Musings on modern life, the 70's – with music.
Number 1 – Weezer – Rivers Cuomo – ‘Buddy Holly’.
I’ve worn me specs since I was 13 possibly 12 – my first pair were a rather nice tortoise-shell pair from the NHS. I quickly decided that I NEEDED contact lenses so by the time I was 15 I saved up for a pair – and passed out in the Arndale Centre in Luton when the Optician tried to insert them. Nowadays, I quite like wearing my glasses but need ‘glasses for reading’ AS WELL as contact lenses – that’s middle age for you! Quite like the fact that glasses are finally IN. Some pop stars (and One Direction fans) even wear fake glasses.
Anyway, welcome to Specs in Pop which will last as long as it lasts. Some of those featured might well wear fake glasses for cosmetic purposes, or wear spectacles disguised as sunglasses or need them for ACTUALLY seeing things. Specs in Pop will have a tendency to be quite geeky and scientific (more boys than girls interestingly) but have enough to last us until Tiffany Twisted 3…
Weezer were sort of a lighter/poppier alternative to the grunge scene and I was quite shocked to discover that this as released in 1994 (in my mind I mixed them up with Wheatus – coming later).. Released on what would have been Buddy Holly’s 58th Birthday, this reached Number 12 in the UK charts and also name checks one Mary Tyler Moore.
Buddy Holly will be along later.
Number 2 – The Chemical Brothers – Tom Rowlands – ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’
Watch out for those skeletons boys & girls. I have always been a bit scared of skeletons ever since witnessing the fight of the skeletons in Jason & The Argonauts to be honest – which is a bit silly really – I am constantly astonished as to how those historical types are able to reconstruct the faces of Cleopatra or some bog people from a load of old bones which look exactly the same. Pah.
The Chemical Brothers almost featured in It Takes Two but I ran out of breath, so here they are.
Tom & Ed were childhood classmates, following him up to Manchester, via an obsession with Scotland and bagpipes. Known then as The Dust Brothers (not to be confused with the American Production Duo), they released their first LP as the Chemical Brothers in 1995 after releasing some records on Junior Boys Own.
HBHG was released in 1999, and the Brothers were on a massive roll. The video takes in the National History Museum and the toilets at the Ministry of Sound nightclub. The sample of from ‘The Roof Is On Fire’ by Rockmaster Scott & The Dynamic Three
Still prolific, the track Galvanize (which nearly appeared here) was a centre piece from last years Olympics. One of the singles of the 90’s for sure.
Number 3 – The Miracles – Bobby Rogers – ‘Love Machine (Part 1)’
Brilliant slice of 70’s Disco from 1976, featuring the Miracles without Smokey, who had retired in 1972. They recruited Billy ‘Hold Me Tighter In The Rain’ Griffin as vocalist and recorded a number of great records) including the rather wonderful Ain’t Nobody Straight In L.A (judging by those pink suits I think not)..
Contractual wrangles with Motown put an end to their success, they signed to Colombia but failed to score a hit. Billy left to return to his solo career and Pete Moore decided to retire to life on the road.
Bobby was with the Miracles from the beginning and sang on all the great hits and continued with them through all their various incarnations until the day he died aged 73 from diabetes in March 2013.
Number 4 – Landscape – John L Walters – ‘Einstein A Go-Go’.
John is the one on the synth pipe but Richard Burgess is the one with the fame – New Romantic producer extraordinaire, Landscape were more jazz-funk until they began experimenting with computers recording their second LP from whence this came in 1981.
Number 5 – Su Pollard – ‘Back In The USSR’.
Way better than anything on ‘Su’ by Su Pollard, this appeared on 1984’s The Laughter Show and was never released on record. Good you may say, but you can’t really deny her exuberance and enthusiasm.
Su began her TV career in Two Up, Two Down with Paul Nicholas before landing the part of Peggy Ollerenshaw in Hi-De-Hi in 1980 and a TV legend was born. Along route she has presented Get Set For The Summer, appeared in two further David Croft comedies (Oh Dr Beeching & You Rang M’Lord), co-hosted It’s A Royal Knockout , had a cameo appearance in Gimme Gimme Gimme, regularly appears in pantomime and even bagged Rear of the Year in the nineties. She even had a proper hit record with Starting Again – the theme tune to a BBC reality show called The Marriage.
Bring on the boxed set then..
Number 6 – Cliff Richard – Devil Woman.
A rare outing for Cliff in his specs, who I believe has (probably) had lazer eye surgery (if not he should have).
Worldwide this is, quite rightly, Cliff’s third best selling record. Taken from the rather brilliant ‘I’m Nearly Famous’ LP, this was released in 1976 and was written by Tony Britten & Christine Holmes.
Not sure about the self promoting t-shirt, but Cliff never looked cooler or sexier goddamnit!
Number 6 – The Proclaimers – Charlie & Craig Reid – ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’
Sexy old Proclaimers, I remember the funny story in the News of the World which claimed that Craig Proclaimer was a love rat. Said Kim (Craig wore) – “Baggy grey pants…it was over in minutes…and he left his glasses on the whole time.The more passionate we kissed the harder his glasses banged into my head.”
Racey stuff – (made me a bit hot under the collar).
This video also features scenes in and around Brighton & Lewes which I discovered just yesterday.
Number 7 – The Beat – Saxa – Mirror In The Bathroom
Who doesn’t love The Beat – one of the best British Singles Acts of the late 70’s/early 80’s – all three LP’s represent the pinnacle of British Pop..
Saxa (born Lionel Augustus Martin) is a saxophonist famous for his role in The Beat ( think a British Clarence Clemmons), who also played with many early reggae stars such as Laurel Aitken, Prince Buster, and Desmond Dekker.
Born in 1930 which makes him well over 80.
Reaching Number 4, you can hear Saxa’s distinctive sax sound propelling this song onwards towards its inevitable paranoid conclusion.
Songs about mental illness were really quite a rarity weren’t they?
Number 8 – Mud – Les Gray – ‘Dyna-mite’.
The jury is out as to whether Leslie’s glasses are just for show or whether he really needed them – he wears them more that not – and besides everyone had a pair of aviator shades in the 70’s (I even had a pair which I wore in unity). ‘Mud Rock’ was the first LP I ever bought (from Woolworths on Royston High Street). Although I was a tad disappointed that Dyna-mite, Tiger Feet and The Cat Crept In appeared as a medley, I was happy-ish as I had taped the full(ish) versions off the radio.
They may look like dockers (although I’m not so sure about Rob), but Les, Ray, Dave and Rob (such 70’s names) had been kicking around since the sixties. For a couple of years they challenged for the glitter crown and anyone of a particular age remembers dancing to Tiger feet at their local Youth Club.
Unfortunately both Dave (on drums) and Les have now passed away. Les died in the Algarve from a heart attack in 2004.
Number 9 – The Doors – Ray Manzarek – ‘Touch Me’.
Of Polish descent, raised in Chicago, he met Jim at UCLA (where he also met his future wife). The Doors released six albums in four years, you would never see that in today’s market. ‘Touch Me’ was taken from The Soft Parade.
The group mimed “Touch Me” on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. During the performance, Jim, who was providing a live vocal to a pre-recorded backing track, missed his cue for the lines “C’mon, c’mon”, and Krieger could be seen with a black eye. Krieger stated in several interviews given after Morrison’s death that Morrison had given him the black eye during a confrontation, inadvertently referencing the song’s original title. The group appeared with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, with Curtis Amy miming to the saxophone solo he had provided on the studio recording.
Ray was 74 when he died from blie duct cancer earlier this year.
Number 10 – R.E.M – Mike Mills – ‘Crush With Eyeliner’
Loved the direction which R.E.M took for Monster. Inspired by the New York Dolls, with Thurston Moore on backing vocals, Crush With Eyeliner does not show much of the band in this video concentrating instead upon a group of Japanese teenagers miming to the song at a party.
Formed in 1980, they split up in 2011 some 14 LP’s later.
Number 11 – Dr Hook – Jance Garfat & Rik Elswit – ‘When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman’.
Funny old band are Dr Hook. I think people miss the irony and humour in their lyrics. This is a great example of clever wordplay as the Hook rode the disco train to the top of the UK charts. Always more of a singles act than an albums one (which I thought a bit peculiar) and you should buy yourself a cheap Hits compilation (of which there are many).
Bassist Jance died n 2006 in a road crash. Rik still plays & teaches guitar and lives n San Francisco.
