Tag Archives: pyjamarama

July 23rd 1973

“Stuck project into folder” / “Went into ELeigh and got Life on Mars + Pyjamarama” /”Neil came up later”

This purchase of two singles – probably both snagged at Jack Hobbs Records in their clearance bins  – would seem to solidify my teenage passion for all things musically “glam”

David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” single was released (somewhat strangely in retrospect) by RCA Records almost two years after the album it came from; “Hunky Dory”. Twinned with the cut “Man Who Sold the World” (later butchered by Nirvana) on the b-side, it reached #3 in the charts and had remarkable staying power, staying in and around the Top 30 for over 3 months.

It came after a run of 4 hit singles – “Starman” , “John, I’m Only Dancing“, “Jean Genie” and “Drive-In Saturday” – for Bowie, enhancing the remarkable success he had been enjoying with 1972’s “Ziggy Stardust” album and the more recent (in April 1973) “Aladdin Sane” LP. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the timeless, ongoing appeal of Mr Bowie in 1973 or the fact that now, in 2009, he is considered one of  rock music’s “gods”

I loved – and still love – Bowie’s early work (I kinda started to pass on his ‘art’ after 1980’s “Scary Monsters” album), “Life on Mars?” remaining one of my absolute faves. This is despite the unfortunate overkill the single received on the back of the BBC’s drama series (of the same name) in 2006. Like many other people of that time, I was first drawn in by the singles, moving to his classic albums a little later.

What some people may find weird is that despite seeing Bowie a few weeks earlier, I had STILL not heard the Ziggy Stardust album in its entirety!

Roxy Music’s “Pyjamarama” has been poetically talked about by me before.

Released in Island Records’ familiar bright pink paper sleeve, the single featured another non-album cut, the tunelessly-atmospheric “The Pride and the Pain” on the b-side.

It was released in March 1973, reached as high as Number 10 in the charts before dropping out of the Top 30 at the end of May. (Jack Hobbs usually sold off non-chart singles pretty cheaply as a way of clearing his shelves, which is doubtless why I waited until July to snag it).

The cut was originally scheduled to be included on Roxy Music’s “For Your Pleasure” album but was left off the final mix. The decision to use the single as the album’s “promotion” would come to be regarded as commercial madness by the music industry in later years, but I seem to remember this practise was quite common in the early part of the seventies.

Here’s today’s trivia corner…

• All-girl pop trio Bananarama’s name was inspired by the phrase “Pyjamarama”
• Rick Wakeman played keyboards on “Life on Mars?”
• “Life on Mars” has been covered by artists as diverse as Michael Ball, The Flaming Lips, Seal and Barbra Streisand

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April 4th 1973

“ARGUMENT! (smashing of the plate)” / “Got card from Gra” / “Roxy on TOTPs” / “Paid Trev for ISOS”

Oh dear – it would appear that one of the arguments took a worrying turn, with crockery being thrown? *sigh* I can’t remember this altercation – probably for the best I guess? – but it has got to me some 36 years later and made me feel – once again – incredibly sad that my folks seemed to spend so much of their lives arguing and shouting.

I think I remarked before that Graham traveled the world with his father, so I’ll guess I got a postcard from some exotic foreign clime.

The Roxy Music performance on Top of the Pops (TOTPs) would have been their second hit single Pyjamarama, which – sonically – was so very much ahead of its time.

Opening with a single guitar riff, followed by what is almost a drum solo, the song suddenly falls into a sax’n’electronics groove overlaid by Bryan Ferry’s voice crooning for all its worth. At the time, I remember thinking it was nowhere near as good as their debut hit “Virginia Plain”, but as the years have gone by I think I now actually prefer it, because its just so odd and groovily funky.

There appears to be no footage of Roxy’s performance on Top of the Pops, so I give you this OK montage instead….

I do think that Pyjamarama had some of the cutest lyrics…

Couldn’t sleep a wink last night
Oh how I’d love to hold you tight
They say you have a secret life
Made sacrifice your key to paradise
Never mind, take the world by storm
Just boogaloo a rhapsody divine
Take a sweet girl just like you
How nice if only we could bill and coo
I may seem a fool to you for ev’rything I say or think or do
How could I apologise for all those lies
The world may keeps us far apart but up in heaven, angel
You can have my heart
Diamonds may be your best friend
But like laughter after tears
I’ll follow you to the end
(© B.Ferry 1973)

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