Tag Archives: Number One

Number One Singles of 1974 (Part 1)

As I have mentioned before, the first two weeks of 1974 found Slade’s “Merry Christmas Everybody” riding the crest of the UK singles chart. Quite the worthy achievement for a seasonal ditty.

By contrast, the most recent (2009) “Christmas Number One” (previously a massive badge of honour) – an offering from grunge-metallists Rage Against the Machine – couldn’t even stay there beyond a  single week, despite heaps of hype being lavished upon it. A sign at how far the music industry has changed since the last century and why, to be honest, I have a hard time getting ‘into it’ these days. 

Slade’s 1974 tenure at the top of the heap was finally usurped by the New Seekers with  You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me, a warbling lightweight pop song which gave the group their second UK number one. (Their first, EFA70’sTRO-documented here). 

The New Seekers were formed out of the ashes of the popular Australian folk combo The Seekers who, with sweet-voiced Judith Durham at the helm, enjoyed a string of nine HUGE hit singles in the 60’s including “A World of Our Own“, “The Carnival is Over“, “Morningtown Ride” and the title track to the movie “Georgy Girl” 

Given the ubiquity of the Beatles and the Stones people often overlook the harmonies and folk-pop stylings of the Seekers, but I personally feel their songs stand up with some of the very best the sixties had to offer. 

Melanie (Safka), whose songs would be hits for the New Seekers and... erm... The Wurzels

I think it’s fair to say that the New Seekers were nowhere in the same league, but they still enjoyed a string of successes in their own right, starting in 1970 with their cover of Melanie’s “What Have They Done to my Song, Ma” and including their 1972 Eurovision hit “Beg, Steal or Borrow“. 

“You Won’t Find….” would prove to be the New Seekers’ final Number One and they seemed to struggle with chart success after it. The band fractured internally – arguments over money forcing members to leave – and whilst it still exists (for touring purposes), the 2009 New Seekers bears little relation to the one that had the hits back in the seventies. 

Pop Songwriting duo Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman (mentioned before in these hallowed pages) racked up their third Number One hit single with Tiger Feet by Mud, which – peculiarly – appears to have stood the test of time as a good-time ‘party record’ 

Mud formed back in 1968 and once toured as a support act to American crooner Jack Jones. They suffered years in the ‘pop wilderness’, releasing a succession of failed records. Then they met producer Mickie Most and signed to his RAK Records label, where they were introduced to Chinn & Chapman and had an almost immediate Top 20 success with “Crazy” 

The band adopted a mock “glam Teddy Boy” image and often created a silly dance to accompany many of their songs, the one for “Tiger Feet” (which can be seen in that 1974 Top of the Pops performance) no less irritating than any of the others. 

“Tiger Feet” would turn out to be the biggest-selling single of 1974, but it would not turn out to be Mud’s biggest song of the year… as a future EFA70’sTRO page will testify. 

Mud’s personable lead singer Les Gray succumbed to throat cancer in 2004. Drummer David Mount sadly committed suicide at the end of 2006, whilst bassist Ray Stiles joined (of all the bands you could possibly imagine) The Hollies – yes that Hollies – as a touring member. 

Kylie. Yes, I know, ANY excuse, right?

Trivia fans will doubtless already be aware that Mud’s somewhat effeminate and toussle-haired guitarist, Rob Davis, is now a succesful songsmith in his own right, having penned a handful of classic modern pop hits including Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” 

If they indeed possessed laurels Chinn & Chapman certainly didn’t sit on them. 

Their number one hit from Mud was followed by… a Chinn/Chapman-written number one hit from leather clad pop rocker Suzi Quatro. “Devil Gate Drive” was the second Quatro number one for the duo, the first, “Can the Can”, written about here 

The number one spot was then passed from one leather-clad rocker to another, although this new one snazzed it up with a diamond-crusted glove which he seemed to be permanently pointing at the camera! 

Alvin Stardust had already enjoyed a minor pop career back in the sixties – when he was known as Shane Fenton – but a leather ‘overhaul’ and new name (given to him, allegedly by Lord Levy, who owned Magnet Records) kickstarted everything again. 

Jealous Mind turned out to be Alvin’s only chart-topper, but his singing style – and unique way of holding the microphone – was parodied for years after. 