Number 12 – Doobie Brothers – Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter – ‘Listen To The Music’
Astonishing three part harmonies and a great wooshie production, Listen To The Music was released in 1972 from their Toulouse Street LP. Skunk does not feature in the actual record but appears here from this clip in 1975 when the world was catching onto their great songs and general laid back vibe.
As this Summer seems to be going on and on (how good has it been?) – this record could be the soundtrack to many a top-down, sun-soaked roadtrip.
Jeff was previously in Steely Dan and remained with the Doobies until 1979, when he left and worked as a session guitarist. More recently he has been employed as a defence consultant chairing a Congressional Advisory Board on missile defence..
Number 13 – Steely Dan – Walter Becker (&– Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter) – ‘Reelin’ In The Years’
Very, very little footage of actual Steely Dan from their Golden Era seems to exist (mind you they weren’t the most attractive bunch).
With a guitar solo that is more famous than the actual song, Reelin in the Years came from Can’t Buy A Thrill (and features Baxter from yesterdays Specs in Pop on guitar again).
Walter teamed up with Fagen in New York in the late 60’s. They played in a band called The Leathery Canary which included Chevy Chase who was at Uni with the pair. Moving to California in late ’71 they formed the Dan and named them after the dildo from Naked Lunch.
A troubled late 70’s – addicted to narcotics, knocked over by a taxi, losing a girlfriend to a drugs overdose (resulting in a law suit against him) – so no surprise he was knackered by 1980.
He still works and tours with the Dan – although his second solo LP – inspired by reggae and Jamaican music should, perhaps, be avoided – unless you know different!!
Number 14 – Randy Edelman – ‘Uptown Uptempo Woman’
There was an abundance of blokes in glasses, wither playing piano or strumming a guitar in the Seventies – see also Randy Vanwarmer (which is possibly the funniest name ever), Stephen Bishop and Elton John.
Noted as a film composer, he has written scores for the Harry Potter films, The Mask and Last of the Mohicans. Plus wrote, amongst other songs, Weekend In New England (for Barry Manilow). Add to that his marriage to the wonderful Jackie DeShannon – who is also a great composer/singer equals quite a talent.
Uptown, Uptempo Woman was a smallish hit in 1976 and followed a successful version of Concrete & Clay (see below). Always loved this, could almost be the aural equivalent of Saturday Night Fever or The Graduate. Really nice hoody top too! Catch the girls bobbing away in the background..
Number 15 – John Denver – ‘Leaving On A Jet Plane’
Written by John Denver way back in ’66, this was a much bigger hit by Peter, Paul & Mary.
I always bracket Denver in with Johnny Mathis for some reason. Both sold an incredible amount of records when I worked in my first record shop but I have rediscovered Denver recently and have fallen in love with this – it brings a little tear to the eye..
Born Henry John Deutschendorf into a military family, fiercly democratic and anti Regan, he did almost choke his ex-wife with a chain-saw over a property dispute. Denver died, rather ironically, in a plane crash in 1995 aged 53.
Here is a rather special performance with Cass Elliott from Midnite Special.
Time for a re-assessment me thinks.
Number 16 – Hot Chocolate – Tony Connor – ‘So You Win Again’
Remarkable that Hot Chocolate had to wait until 1977 before obtaining their first and only number one hit. Huge over here and huge all over Europe and reasonably successful in the States, they produced brilliant singles on the trot and were always on TOTP’s or Disco or Toppop.
Errol had the habit of looking incredibly soft and feminine even with a moustache (check out his choker in this clip).
Tony began drumming with Hot Chocolate in ’73 and left in ’86, re-joining them the ’92 to the present day. Connor was born April 6, 1947, in Romford, England. The rest of Hot Chocolate formed after relocating to London in 1970 and got their first record contract on the Beatles’ Apple Records.
I thought I spotted a video for Brother Louie somewhere but I’ll be damned if I can find it.
The Hot Chocolate Revival starts here.
101 SPECS IN POP – Number 17 – Sweet Sensation – Marcel King – ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’
Alumni from New Faces, which was the pre-curser to the X-Factor. The difference as that the progress of the contestants relied on the judges votes rather than the public (as was the case n Opportunity Knocks) – although the audience became involved when New Faces returned for two series’ in the late 80’s. As such we got a brace of much more interesting singers and groups than Knocks (Lena Zavaroni being the exception) – we had Showaddywaddy, Sheer Elegance, Patti Boulaye, Son of A Gun and these boys – the comedians included Lenny Henry, Les Dennis, 8 year old Malandra Burrows and Victoria Wood. Tony Hatch was the mean spirited judge (if Simon Cowell had penned half a song as good as Downtown, Don’t Sleep In The Subway, Where Are you Now or the Theme from Crossroads – I might actually respect rather than despise the fellow). The theme tune for New Faces was provided by Carl Wayne of the Move fame..
Back to Sweet Sensation. Formed in Manchester in 1973, this was released in 1974 and they became Britains first black group to achieve a number one hit. A second top 30 hit and that was it – they tried out for A Song for Europe, came 8th and were dropped by Pye.
Marcel tried to get his career back on track in the 80’s recording Reach for Love with Bernard Sumner & Donald Johnson of A Certain Ratio fame (on Factory to boot). Blessed with a voice that rivalled Michael Jackson, Marcel sadly died aged 37 from a brain haemorrhage in 1995 – tragically his son died two years later in a Manchester gangland killing.
I actually persuaded Mum & Dad to buy me some glasses like this rather than the National Health ones I was used to..
Number 18 – Haircut 100 – Phil Smith (& later Nick Heyward) – ‘Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)’
This chugs along rather nicely doesn’t it. I have absolutely no idea what they are singing about but I prefer it that way.
Haircut 100 produced a perfect debut LP in Pelican West (Virgin, Peterborough 1982 sold MASSES of it). Favourite Shirts reached Number 4 and marked their debut on TOTP’s. Little bit Rapture and a little bit Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag, and a touch of Chant Number 1, The Haircuts were as famous for their aran sweaters (tucked into trousers), plus fours and jaunty caps as for their records.
Nick suffered some psychological problems and was dismissed in late 82. A successful solo career beckoned and he is respected as a little 80’s jewel.
Can’t find any details about Phil – only know that he played the saxophone!
Number 19 – The Zombies – Paul Atkinson & Chris White – ‘She’s Not There’
Back in the 60’s it was rare to get one let alone two people with glasses in a pop combo. But the Zombies were not like any other band.
Chris – bass player – continued to work with both Colin & Rod following the demise of the Zombies, co-writing Hold Your Head Up and writing and producing for Blunstone (he was also instrumental in discovering Dire Straits).
Paul became an A&R Executive signing Judas Priest, Bruce Hornsby and Mr Mister. He died aged 58 from liver & kidney disease.
Reminiscent of the Doors (although a couple of years earlier), She’s Not There was released in 1964 and Number Two in the States – part of the British invasion and was covered in the 70’s by Santana.
Great clip from a great band, Odyssey & Oracle was THEIR Sgt Pepper.
And the girl in this clip is REALLY not there at all! Crazy.
Number 20 – Electribe 101 – either Joe Stevens, Les Fleming, Roberto Cimarosti, Brian Nordhoff – ‘Talking With Myself’
Bit of an enigma Electribe 101. Can’t find out what became of them (apart from Billie Ray Martin who was, and is, impossibly glamourous) nor which of the band wore spectacles (but at least two did) – maybe someone can tell me?
One stunning album, Electribal Memories, released in 1990, Talking With Myself was initially released in 1988 but finally became a hit in 1990.
Split during the completion of the second album due to wrangles and differences of opinion with Mercury, their record label, Martin left and they decided to carry on as The Groove Corporation without her.
Number 21 – Manfred Mann’s Earthband – Chris Thompson – ‘Davy’s On The Road’
Certainly not the last time that we shall here from the Manfred’s in this list. Christopher Hamlet Thompson, to be exact, was the singer between 1975–1986 then between 1996–1999 with a final stint in 2004.
Very fine singer who has worked with a wide range of artists, he recorded the theme tune to The Champ – the rather lovely If You Remember Me – he also wrote You’re The Voice for John Farnham.
Much better looking once he had cut his ridiculous hair off, DOTR was, for once, not written by Dylan or Springsteen (although Robbie Robertson co-wrote it).
