Sunday, December 06, 2009

The only chart that counted: 1979

For any newcomers, during this whole month-long exercise in the self-indulgent we take our critical faculties to a set of Christmas top forties of previous years, because at least right at the top they must be more exciting than what's happening now. While putting this whole month together we noticed that by happy coincidence we hadn't previously done the charts from ten, twenty and thirty years ago, which is an oversight anyway as they for the most part have fascinating number ones and backstories lower down, so let's start with an extraordinary top 40 in so many ways, not least what was considered perfectly reasonable festive fare post-Slade/Mud/Boney M:

40 Lena Martell - One Day At A Time
Proper one hit wonder, this coming back from number one and her never charting with a single again. Would that that would ever happen to anyone not connected with a pop reality show again.

39 Dollar - I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Burger flipping, Bucks Fizz splitting, election losing David Van Day and, erm, the girl. A cover, apparently.

38 Boney M - I'm Born Again
Pretty much last throw of the dice for Farian's fledgelings, meaning it's not so widely known that we've only just found out that their next album was called Boonoonoonoos. Boonoonoonoos!

37 Storm - It's My House
No idea if this is related to number 34. Let's use this one, then, for our usual look at interesting things bubbling just under the 40, which this time around means one off Thin Lizzy/Sex Pistols supergroup The Greedies' A Merry Jingle at 47 and a place below the good old Barron Knights' Lene Lovich-inclusive Food For Thought.

36 Kurtis Blow - Christmas Rappin'
On A Very Sweeping Christmas Volume 3. AS WELL YOU KNOW.

35 M - Moonlight And Muzak
See, he wasn't officially a one hit wonder, and it seemed he got to invent Ultravox in the process, or A Flock Of Seagulls, or maybe 1981 Human League, or possibly Joe Cornish's Quantum Of Solace theme Song Wars.

34 Diana Ross - It's My House
"Ross' mother, Ernestine, intended to name her daughter "Diane". The name recorded on Ross' birth certificate is "Diana". Throughout her early life, Ross referred to herself as "Diane". Between 1965 & 1966, however, she began to use her legal name, Diana Ross, much to the disdain of her fellow Motown artists, many of whom viewed Ross's name "change" as 'grandstanding'. Currently, she is referred to as "Diane" by her more malicious critics." We've never heard anyone refer to her as Diane, unless someone tried an ambitious Chain Reaction/Crossroads jibe.

33 Sheila B & Devotion - Spacer

32 Chic - My Feet Keep Dancing
Last UK hit, not counting medleys and remixes, and who does. Not as good as the story about Le Freak's origins.

31 The Ramblers - The Sparrow
Not the Countryside Alliance's answer to The Priests and The Soldiers but the choir from Abbey Hey Junior School covering that old kids' song about a poor little sparrow. Got to number 11. And they pretend to be shocked by There's No One Quite Like Grandma's success.

30 Mike Oldfield - Blue Peter
Simon Groom becomes fascinated by a good click track.

29 The Clash - London Calling
Suspicion lingers that it may never recover from Scouting For Girls at the Olympics party. Phoney indiemania has bitten the dust.

28 KC And The Sunshine Band - Please Don't Go
Covered by KWS for a number one in the dreadful pop year of 1992.

27 The Boomtown Rats - Diamond Smiles

26 Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Slinky rockabilly debut of the leathers and cap version of Freddie, the tache arriving in 1984. His impersonators' image must in accuracy terms must be a little like...

25 Elvis Presley - It Won't Seem Like Christmas Without You

24 The Skids - Working For The Yankee Dollar
Somehow Richard Jobson ended up on telly quite a lot around the early 90s either as an avatar of low culture loftiness or frontman for daytime BBC1 filler, like an amalgam of Anthony H Wilson (very definitely that phase of his self-mythology) and Paul 'Hill Challenge' Coia.

23 Gary Numan - Complex

22 Matchbox - Rockabilly Rebel
For all the revivalism we've never had the rockabilly comeback to go along with the late 70s/early 80s rockabilly revival (the Stray Cats, The Polecats, Shaky), which is a shame as we need to see modern 19 year olds dressing as teddy boys. It'd improve city centres after dark immensely. Mark Lamarr put this into Room 101 in the radio version as when he was in his bequiffed youth he'd get endlessly called a rockabilly rebel by passers by.