More recently Alvin (Do his friends know him as Alvin, Mr Stardust, Shane Fenton or Bernard… his real name?) he has moved – like many 70’s performers of his ilk – into musical theatre, starring in London West End shows such as “Godspell”, “David Copperfield” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” 

Paper Lace were a band from Nottingham who – like a few others in the 70’s – first found fame following an appearance on ITV’s talent show Opportunity Knocks (which I have talked about before

Billy Don’t Be a Hero was the band’s debut single, immediately topping the chart for three weeks. The band sadly missed out on capitalising on the song’s success in the USA, especially given its anti-Vietnam sentiment. Another group – Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods – released their version first, and enjoyed the BIG American hit (A Billboard #1 no less) with sales of Paper Lace’s completely cannibalised. 

Paper Lace enjoyed a couple more hit singles – “The Night Chicago Died” (which somewhat made up for their earlier failure, itself reaching Number 1 in the USA) and “The Black-Eyed Boys” – before falling off the public’s radar and disappearing into obscurity. 

[“Number One Singles of 1974” continues in Part 2…]

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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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Number One Singles of 1973 (Part 2)

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

April to June

 Gilbert O’SullivanGet Down
I wrote a little bit about Gilbert during my pieces on Number One Singles of 1972 a year ago

Here’s a piece of trivia that people may not be aware of. Gilbert is wholly responsible for the ongoing necessity of current day artists – mostly hip hop & rap artists – to obtain proper and legal clearances of any samples that they use in their songs.

The is came about because in 1991 O’Sullivan successfully sued rapper Biz Markie over his decision to use a sample of “Alone Again (Naturally)” without asking for the right to do so. The lawsuit and subsequent ruling – all copies of his album “I Need a Haircut” pulled from stores – managed to undermine Markie’s short and long-term music career

DawnTie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
This song represents a profitable example of “cashing in” on a trend.

Tying a yellow ribbon on clothes – as an act of remembrance to spouses away in the military – is a practise that dates back to the 19th century. Why yellow? Well, it was the then official insignia colour of the cavalry.

In 1917 a military marching song “Round her Neck she Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (later truncated to “(She Wore a) Yellow Ribbon” became a popular hit, which then morphed into the title (and theme tune) of a 1949 John Ford-directed movie starring John Wayne. (The lyrics changed to match the movie’s story)

In 1971 a newspaper columnist wrote an article about some college students who befriended an recently-released convict who was looking for a yellow handkerchief tied around a roadside oak tree to signify where his family were living.

In 1972 the (apparently) heart-warming story was reprinted in Readers Digest and had been turned into a TV drama starring James Earl Jones.

Two songwriters later filed copyright for a song entitled “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree“.

A year later the song was recorded and released by Tony Orlando‘s Dawn, selling a whopping 3 million copies worldwide in less than a month!

In the early 80’s – when American diplomats were being held hostage in Iran – the song’s popularity returned and both it and the yellow ribbon concept remain part of the American culture throughout the current overseas ‘conflict’

I’ve always found the song to be mawkish. Mawkish and sentimentally horrible. This version (Note: NSFW) – by The Asylum Street Spankers – is much better, taking the piss out of those Americans generally too damned lazy to even use a real ribbon!

WizzardSee My Baby Jive
Wizzard were formed by Roy Wood after he fell out with the Electric Light Orchestra‘s Jeff Lynne.

Whilst Lynne‘s music would take a decidedly “prog-rock-esque’ route (culminating, conversely in the star-studded Traveling Wilburys project), Wood’s took a detour into Glam Pop notoriety.

Wearing a painted face, wild wigs and outrageously colourful outfits (and backed by band members dressed as gorillas or angels) Wood’s first success with Wizzard was “Ball Park Incident” early in 1973.

“See My Baby Jive” was the big one though. Based on producer Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound recording style, its grandiose concept took it to the Number One slot for four weeks, assuring Wood a place in pop history.

Trivia freaks may like to know that Abba acknowledged “See My Baby Jive” as an influence when they recorded their debut single, a little ditty entitled “Waterloo” – a song which will no doubt feature in next year’s diary entries!