Number 22- The Turtles – Mark Volman – ‘Elenor’
A spectacular case of the voice not matching the face. Howard sounds exactly like David Cassidy but looked like an extra from the Sopranos. Both became better known as Flo & Eddie who together sang backing vocals on some incredible records – get this: Get It On by T Rex, Autoamerican by Blondie, Forever Now by the Psychedelic Furs and Hungry Heart by the Boss.
Picked up by the Mothers of Invention when the Turtles dissolved, Mark was Flo to Howards’ Eddie.
Although recorded as a parody of Happy Together, Eleanor climbed to Number 7 in this country in 1968.
Number 23 – Judee Sill – ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’.
As you can see from the edited excerpt from her Wikipedia page, Judee led a colourful but tragic life.
“Judee spent much of her adolescence in the Oakland area. Her father, Milford “Bun” Sill, an importer of exotic animals for use in films, owned a bar, which is where Sill spent a lot of her childhood, learning piano in less than idyllic and seedy surroundings. When her father died of pneumonia in 1952, her mother moved Judee and her brother Dennis to Los Angeles, where the former Mrs. Sill took up and married Tom and Jerry animator Kenneth Muse in 1952.
After her mother passed in 1963, Judee bounced around from high school to high school. Her experimentation with drugs led her to fall in with a thief. She managed a few successful liquor store heists before being caught at a gas station and sent to a reform school in Ventura.
After doing a brief stint in reform school (where a spell as a church organist taught her many of the “gospel licks” that would later surface in her music), Judee attempted a return to collegiate studies and took a job working long hours in a piano bar. She started doing LSD and promptly moved in with an acid dealer and began exploring some of the psychedelic depths that would inform her later lyrical leanings. She and a friend rented a house from the dealer and formed a jazz trio with a third girl.
Around this time, she met and married pianist Bob Harris. Within months both had succumbed to crippling heroin addictions and made their way as musicians in Vegas for a time. When she moved back to California, she resorted to prostitution for a spell to support her massive habit. A string of narcotics and forgery offenses sent her to jail. When she got out, she immediately set to work as a song composer.
Sill encountered Graham Nash and David Crosby and toured with them for a time as their opening act. After some initial interest from Atlantic Records David Geffen offered her a contract with his new Asylum label. She sold her song “Lady-O” to The Turtles. She was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.
Graham Nash produced the first single for her first album, “Jesus was a Cross Maker”, which was released to radio on October 1, 1971. The album Judee Sill soon followed in October 1971. The album featured Sill’s voice in multiple overdubs, often in a four-part chorale or fugue.
Following a series of car accidents and failed surgery to rectify a painful back injury, Sill struggled with drug addiction and dropped out of the music scene, finally dying of a drug overdose, or “acute cocaine and codeine intoxication,” on November 23, 1979, at her apartment on Morrison Street in North Hollywood. Sill’s ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean following a ceremony organised by a few close friends at the Self-Realization Fellowship in Pacific Palisades.”
Been championing her for years – I think I first heard a version by the Hollies and Judie Tzuke pointed me in the right direction (think a review for For You cited this as an influence.
Number 24 – The Lemon Pipers – Robert G “Reg” Nave – ‘Green Tambourine’.
Ohio based The Lemon Pipers, recorded two LP’s in the late 60’s. This reached number one in the States and number 7 over here in 1968. Sweeping orchestral strings and an overdose of tape echo on the ‘play’ bit, this is one of my most loved singles of that year – little bit psychedelic so no surprise that Status Quo covered this.
Some of The Lemon Pipers morphed into the Ram Jam Band who delivered Black Betty some ten years later.
You have to be quick to spot Reg squatting behind his keyboard and no news about what Reg is doing now. Sorry.
Number 25 – Ram Jam – Myke Scavone – ‘Black Betty’
An International Top Ten Hit from 1977, Ram Jam (or The American Ram Jam Band as they were known over here) featured Bill Bartlett from the Lemon Pipers on guitar.
The oldest song in this list by some – originally recorded by Leadbelly, Black Betty was an 18th Century marching song about a flintlock musket.
Upon it’s release in 1977, the Congress for Racial Equality called for a boycott of this record over the lyrics.
Shame that they decided to include the full version – the single version is much better. Myke currently fronts a band called The Doughboys in New Jersey.
And they all look like they are having a blast (particularly the geezer in the bandana).
Number 26 – The Wombles – Wellington Womble & Uncle Bulgaria Womble – ‘Remember You’re A Womble’
Wellington (bit of a geek) was Chris Speeding of Motorbikin’ fame and Uncle Bulgaria (prone to streaking) was Jack Rothstein, a Polish born violinist & conductor who lived most of his life in the UK.
The Wombles were REALLY big business. This reached Number 3 in 1974 and the LP spent 31 weeks on the charts. They were the interval act in Brighton for Eurovision Song Contest and other Wombles included Clem Cattini, mike Batt and Ray Cooper – Steeleye Span even donned the costumes for a TOTP’s appearance. They even played Glastonbury in 2011.
Number 27 The Four Tops –Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir – ‘Simple Game’
The only surviving member of the Four Tops (how sad is that?), he began his career with the Four Tops (or the Four Aims as they were known then) way back in 1954. Born of Bangladeshi/Ethiopian ancestry, he attended the Pershing High School in Detroit where he met Levi Stubbs.
A string of extraordinary singles in the Sixties – and I mean EXTRAORDINARY – Reach Out (I’ll Be There). Bernadette, Standing in the Shadows of Love, 7 Rooms of Gloom, Walk Away Renee, If I Were A Carpenter – the list goes on. They left Motown in 1972, leaving for ABC..
Simple Games has the same kind of tension as their 60’s output, and put the original by the Moody Blues firmly in it’s place (although The Moody Blues contributed backing vocals).
Thankfully this reached Number 3 over here as it was less successful Stateside. I’m not sure that I have heard a Tops single that didn’t my me cry!
The video for this – possibly the greatest on this list – features the Tops in brown top/trousers combination (not sure what they are called), nice cream shirts and fantastic shoes.
Besides Levi Stubbs is one of the greatest singers, like EVER.
Number 28 – Chairman of the Board – Harrison Kennedy – ‘(You’ve Got Me) Dangling On A String’.
Established by Holland-Dozier-Holland when they left Motown – they formed Invictus (one of the best looking labels of all time) and announced the Chairman of the Board as their flagship act.
General Johnson (RIP) was blessed with a big old hiccuppy voice which was a bit Levi Stubbs and a bit Kevin Rowland.
Harrison released some solo LP’s through Invictus and is now an award winning Blues Musician.
But, WOW this video is great!
Number 29 – The Smiths – Stephen Patrick Morrissey – ‘What Difference Does It Make’
The original sleeve pictured Terence Stamp from The Collector which, although not featured in the actual film, was permission was withdrawn within days of release and replaced by Morrissey holding a pint of milk instead of a chloroform pad. Stampy soon changed his mind and the Morrissey sleeve is now rarer.
What Difference Does It Make was the sound of ’84 and despite one of The Smiths biggest hits, is one of Morrisseys least favourite. Sorry Morrissey.
Just how long does it take to recover from a Wedding eh?
Number 30 – Hot Chip – Alexis Taylor – ‘Over and Over’.
Described by the NME as an “insanely catchy kitchen-sink club-stomper” (which it is), this charted twice in March of 2006 (reaching number 32) and in October, reaching number 27. It did top the end of year poll in the NME being ‘hailed’ as Single of the Year.
Laid back, I’ll give you laid back!
Number 31 – Jefferson Airplane – Paul Kantner – ‘White Rabbit’
Taken from Surrealistic Pillow, ‘White Rabbit’became the second top ten hit in the States for the Airplane. Mind expanding lyrics, inspired by Lewis Carroll and equally mind expanding video clip – the Airplane certainly were ‘Out There’
Spotted by Marty Balin singing in a folk club called The Drinking Gourd, and was swiftly recruited. Similar to the Mac in their interband relationships – Slick dated the drummer, the roadie and Kantner himself producing a daughter who appears on the Sunfighter LP.
Number 32- Rolf Harris – ‘The Court of King Caractacus’
Actually, the version on Music For Pleasure was probably the first record I ever owned. Backed with Two Little Boys, it was by an anonymity and released in 1970 – the year of ‘Two Little Boys’ (also bought a copy of White Horses from Woolies in Royston).