21 Dr Hook - When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman
Re-recorded The Cover Of The Rolling Stone as The Cover Of The Radio Times for BBC purposes. Other listings magazine cash-ins are not available.

20 The Beat - Tears Of A Clown/Ranking Full Stop
Still touring with, in contravention of the title, just Ranking Roger, who seems to be even more tireless than he was when Go-Feet was operational, and drummer Everett Morton from the classic line-up.

19 Madness - One Step Beyond
Still touring with all the classic line-up, but you knew that. A Prince Buster cover, although "don't watch that, watch this" is from another of his songs. All sources claim, although listening again we're not sure how it's possible, that to annoy Dave Robinson at Stiff they only recorded a 70 second version, only for him to nab the master tapes and get Langer and Winstanley to apply studio faerie dust to make it a fuller length. Have you ever wondered what such would be like from Chris Foreman's perspective?

18 The Moody Blues - Nights In White Satin
Doesn't seem to have been any reason for this, although they'd reactivated the previous year and had a number 7 album.

17 Rose Royce - Is It Love You're After

16 Status Quo - Living On An Island
Every so often they'd put the boogie down and go all mellow and melancholy. See also: In The Army Now, Marguerita Time.

15 Electric Light Orchestra - Confusion/Last Train To London
ELO had an oddness seemingly beyond even Guilty Pleasures curators, but this was basically proof that punk never came close to killing prog.

14 Blondie - Union City Blue
Worth a look for something odd in the embedding disabled video. No proper close range shots of her playing it, you'll notice, despite the glance down at 1:29.

13 David Bowie - John I'm Only Dancing (Again)
Not a self-aware reissue as such but a 'plastic soul' version of the Ziggy original. The plastic soul Bowie era was rubbish, right?

12 Michael Jackson - Off The Wall
Fourth single from the same titled album. Writer from Cleethorpes lol.

11 Donna Summer And Barbra Streisand - No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)
Summer covered this for ITV with Westlife, which somewhat misses the focal lyrical issue.

10 The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket
What an incredibly sensuous sidestep that must be. Celebratedly, the first new number one of the 1980s, a distinction that much was made of throughout the decade where future decade openers New Kids On The Block and Manic Street Preachers had pass by with little comment.

9 The Three Degrees - My Simple Heart
Or Bicycle Heart, as we thought it was called in our youth.

8 Gibson Brothers - Que Sera Mi Vida
Written by Thomas Bangalter's father, and that's all the interesting stuff that can be said about them.

7 Paul McCartney - Wonderful Christmas Time
Ringo's not actually on it, you know.

6 The Sugarhill Gang - Rapper's Delight
About as natural a street crew as JLS, put together from friends and offhand discoveries of Sugar Hill Records co-founder Sylvia Robinson. "I'm the C-A-S-A-N-O-V-A and the rest is F-L-Y" is a reference to, well, Casanova Fly, who wrote the whole of Big Bank Hank's verse and was never credited. Mind you, neither was Nile Rodgers at first. Oh, and it beat Kurtis Blow by a fortnight to become the first UK charting rap record and it was on its way down from a number 3 peak.

5 The Tourists - I Only Want To Be With You
Lennox and Stewart's first band, although neither was the main songwriter, and the last song played on the last montage on Thames Television.

4 Fiddler's Dram - Day Trip To Bangor
A sometime disguise for various full-on folkies - two of them formed Oysterband, orchestrators of the only celidh we've ever taken part in (alright, watched from the sidelines suddenly feeling more indie than ever) and singer Cathy Lesurf went on to the Albion Band and Fairport Convention. English folk's image never really recovered.

3 The Police - Walking On The Moon

2 ABBA - I Have A Dream
Stench of Westlife still surrounds.

1 Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (Part II)
Yeah! Merry Christmas, pop kids!

Previous years covered: 1975, 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2002

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