Tag Archives: Gary Glitter

Number One Singles of 1974 (Part 2)

[… “Number One Singles of 1974” continued from Part 1]

• The song “Seasons in the Sun” has had quite the glamourous life, both before and after Terry Jacks took it to Number 1 (for 4 consecutive weeks) in 1974.

It started life in 1961 as a dreary little French song called “Le Moribund“, written and recorded by Jacques Brel.

In 1964 the lyrics were translated into English by Rod McKuen and the end result was recorded by The Kingston Trio. In 1968 it was also released as a single by then-happening Merseybeat pop combo The Fortunes (of “You’ve Got Your Troubles” fame).

4500 miles from Liverpool, in Vancouver, Canadian singer/songwriter Terry Jacks  discovered the English version of the song and went as far as recording it with his wife Susan under their band moniker of The Poppy Family.

The Poppy Family had a huge hit in 1970 with “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” before splitting up, both professionally and personally. Jacks continued to write and produce songs for his (now) ex-wife and became so highly regarded for supervising studio work that The Beach Boys invited him to California to oversee some recordings they were doing. During these sessions, Jacks persuaded the group to record “Seasons in the Sun” but they refused to release the finished product… which then prompted him to re-record and release it himself.

This morbid, despondent song about a man’s final moments – where he pays deathbed tribute to the people he has loved – went on to be a HUGE international hit for Jacks, eventually selling a staggering 6 million+ copies worldwide.

The song has since been covered by acts as varied as Nirvana, Bad Religion, Black Box Recorder and Me First & the Gimme Gimmes. It also enjoyed another spell at the top of the UK chart in 1999, courtesy of Irish boyband Westlife, and has also been sampled by reggae star Shabba Ranks for his Jamaican Dancehall smash “Twice My Age“.

• Eurovision – or the Eurovision Song Contest – is an annual competition held amongst the countries of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

Each country selects and submits a song to represent them, these songs are then performed on the show which is broadcast live – and simultaneously – on TV across all the participating countries. Votes are then cast to determine the most popular song in the competition. The contest has been broadcast every year since 1956, and is one of the longest-running television programmes anywhere in the world.

It is also one of the most-watched annual broadcasts in the world with recent audience figures quoted as high as 600 million viewers internationally.

Back in 1974, at the Brighton Dome in England, the Swedish entry – a pop act called ABBA – took to the stage and gave this stunning performance of their song “Waterloo”

I often wonder what happened to ABBA

The Rubettes were formed by the songwriting team of Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington. Bickerton was head of A&R at Polydor Records, so there’s no prizes for guessing who was responsible for signing this foppish pop act to…erm… Polydor Records!

With a sartorial nod to glam rock, the band wore shiny white suits and (no, I am not making this up) shiny white berets on stage. Their first release was “Sugar Baby Love” which went on to top the charts for 4 weeks and prove to be, by a large margin, their biggest ever hit single.

They were pants.

• Talking of pants, or rather “no pants”, 1974’s next Number 1 hit single came from Ray Stevens with “The Streak

Stevens’ penchant for novelty songs (OK, I’ll admit that “Bridget the Midget” is a guilty pleasure) came about as a result of his hit USA TV show in the early seventies and his desire to break away from his country and gospel music roots (He had enjoyed a massive gospel-tinged hit single with “Everything is Beautiful“)

The Streak was based on the Seventies fad of “streaking”, basically people running about – usually at major sporting events – with no clothes on. It was a bloomin’ AWFUL song, but paled in comparison to Stevens’ later chart success in 1977…. that of pretending to be a chicken and clucking out Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood

Gary Glitter ‘s “Always Yours” was never one of his best songs. His star was already fading, and this would indeed prove to be his last chart-topper.

As a result of Glitter’s early seventies chart ubiquity I have written about his … erm.. ‘ legal troubles ‘ before. More recently however, I discovered that his ‘persona non gratis‘ status had been extended to modern-day TV repeats of old Top of the Pops shows. It would appear that his performances have been deliberately edited out of any ‘vintage’ shows that are now shown on the BBC or its European counterparts, effectively deleting his contribution to pop history.

This seems a shame to me. I’m sure it can be put down to producers somehow wanting to stop him from profiting from his past fame, but there have been many other pop and rock acts who have committed crimes and whose music still gets attention everywhere.