This brilliant little clip features a chap, lip-synching the entire thing, with requisite dance moves. And as the Jury is in (or out) on Rolf, it seemed more appropriate to include a clip like this rather than a clip of him (Innocent until proved Guilty – remember that)..
Number 33 – Basement Jaxx – Felix Buxton – ‘Good Luck’
I’d quite like to be Basement Jaxx, playing your favourite records, working with some of your favourite people, crawling into bed at sun-rise and no-one really cares what you look like.
Felix was born and raised in Brixton, This came from the brilliant Kish-Kash LP and Good Luck feature a powerhouse performance from Lisa Kekaula of The Bellrays fame. No Felix in the video but you can do a Google search in case you cannot place him can’t you?
Number 34 – Clive Dunn – ‘Grandad’
Born in Sevenoaks in 1920, Clive was the cousin of Ethel from Eastenders and joined the Italia Conti Academy when he left school. After several Film & TV roles he landed the part of Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army as an elderly butcher.
You don’t have to be an Einstein to work out that he was a mere 51 when this hit the number one spot. Rocking away in his rocking chair, written by Herbie Flowers with one Rick Wakeman on piano.
I remember hating this at the time – I only had one Grandad (who was alive) and he couldn’t really be described as ‘lovely’ so was a little jealous of all the youngsters buying this for their ‘lovely Grandad’ (I didn’t) – hey-ho – we ended up okay though.
Number 35 – Stretch – Elmer Gantry (or Dave Terry) – ‘Why Did You Do It?’
One of my favourite records of all time and Specs In Pop is back on the RIGHT track.
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera featured members of Strawbs along with Dave Terry as Elmer. Stretch were formed and became a fake version of Fleetwood Mac touring the States on the behest of Clifford Davis who claimed he owned the name.
Why Did You Do It, funky little beast that it is, became a number 16 hit in the UK, with a fabulous extended version, which I picked up after hearing it in Ku in Ibiza.
Likely to feature next year in Tiffany Twisted 3 so I shan’t go on but enjoy!
Number 36 – MC Hammer – ‘U Can’t Touch This’
Stanley Kirk Burrell was one of eight children and grew up in Oakland, California. He joined the Navy for three years, he began his recording career with the Holy Christian Boys. He had to wait until 1990 for this to become his first big global hit.
All about the sample though, which in this case is Super Freak by the wonderful Rick James.
Number 37 – Jigsaw – Tony Campbell – ‘Sky High’
This caused me some difficulties – just who IS the bespectacled guitarist? Went to Google search-Jigsaw-Guitarist-Sky High-Tony Campbell and he came up.
From Coventry & Rugby, Jigsaw were true one hit wonders, despite appearing in a number of 60’s pop combos. First record was released in 1970, Dter & Scott wrote Who Do You Think You Are by Candlewick Green.
The theme song to The Man From Hong Kong, a martial arts film starring George Lazenby.
When he left the group in 1979, Campbell returned to his former career as an ophthalmic engineer.
The promo video looks like it was filmed just outside Heathrow Airport.
Number 38 – 1910 Fruitgum Company – Steve Mortkowitz – ‘Simon Says’
Perfect song for a boy of my age, Simon Says was released in 1968. Re-released in the 70s’ on 12”, ‘Simon Says’ reached Number 4 in the States and Number 2 over here. The history of Simon Says (or “Kommando Pimperle” in German) as a game, dates back to the Battle of Lewes in 1264 (possibly).
Goofballs, the 1910 Fruitgum Company released a staggering 5 LP’s before they imploded, the guitarist rumoured to have been the first to use the term bubble-gum pop of which this is an exemplary example.
Number 39 – Run-D.M.C. – Daryl McDaniels – ‘Walk This Way’.
Raised in Hollis, Queens – Run-D.M.C. released their first single way back in 1983. Walk This Way was added to Raising Hell by Rick Rubin who thought that a heavy element was required on the LP. It catapulted them into Rap Superstardom. The original Aerosmith track can be found on Toys In The Attic.
Number 40 – The Lightning Seeds – Ian Broudie – ‘Pure’
The first record which Broudie had completely written and sung on. Released in 1989 (WHAAT!?), this became a Top 20 hit and the only US Top 40 hit for the band.
Starting his career with Big In Japan, he went on the form the Original Mirrors and Care whilst producing The Bunnymen and The Fall amongst others. He has a son called Riley whom he wrote a song about.
I attended a Lightning Seeds Pop Quiz in evening – of course, I was on Mark Wood’s team and I ‘think’ we came top three…(or maybe I was on an alternative team). Great night.
Number 41 – The Singing Nun – Jeanine Deckers – ‘Dominique’
Imagine the scenario – you have been ordained as a Nun in the Missionary Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Fichermont, merrily tending to your courgettes, beans and sprouts whilst humming and secretly composing pop songs. Then lo, you are signed up by a record company and your record is a huge international hit. Indeed Dominique was the first record from Belgium to reach Number One in the States. Her life story was filmed starring Debbie Reynolds and she even released a DISCO version of the song. Pulled between the world of showbiz, increasingly critical of the Catholic church, siding with Joh Lennon, she left the convent in 1966.
Worse was to come, she ran into financial difficulties which caused her and her partner of more than 10 years to commit suicide in 1985 through a combination of barbituates and alcohol.
Any fans of American Horror Story will immediately recognise this for the creepy piece of music it is.. (doesn’t everyone find Nuns terrifying?!! Or hilarious?)..
Number 42 – Climax Blues Band – Pete Haycock & John Cuffley – ‘Couldn’t Get It Right’
Formed in Stafford in 1968, the Climax Blues Band had to wait until 1976 until the slightest whiff of a hit. Asked to write a hit record by RCA for inclusion on their Gold Plated LP, they came up with this.
Incredibly sexy and growling, Couldn’t Get It Right reached Number 10 in this country and number 3 in the States.
Haycock played a rare gold plated Veleno guitar, briefly joined the ELO Part 2, and formed Pete Haycock’s Climax as an alternative to the Climax Blues Band.
Number 43 – The Brothers Johnson – George Johnson – ‘Strawberry Letter #23’
It might be me, but this sounds like it has stepped out of ‘Around The World In A Day’ or ‘Introducing the Hardline According To TTD’.
Mates with Quincy Jones both, he produced this and Georges’ only solo single record.
Written and originally recorded by Shuggie Otis (see below), this was about an old girlfriend who wrote to him using strawberry scented writing paper. How lovely.
Number 44 – The Cars – Greg Hawkes – ‘Just What I Needed’
Being the synth player with The Cars is not the greatest accolade in the world is it?
From the debut (and best) LP, this reached 27 in the States and 17 in the UK. I remember the who-haw surrounding the picture discs at the time – I think that the picture disc for ‘My Best Friends Girl’ was the first I had ever seen. This was also released on picture disc but is much harder to find.
Ric ended up starring in Hairspray and has been married three times (HOW?) while Benjamin succumbed to pancreatic cancer aged 53 in 2000.
The whole lot was produced by Roy Thomas Baker of Queen fame..
Number 45 – Supertramp – John Helliwell – ‘It’s Raining Again’
BLOODY ROGER BLOODY HODGSON! What a mealy mouthed meany he must be. Try to find any original Supertramp videos or clips and you simply can’t (apart from this one). You can get the songs rightly enough – but they are all modern clips written and composed or orchestrated by ROGER BLOODY HODGSON! What IS going on?! I can only summise that the eventual split was acrimonious and that Hodgson is highly litigious in nature.
This has meant that poor old bespectacled John has been wiped from youtube history (and I suspect that his Wikipedia page has been tampered with by Roger Bloody Hodgson.
I like this – and the video but, frankly, would have preferred Dreamer, Give A Little Bit, Logical Song or Goodbye Stranger.
Anyone know the real story?
Number 46 – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band – Vivian Stanshall – ‘I’m the Urban Spaceman’
Produced by Paul McCartney and Gus Dudgeon this was a surprise hit in 1968 – which was a great pop year too – it became the bands biggest (only) hit single.
Vivian was a proper English eccentric. He wrote songs, books and poems and had a key part in Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield (the ‘Grand Piano’ bit still makes me jump out of my skin).. btw Mike is on telly tonight performing TB on BBC4 with Steve Hillage (bit excited) followied by Synth Britannia (bit more excited!!)..
Viv only started wearing glasses in the 70’s, he was discovered building rabbit hutches instead of writing songs and died in a house fire in his North Muswell Hill flat.
