Sunday, June 28, 2009

One day in his life

How, then, to fitfully add to the welter of tribute, point and counterpoint surrounding Michael Jackson's demise? The only way we know how - by analysing the chart the week he first reached number one on his own, 27th June 1981:

40 Kirsty MacColl - There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis
Chart debut, her only top twenty single to feature the great songwriter's own words and considered a one-off novelty hitmaker for a few years afterwards, such was her one hit every four years or so career. Stiff Records, countrified, see. This, however, is unbeatable.

39 Coast To Coast - Let's Jump The Broomstick
They'd had a top five single with Do The Hucklebuck, a very odd record that landed somewhere between the rockabilly revival and Black Lace. We can't imagine this was much of an advancement.

38 Tenpole Tudor - Swords Of A Thousand Men

37 George Harrison - All Those Years Ago
There was a sizeable fuss made about Paul and Ringo 'reuniting' in New York in April, their first public collaborating since the hazy, free spirited days of 2002. Before that was the Threetles, and Free As A Bird came out of that. What gets overlooked is this single was George's tribute to John, featuring Paul on BVs and Ringo on drums. And we doubt that much of a fuss was made about all that. It only made number 13!

36 Starsound - Stars On 45
Hit after hit after hit. A Dutch collective re-recorded eight Beatles songs of varying notability, from We Can Work It Out to I'll Be Back, as a pumping disco medley. Four top 20 hits using the same idea followed. What greatest hits albums are for.

35 Bruce Springsteen - The River
34 Dave Edmunds And The Stray Cats - The Race Is On
33 The Beat - Doors Of Your Heart
Tell you what, wish we'd been able to go with the chart the week this entered the top 75, which features Ossie's Dream at number five, Madness' Grey Day at eight and at 9 Ennio Morricone's Chi Mai (Theme From 'Life And Times Of David Lloyd George'). You'd never get a series with that name made now. The Sound Of The Crowd, Treason (It's Just A Story), The Nolans' Attention To Me... glorious days, just five weeks too early. Or too late, given the following few weeks would see top 40 new entries for Stars On 45 (Volume 2), Motorhead Live, Kid Creole And The Coconuts Present Coati Mundi, Gidea Park's Beach Boy Gold, Stevie Wonder's Happy Birthday and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Hooked On Classics.

32 Gillan - No Laughing In Heaven

31 The Evasions - Wikka Wrap
We've marvelled at this in the past, but new people are always joining in so... Wikka Wrap was a record that sampled Good Times and Tom Browne's Thigh's High, over which a man impersonating Alan Whicker recited early rap hipster speak in the style of the besuited playboy high life adventurer. Curiously, it was a hit on US rap radio and Coolio later sampled it, just to bring the oddness scale full circle.

30 Tom Tom Club - Wordy Rappinghood
"Panty, toilet, dirty devil!"

29 Rainbow - Can't Happen Here
Ah, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. Most awkward acronym ever.

28 Randy Crawford - You Might Need Somebody
One of the great dual-adaptable first names (Randy Newman) recorded three stone cold soul classics and now seemingly can't get arrested outside David Gilmour's studio. It hardly seems fair.

27 Third World - Dancing On The Floor (Hooked On Love)
Commercial reggae - it didn't arrive with Big Mountain.

26 Quincy Jones - Razzmatazz
A foretaste of what was to come, of course, Quincy Delight Jones (excellent!) had a long career as as a recorder only to be comprehensively trumped by his career as a producer. Here he pays touching tribute to Alistair Pirrie.

25 UB40 - Don't Let It Pass You By/Don't Slow Down
Still political dub merchants at this point. Maxi Priest's with them now. Maybe proving a point.

24 The Jam - Funeral Pyre
Remixed for Snap! as "nobody was completely happy with the original mix". This was the same compilation that used the inferior electried demo of That's Entertainment, the reason why there's a new Jam best of every so often.

23 Linx - Throw Away The Key
Brit-funk ahoy, full-on fretless bass from the band featuring David Grant off Fame Academy and a future member of 23 Skidoo.

22 Siouxsie And The Banshees - Spellbound
Actually throwing your parents down the stairs is not advised.

21 Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire
Getting ready to blight all sporting coverage for the next decade and a half.

20 Bob Marley & The Wailers - No Woman No Cry
Credited to a mate of Marley's who ran a soup kitchen. Bob had just died, obviously. Even more obviously, the baying live version.

19 Enigma - Ain't No Stopping
Not the Gregorian chant people of nine years later but another motley disco medley project.

18 Bad Manners - Can Can
2-Tone wasn't all political, of course.

17 Phil Collins - If Leaving Me Is Easy
16 Shakin' Stevens - You Drive Me Crazy
15 Kool And The Gang - Take It To The Top

14 Toyah - I Want To Be Free
And to think just five years after Year Zero someone like Toyah could be marketed as a quasi-punk.

13 Adam & The Ants - Stand And Deliver
White line fever, full on "insect nation" gubbins was go. Amanda Donohoe in the video there.

12 Bucks Fizz - Piece Of The Action

11 Imagination - Body Talk
One of the most complained about TOTP performances ever, described as "highly pornographic". Looking at it now, it seems to describe some swaying. Leee John etc.

10 Hazel O'Connor - Will You
9 Elaine Paige - Memory
8 Ultravox - All Stood Still
7 Champaign - How 'Bout Us
There must be something to say about any of these people...

6 The Specials - Ghost Town
Ah, here's one to discuss. This replaced Jackson two weeks later, and in the two weeks around that chart Handsworth, Toxteth and Chapeltown did indeed break out in civil disobedience. No word on Vauxhall Crestas stopped for having too many passengers.

5 Odyssey - Going Back To My Roots
Like some sort of disco-soul We Are Scientists, they were a New York outfit who had far more success in the UK. Thus, zipped boots or no, not quite going back to any roots here.

4 Red Sovine - Teddy Bear
Here's an oddity. Recorded in 1976 by a trucker-centric country singer to cash in on the CB radio craze, it's a ridiculous spoken weepie about a paraplegic boy in a poor household whose only dream is to get a ride in a semitractor trailer truck. Presumably Simon Bates or someone was to blame for this.

3 Kate Robbins And Beyond - More Than In Love
Macca's cousin, hardworking impressionist and Crossroads cast member, on which she 'recorded' this gloop.

2 Smokey Robinson - Being With You
Just deposed from the top, Miraclesless lover's soul of a high calibre.

1 Michael Jackson - One Day In Your Life
What happened was Jackson had moved from Motown to Epic, so after Off The Wall was done Motown rather chivalrously put this out. Throw in that the brothers' Can You Feel It had only just vacated the chart after a long, number 6 peaking run and the world-straddling colossus - with Thriller and all that still to come, don't forget - was in place.

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