On a personal note, my mate Malc and I had a strange “celebrity” moment back in the early 90’s. We had flown to Orlando for a couple of weeks in the Floridian sun and were in line at the airport waiting to collect our hire car. In front of us in the queue, sporting ‘large hair’ and a thick Birmingham accent was… Roy Wood! I had to hold myself back from muttering “See my Baby Drive” out loud

Suzi QuatroCan the Can
“Can the Can” was the second Number One single of the year written by songwriters Nicky Chinn & Mike Chapman (The Sweet’s “Blockbuster” was the first, written about yesterday)

Detroit’s Suzi Quatro moved to the UK in 1971 after being discovered by RAK Records owner Mickie Most. Her first release for his label – “Rolling Stone” – was a major flop (except, strangely, in Portugal where it got to Number 1!), which was when Most hooked her up with the “Chinnichap” partnership.

“Can the Can” was the result and thanks to Suzi leather-clad glam-friendly look it reached the Number 1 slot and kick-started a career that continues to thrive. She branched out into acting (most notably as Leather Tuscadero to Henry Winkler’s Fonz on TV’s “Happy Days“), voice over work and, more recently, radio presenting on the BBC.

All from a lyric suggesting “Put Your Man in the can, honey, get him while you can“. Ohhhhh-Kayyyyy?!

10ccRubber Bullets
The 4 musicians who made up 10cc had built quite a substantial musical pedigree before they got together in the early 1970’s…

Lol Creme and Kevin Godley were once primed to be marketed as the UK’s answers to Simon & Garfunkel, each having achieved minor success in bands like the Mockingbirds and The Sabres.

Eric Stewart was a member of Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders (when Fontana left, simply The Mindbenders) who had a Number 1 hit in 1965 with “The Game of Love“, later “A Groovy Kind of Love” as well as appearing as themselves in the 1967 movie “To Sir with Love“.

Graham Gouldman was a respected songwriter having penned hits for The Yardbirds (“For Your Love“), Herman’s Hermits (“Listen People“) and The Hollies (“Bus Stop“)

Until 1972, their careers had always crisscrossed one another (Gouldman briefly joining Stewart in The Mindbenders for example) until noted American bubblegum-pop writer/producers Kasenkatz/Katz brought them together under a UK studio project called Super K Productions.

Amongst the minor successes at this time were Ohio Express’ “Sausalito”, Crazy Elephant’s “There Ain’t No Umbopo” and (French Number 1) Freddie & the Dreamers’ “Susan’s Tuba“.

When the Studio K project lost steam the four morphed into Hotlegs, supported The Moody Blues in tour and enjoyed a hit single with “Neanderthal Man

In what was then a major career boost they produced and played on two Neil Sedaka albums before deciding to, again, become a ‘pop group’. They played some demos to pop entrepreneur Jonathan King who loved the sound (especially a parody called “Donna“) and immediately signed them to his own UK Records label.

“Donna” became a Number 2 hit in 1972, “Johnny Don’t Do It” followed before they attained the Number One slot with “Rubber Bullets”.

“Rubber Bullets” was a simple parody of “Jailhouse Rock” but it attracted a certain level of controversy because rubber bullets were being employed in Northern Ireland to quell rioting… so a dunce’s corner of the press wrote up 10cc as somehow “glorifying violence”. (I think its fair to say that the media has always needed to “sell newspapers” so any controversy – no matter if its manufactured nonsense – is “good controversy” as far as they are concerned)

10cc’s career was off and running. Things – as they say – would only get bigger and better for them

 SladeSkweeze Me Pleezee Me
I have to state that “Skweeze Me Pleeze Me” ranks amongst my least favourite Slade singles.

It almost sounds as if Noddy & Co were merely “going through the motions” with this song, doubtless buoyed by – and maybe taking for granted? – the success they had already enjoyed in the previous two years; 7 hit singles, including 4 number ones.

This was their fifth Number 1. However, their ultimate moment was still to come!

[“Number One Singles of 1973” continues in Part III…]

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Number Ones of 1972 (Part 4)

… [continued from Part 3]

With 1972 already seeing the likes of Donny Osmond and Marc Bolan at Number 1, it was shaping up to be “the year of the teen idol”

As if to cement the notion, along comes David Cassidy and the (IMHO) awfully turgid “How Can I be Sure

The son of actress Shirley Jones, Cassidy had already appeared on TV shows like “Bonanza” and “Ironside” before landing the part of Keith Partridge in “The Partridge Family“.