And who knew Neil Innes was such a doll!
Number 47 – Hi-Gate – DJ Judge Jules – ‘Pitchin (In Every Direction)’
Funnily enough (for a boy who loves vocals), I prefer the instrumental version of this.
Began professionally DJing in 1987, he plays the sax also and is the bloke behind the sax solo on This Morning.
Given that I didn’t really mix with an Ibiza crowd. I know next to nothing about this Top 10 Hit.
The alternative vocal version has Jules sporting the coolest specs yet.
Number 48 – JJ Cale – ‘After Midnight’
Occasional specs wear, Cale was born in Oklahoma City in 1938. Worked as a recording engineer and despite releasing several records considered giving up on music in the late 60’s when Eric Clapton recorded this track and success finally came..
Cool clip recorded at the Paradise Studios in L.A in 1979 with Christine Lakeland on guitar and Leon Russell on keyboards and Cale with really great bed-hair!
Number 49– Fairground Attraction – Eddi Reader – ‘Perfect’
Who knew that Reader was an MBE? Eldest of seven, daughter of a welder, Sadenia Reader was born in Glasgow.
She began her musical career touring with the Gang of Four and sang with the Eurythmics, Billy McKenzie and The Waterboys.
It is, perhaps, this song which most people remember her most for – either in horror or in kindness (I’m somewhere in-between).
Fairground Attraction only lasted for two LP’s and she went on to forge a successful and acclaimed solo career cumulating in the aforementioned MBE for her Robert Burns project and her contribution to the musical arts in particular.
Number 50 – De La Soul – Kelvin Mercer – ‘Me. Myself & I’
Opening single from an extraordinary debut LP, Mr, Myself & I came from 3 Feet High & Rising and reached Number 22 on the UK Charts in 1989.
They have released a staggering 8 LP’s – although I only know the first two..
Uniquely positive in their approach, 3 Feet High & Rising contains some brilliant sampling, some snazzy adverts and perhaps the loveliest sleeve design in Hip-Hop.
“(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic (1979), “Rapper Dapper Snapper” by Edwin Birdsong (1980), “Funky Worm” by the Ohio Players (1973), “The Show” by Doug E. Fresh (1985), “Gonna Make You Mine” by Loose Ends (1986)
Number 51- The Glitter Band – Harvey Ellison – ‘Let’s Get Together Again’
With seven Top 20 Hit Singles and with their toe dipped into the sea of disco, the Glitter Band really were a great, somewhat overlooked, band. Tarnished by the antics of their leader, they began their career as the Boston Showband before changing their name to the Glittermen before settling on the Glitter Band in 1973.
I *think* this clip was taken from Never To Young To Rock, a film which featured the Rubettes, Mud, Peter Denyer and Sheila Stefall.
At various times members of the band played at the Scala and were joined on stage by Adam Ant & Angie Bowie, recruited Trevor Horn to play the bass guitar, appeared on Back In Denim and wrote for the Eurovision Song Contest. There were THREE Glitter Bands in operation in the 80s. Harvey moved from sax to bass.
If you have a spare few quid you should seek out their Greatest Hits LP, right up there with the very best Glam rock.
Number 52 – The Detroit Spinners – Philippe Wynne – ‘Rubberband Man’
One of my favourites from 76, do not confuse these with the English Spinners, who were a popular folk band of 30 years duration.
Wynne was with the DETROIT Spinners until 1977, previously singing with James Brown & Bootsy Collins. Hew embarked on a solo career but was never able to scale the heights of his success with the Spinners dying from a heart-attack aged 43.
After a tenure with Motown, they signed to Atlantic and produced a string of era defining hit records (see Ghetto Child, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love, I’ll Be Around & this).. Written by Linda Creed & Thom Bell, the successors to Holland-Dozier-Holland (see ANYTHING by the Stylistics or The Delfonics or New York City). Rubberband Man has been covered by Lynda ‘Wonder Woman’ Carter and Electric ‘Gay Bar’ 6.. instrumentation provided by the MIGHTY MFSB.
Cheeky little clip from the annals of Soul Train – the dancers are having a hoot with elastic, and I might join them!
Number 53 – Gerry Rafferty – ‘Baker Street’
I defy anyone to walk down Baker Street (anywhere will do) and NOT whistle along to the sax riff by Raphael Ravenscroft.
Worldwide smash which clocked up 5 million in sales back in 2010. We lost Gerry in the very early part of 2011 – chronic alcoholic he briefly moved to California and renting a house in Ireland where he, in the eye of the press, disappeared. It seems he simply moved to Tuscany with his Italian fiancée..he died of massive organ failure after being admitted to hospital in November 2010.
Baker Street has a great double tracked vocal. Desperately lonely lyrics and you can practically smell the rain soaked streets. City To City sold a bit too, despite a terrible sleeve it knocked Saturday Night Fever off the top of the US Billboard charts – not bad for a lad from Paisley.
Number 54 – A Flock of Seagulls – Paul Reynolds – ‘I Ran (So Far Away)’
So very early 80’s, I Ran was released in 1982 when Paul was barely 20 years old. Top 10 hit in America and Number 1 in Australia yet just scraped into the Top 40 over here.
Paul left the band in 1984 later claiming he was too young for the rock & roll lifestyle. Wimp.
Number 55 – Clarence Carter – ‘Making Love (At The Dark End Of The Street)’
I first came across this incredible record when ploughing through The Heart of Rock ‘n’ Soul: The 1001 Best Singles Ever Madeby Dave Marsh (still available through Amazon for 0.01p folks). In actual fact, it is Number 61.. and caused me several months of pre-internet/downloading searching before I found a copy (then found a copy on CD). So obsessed was I that I spent a couple of days in San Francisco frantically looking for ‘The Wind’ by Nolan Strong & the Diablos (via the internet I have all 1001 on my IPod and might do a grand post one of these days..) Anyway, Clarence is best known in this country for Patches, he married his backing singer, one Candi Staton, and the had a son called Clarence Junior. So, have a read of this – this is directly quoted from the book..
“In Southern soul the goal is to mingle the sexual into the spiritual so thoroughly that they can no longer be distinguished. No one has ever essayed the task more outrageously than Carter does in these four minutes of preaching and thirty seconds of singing.
He begins at the beginning: With the birds and the bees, hilariously contrasting the sexual behavior of animals with the less straightforward procreative habits of human beings. “We like to get ourselves ’bout fifty cent worth of gas. And we like to drive waaay down a country road somewhere. Awww, and we like to make love in a car, children ” says Carter, his voice rising to shout and then subsiding into one of his patented leering chuckles: “Heh, heh, heh.”
The music (orchestrated Muscle Shoals soul) swells; clown-time is over. Carter describes the deceptive habits of folks, male and female, who like to “slip around.” Piano, horns, and drums practically sob with the resonance of his voice as he intones the final lines of his homily. I have heard Carter’s spiel perhaps two hundred times and every time he reaches the climax, the hair on the back of my neck begins to tickle and goose bumps break out. It’s not what he says so much as how.
“Well, I tell ya, it makes no difference if you came from the city. And it don’t matter if you came from the country,” he intones, his voice taking on even more of the preacher’s rumble. “And some of you out there within the sound of my voice may have come from the suburbs. But I’d like to suggest to ya one of the best places I know where you can make love. And that place is . . .
At the dark end of the street
That’s where we always meet
Hiding in the shadows where we don’t belong
Livin’ in darkness, Oh Lord, to hide our wrong . . .”
The sound seems to blossom directly from his chest, an explosion of feeling so rich that mere flesh cannot contain it. And as he booms out the song – a single verse, no more – Carter begins again to rant: “Don’t let ’em find us! I know they gonna catch us one day. It may not be long – it may be sooner than we think. I know they gonna find us – somewhere at the dark end of the street.”
In its brilliant transition from the absurd to the profound, in its celebration of carnality and projection of abject fear, “Making Love (At the Dark End of the Street) ” demolishes the concept of the cheating song. The infidelity about which Carter is singing might be sexual, but the compulsion to make and listen to such music stems from something even more primordial. That’s why it can give you the shivers if you hear it in broad daylight, let alone the dead of night.
And yet, there is nothing more absurd in all of rock and roll than that long drawn-out introduction. Carter hams it up, too, milking every line, exaggerating his Southern dialect. Maybe the most mysterious part of “Making Love” is the way that his travesty sets up the emotive power of the singing. Somehow, that ridiculous little story is indispensable to being captivated by the music.