Yes child pornography is atrocious, but so is beating up one’s partner (James Brown, Rick James, Lou Rawls, Jackson Browne, Hank Williams Jr., Yanni) , hit & run (Glen Campbell), drug dealing (50 Cent), attempted murder (Jay-Z), sexual abuse of a female (Tupac Shakur) and murder (Phil Spector). I don’t see many of their records being banned from radio play as a direct result of these atrocious activities. (Indeed, there remains an argument that Yanni’s music should be banned for ALL kinds of reasons… mainly that it’s awful meandering rubbish)

Witness too the recent media deification of Michael Jackson following his death. The allegations of sexual abuse of underage children remained with him, despite his various attempts to pay off the supposed victims. I didn’t see radio or TV scaling back their support of Jackson. Instead they praised him to the hilt as a bona fide 20th century pop icon and “Thriller” felt like it was being played on repeat across all channels.

Now before people accuse me of somehow defending Gary Glitter here, I am not. I’m merely pointing out the relative hypocrisy that appears to exist in the media and its apparent inability to separate Gary Glitter, pop star, from Gary Glitter, kiddie fiddler.

[“Number One Singles of 1974” continues in Part 3…]

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Number One Singles of 1973 (Part 4)

[… “Number One Singles of 1973” continued from Part III]

October to December

David CassidyDaydreamer/The Puppy Song
Released as a Double A-side to (somewhat cynically I feel) extend its shelf life and radio play, this was teen idol Cassidy’s 6th UK hit.

It would prove to be his last Number 1 in Britain and spent three weeks atop the chart.

“Puppy Song” was written by Harry Nilsson. It was composed at Paul McCartney’s request in 1969. The Beatles’ new Apple Records’  label had just signed teenfolk sensation Mary Hopkin and Paul needed a song for her debut album “Postcard”. Presumably talk of dreams being nothing more than wishes and a dog that would never bite him fitted the bill?

Gary GlitterI Love You Love Me Love
This was Glitter’s second Number One of 1973 and another that appears ironic in light of the revelations surrounding his later lifestyle choices.

It was written by respected seventies songwriter – and Glitter’s producer – Mike Leander, who had already worked with such pop luminaries as Billy Fury, Van Morrison, The Small Faces and Marianne Faithfull,  The Drifters and Ben E King.

Trivia nuts may care to know that in addition to four Top 10 hits by Gary Glitter, Mike Leander also wrote “Privilege (Set Me Free)”, the Patti Smith Group’s follow-up single to “Because the Night”

Slade – Merry Xmas Everybody
They say that cream always rises to the top. The end of 1973 saw Slade nab the Christmas Number One with a song that sounds as fresh today as it did back then.

OK, so I have to declare early – and extreme – bias in these words of mine. For me “Merry Christmas Everybody” is THE ultimate Christmas song. I love it so very VERY dearly. Yes, I have a fondness for Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime“, Wham’s “Last Christmas“, Bing’s “White Christmas” and I’ll even hum along to Wizzard’s “I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day“, but Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” is the one which, without, Christmas is dead to me.

Case in point…. several winters ago my wife and I spent a relentlessly-marvellous time in my (other) “old home town” of Copenhagen in Denmark. Although we had coped quite nicely for food most of the time we had been there, we found ourselves a little short on choice come Christmas Day itself. We discovered that the Hard Rock Café – situated on the outskirts of the Tivoli Gardens – was open most of the day. So, that’s where we went. We ate like kings, celebrated with several imbibements, wore paper hats and listened to the groovy seasonal music coming over the speakers.

After an hour or so, I became depressed. We’d heard all the ‘likelys’ in terms of Christmas songs – the Elvis numbers, the endless “Sleigh Rides” and “Frosty the Snowmen”s and the fact that, yes, Santa Claus IS bloody well coming to town. I’d even endured the damned Pogues and that turgid John Lennon song. Can you guess what we hadn’t heard?

I remarked to my totally understanding and sympathetic wife that we hadn’t heard Slade’s classic. She patted my hand in a way that only wives sarcastically can and told me she was sorry.

I continued to complain. Outwardly I was being jokey about it all, inside I felt empty as could be. (Only emotionally you understand, I think a man can only eat so many multi-topped Hard Rock burgers washed down with Danish lager?)

