…? “Slow, slow, quick quick, slow.” They’ve given up on the exercising and are doing the foxtrot now. This is repeated for the rest of the song. Dull dull… oh and more terrible session musician singing. Ray Davies should have sued.

» Sasquatch
Sasquatch ? What or who the hell did this one ? *googles* There was a band in 1982 called “Camel” and this is their original version. Bloody hell that is crap. I mean…Why would they choose this boring instrumental.. It must have been cheap to get the music rights…   And the exercise. Nearly forgot. They are going to cycle in a sexy way. No really, that’s what Mary just said. Have a listen. But not for too long. This music. Is really, really just… arrrgh !

» Castaways In Paradise
Can’t find any info anywhere about this song. Could it have been especially written for the album ? Anyway onto the aerobics..
More instructions and woah ! I didn’t need to hear George Best say “buttocks”. It’s more floor exercising and more thigh work… I’m going to have legs like tree trunks after this. There’s more counting, more instructions. More Casiotone music. Another boring one. Ah great let’s finish with some weak vocals. Oh please make this crap music go away !

» (She’s) Sexy + 17

What is it about these cover versions ? Is there an unwritten law saying that if you have to cover a song then make sure you it is weak. I mean everything is weak. The vocals especially, but with this one the instruments sound so pathetic. It sounds like they played everything with guitars purchased at the Pound Shop or something. They are just so… well I said it. Weak. Have a listen to the original and you’ll see what I mean.

We are not here for the music though. We’re here to listen to George and Mary getting sweaty on the floor…
The instructions are faster now, still can’t quite catch them. It’s as if they too are getting tired of this and just want it to be over.
Again I have no clue what they are doing in this exercise and I really don’t care… Please can I stop now ?

» I Don’t Think I’ll Be Seeing You Again
Another song I have no info about. Again it must have been especially created just for this album.

In the tradition of an 80’s disco we have the slow dance at the end. George is telling Mary to bend over and put her hands on the floor, but then he tells her to put her legs over his shoulder ?! Boy this woman is flexible. George is slowly counting…hmmm… feeling sleepy now… Mary; “Now, I’ll take you..” Hello ! Suddenly I’m awake again.   More slow counting and both of them and kneeling, facing each other. Arms around each other, heads on the shoulder… Hey remember when you danced on your knees. Hurts after a bit… Ah and that’s all. Some soothing watery music to fade out.

Right that’s it. I am out of here. I’m going to do as the song title says and never listen to this. Ever again.

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