I still can’t figure out how Carter managed to get from one end of that recitation to the other without cracking up, or for that matter how Rick Hall ever had the nerve to put out such a totally bizarre recording, All that’s certain is that dozens of singers have tried themselves against “Dark End of the Street, ” but none of them have ever touched the depths that Clarence Carter found in it while skirting as close to caricature as anybody in soul history. That might be the spookiest part of it all.”
Number 56 – Curtis Mayfield – ‘Move On Up’
Clocking in a 9 minutes long on the LP, this reached number 12 on it’s release as a single in 1970. Strangely overlooked in the States, this is always a failsafe if you are struggling for a tune to rouse the audiences when DJing. Firstly in the Impressions, he recorded some key records including People Get Ready, Keep on Pushing and Choice of Colours. He left the Impressions in 1970. The peak of his career probably came with the Superfly LP.
Curtis was paralysed from the neck down when a lighting rig fell on him – of course, he never recovered, had a leg amputation and died from diabetes in 1999.
Number 57 – Devo – Mark Mothersbaugh – ‘Whip It’
Not sure that the world was ever quite ready for Devo – although they were formed in 1972, they had to wait until 76 before a sniff of success in this country – Jocko-Homo/Mongoloid were featured heavily on the John Peel Show.. as were the follow up singles.
They scored a big proper hit with Whip It which reached Number 14 in the States but missed the Top 50 over here by one place (I could have sworn it was higher).
Kinky little video with nice tops and better hats!!
At the age of seven, Mark was taken to the optometrist, where he obtained his first pair of glasses and saw the world properly for the first time. He designs his own distinctive eyewear and they are made for him by a Los Angeles, California shop called LA Eyeworks.
Number 58 – They Might Be Giants – John Flansburgh – ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’
Flansy is a left handed, rhythm guitarist from Brooklyn, New York. Although they formed in 1982, their first hit record came along in 1990. Birdhouse In Your Soul tells the unusual story of a nightlight with the appearance of a blue canary, from the point of view of the nightlight itself.
Bloody weird but great little pop moment.
This reached number 6 and number 70 when rereleased to tie in with an advert for Clarks shoes (even bloody weirder)..
Number 59 – World Party – Kurt Wallinger – ‘Ship Of Fools’
Ooops. Nearly forgot about this little fella. Storming debut LP from a band equally influenced by The Beatles, The Beach Boys. Dylan, Junior Walker and Prince. Wallinger was a director in the West End (Rocky Horror Show) before joining the Waterboys in 1984 for A Pagan Place. He left following the release on This Is The Sea (The Waterboys were never the same again) and recorded Private Revolution at his home..
Hailing from Wales, Wallinger pretty much played all of the instruments, wrote all of the songs and worked with Sinead O’Connor on The Lion & The Cobra. He is as famous for writing She’s The One as covered by Robbie Williams. He suffered a brain aneurysm which put him out of action for five years in the noughties.
Sounding a bit like a side swipe at the Tories (although I might be wrong), Ship of Fools remains a great single off a great LP.
Number 60 – U2 – Bono & Adam Clayton – ‘Discotheque’
Right. Here is the thing. U2 have made some great singles and some rubbish LP’s – the last great U2 LP in my book was probably Achtung Baby – and this was one of their last great singles.
From Pop, this reached Number 1 and was one of the earliest singles to be leaked on the internet in 1997 (and the only time that I have heard ANY U2 at Duckie).
Much prefer U2 when they take the rise out of themselves – see this Village Peopleesque video – rather than being earnest and worthy (although One is still super).
Let’s bring them back, link ‘em up with a great record producer.
Number 61 – Graham Parker – ‘Temporary Beauty’
Beginning playing music aged 13 with the Deepcut Three, he had to wait until the late-ish 70’s with the formation of The Rumour to achieve any kind of success. Revered by Springsteen, Dylan and Frank Black, he produced a string of excellent white soul LP’s – always a pleasure to see him on TOTP’s.
From the LP Another Grey Area, this was a top 40 hit in this country.. Reminds me of my first year at Virgin as much as The Human League, Japan and the Goombay Dance Band..
Number 62 – Nana Mouskouri – ‘Libertad’
To say I am not too keen would be a massive understatement. BUT she has to be included really.. The White Rose of Athens is probably her best known, Only Love was her only UK hit (Number TWO in 1986) but I appreciate this.
Based on “Va, pensiero (“Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves”) from “Nabucco” by Giuseppe Verdi – which is also the Italian national anthem and can be heard ringing round any Italian international football match..
Nana began singing lessons in 1946 aged 12. Her dad was part of the anti-Nazi resistance movement during the German occupation of Greece. She was a Jazz singer and released her first record in 1957. Working with the likes of Quincy Jones, Michel Legrand & Harry Belafonte and she has recorded well in excess of 150 records (Passport is her biggest LP in this country).
She was known as “Nána” to her friends and family as a child. (In Greek her surname is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable – MOOS-hoo-ree – rather than the second.)
Sadly the Nana Does Disco LP is no longer available.
Number 63 – INXS – Kirk Pengilly –‘Devil Inside’
Kirk was in an Aussie prog band called Guinness who disbanded in 76, when he linked up with the Farris Brothers and relinquished lead vocal duties to Michael Hutchence to form INXS. His daughter is Australian Top Model, April Roae Pengilly and he is currently married to Layne Beachley who is a former world champion in pro surfing.
Kicking around for a number of years, the band reached their commercial peak with Kick in 87. Reaching Number 2 in the States, this was one of five singles taken from the LP.
The video, set in California, was directed by Joel Schumaker who was hot off his Lost Boys movie.
Number 64 – Bauhaus – David J (David John Haskins) – ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’
Quite funny to think that any member of Bauhaus wore specs, but David did.
Clocking in at almost 10 minutes, it gave birth to all things Goth. Released in 1979, BLD has been used in numerous TV and Film Goth Horror movies – most famously in The Hunger (see clip below).
Hailing from Northampton – home of the Barclaycard – Murphy & Co wrote and recorded Bela Lugosi’s Dead as a demo within 6 weeks of forming. You don’t get that kind of thing on the XFactor do you..
Number 65 – The Damned – Captain Sensible – ‘Love Song’
Captain or Raymond Ian Burns used to live in Brighton and I once challenged him to a pop quiz and won! He briefly left the Damned in 1984 and released some great – Wot! (and not so great – Happy Talk) solo hits. He married a Dolly Mixture too.
Loved the Damned for a while – first punk band to release a single and the appearance one Saturday morning TV, performing Neat Neat Neat was electric. This is great, energetic and nothing like a love song really and all the better for that.
Number 66 – Warren Zevon – ‘Werewolves Of London’
What was in Zevon’s head when he wrote this? Lyrically brilliant and featuring a host of Tiffany Twisted regulars : Mick Fleetwood & John McVie, Waddy Watchel produced by Jackson Browne. (and this is SO Tiffany Twisted!)..
Zevon toured and recorded with the Everly Brothers during the early part of the 70’s. His peach of a debut LP featured all of the aforesaid plus Buckingham, Nicks, some Eagles, Bonnie Raitt and Ms Ronstadt. Far from a one off record, Excitable Boy – from whence this came, was even better and a bit more successful.
Hugely respected, Zevon died in 2002 from cancer (inoperable peritoneal mesothelioma to be exact) – David Letterman devoted a whole show to him, where Zevon spoke at length about his illness.
This really should have been used in An American Werewolf in London – but think there was a problem with the licence.
‘I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand,
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain.
He was looking for the place called Lee Ho Fook’s,
Going to get a big dish of beef chow mein.
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Ahwooooo!
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Ahwooooo!
You hear him howling around your kitchen door,
You better not let him in.
Little old lady got mutilated late last night,
Werewolves of London again.
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Ahwooooo!
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Ahwooooo! Huh!
He’s the hairy handed gent who ran amok in Kent,
Lately he’s been overheard in Mayfair.
You better stay away from him,
He’ll rip your lungs out, Jim,
Huh! I’d like to meet his tailor.
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Ahwooooo!
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Ahwooooo!
Well, I saw Lon Chaney walking with the Queen,
Doing the Werewolves of London.
I saw Lon Chaney, Jr. walking with the Queen,
Doing the Werewolves of London.
I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s,
And his hair was perfect.
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London, Huh! Draw blood!
