The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Monday, November 06, 2006

I recall posting at length on ILM (though I cannot pinpoint the exact thread) about a very similar chart just over a year ago. This indicates the necessarily limited timescale of an exercise such as this, since inevitably by the time we get to May 2007 everything will start to repeat itself. Nonetheless, here we find the Light Programme/Radio Caroline war at its height; a decidedly schizophrenic list of up-to-the-second rock and quaint MoR comforts.

20. Four Pennies - Until It's Time For You To Go
19. Sandie Shaw - Message Understood
Neither played; neither a great loss.

18. Wilson Pickett - In The Midnight Hour
I always gravitated towards the Motown rather than the Atlantic/Stax axis, and this "classic" illustrates exactly why; not merely the horrendous 1985 Real Music jihad, and not simply The Commitments (though neither exactly helped), but a decidedly unsexy belch of sweat and brandy warning about what's going to happen once he unbuckles his belt and unzips his fly upon staggering in from the pub at 11:55. So male; so smelly; so Tom Jones-allowing; so essentially bleurgh.

17. Sonny & Cher - But You're Mine
"I Got You Babe" soundalike at double speed.

16. Dusty Springfield - Some Of Your Lovin'
Reputedly Dusty's favourite of her own recordings since, according to her, it was the one where she managed to stay most in tune throughout; stately and grand as a ballad, even though it's the weary old I-don't-care-how-many-other-women-you-fuck-just-give-me-the-best-stuff meme. How many subjects are there for a pop song anyway? Do they exceed seven?

15. Bob Dylan - Positively Fourth Street
Never at his best when settling scores with old girlfriends; haven't you got anything better to write about?

14. Everly Brothers - Love Is Strange
Their last UK Top 20 entry, where they manfully try to surf the Beat Boom and update their template. Not bad but hardly Mickey and Sylvia.

13. Seekers - The Carnival Is Over
Dusty's brother finds an old Russian melody, updates it with war-related lyric, folky Australians take it to number one.

12. Manfred Mann - If You Gotta Go, Go Now
Yet another demonstration of how Dylan is rarely the best conduit for his own material; Paul Jones' enthusiastic yet cynical lead vocal gives the song the pop bounce it deserves.

11. McCoys - Hang On Sloopy
Garage rock unexpectedly crosses back over the Atlantic; young Rick Derringer howls and thrashes with immense gusto. The first hit single on the Immediate label.

10. Animals - It's My Life
Never mind the Doors; Eric Burdon was already beating them at their own game in '65. The sinister undercarriage of the Animals is rarely noted; but this performance verges on the quietly demonic - listen to how Burdon hisses the word "sable." Still sorely underrated.

9. Barry McGuire - Eve Of Destruction
A cash-in by a knowing old-timer, possibly ("One Wheel On My Wagon," anyone?), but still one hell (literally) of a pop record, even if you note the sweaty attempts to keep the rhyming scheme afloat to maintain the tension with each new verse.

8. Matt Monro - Yesterday
A mournful intimate meditation on loss is turned into a serenely lush orchestral ballad with Mantovani-esque nullifications and wholly inappropriate bendings and ad-libbing from the singer. Arranged and produced by George Martin. How much did he really understand the Beatles?

7. Andy Williams - Almost There
That bathroom echo sonority you get in "stereo" MoR hits of the mid- and late sixties - just a hint of bossa nova, plus distant hotel lobby cocktail piano - is personified in this smooth expectation of orgasm.

6. Fortunes - Here It Comes Again
Cook and Greenaway trying to be Carter and Lewis from this evidence; layered harmonies, plentiful orchestration and pregnant tubular bells, but there's something throaty and loveless about the group's coarse vocal delivery.

5. Hedgehoppers Anonymous - It's Good News Week
Of course the kneejerk response has always been: "It was meant as a satire, a send-up of meaningful Dylan-type lyrics." But something about this record - its references to "blackening the sky" and "the rotting dead" stand out even in this company - makes me feel that the composer really meant it. The composer, I might add, whose name was determinedly omitted by Dale when fulsomely discussing the record. Elephant, living room, etc....

4. Chris Andrews - Yesterday Man
Principally a writer rather than a performer (including the troubled perkiness of Sandie Shaw's run of hits: see "Message Understood" above), Andrews nevertheless scored a few successes which what can only be described as proto-bluebeat pop transposed into mainstream British pop, complete with blurting brass section. This was the most famous - its surface jauntiness disguising a rather bitter lyric of betrayal and abandonment - though I've always preferred Robert Wyatt's 1975 reading, the proposed follow-up to his hit version of "I'm A Believer" until Virgin heard it, got cold feet and buried it in an obscure various artists sampler album.

3. Yardbirds - Evil Hearted You/Still I'm Sad
Explosive in this company; usually the Gregorian pop lament of "Still I'm Sad" is played , but today Dale gave "Evil Hearted You" an airing; a sinuous creep through a fairly standard pop song, continuously disrupted by long silences, abrupt commentary from Beck's lead guitar and general rearranging of the pop furniture. As with the Animals, they're still awaiting their proper dues.

2. Ken Dodd - Tears
1. Rolling Stones - Get Off Of My Cloud
Nothing much to add to Ewing's fine dual commentary on
Popular; the clash reaches its peak - the parents against the kids, syrup against sinew, strings against guitars, two different ways of dealing with loneliness ("Let's forgive and forget" versus "HEY! YOU!"), two different examples of exhibitionist comedians, both of whom know far, far more than they're letting on.

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