The Partridge Family was a kind of pseudo-reality sitcom that MTV would kill for these days. It was about a musical family who played together to stay together, touring America whilst trying to maintain a semblance of normal life.

Cassidy, initially happy about the success of The Partridge Family soon grew weary of its constrictions, not least being his requirement to maintain a squeaky-clean lifestyle in keeping with his character in the show.

In May 1972 he gave a revealing interview to Rolling Stone magazine where he expressed his unhappiness at playing Keith Partridge. As if to underline his point he also posed nude for the cover, shocking the show’s producers whilst simultaneously titillating his young fans.

EFA70’sTRO would like to briefly leap out of the Partridge Family closet and openly admit that one of his favourite romantic ditties of all-time is “I Think I Love You“. As fine a pop song as it is, he just wishes it wasn’t by The Partridge Family.

Quiz time….. Name all the bands you can think of whose band members feature a mother and her son playing together. (The Partridge Family don’t count because they were fictional).

I can think of one – Lieutenant Pigeon – and their hit “Mouldy Old Dough“, a ramshackle pub-singalong slice of nonsense that was Number 1 for a staggering 4 weeks.

The song is held together by the ragtime piano of Hilda Woodward, mother of band leader Rob whose vocals consist of throating just three words…. “Mouldy”, “Old” and “Dough”

Somewhat staggeringly, this song was the SECOND biggest selling single of 1972 (after that crappy bagpipe bollocks). I LOVE it and often find myself ‘singing’ it in the shower! (If it was at the local bar’s Karaoke night I would definitely grab the mic!)

Oh, btw, the correct pronunciation of the band’s name is LEF-tenant Pigeon and not LOO-tenant Pigeon. Thought I’d just clear that up for my American readers otherwise ignorant of English *giggle*

Claire was Gilbert O’Sullivan‘s 6th UK hit single in two years, but his first Number 1.

The whistle-infused song was written about his young niece, the lyric “Will you marry me Uncle Ray?” referring to O’Sullivan, whose real first name is Raymond.

It’s sad that Gilbert never gained the worldwide popularity I personally feel he deserved. His lyrics, melodies and vocal style are all as assured as, say Billy Joel’s or Elton John’s, and his notions of ‘whimsy’ and ‘romance’ are always evident.

His relative lack of success compared to his peers can actually be blamed on a massive mid-70’s court case he got embroiled in. He discovered that his contract with MAM Records was skewed heavily in favor of the label’s owner, with Gilbert earning next to no royalties for the hits he had created, including his massive USA Number 1 “Alone Again (Naturally)“. The case rumbled on for over 5 years, during which time he was unable to record a note, so the hits – and his visibility – just fizzled out.

In 1980, he was awarded £7m in damages. A large sum of money, but doubtless FAR less than his earnings otherwise could have been had he remained in the public eye.

I picked up the (terribly-titled) “Berry Vest of Gilbert O’Sullivan” a year or so ago, which obviously contains “Claire” and 19 other songs, most of which are surprisingly recognisable and memorable. A great singer-songwriter.

Chuck Berry is one of the pioneers – if not THE pioneer – of Rock & Roll. It’s even been said that he invented it.

Think of all the classic songs he’s been responsible for… “Johnny B Goode“, “Rock and Roll Music“, “Sweet Little Sixteen“, “Roll Over Beethoven“, “School Days” and so many, many more.

The antithesis of all his classic songs is the horrendous “My Ding-a-Ling“, sadly his ONLY UK Number 1.

Recorded live at a concert in Coventry, “My Ding-a-Ling” is little more than an exercise in Benny Hill-style double entendre, so it’s astonishing in retrospect that many radio stations refused to play it!

I guess because it always forms a backdrop to office parties and family get togethers, the UK Christmas Number 1 has always carried an air of ‘reverence’ about it.

Well, christmas parties in 1972 must have been REALLY scary affairs, with everyone living in fear of having to hear Little Jimmy Osmond with “Long Haired Lover from Liverpool

Younger – and spottier – brother of Donny, this scored a big 10 on the “crap-o-meter” for many people, myself included. Even my aural fondness for a “novelty hit” refuses to acknowledge this as worthy.

[continued in Part 5]….

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