Ahhwooooo… Werewolves of London…’
Number 67 – Ash – Rick McMurray – ‘Girl From Mars’
From the LP 1977, which was the date of two of the band members birth (*gulp*), Tim appeared on TOTPs’ two weeks after his ‘A’ levels.
Formed in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland – Ash went on to release a string of great singles (Intergalactic Sonic 7’s is pretty much essential).
This video was directed by Peter Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle fame.
Number 68 – The Korgis – James Warren & Andy Cresswell-Davis – ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’
Andy & James were members of Stackridge, a folk-rock act from the seventies that opened and closed the Glastonbury Festival in 1970.
‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometimes’ is THE most gorgeous record on this list and reached the top 5 in this country and was a worldwide hit.
It has been covered by Baby D, Dream Academy, Yazz and Nicola Roberts on her solo Girls Aloud LP (proof that she has the best taste)..
Number 69 – Randy Newman – ‘Short People’
Randy began writing songs aged 17 and was recorded by Dusty, Gene Pitney, Cilla Black and the O’Jays before releasing his first solo LP. Up to that point, his biggest hit in the UK came with Simon Smith the Amazing Dancing Bear by the Alan Price Set.
The 70’s brought him more success both as a recording artist and writer – he wrote Mama Told Me Not To Come, You Can Leave Your Hat On and Harry Nilsson recorded an entire LP of his material.
Short People came from Little Criminals and was a huge hit Stateside – but it was not, understandably, without controversy. The verses and chorus are lyrically constructed as a pointed attack on the short. The bridge, however, states “short people are just the same as you and I.” Newman interprets the song to be about “prejudice”, as was widely thought, but added that it was “about a lunatic”. In 1978, legislation was introduced in the state of Maryland to make it illegal to play “Short People” on the radio. Contrary to popular myth, the bill did not obtain enough votes to pass.
As a short(ish) person myself, I have always taken this with a pinch of salt, preferring to listen to it with my satirical ear (which is surely Randy’s intent).
Ore recently Randy has been concentrating on music for films scoring a 15 Oscar nominations before winning for ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ from Monsters Inc.
Number 70 – Vanity Fare – Tony Goulden – ‘Hitchin A Ride’
Covered by Sinitta in the 80’s, Hitchin’ A Ride was a hit in 1970. Featuring double recorder (which I usually despise) – this is bubblegum pop at it’s best.
The writers of this song – Peter Callender and a one Mitch Miller – Mitch wrote many a Mersey sound hit from the 60’s (How Do You Do It, I Like It) as well as hits for Cliff and Tony Christie. He had a hit single with Down Came The Rain as Mr Murray in 1965, which is the oinly record which has made me cry and hide behind the sofa..
Number 71 – Chic – Bernard Edwards – ‘I Want Your Love’
Had Bernard not died of pneumonia in 1996 whilst touring Japan, who know what might have happened.. I’m sure he is very proud that Niles is still performing these grand, gorgeous records and is still hitting the charts..
Originally intended for Sister Sledge, this was the follow up to Le Freak and became the highest charting Chic single..
Number 72 – Sailor – Henry Marsh – ‘Glass of Champagne’
Glass of Champagne reached number 2 in our charts and begins like a Roxy Music single – right down to the Ferry twang. I assumed that they were all Dutch Sailors but seems it was only Georg Kajanus.
Henry, (yes I know a bit of a prat), was born in Bath, is an Oxford graduate, chess master and is mates with Jeremy Irons and here we see Henry playing a Nickelodeon.
Number 73 – Gary Puckett & The Union Gap – Gary ‘Mutha’ Withem – ‘Young Girl’
In days of yore, pre-Operation Yewtree, this record was quite acceptable. It is a shame that such a great tune has been somewhat tainted by those who see it as something that it isn’t really (or maybe it is).
I still really love it though and dug me out of many a hole when I DJed in the early noughties.. Young Girl charted twice in the UK – reaching Number 1 in 1968 and number 6 when re-issued in 1974.
Number 74 – Giorgio Moroder – ‘From Here To Eternity’
Mind boggling equipment and even more mind boggling graphics – I love the bit around 1.50 when he decides to *fuck it let’s ramp it up*
Extraordinarily influential fellow – I mean anyone partially responsible for I Feel Love – one of the greatest records ever made – is okay in my book.
Beginning his music career in Munich, where he met Donna, Giorgio (or Giovanni Giorgio Moroder) has been behind many a hit record – Summer, Japan, Bowie, Blondie, Mercury, Benatar, Sputnik, Cara, Berlin, Ant and Oakey (off the top of my head)..
He also recorded the music to Midnight Express & Scarface.
He was also the geezer behind Son Of My Father by Chicory Tip..
Below is the full version in it’s entirety.
Number 75 – Anastacia – ‘I’m Outta Love’
Bit of a lack of women in Specs in Pop eh? Not sure why this is (any image consultants like to comment).
Beloved by Elton John and with a voice that could strip paint (in a good way), Anastacia Lyn Newkirk has battled numerous health problems including Crohn’s disease which was diagnosed at age 13, breast cancer at age 34 and the heart condition supraventricular tachycardia which the singer discovered she had at age 39.
In February 2013 it was announced that Anastacia was battling a more intense form breast cancer. In July 20 the singer announced that she was again cancer free however in October she informed the media that she had undergone a double mastectomy.
Really great record – I’m Outta Love was a huge Eurpoean hit back in 2000 and reached Number one in Australia.
Number 76 – Plastic Ono Band – John Lennon – ‘Give Peace A Chance’
Recorded during the infamous ‘Bed in’ honeymoon in Montreal in 1969. With a host of journalists, writers and Petula Clark on backing vocals (you can see her in this clip), it reached Number 2 in UK charts.
Number 77 – Junior – ‘Mama Used To Say’
Top Ten hit from way back in 1982 and a sizeable hit Stateside, this was recently covered by Beveley Knight.
Junior Giscombe (or Norman Washington Giscome as he was named), was born in Wandsworth and was backing vocalist for Linx before embarking on his own career. He linked up with Phil Lynott to record some material, had a hit duet with Kim Wilde and was involved in Red Wedge in 1986. He is the uncle of Richard Blackwood.
I Just Called To Say I Love You (oh the horror) was just around the corner. Stevie should have considered this though – the greatest Stevie soundalike ever.
Number 78 – Sisters of Mercy – Andrew Eldritch – ‘This Corrosion’
Andrew was born and raised in Ely and studied French & German Literature at Oxford University before moving to Leeds University but he dropped out of both courses. He formed the Sisters of Mercy in ’79 and has been touring constantly ever since despite not releasing any new material since 1993.
Co-produced by Jim Steinman of Meat Loaf fame, the video was recorded in Wapping, this features the rather wonderful Patricia Morrison on bass.
I met Andrew when I promoted my one and only gig by getting the Sisters to play a gig in Peterborough.. very nice he was too (as was Wayne) – think they drank snake-bites too!!
Number 79 – Rainbow – Graham Bonnet – ‘Since You Been Gone’
Written by Russ Ballard and released as long ago as 1976 (see link below), this is one hell of a record by a very talented singer.
Graham was born in Skegness and first hit our charts with Only One Woman when he was a Marble. After spending much of the 70’s building a solo career (he did a great version of It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue and was approached by Andy Scott to replace Brian in the Sweet), he joined Rainbow in 1980. Staying with Rainbow for only one LP before trying his luck as a solo artist again.
He currently resides in LA.
Number 80 – Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons – John Paiva & Lee Shapiro – ‘Who Loves You’
Suddenly, after 5 years in the wilderness, the Four Seasons were back. And how. New members Lee & John joined up with fellow new member Gerry Polci (probably the most handsome man in pop) and Gerry Ciccone backing Frankie for this. Tighter than a mouses’ earhole – I adore watching this – bass playing = amazing, drumming (and drummer) = incredible & see Frankie ‘barely’ breaking sweat, using the most fabulous one eared headphones and his mouthing the words in the fade out. Just. Brilliant.
Already in their 15 year as a band (or a brand), who would think they would come back with a song as fresh and disco-ey as this (remember this was pre-Saturday Night Fever). And it’s not as if they hadn’t recorded some of the greatest singles in musical history either – Rag Doll, Walk Like A Man, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Beggin’, The Night, I’ve Got You Under My Skin – and that’s just off the top of my head..
Rightly inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – they teamed up with their main US rivals, the Beach Boys (who they beat hands down imho) for East Meet West.
