Tag Archives: bagpipes

Number Ones of 1972 (Part 2)

… [continued from Part 1]

When the UK had ‘suffered’ enough Chicory Tip at Number One, it then propelled a peculiar love song to the top of the charts. 

Without You” was written and originally recorded by Badfinger, a band from Wales who were (somewhat inexplicably IMHO) signed to The BeatlesApple Records

The song was heard by John Lennon’s pal Harry Nilsson – who had already enjoyed chart success with “Everybody’s Talkin” in 1969 – who gave it a new lonely starkness to produce what some people might describe as a “timeless wedding day classic”.

I liked the song a lot more then than I do now. In between it seemed to feature in all my relationship woes of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s, so perhaps it has just soured on me? I do know that I was horrified by this version by Mariah Carey, but I’ll admit she’s a lot better to look at than poor old Harry.

OK, now when I said I liked most of the Number 1’s of 1972 – or at least suggested I had an inkling of affection for them – there is one that is most definitely NOT included in that comment.

Now, I’m not a fan of the turgid religious yawn known as “Amazing Grace” at the best of times, but when it played by bagpipes I usually look for the nearest gun to shoot myself with.

I HATE bagpipes.

So for 5 weeks in 1972 I doubtless cut my recording of the Top 30 chart short whilst The Drums & Pipes & Military Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards‘ hideous interpretation of the song was Number 1. (I even feel as if I should apologise for including the link?!)

What do you have if you have the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards up to their neck in sand? Yep, not enough sand.

The wailing octopi were followed by yet another Number One hit for T.Rex, this time the magnificent “Metal Guru“, Bolan’s tribute to (in his words) “a god of no specific nature”.

Presumably one who sits in an armour plated chair and doesn’t have a telephone?

(The whole glam rock thing with Bolan, Bowie, The Sweet, Slade and… yes, even The Rubettes, deserves several posts all to itself… so anticipate my thoughts about it all sometime in the next few months)

With Chicory Tip having beaten his classic “American Pie” to Number 1, (despite my personal attempts to ensure everyone knew the lyrics) Don McLean followed it up with his strange ode to painter Van Gogh.

Vincent (Starry Starry Night)” is a lightweight fluffy pop song which contains the dubious refrain “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you“… to which the painter could only have replied “PARDON?”

Trivia fact: Roberta Flack‘s 1974 hit “Killing me Softly with His Song” was written about Don McLean, specifically about a concert he played in LA in 1971. (If any readers win pub quizzes with this kind of material I expect my cut!)

We go from dreary old Don to screamy young Noddy.

Slade‘s “Take me Bak ‘Ome” – quite aside from sharing my own penchant for deliberate speling errors – was the second of Slade’s six number one singles in the UK. I’ve written about Slade before (an example here) and I guess I always had something of a soft spot for them.

Not as much as other people I went to school with though. It’s weird the things I can remember from my youth…..

In 1973, Slade’s drummer Don Powell was involved in a serious car crash in which his 20-year-old girlfriend was killed. Powell ended up with broken ribs, smashed ankles and other injuries including skull damage. He did eventually recover from the accident – for a few months he had to be lifted onto his drumkit for performances  – but it left him with no sense of taste or smell and severe short-term memory issues.

For whatever reason I was somehow amused by the fact that one of my schoolchums – I think his name was Robin? – told me he had sent Powell a “get well” card whilst the drummer was in hospital. Why I would remember that I have absolutely noidea, but whenever I see Slade on TV, video or the internet I am always reminded of it. Weird huh?

[continued in Part 3]….

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Filed under 1972 Diary Entries, an aside, Asides on the 1970's

June 6th 1972

“Gave in Career booklets” / “Sent away for LP – ‘Old Songs, New Songs’ Family £1.05” / “bought singles 20p”

No idea what career booklets were, but I’ll hazard they were booklets intended to help us schoolkids pick a career. I’ll warrant none of them featured the careers many of my closest friends, or I, eventually followed.

sent away for LP – ‘Old Songs, New Songs’ Family £1.05” meant that this was likely my first purchase from the ‘back pages’ of Sounds. Many, MANY mail order companies advertised albums for sale at discounted prices, amongst them (eventually) the incarnation of what was destined to become the mighty (Sir) Richard Branson-owned Virgin corporation. (As you will discover later dear reader, Branson owes a some of his success to l’il ol’ me)

Business was obviously so brisk for discounted vinyl, one company – I can’t remember it’s name – used to regularly advertise (basically what was just a list of titles with prices) on the entire back page of Sounds and NME, and I wouldn’t bet against the notion it was from them I ordered Raft Records’ compilation of Family tracks called “Old Songs, New Songs“.

The Roaring Sixties (formerly the Farinas) were a simple bar band from Leicester, signed in the late 60’s by the ‘happening’ Liberty Records, and given their more distinctive “Family” name (originally “The Family” – eat your heart out Prince!) by none other than legendary American producer Kim Fowley.

Several band changes and record labels later they ended up at Raft (an offshoot of Reprise) with the core group of Rob Townsend, Ric Grech, Jim King, Charlie Whitney and vocalist Roger Chapman. Chapman arguably gave the band their distinctive sound, his gravely cries perfectly off-setting the well-structured jazz/folk/rock fusion. I guess they could be considered “Prog Rock”, but their name never appears when that genre comes up in conversation… and certainly not from me.

Chapman’s delivery isn’t for everybody. My wife HATES his voice, and to be fair it is an acquired taste. In a nutshell – “a little bit bleaty, a little bit goat’n’roll!

I’ll always have a soft spot for Family though. Mainly because I’m pretty certain the first 7″ single I ever bought with my own pocket money was their hit “In My Own Time” the previous year. I continued to buy the material they released in subsequent years, and enjoyed seeing them on Top of the Pops doing their other “hit” singles like “Burlesque” and “My Friend the Sun“. I don’t think – or, at least recall if – I ever saw them perform live, but my future diaries may tell a different tale that will shock me and regret the later intake of memory-thieving herbs.

As for “bought singles 20p“, oh how I WISH I’d written what I’d bought and where I’d bought them from. Your guess is as good as mine, as long as your guess isn’t the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards version of “Amazing Grace”, which had just been a Number 1 hit in the UK. People who know me will know how I feel about bagpipes.

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Filed under 1972 Diary Entries