Tag Archives: Ricky Gervais

September 27th 1975

“Good Day at work. Bought a load of singles. Went up Holly’s in the evening (awutrws)”

How many people can say they’ve had a “good day at work”?

I wonder if my “good day” was the result of a fun time behind the counter or that I spent my hard-earned wages on a handful of singles?

Naturally I can remember each and every one of 45s I bought that day.

No I can’t. Of course I can’t.

However, let us browse the singles I own that were released in 1975 and indulge in a little bit of wild speculation shall we?…

10cc – “I’m Not in Love”
To say that this song catapulted 10cc’s career into the stratosphere is something of an understatement. It was one of THE massive hit singles of 1975, ubiquitous on every radio station and at every party you ever went to. DJs would use it as a cornerstone of their slow dance ‘erection section’ where the lights dimmed and hormonal teen couples would clutch onto one another on the dancefloor and gently rock from side to side whilst simultaneously trying to ‘cop a feel’ of…, well, whatever they could cop a feel of.

Oh, was that just me?

The Stylistics – “Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)”
Just one of the soul bands which emerged from Philadelphia in the 1970’s, The Stylistics enjoyed a somewhat lopsided career path. Whilst they were working with famed Philly Sound producer Thom Bell they enjoyed several huge transatlantic hits (including “Betcha by Golly, Wow” and “You Make Me Feel Brand New“) Then, in 1974, Bell stopped working with the group, a move which almost completely devastated their US career. The group decided to instead play to their European strengths, teamed up with Van (“The Hustle”) McCoy and started releasing ‘poppier’ dance tracks, the first of which was this engaging classic which reached #1 on the UK singles chart.

The Sound of Philadelphia along with various borrowed Motown Chartbusters compilations became solely responsible for opening my musical ears to a whole slew of music which I had previously – and, I admit, somewhat snobbishly – ignored.

Elton John – “Philadelphia Freedom”
…. and we’re back to Philadelphia once again!

Legend has it that this track was written specifically as an homage to female tennis player Billie Jean King and that Elton asked his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, to scribble something about her hometown.

What started off as a tribute to his favourite tennis player ended up as another #1 hit single in Elton’s vast canon whilst also managing to honour Philadelphia in its production, owing much to the sound and soulful arrangements of Gamble/Huff and/or the aforementioned Thom Bell.

Supertramp – “Dreamer”
Supertramp’s wonderful album “Crime of the Century” had emerged in 1974 and although I already had a copy of it committed to tape I must have thought I could not live without this single release, containing a pair of the cuts.

“Dreamer” is as classic a pop song now as it was back in the mid-70’s, that electric piano hook relentlessly catchy.

The b-side “Bloody Well Right” is almost as good, Roger Hodgson & Co coming up with another slice of perfect pop. Infectious enough to have been a hit single in its own right… or, if you will, bloody well right.

Jasper Carrott – “Funky Moped”
Jasper was a folk singer turned stand-up comedian from Birmingham who hit the peak of his popularity in the middle-to-late 70’s, helped along by the success of this hit single, wherein he sings the praises of the low-rent pedal motorcycle. (For the record I owned one a few years later, a lovely little black Raleigh Runabout, similar to the one in the photo on right).

However, no-one was buying the single for that appalling A-side. It was being bought in its thousands for the comedy sketch Jasper offered up on the B-side, a rib-tickling behind the scenes ‘adult’ story featuring the cast of children’s TV favourite “The Magic Roundabout“, wherein not only is the sexuality of Florence brought into question but Zebedee’s trademark “Boinngggg” is used to evil effect.

Like all other tracks listed here, click on the links to hear/see the videos on You Tube.

Jasper’s ‘claim to fame’ continued well into his 50’s. Not only was he one of the founding investors in the concept of hit TV quiz show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” (later selling his shares for a reputed £10m) but he is also the father of popular actress Lucy Davis, most recognised for playing ‘Dawn’ in the original UK version of Ricky Gervais’ “The Office”

Ace – “How Long?”
Formed in Sheffield in 1972 “Ace Flash & the Dynamos” shortened their name to just Ace, and enjoyed moderate success in the seventies which culminated in this superb slice of pop history, as perfect an example of ‘hit single’ as there’s ever been.

Ace frontman Paul Carrack went on to find success with a solo career and is a sought-after session musician, playing keyboards with such artists as Eric Clapton, Roxy Music and Squeeze.

I LOVE the sound of this single, that slightly funked up R&B/Soul influence never failing to help me get my own little personal groove on over the years.

Ian Hunter – “Once Bitten Twice Shy”
“ULLO!!”

Mott the Hoople’s frontman has had quite the successful solo career since he quit the band back in the late 70’s. He learned a lot from David Bowie’s writing style, conjuring up a handful of infectious singles as well as employing David sidekick, Mick Ronson, as his producer of choice.