Frankie released the Grease single and then kind of gave up. He still tours occasionally and has popped up in The Sopranos and I’ll tell you this, when Frankie finally pops it, it will be the saddest day here in Brighton (he’s79 so not doing too badly) – but more of that in Tiffany Twisted 3.
For now though, ‘Who Loves You’ is an incredible record – up yours Telly Savalas.
Number 81 – Toto – David Paitch & Jeff Porcaro – ‘Africa’
Jeff shot to prominence drumming for Steely Dan for their Katy Lied LP and went on to play on literally hundreds of records. He fell ill after spraying insecticide in his yard at his house and died that very same evening aged 38.
The initial idea for the song came from David Paich. Jeff Porcaro explains the idea behind the song: “… a white boy is trying to write a song on Africa, but since he’s never been there, he can only tell what he’s seen on TV or remembers in the past.” – which is bit like me really.
Toto IV sold by the bucket load too..
Number 82 – Musical Youth – Dennis Seaton – ‘Pass The Dutchie’
Only 15 when this was released (reaching Number 1), Dennis released a solo LP in 1989, but it failed to ignite the imagination of the public and he worked as a delivery driver and car rental salesperson.
A dutchie is a Jamaican cooking pot but has been claimed by ‘drug addicts;’ who assume it to be a kind of marijuana, reefer thingy.
Unfortunately, one of my biggest mistakes as a singles buyer, was ordering a couple of hundred of the follow up (The Youth of Today), off the back of Pass The Dutchie. They never sold.
As I was not yet 21 when this came out, I was a bit distressed to discover, for the first time since Lttle Jimmy Osmond, that an act younger than me had reached number one in the charts. Happens all the time now though.
Number 83 – Roger Whittaker – ‘The Last Farewell’
Boats were quite the thing in the mid-70’s. We had the Onedin Line on the Beeb on a Sunday evening, ‘Sailor’ a documentary about HMS Ark Royal, Sailing by Rod Stewart reaching number 1 and this nautical themed song reaching number two behind our Rod.
Taken from his 1971 LP, this was picked up by a US radio station in ’75 and a global hit was born.
Roger was born in Kenya and became a teacher before he became a folk singer. He has been married since 1964 and has five children and nine grandchildren and moved to France in 2012.
This clip is from The Wheeltappers & Shunters Social Club, Granadas own fictional working mans club – all fag fumes and the smell of beer. All six series are available to own on DVD.
Number 84 – The Rubettes – Tony Thorpe – ‘Sugar Baby Love’
The Rubettes landed slap bang in the middle of a glammed up Britain – or the tail end anyway – and I didn’t realise until now, how 50’s retro this sounds (the sound of the 50’s was quite a thing in the 70’s – see Darts, Showaddywaddy).
This was their biggest hit. It still sounds great, partly due to those incredible vocals by Paul DaVinci (not Alan Williams). I have an inkiling that Alan was a bit of a nasty bully – he sacked Tony in a disagreement over the set list and had his lead vocals taken off their forthcoming LP.
Number 85 – Herman’s Hermits – Derek Leckenby – ‘I’m Into Something Good’
Formed in 1963, Herman’s Hermits came from Manchester and were managed by Mickie Most. ‘I’m into Something Good’ was the first and sole UK number 1 hit but went on to score two US number ones. Written by Goffin & King
Derek was studying for a degree in engineering before joining the Hermits, and sadly died in 1994 from non-Hodgkin lymphoma aged 51. From 16 magazine :
“Derek “Lek” Leckenby became officially engaged to Leonie Rosenbloom, his steady girl for some time, in April, 1968, and they were married in July – two months later. Leonie was a secretary before she became Mrs. Leckenby. Now, all of her time is devoted to Lek. In fact, part of their honeymoon was spent in America, cos soon after they were married the Hermits had to pack their bags for a concert tour in the United States – and Leonie joined them for part of the tour.”
Peter Noone was, for many, the first introduction to David Bowie, scoring a hit with Oh You Pretty Things.
Number 86 – Althea & Donna – Donna Reid – ‘Uptown Top Ranking’
If you are going to have one number one, it may as well be one as good as this. Bit wobbly in the vocal department (under-rehearsed, nerves or age), Donna wore her Deirdre Barlow specs with pride.
They released three singles from one LP, then vanished.
Number 87 – Lieutenant Pigeon – Hilda Woodward – ‘Mouldy Old Dough’
Legend has it that the last words she uttered were ‘Mouldy Old Dough – I was the oldest one in the group’ – which she was, although not quite as old as you might have thought she was being the tender age of 58 in 1972 (Yes younger than Annie Lennox and Cher!). Uncanny similarity to Mrs Mills, Hilda (not Edna, Bob Stanley) enjoyed her time playing in her son’s band and according to her son, Rob, he would never have continued with a musical career without her influence. His parallel band, Stavely Makepiece, were a great-ish Glam Rock act too.
*Resists the urge to sing Dirty Old Man..*
Number 88 – Lisa Loeb – ‘Stay (I Missed You)’
According to People, “Though Lisa Loeb rose to fame as a singer, she’s probably just as well known for her eyeglasses.” In November 2010, Loeb launched the Lisa Loeb Eyewear Collection, which features her eyewear designs. Each type of frame is named after one of her song titles, and while most models are for women, there are models for young girls and men.
Ms Loeb was named Best International Newcomer at the 1994 Brit Awards, the video is directed by Ethan Hawke and this is by far her biggest UK hit, peaking at Number 6.
Number 89 – Billy Paul – ‘Me & Mrs Jones’
Snuggle up and hear this. The sign of a great, rather than a good, singer is their ability to ride the song without a care for the melody. Billy does this here. No-one has come close to this definitive version (although Sarah Jane Morrison did an interesting version). Written by Gamble & Huff, this reached Number One stateside and number three in this country.
Billy is now 78 and began his recording career aged 12. He also recorded several great cover versions – Don’t Give Up On Us, Your Song and Let ‘Em In (TOTP’s featured a spectacularly poor Legs & Co, opening several doors and closing them again.)
All his Philly era material is well worth checking out..
Number 90 – Bobby Womack – ‘Across 110th Street’
Shame about the messy screen stuff but what a great record (someone should clean it up and remaster it no?). Top notch song, great singer, groovy groove (nice trousers).
Bobby has been around for years and years. He wrote It’s All Over Now’ which was recorded and released by the Stones, played guitar on tracks by Ms Franlin and Sly & the Family Stone and this song was the title track from the Blaxploitation film of the same name – and came to greater attention when used in Jackie Brown. A very quick wedding to Sam Cooke’s widow, drug addiction, diabetes. a bout of cancer and more recently the beginning of Alzheimers are some of the markers in an incredible life.
Number 91 – Thomas Dolby – ‘Windpower’
Always liked him and could never understand how Howard Jones was more successful (as they tread a similar path).
Born Thomas Morgan Robertson in London, he chose his name as he was always messing around with tapes, keyboards and knobs. Dolby wote New Toy for Lene Lovich, played synth on the first Thompson Twins LP, and most famously the synth-y intro to Waiting For A Girl Like You by Foreigner.
He is married to Kathleen Beller of Dynasy fame, where she played Kirby Anders Carrington.
Number 92 – The Seekers – Athol Guy – ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’
On leaving the Seekers, Athol founded his own consulting company, compered two Aussie TV Shows and was elected to the Australian parliament on three separate occasions in the 70’s. Even now he is constantly available for community roles as well as balancing his time with the numerous Seekers re-union shows.
The Seekers were the biggest group to come from down-under. Selling 60 million in their career, they are a little bit folk, bit pop and a shade easy listening. Their final (or so we thought) performance was in 1968. Judith was supposed to embark on a solo career yet the album The Seekers Greatest Hits knocked the Beatles off the Number one spot spending 125 weeks on the chart. By the way Judith’s real name is Judith Mavis Cock.
I’ll Never Find Another You was written by Tom Springfield and reach number 1 in the UK becoming the biggest selling record of 1965.
Could have picked anything from the list of great singles (Georgy Girl is even better and The Carnival Is Over stops you in your tracks).
Keith Potger formed the New Seekers in an attempt to recreate the success of the band – which worked as the became hugely successful in the early to mid-70’s, producing some of my favourite songs.
101 SPECS IN POP – Number 67 – Bauhaus – David J – ‘She’s In Parties’