It came time to leave. Still no Slade. I went to the till and paid. Still no Slade. Then, in what still seems like one of the most magical moments of my life, just as we were putting our coats back on to protect us from the Copenhagen snow outside “Merry Christmas Everybody” came over the PA system.

I stood, in my coat, hat and scarf, in the middle of the Hard Rock Café and just listened. I’ll even admit to shedding a tear. My Christmas with the wife in my favourite country in the whole wide world had just turned “perfect”.

Now of course, and to my wife’s utter chagrin, whenever Christmas morning unveils itself I tend to play “Merry Christmas Everybody” over and over again on what must feel to her like an endless loop.

I never, ever, tire of hearing it. Even if it shuffles up on my iPod on the hottest day of summer I will never skip it, Noddy Holder’s screeched “It’s Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiistmaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!!” as satisfying now as it was 36 years ago.

Holder admits he wrote the song to deliberately be joyful and as complete contrast to what the UK was going through in 1973. There were power cuts, the 3-day working week was about to be introduced and much of the population was depressed as it could be. He took a melody he had originally written 6 years earlier, kicked the rhythm up a bit, changed a few lyrics about with the aid of band member Jim Lea and tried to intentionally make it a ‘working class Christmas anthem’ – which is what it undoubtedly became.

It was released on December 7th. By December 15th it had already sold a million copies, and was the surefire Number One, a position it held far into 1974. It stayed in the Top 30 until the end of February, an almost unheard of result for a seasonal single.

As if to further highlight its never-ending appeal in the UK it has been reissued almost every year since 1973 and has reached the Top 40 no less than FIVE further times; 1981, 1983, 2006, 2007 and 2008. I have no doubt it will be there or thereabouts again in just a few months time.

I often say that I would LOVE to be Noddy Holder at “quarterly residuals” time in March every year.

However, I’d settle for shaking his hand and saying “Thank You”

Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
It’s the time that every Santa has a ball
Does he ride a red-nosed reindeer?
Does a ‘ton up’ on his sleigh
Do the fairies keep him sober for a day?

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

Are you waiting for the family to arrive?
Are you sure you got the room to spare inside?
Does your granny always tell ya that the old songs are the best?
Then she’s up and rock ‘n’ rollin’ with the rest

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun

What will your daddy do
When he sees your Mama kissin’ Santa Claus?
Ah ah
Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
Are you hoping that the snow will start to fall?
Do you ride on down the hillside in a buggy you have made?
When you land upon your head then you’ve been slayed

So here it is merry Christmas
Everybody’s having fun
Look to the future now
It’s only just begun…..

(© 1973 N.Holder/J.Lea)

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Number One Singles of 1973 (Part 3)

[… “Number One Singles of 1973” continued from Part II]

July to September

Peters & LeeWelcome Home
Lennie Peters and Dianne Lee first found fame on the ITV talent show “Opportunity Knocks“, winning seven weeks in a row.

Lennie may well have been been sarcastically nicknamed “Lucky” as a teenager. When he was five he was blinded in one eye in a car accident. Then, at the age of sixteen, he was hit by a brick in the other eye.. and ended up completely sightless.

He became a pianist on the London pub scene, where he met Lee, one half of a popular dance act with her sister. They decided to perfom together as a duet.

After the Opportunity Knocks success the pair were signed up by the Philips label and the repeatedly-inspid “Welcome Home” was released. The song – originally a French song translated into English – quickly rose up the charts reaching the Number One slot and staying there for one week. (Is that all? To me, it seemed to be bloomin’-well everywhere during 1973?!)

Gary GlitterI’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am)
It’s a shame that Paul Gadd – aka Gary Glitter – allowed his personal obsessions to completely undermine his undoubted and unmatched success as a 70’s pop star.

Sadly, the very name “Gary Glitter” has now become synonymous with his various convictions for child pornography and illegal sex with a succession of underage girls in Britain, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Back in the 1970’s Glitter – always in trademark silver spandex, platform boots and sparkles – had one of the longest chart runs of any solo singer. He charted 26 singles, twelve of which were consecutive Top 10 hits, and spent a total of 180 weeks in the charts, .

GG - Then and Now (Why the disguise Gary?)

