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Peter Wyngarde

In Great Britain, Peter Wyngarde was one of the most well-known television actors of the 1960s and 1970s, particularly for his role as detective Jason King in Department S. American viewers may be more familiar with him as one of the many actors who played the role of No. 2 in The Prisoner. Wyngarde's phenomenal popularity generated interest from RCA in an album, despite the ready confession of the actor himself that he could not sing. Rather than take a crack at Frank Sinatra songs or (as William Shatner had done) "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," Wyngarde took advantage of RCA's offer of creative freedom to concoct a bizarre suite, combining dialogue, peppy late-'60s easy listening music, and a bit of song.

The loose narrative of the album, titled When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head, is centered around sonorously spoken lyrics about seductive situations, set against a musical backdrop. RCA, however, probably didn't bargain on cuts like "Rape," with Wyngarde barking the title like a guard dog and dispassionately explaining the differences between rapes in different languages and cultures. There was also a poem about "The Hippie and the Skinhead," fumbling attempts at crooning vocals like "La Ronde De L'Amour," and even a psychedelic-folkie-MOR treatment of "Widdecome Fair." The result was wholly uncommercial with a high camp quotient. This inevitably made it into a coveted collector's item by the 1990s, when it was allegedly commanding a few hundred pounds for original copies. You, the poor working stiff unwilling to part with your week's paycheck, don't have to jump over that hurdle anymore, as it was reissued on CD (with historical liner notes) in 1998. ~ Richie Unterberger
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