Tag Archives: Wings

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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July 24th 1973

“Went to get £3.50 from the Halifax – difficult job. Went up Trev’s for the day and borrowed Fragile, Dark Side of the Moon + Greasy Truckers Party”

I wonder why it would have been difficult for me to have withdrawn £3.50 from the Halifax? Perhaps it threatened to bring down the entire UK banking system?

Both Yes’ “Fragile” and the live compilation album “Greasy Truckers Party” have been commented on in these pages before. The only thing I find odd is why I would have borrowed them both again – as those previous entries would seem to suggest I had already committed them to tape. Maybe I was forced to ration my own C-90’s, taping over recordings on more of a regular basis than I would have (probably) liked?

I’m not sure what I can add by way of online comments to the third album I refer to in today’s diary entry… but why don’t I give it a shot?…

Who, in 1973, could have predicted what Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” would achieve over the next 35+ years in terms of sales and/or influence?

Music industry figures suggest that this 1973 album has sold in excess of 45 million copies worldwide since its release. That’s Forty-Five MILLION copies!

At it’s time of release I guess it was relatively unique, most certainly in terms of its packaging.

Once again – just as they did with Floyd’s prior “Atom Heart Mother” and “Meddle” – Hipgnosis design founders Storm Thorgeson & Aubrey Powell conjured up something special. George Hardie was actually the artist who came up with the (now iconic beyond belief) prism cover, a design that, apparently, was ‘merely’ one of at least ten presented to the band for their eventual approval. (I wonder if we will ever see the nine rejected ideas?)

The album sleeve opened up to reveal how the prism’s light source had morphed into “heartbeat” soundwaves, accompanied by song lyrics. The prism design was repeated (but reversed) on the rear of the sleeve, specifically, it has been suggested – and this was a masterful decision if true – to enable record stores to display visually-impressive continuous lines of the album in their storage racks.

To complete the packaging, Thorgeson and Co included not just a pair of fold out posters inside the sleeve (both destined for dorm roon walls across the world ad infinitum), but also a pair of small peel-back (crackback) stickers depicting the prism/pyramid theme.

Pink Floyd’s name is mentioned nowhere except on the “concert” poster. Just as with their prior albums EMI hated this notion, but were forced to accept it as part of their contractual agreement with the band.

To say this album pushed Floyd into the musical stratosphere is something of an understatement. Sure, the band had enjoyed commercial success – of a kind – with “Meddle“, but DSOTM took them to an entirely different level altogether.

The cut “Money” was released as a single in the USA reaching #13 in the Billboard charts, propelling sales of the album beyond the band’s wildest dreams. (No singles were released in the UK).

It was the #1 album in America for – and this seems astonishing now – just ONE solitary week in April 1973, BUT then remained in the Billboard “Hot 200″ for 741 consecutive weeks thereafter (that’s 14 years and 3 months) before sales rules were changed and it was ‘demoted’ (stupidly in my opinion) to no more than a ‘back catalogue” album. Even now, some 26 years after its release, its estimated that it sells almost 10,000 copies a week in the USA alone. There are artists out there who would probably donate a body part for sales like that per ANNUM, let alone per week.

Not bad for a concept album about mental illness and what makes us mad.

I’ve listened to the album WAY too many times to even begin to remember what I might have initially thought about it in July 1973. (Not – as most of you will have come to realise – there’s much of a chance I would have remembered anyway, but you know what I mean)

There’s no doubting how much of a musical classic it is, even if parts of it have begun to grate on me over the years. “Money” is, sadly for me, another of those played-too-often-in-rotation cuts on “Classic Rock” stations across the entire USA… to such a degree that I am now heartily sick of hearing it. Also, and perhaps sacrilegiously for some, “Great Gig in the Sky” has always appeared somewhat ‘dirge’-like to me. When I used to play the vinyl, I would always listen to it, but when I got the album on CD it was a track I would invariably skip. (Now, I don’t think I even have the cut on my i-Pod?)

Like a lot of other people though it’s an album I wouldn’t want to be without. I’ve almost lost count of how many copies I’ve owned since that (doubtless recorded) tape version in 1973. Several vinyl copies, a legal cassette version for the car and almost every CD issue and reissue. It’s almost impossible to calculate how many babies might have been conceived – or virginities might have been taken – or plans may have been hatched – to the aural sounds of this album, but I bet the figures are staggering. It’s just one of “those” albums that everybody has and thinks they should have.

I wish I had one tenth of one tenth of half the royalties/residuals Roger Waters receives every quarter for sales of – and to give it’s full and PROPER title… which not everyone realises – The Dark Side of the Moon

Finally, for this lengthy post… some Dark Side of the Moon irrelevant trivia…
• The album was originally going to be entitled “The Dark Side of the Moon” until Floyd and EMI realised that the band Medicine Head had just released an album of the same name. Waters retitled the album “Eclipse” but it was swapped back to TDSOTM when the Medicine Head album disappeared without trace in terms of sales or recognition.
• Wings’ guitarist Henry McCullough supplied the spoken line “I dunno, I was really drunk at the time”, whilst actress Naomi Watts’ dad was one of the insane chucklers during “Brain Damage” and “Speak to Me
• Some of the early profits from the album were used to help make the movie masterpiece “Monty Python & the Holy Grail
• Yes – and perhaps predictably – my wife and I have attempted the “Dark Side of the Rainbow” phenomenon which suggests that the album’s core concepts and lyrics line up perfectly as a mildly head-tripping soundtrack to the movie “The Wizard from Oz“. You need to try the experiment yourself and decide whether it works or not.

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