Tag Archives: number 1

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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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 1)

In this “debut diary year” of 1972 I have spoken a lot about the albums I either bought, borrowed and/or taped.

It would be fair for readers to think these albums would represent what I would have listened to the most in 1972.

Fair, but wrong.

Every Sunday, almost without fail, I would avidly listen to the “Pick of the Pops” show on BBC’s Radio 1, recording it in real time and then replaying it over and over during the following week.

This show played the UK’s Top 30 singles (as compiled by the British Market Research Bureau) in their entirety, announced by stalwart BBC DJ Alan “Fluff” Freeman (Later the show was presented by Tom Browne, even later by Simon Bates).

My fascination for, and capability to listen to, all kinds of music – not just the Prog Rock I was otherwise listening to – was what probably set me on to a later career in the business and, most definitely, an appreciation of “pop” in all its various guises.

In 1972, the “Top 30” was – as the British charts have always been – a mish mash of established artists, one-hit wonders and novelty acts with sappy love songs, early disco material, glam rock classics and pop masterpieces all thrown into the mix.

If I’m being honest there wasn’t a lot I really didn’t like, and most – but NOT all – of these Number Ones of 1972 have as much room in my musical heart as any of the bombastic pieces by ELP…..

The New Seekers started off the year with a perfect piece of “cross promotional” pop in the shape of “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)“, a song which started life as a TV commercial for Coca Cola. It’s got appallingly crass lyrics – I’d like to build the world a home and furnish it with love, grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves – but that’s what makes it so good IMHO.

The New Seekers were followed by Marc Bolan’s T.Rex with their third No.1 hit single in the shape of “Telegram Sam“.

This song, featuring Bolan’s self-referential lyrics “Me I funk, but I don’t care, I ain’t no square with my corkscrew hair” and “I’m a howlin’ wolf” was the first release on Bolan’s own “T.Rex Wax Co.” imprint at EMI Records, and was an ode to his then manager Tony Secunda (his “main man“).

The song was much later covered by goth band Bauhaus who in the process of roughing it up took away its campness. (My wife has just blown me a raspberry)

From T.Rex we went to the very first Number 1 to feature a moog synthesiser and a song which is such a “earworm” my brain whistles it at its mere mention!

Chicory Tip‘s “Son of my Father” could be described as “synthpop” in its earliest form. It’s mind-bogglingly repetitive, but not quite irritating enough to turn off whenever it appears – and yes its a regular visitor – on my iPod some 30+ years later.

Trivia fans may care to store away this fascinating little nugget of info about “Son of my Father”… the synthesizer – which was actually a tiny stylophone– is played by Chris Thomas, who later went on to produce records by (amongst many others) Pink Floyd, Roxy Music, INXS, Pulp, Paul McCartney… oh, and the debut album by a little band called The Sex Pistols

[continued in Part 2]…

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December 2nd 1972

“City 1 Ipswich 1” / “Sold records – Beatles + Grandad – 50p”

Our newsagent used to have a display board in its front window where local residents – for 2 or 3 pence a week, or something silly – could post hand-written cards advertising things for sale.

Indeed, the very same newsagent continues to offer the service. The last time I flew over and stayed with my Dad in England, the board was still in the window. The cost had gone up – 50p I believe – but it was nice to see the tradition remains.

I used the newsagent’s service to advertise records for sale. LP or singles that I’d got bored with or no longer wanted, as well as 45’s I’d picked up cheap and then sold for a small profit. Yes, I was doing that kind of trading at the age of 14! Talk about prescience!

I have no idea what the Beatles record was. Knowing my luck, it was probably one which sells for oodles and oodles of cash on eBay nowadays!

I know what “Grandad” was though.

Yes, it’s embarrassing.

In the 70’s, the UK singles chart was virtually awash with novelty hits. Many of them the famous “wonders” of the one hit. 

Clive Dunn’s “Grandad” was such a record.

Clive Dunn is an actor who found fame playing a doddery old butcher in Dad’s Army, a British TV sitcom about the home guard during World War II. The series’ huge audience (18 million weekly) almost guaranteed that anything involved with the show would also be loved by the public.

Dunn met famous session bassist Herbie Flowers (it is his bass line that opens Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”) whilst at a party and challenged him to write a hit single for him.

Flowers contacted his friend and fellow songwriter, Kenny Pickett (former member of 60’s freakbeat combo Creation) who turned up a little later ringing Flower’s doorbell. The doorbell’s simple ‘ding-dong’ apparently gave the pair the hook for the song! (“Ding” + “Dong” = “Gran” + “Dad”)

(How do I know this story? Permit me a “brush with the stars” moment. Flowers was an unlikely member of Marc Bolan’s T.Rex for (what turned out to be) their final tour, just months before the tousle-haired pop pixie died in a horrible car crash.  Along with several friends, I attended the final date of the tour in Portsmouth and we were all able to get backstage and into the changing rooms after the show.  We never met Marc, but Herbie was an extremely affable gent, sharing his wine with us and regaling us for a while with his tales of the music business… including his involvement with “Grandad“)

Anyway, Clive Dunn recorded the song with a children’s choir and its awful cheese (“Grandad, Grandad, you’re lovely“)  made Number 1 in early 1971 (incongruously sandwiched in between Number 1’s by Dave Edmunds and George Harrison!) and stayed on the charts for a mind-boggling 27 weeks! 

Now, let it be known – to my wife’s repeated horror – that I am something of an aficionado of ‘novelty hit singles’. However, even I think Clive Dunn’s “Grandad” is a novelty just TOO far!

Judge it for yourself… if you dare!

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