“Work – bought some singles”
As has been the case since day one, my teenage self did not care to expand on what singles I may have bought at work today, almost making this entry in my journal redundant. If only I had been more forward thinking in 1975… I would have easily predicted the invention and rise of the internet and realised that people would write intimate details of their past lives on things called ‘blogs’. These blogs would rely on INFORMATION, therefore I should carefully detail each and every day so as to provide better quality entertainment for my readers 35 years later.
Instead I am forced to somehow ‘guess’. Here then are some of the singles – that I still own – that might have well bought on this fateless day in April 1975….
• Supertramp – Dreamer
“Dreamer” most definitely falls into the category of ‘earworm’ for me. It was probably one of my most played 45s. I’m surprised that that I never wore it out!
Originally named “Daddy”, Supertramp started life in 1970 when Roger Hodgson joined forces with Rick Davies and signed to A&M Records
Their first two albums, “Supertramp” & Indelibly Stamped” (the latter notably featuring a pair of tattooed bare breasts) were critically well-received but failed to sell in anything but ‘cult band’ numbers.
Their next album, “Crime of the Century” was the commercial breakthrough their songwriting skills deserved, ‘Dreamer” the big UK hit they had been threatening. (It reached #13 on the singles chart)
The quirky high-pitched harmonies, infectious piano progression and peculiar effects, all infused with the jazz sensibilities really struck a chord with me. I don’t know why but the lyrics appealed in a big way too…
Dreamer, you know you are a dreamer
Well can you put your hands in your head, oh no!
I said dreamer, you’re nothing but a dreamer
Well can you put your hands in your head, oh no!
I said far out, what a day, a year, a life it is
You know, – Well you know you had it comin’ to you,
Now there’s not a lot I can do….
As if to cement my brief fascination – and it was brief, maybe two albums or so before I grew tired of them? – the next single was called “Bloody Well Right“…. which contained a swear word in the chorus! Needless to say “Crime of the Century” was eventualy snapped up and listened to intently.
• Labelle – Lady Marmalade
This was a HUGE song in the latter part of 1974 and into 1975. It may actually have been the first record considered vaguely “funk” that I bought?
It was irresistable to seventies teenagers for its suggestive lyric “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?“, perhaps the only phrase I learned that was in any way useful from my years of French lessons at Barton Peveril?
At school dances this track would be played and I guarantee that boys and girls would boogie opposite one another mouthing the lyrics, all of them secretly wondering if, by doing so, their dance partners were somehow ‘subconsciously’ taking the message onboard. Yes, we were that sad. (OK, maybe it was just me)
The song itself was written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan who had already written many songs for The Four Seasons (and created the massive hit “My Eyes Adored You” for Frankie Valli) It was first recorded by Nolan’s own group, Eleventh Hour, before being picked up by famed New Orleans producer Allen Toussaint for inclusion on Labelle’s “Nightbirds” album.
“Lady Marmalade” hit the top spot on the US singles chart and #13 on the UK chart. It has been covered MANY times over the years, most notably by a collaboration between Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa, and Pink for the movie “Moulin Rouge”. This version went to Number 1 in territories all over the world as well as winning a slew of awards.
Nope, me either.
I just remember it as yet another hugely infectious pop song from a time when Elton and lyricist Bernie Taupin could really do no wrong. That jangly guitar and the orchestral arrangement are nothing short of amazing.
I probably played the b-side of this single as much as the a-side. A live rendition of “I Saw Her Standing There” by Elton and John Lennon recorded at New York’s Madison Square Gardens in 1974. A duet that would turn out to be Lennon’s last major live performance before being murdered.
• Nazareth – My White Bicycle
“My White Bicycle” was written and first recorded by 60’s psychedelic group Tomorrow (a band which featured a Steve Howe, later of Yes, and John “Twink” Alder, later of The Pretty Things). It was inspired by a group of Dutch anarchists who had the (then, very much) ecological forethought to instigate a community bicycle program on the streets of Amsterdam. The bikes were all painted white and placed all over town for people to freely use. When you reached your destination you left the bike for someone else to use.
Scottish heavy metal band Nazareth took the bare bones of the song, rocked it up for a single release, and successfully took it into the Top 20.
As I have grown older I have nurtured a fond relationship with 60’s “freakbeat” pop, Tomorrow being one of the premier bands of that era, so now I MUCH prefer the original. In 1975 I simply didn’t know any better.
• The Faces – You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything
The official full title of this song is… “You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything (even take the dog for a walk, mend a fuse, fold away the ironing board, or any other domestic shortcomings)” … not exactly snappy for radio DJ’s to read out is it?
It was the last ever single by The Faces, who disbanded shortly after its release, the reason given that everyone hated guitarist Ronnie Wood’s “defection” to the Rolling Stones.
In keeping with much of the Faces superb ‘bar-room blues’ it is both tight and sloppy in equal measure. Personally, I have always loved the lyric “My schemes it seems are merely dreams fading with each morning” from this song, just a great line.
It reached #12 in the charts at the end of 1974. I seemed to remember I bought it on sale for something silly like 29p. Bargain.
• Jasper Carrott – Funky Moped
Yes, I have always had a soft spot for novelty singles.
This is no exception. Jasper Carrott is a Birmingham comedian who had a brief chart excursion with this dodgy throwaway pop ditty which – horrors of horrors – was produced by none other than ELO’s Jeff Lynne!
However, if you think it was why people bought the single you would be wrong. The bigger attraction was the b-side, a risqué stand-up routine from Carrott parodying the animated children’s TV show “The Magic Roundabout“, where the previously innocent line “Time for bed said Zebedee” takes on a whole new meaning!
Trivia freaks may like to know that Jasper Carrott was part owner of the production company (Celador) who invented the concept for the worldwide smash TV quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire? “. He sold his shares in the company for over £10m in 2006, presumably after royalty cheques from “Funky Moped” tailed off?
As I have said before I rarely bought singles when they were at the height of their popularity, preferring always to wait a few weeks until they dropped off the chart and were clearanced. Of these six examples here I’ll bet only one – “Dreamer” – was bought at full-price. I was ‘cheap’ even back then!