Monday, June 28, 2010

Needing a certain song

Presenting a new feature for the next four weeks of the medium that is in no way cheap, populist filler designed to hitch a ride on the occasional playlist absurdities of Pick Of The Pops on Radio 2 (played both 1985 FA Cup final songs the other week, it did). We'll be looking at the dark, and seemingly now dead, art of the holiday hit single, the sort of thing that the cliched Spanish holidaymakers listening intently to music in bars bring back with them to chart, just one of the great chart traditions (firework-like chart runs by old-type indie bands, single deletion, the idea that singles chart placings are a reliable judge of how big an artist is) brought to an end by download culture. This first one may stretch the elasticity of the concept as far as it'll go, given it's from the 29th October 1977, but as far as unlikely Euro-pop goes it's a cracker.

40 Barry White - It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me
The young Barrence Carter was involved in the South Central LA gang wars in his teens, losing his elder brother to rivals and being jailed for four months for stealing 300 Cadillac tyres. Bearing in mind he must have had the voice and some of the bulk by then it's a shame he missed out on The Wire.

39 Rose Royce - Do Your Dance
Make your love, get yourself down tonight.

38 The Commodores - Brick House
The British public being what they are, it's Easy, Three Times A Lady and Nightshift that Britain shamefully knows of Lionel Richie's band and not hard funk workouts such as this.

37 Peter Mac Junior/Godiego - The Water Margin
Japanese import BBC2 favourite of the time, up there with Til The Boat Comes In and The Onedin Line - there's a theme here - as themes that were hits from shows that failed to pass into the long term collective conscious.

36 The Bee Gees - How Deep Is Your Love
Wandering past neon video superceded by that of the Take That version, and more precisely an excitable Caitlin 'that bloke's a nutter' Moran detailing it to Collins and Maconie - "And at the end she throws Gary into a great big pit, and he dies!"

35 Space - Magic Fly
French, helmet wearing French electro-disco, perhaps the last set of circumstances you'd expect to be replicated by another successful act. Funny the things pop throws up.

34 Tina Charles - Love Bug
Please bear in mind throughout that had we had just two tracks down this bottom end sell a little less, we'd have had a top 40 including the Barron Knights' Live In Trouble, and then you'd never have heard the end of it.

33 Meri Wilson - Telephone Man
Not Mari Wilson, of Just What I Always Wanted semi-fame, but a semi-novelty one hit wonder of whom there is nothing to say.

32 Pratt And McClain - Happy Days
Theme from, in fact. B-side: Cruisin' With the Fonz.

31 Deep Purple - New Live And Rare EP
A live version of Black Night and two unreleased tracks from old albums. Wonder what this sold for.

30 George Benson - The Greatest Love Of All
Visual image of Kevin Rowland at Reading may have stained this song forever.

29 Santana - She's Not There
Memory stirred for very little reason recently of The Magnets, a kind of post-Flying Pickets/King's Singers vocal harmony troupe who would have been all over Seaside Special and 3-2-1 had both shows not been long axed by the time they formed and had this as their calling card.

28 Leo Sayer - Thunder In My Heart
Irony would later eat itself, shortly before throwing up all over Celebrity Big Brother.

27 Mary Mason - Angel Of The Morning/Any Way You Want Me
The main song's second of three (four if you count Shaggy's Angel) UK chart appearances, and apparently there's a version on Thunderbugs' unreleased album. Ah, Thunderbugs. Whenever the subject of overhyped flops comes up everyone immediately reaches for Terris and Joe Lean etc, but the pop world's flops are far more interesting, whether it be 21st Century Girls, Girl Thing, Frank, Upside Down or the bands - Thunderbugs, Hepburn, Next Of Kin and someone else we can't remember - in the celebrated (if you're us) CD:UK feature about "a new type of band who play their own instruments".

26 Dorothy Moore - I Believe You
Thousands didn't.

25 David Bowie - Heroes
Given its stature, and that of its creator, somewhat surprising to learn it only peaked at 24. Bowie always said that it was inspired by seeing two young lovers kissing by the Berlin Wall, visible from the studio, but Tony Visconti admitted many years later that it was the then-married him and a backing singer. Reverberations from Kasabian's cover for ITV's 2006 World Cup coverage are still being felt.