Along with Bowie, the Sweet, Marc Bolan and Slade he was the personification of all things “Glam”

Now, in Britain, you hardly ever hear his music. His reputation precedes him and although not officially ‘banned’ from the airwaves, I think it’s fair to say that he is very much persona non grata.

However, in the USA, I still hear his music regularly! His trademark “Rock and Roll (Part Two)” continues to be adopted as a chant – it’s that “Hey!”  hook – at Reds games to gee up the crowds.

I sit there like I am the only one ‘appalled’ at hearing it, but equally amused by the fact that Major League Baseball has no clue as to its latter-day connotations and, presumably, are still paying public broadcast royalties to a convicted sex offender.

Rock stomper “I’m the Leader of the Gang (I am)” has, since its original release, been covered by Green Jellÿ & Hulk Hogan, Brownsville Station, Peter & the Test Tube Babies, The Methadones and Girlschool… proving that perhaps the legacy of the song will last far longer than the legacy of Glitter himself.

Donny OsmondYoung Love
Of course, in retrospect, there’s extraordinary irony in the fact that Gary Glitter’s tenure at the pinnacle of the charts would be replaced by a song entitled “Young Love”.

Sometimes, you can’t make it up.

It’s Donny. Top of the chart heap. Again. Sales of toothpaste continue to rise.

WizzardAngel Fingers
A second spell at the top for Roy Wood’s Wizzard, talked about a day or so ago.

Rumour has it that the recording of “Angel Fingers” used up more time in the EMI studios than the whole of Paul McCartney & Wings’ 1973 “Band on the Run” album.

Hearing it now you have to wonder how. And why.

Simon Park OrchestraEye Level (Theme to Van Der Valk)

Aaaagh… it’s that bloody earworm again

C’mon everybody… whistle along now!

 

[“Number One Singles of 1973” concludes in Part IV]

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An Aside – My “History of Music” Project: Part I

This is the back cover. I hope everyone can read it OK?

Please note that in amongst the plethora of big name acts (Presely, The Beatles, Dylan, Zeppelin etc) I have included such other musical giants such as Man, Deke Leonard, and the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. What?

“Rock” was the main ‘fireball’ it would seem – apt I guess given Deep Purple’s dominance at the time – but please note that “Ballad”, “Motown”, “Soul” and “the Classics” have also been deemed worthy of inclusion for the years beyond 1973.

I REALLY hope I knew how to spell “future” and my attempt was merely covered by tape?

“Everything” is apparently included, from “Frank Sinatra and the Inkspots” to… erm… “Gary Glitter and Focus”. Dear oh dear, oh dear.

Nice to realise that the cover, sleeve notes and artwork were ALL by l’il ol’ me. Nothing like some self-delusional ego-promotion at the age of 15 is there?

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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 5)

…[continued from Part 4]

You know when you write about a year in these terms – all the number ones – you wonder whether it gives a realistic representation of the music everyone listened to.

In terms of sheer public popularity I guess it does, but in my own personal world I feel there were many different songs – which didn’t reach Number 1 – that I would play over and over again from my weekly tape recordings of the Top 30 show.

So along with the likes of “School’s Out”, “Claire”, T.Rex, Slade, “Son of my Father”,  Lieutenant Pigeon, plus all the Prog rock and pop already mentioned in my 1972 diary entries, would the following songs also stand up and take bow for providing a suitable distraction to the arguments going on at our house…

• America – “A Horse with No Name
• Argent – “Hold Your Head Up
• Blackfoot Sue – “Standing in the Road
• David Bowie –  “John I’m Only Dancing
• David Bowie –  “Jean Genie” 
• David Bowie –  “Starman
• Alice Cooper – “Elected
• Dr Hook – “Sylvia’s Mother
• Electric Light Orchestra – “10538 Overture
• Family – “Burlesque
• Roberta Flack – “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
• Gary Glitter – “Rock & Roll Part II
• Hawkwind – “Silver Machine
• The Hollies “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress
• Hot Butter – “Popcorn
• Elton John – “Rocket Man
• John Lennon & Yoko – “Happy Xmas (War is Over)
• Lindisfarne – “Lady Eleanor
• Melanie – “Brand New Key
• Mott the Hoople – “All the Young Dudes
• Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now
• Redbone – “Witch Queen of New Orleans
• Lou Reed – “Walk on the Wild Side
• Rolling Stones – “Tumbing Dice
• Roxy Music – “Virginia Plain
• Paul Simon – “Me & Julio Down By the Schoolyard
• Ringo Starr – “Back Off Boogaloo
• Status Quo – “Paper Plane
• Stealers Wheel – “Stuck in the Middle
• Cat Stevens – “Can’t Keep it In
• Temptations – “Papa Was a Rolling Stone
• 10cc – “Donna
• The Who – “Join Together
• Stevie Wonder – “Superstition