The “Ian Hunter” solo album – which includes this cut – remains one of rock music’s unsung little masterpieces. I always have a hard time comprehending just why it is not better recognised by either critics or rock fans.

“Once Bitten, Twice Shy” was also a US #5 hit single for the rock band Great White. However, the less said about that, the better, eh?

I wonder how many of these singles I played to Holly in the evening? I do know that my own diary slang, “awutrws” – later crossed out to protect me from potential prying parental eyes – suggested I was something of a privileged and lucky young chap that night. Yes, of course I remember what it relates to, but I am far too much of a gentleman to share the acronym’s meaning with you. Some things have to be kept private, y’know?!!

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May 16th 1975 (IV)

The “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” programme continued…

Alan Dossor‘s subsequently helmed for TV shows such as “Johnny Jarvis“, “Bergerac“, “The Governor” and “A Touch of Frost

Bernard Hill‘s acting career leapt into the stratosphere on the back of his bravura performance in the TV drama series “Boys from the Blackstuff“, where he played “Yosser” Hughes, an unemployed tarmac layer who angrily rails against the social unfairness of the Thatcher administration. Two of his lines became catchphrases, still used to this day… “Gizza Job” and “I can do that”

After “…Blackstuff” he appeared in Richard Attenborough’s award-winning “Ghandi” and films such as “The Bounty

In 1989 he returned to a Willy Russell script, playing the boorish Joe in “Shirley Valentine“. He is probably best known these days for his appearances in “Lord of the Rings” and as the fated ship’s captain in “Titanic

After playing Paul McCartney for a year at the Lyric Theatre, Trevor Eve was cast as Jonathan Harker in John Badham’s UK/USA-produced “Dracula” movie where he starred alongside such luminaries as Laurence Olivier, Donald Pleasance and Frank Langhella.

In the late 70’s and into the early 80’s he was famous for playing the title role in “Shoestring“, a hugely popular TV show about  private investigator with his own show on “Radio West”, a fictitious station located in Bristol. (Peculiarly enough a few years later a REAL Radio West started broadcasting, the result of some new broadcasting franchise opportunities)

He is now (even better) known for playing Detective Peter Boyd in the BBC drama series “Waking the Dead

Philip Joseph‘s post-play career seems sketchy but he does appear to have appeared in TV shows like “Great Expectations”, “Soldier Soldier” and “The Bill“. Sorry to say, I wouldn’t recognise him at all.

Antony Sher is now Sir Antony Sher, knighted by the Queen for his services to the theatre in 2000.

Although he has appeared in a few movies – “Mrs Brown” and “Shakespeare in Love”  to name but two – the main body of his career has been spent on the stage where he has won many awards and plaudits. He has been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1982.

George Costigan didn’t allow being born in Portsmouth hold him back from enjoying a very succesful TV and Movie career.

He gained proper public recognition after his stand-out performance as the serial adulterer in the 1986 hit film “Rita, Sue and Bob Too

His TV roles include shows like “Kavanagh QC“, “London’s Burning“, “The Bill“, “Holby City” and “Doctor Who“, and he has just signed up to play a part in the popular UK soap opera “Emmerdale

Anthony Blackett, who, as the programme states got his stage break in “J.P.G,R… and B”, changed his name to to the simpler Tony Blackett and after a seven-year stint in the UK and USA – where he appeared in shows such as “The New Avengers” and “Return to Eden” – went back to live Australia.

Robin Hooper appears to have had a mixed career, his high spot doubtless being a recurring role as Malcolm in Ricky Gervais’ observational comedy smash “The Office

Barbara Dickson was already a well-known face on the English folk circuit before Willy Russell asked her to perform the music in “J,P,G,R… and B”. It has been said that it was her unique interpretation of the Beatles songs which made the show so succesful.

She attracted the attention of  Robert Stigwood (co-producer of the play) who promptly signed her to his RSO Record label, where she made the album “Answer Me“, the title track from which became a Top 10 hit single for her in 1976.

She also recorded the song “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” for the Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice’s musical “Evita” and enjoyed yet another hit. More hits followed in 1980; “Caravan Song” and “January, February

In 1982 she returned to the West End, starring as the mother in Willy Russell’s hugely succesful “Blood Brothers“. A role which won her an “Actress of the Year” award.  She was then cast in Tim Rice’s musical “Chess” which included a duet with Elaine Paige. The subsequent recording of “I Know Him So Well” was massive hit and is still listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling female duet of all-time.

She continues to act and sing and worked again in 2003 with Willy Russell on his album “Hoovering the Moon”. In 2006 she released a collection of her versions of Beatles songs “Nothing’s Gonna Change My World” – which almost takes her career full circle – and has recently published her autobiography “A Shirtbox Full of Songs

My observations on the “John, Paul, George, Ringo… and Bert” theatre programme concludes in the next post…

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