24 Giorgio - From Here To Eternity
Moroder invents the disco mix. A decade later, he co-invented a supercar.

23 Patsy Gallant - From New York To LA

22 Yvonne Elliman - I Can't Get You Out Of My Mind
More transient disco, this one by the originator of If I Can't Have You.

21 Nazareth - Hot Tracks EP
Not disco. Once subject to a bemusing Jeff Stelling running gag one Soccer Saturday.

20 Roxy Music - Virginia Plain
As close as pop ever came to recreating the sound of a guitar solo attacking a cow.

19 Elvis Presley - Way Down
On its, erm, way down from being the posthumous number one, as it was the current single - ah, pre-download and cynicism days, how good you feel in retrospect - though it only made number 18 in America. The bass vocal is gospel legend J.D. Sumner, and the Guinness Book reckons it's the lowest recorded note ever produced by the human voice.

18 Yes - Wonderous Stories
Vindaloo for one!

17 Smokie - Needles And Pins
Originally a hit for the Searchers, written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzsche. Smokie covering it just feels beneath it.

16 Donna Summer - I Remember Yesterday
The theory being it combined today, that is to say Summer's disco, with the big band sound, the same titled album ending with a track to represent 'the future', I Feel Love. Performed on TOTP in a white suit with dickie bow and matching topper.

15 Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway
Now uncrowned scion of new music, Ashes To Ashes touchstone and man of six decades as of a couple of weeks ago, this was he and they's first single. Some sources suggest a gay undertow, but it's an oblique one.

14 The Emotions - Best Of My Love

13 Queen - We Are The Champions
Redolent of play-off finals to this day.

12 The Stranglers - No More Heroes
Do you ever suspect that there was a late rewrite of the opening couplet, given the lack of even half-rhyme between 'Trotsky' and 'burn'?

11 The Carpenters - Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft
The Recognised Anthem of World Contact Day! There was no actual tie-in event, and it was a cover of Canadian prog band Klaatu anyway. Probably part of a Karen conspiracy theory now.

10 Meco - Star Wars Theme
This is that disco version you hear quite often now. Obviously it's no Star Wars Holiday Special. Or Bill Murray.

9 Danny Mirror - I Remember Elvis Presley
Well, you would, he'd only died 74 days earlier and this had already been in the charts for seven weeks.

8 The Sex Pistols - Holidays In The Sun
The last single from Never Mind The Bollocks and indeed their last proper single. Not banned by the BBC, but the point had been made by then.

7 Ram Jam - Black Betty
Bloke on the left - what's his story?

6 Status Quo - Rockin' All Over The World
Written by John Fogerty, reversioned for Sport Aid, subject of much Live 8 silliness. Also: see We Are The Champions.

5 ABBA - The Name Of The Game
Inspired by Stevie Wonder, apparently. Oh, to see Benny behind a clavinet. A deleted scene from the Mamma Mia film, as all of the rest of them should have been.

4 David Soul - Silver Lady
Now a British citizen, and doing some sort of poetry reading at Latitude Festival this year. He took a curious attitude to his early career image.

3 Rod Stewart - You're In My Heart
"You're Celtic, United, but baby I've decided you're the best team I've ever seen". He likes football, y'know.

2 La Belle Epoque - Black Is Black
A poor man's Labelle.

1 Baccara - Yes Sir I Can Boogie
See, here we go! Mayte Mateos and MarĂ­a Mendiola by name, one in black, one in white, playing some sort of flamenco disco (there's something for Hurts to aspire to on the second album), with askew accent to go. They represented Luxembourg at Eurovision a year later and by ten years later were both touring as Baccara, as they still do. Kind of Bucks Fizz before their time without the blokes, skirts, bus crash, more than two hits etc.


Mbop Promotions said...

Great rundown!

Steve Williams said...

"the bands - Thunderbugs, Hepburn, Next Of Kin and someone else we can't remember - in the celebrated (if you're us) CD:UK feature about "a new type of band who play their own instruments"."

The Moffats! I didn't remember that, by the way, I looked it up.
"In 1999, the Moffats also did an episode of TV show Campbell Scramble, a show that Calgary's CTV sports newscaster Glenn Campbell made. His three daughters, Kate, Madeline, and Amy appeared on this episode as well."