1972 was therefore a year that had me listening to all kinds of music, creating a varied love for it that would not only supply me with an eventual career (of sorts) but a lifetime of many happy memories.

Meanwhile, (I love a good “meanwhile”) 4000 miles away, my future wife who had started her own musical education early was finding that Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” was proving to be an awkward choice for her classroom’s show and tell session.

Both of us can now only hope that the 8 and 14-year-old kids of today carry forward the same kind of interest, love and enthusiasm for music into their middle and old age as we have.

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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 3)

… [continued from Part 2]

“…… and they called it Puppy Luuuuuuuuuuuurve” was a Number One call to arms for fresh-faced Mormon superstar teenager Donny Osmond.

1972 really was the year of Osmond-mania in the UK, when the family troupe, The Osmonds (put together as a “white” answer to the Jackson 5)  – especially photogenic teen idol Donny – created abject hysteria amongst young impressionable girls wherever they went. Think “The Jonas Brothers on steroids” and you might get an idea of the screamy-girly public craziness?

Puppy Love” was written in 1960 by Paul Anka for Annette Funicello, an actress/singer he was having an affair with. His own version went to Number 2 in the USA, but it has since been totally eclipsed by Donny’s more populist version.

His plea of “someone help mehelp meplease” was always a moment of cringe-worthiness whenever I heard it. Little did I know then that my future wife was squealing with joy at precisely the same line!

The follow-up Number 1 to Donny was the anarchic School’s Out by Alice Cooper, a song already discussed at some depth (here and here) within this blog.

My good friend Simes, a.k.a “Rockin”, remains a huge fan of Alice Cooper to this day, going to see him live in concert whenever he’s appearing within driving distance of the South of England.

Sometimes Rockin’ takes his eldest daughter with him. Her name is… Alice.

I wonder if the pair of them have ever seen this version of School’s Out with The Muppets? (I wonder also if that clip makes more sense on drugs?)

Taken from his second solo album “Never a Dull MomentRod Stewart‘s “You Wear it Well” was, perhaps, one of the year’s more über-credible Number 1’s.

Most people forget that in the early 70’s Rod Stewart had two musical careers running simultaneously. Not only was he  solo artist in his own right, he was also lead singer for The Faces.

Whilst The Faces material was, by and large, “sloppy rock and roll” (magnificently done I might add), Rod’s own material was carefully crafted, produced and recorded. However, “You Wear it Well” appears to straddle both sensibilities, the keyboards and Rod’s careful lyrics noisily overwhelmed by Ronnie Wood’s fabulous guitar licks.

Rod, by himself, and with the Faces would continue to record and tour until 1975 when the band, citing the time-honoured tradition of “musical differences”, split up and everyone went separate ways. I think it was common knowledge that most members of the Faces held deep resentment for how Rod concentrated on his solo work.

Of all my minor musical “heroes” of the 70’s, Rod is the one who has really let me down the most. Whilst his whole ‘celebrity fixation” era – when he was with Britt Ekland and recorded things like “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?“- merely amused me, I feel he eventually started to waste that great gritty voice he possesses, none moreso than with the recent ” Great American Songbook” series of albums.

Slade had a second 1972 Number 1 single with “Mama Weer All Crazee Now“, taken from their album “Slayed?“, often considered their greatest studio album.

Since 1972 this screamy rocker has been covered by such diverse acts as Quiet Riot, The Runaways and….. The James Last Orchestra!

Last covered it along with “Silver Machine“, “School’s Out“, “(The Theme from) Shaft” and Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll, Part 2” on his 1973 album “Non Stop Dancing ’73” which must’ve been the soundtrack to THE worst swinging party EVER?!

… [continued in Part 4]

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