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

Monday, November 13, 2006
PICK OF THE POPS: WEEK ENDING 15 NOVEMBER 1975

Does Radio 2 deliberately keep picking these bland, uneventful charts for Sunday afternoon audiences? Is that the most pointless question ever asked? Of course, from a Robbie Williams point of view this is an all-time classic chart, full of "iconic" records, but does this make the Radio 2 Music Club demographic anything other than weary 55-year-old flower arrangers from Southsea?

In the meantime, naturally; when Harry met Nancy last week, it might turn out to be the salvation of all of us...

20. Band of the Black Watch - Scotch On The Rocks
19. Dee Clark - Ride A Wild Horse
A jaunty, novelty bagpipe tune (not a patch on Roy Wood's "Going Down The Road") and one of many attempts to emulate "Rock Your Baby" made by the bizarre and shortlived Polydor soul subsidiary Chelsea, this one from a fifties soul veteran ("Just Keep It Up," etc.) who perhaps should have known better. Neither was played.

18. John Miles - Highfly
One of several anxious-sounding MoR pop derivatives of Pilot's "January" complete with lamppost-scraping lead guitar; he still had the feathercut and didn't go for the short back and quiff until music was his first love, cont. p. 94...

17. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
Best viewed as a six-minute advert for the band - look! We do heartfelt ballads! Light opera pastiches! Loud heavy rock metal! Also, "nothing really matters," but that hasn't stopped generations from weeping at its altar for the sake of its mere existence, despite its admission of utterable meaninglessness compensated for by its total camp in the light of a sort of Valhalla farewell to all glam-pop.

16. Maxine Nightingale - Right Back Where We Started From
One of those Ian Levine-style modern reworkings of the Northern Soul template; decent enough (and an American number one!) but hardly floor-shattering.

15. Morris Albert - Feelings
Tropicalia goes truly MoR; did he ever do anything other than this song, and did he ever need to, considering that every cornball MoR entertainment star of the period, from Val Doonican down to Des O'Connor, bombarded our TV screens at the time with lacklustre covers? In compensation, perhaps, Dale did not play it.

14. Jigsaw - Sky High
A shift away from "Highfly" but a crucial one; the swirling intro invents ABC, the pop is elegant and harmonically misleading (always a good thing). Scott and Dyer were also responsible for "Who Do You Think You Are?" (Candlewick Green or Saint Etienne; either will do) and really should have been far more prominent on the charts. Much beloved of Radio Luxembourg.

13. Art Garfunkel - I Only Have Eyes For You
12. George McCrae - I Ain't Lyin'
11. Esther Phillips - What A Difference A Day Makes
Clearly the "Bo Rap" effect meant that none of these was played; two radical reshapings of standards, Art's placid, blurred and blissful, Esther's Pigbag-anticipating upbeat shuffle (though her voice is problematic for me in an R&B Joanna Newsom sense). "I Ain't Lyin'," I regret to say, I couldn't remember at all, though I could make a reasonable guess.

10. Hot Chocolate - You Sexy Thing
Up from 38, and it would have spent three weeks at the top had it not been leapfrogged by "Bo Rap." Ruined by over-exposure and the unfortunate juvenile mishearing of the song's first line as "I've been needing Milko." Unfortunate, since the song chugs along with purpose and passion, and Errol's heartrending "Yesterday, I was one of the lonely people" is always moving in the best (positive) way.

9. Hello - New York Groove
Possibly the strangest glam-pop hit of them all; a Bo Diddley/Hamilton Bohannon electro-shuffle penned by Russ Ballard and sung by a breathless but enthusiastic Bob Bradbury - check out his median howl of "Who cares about tomorrow?" Again, a shame they didn't have more hits here, since the likes of "You Move Me," "Game's Up" and "Star Studded Sham" are in urgent need of rediscovery.

8. Justin Hayward & John Lodge - Blue Guitar
Typical Moody Blues swirling but quiet epic which did bring back the spectre of dark evenings and anticipations of Christmas, especially that downward diagonal bass slide in the song's seventh and eighth bars. Take out Justin and you'd have Sigur Ros.

7. Trammps - Hold Back The Night
Perfectly decent soul-pop which doesn't stimulate me in any realistic or mythical way; studium disco even then - I liked it as an eleven-year-old, but the URGE to go out and own a copy was hardly present.

6. John Lennon - Imagine
On its first chart run, four years after it was recorded, to promote the Shaved Fish compilation, and perhaps the subtlest of all Trojan horse pop records; Lennon beams at you with a pleasing MoR ambience, starts to ask us to imagine scenarios which he then methodically piles on in intensity and radicalism, all the time maintaining his smile - no religion, no countries, no possessions, are you up for this? he challenges, and maybe that first verse is a challenge in itself; is "living for today" actually what we want? If not, wait for the next quiet demand...and on the B-side, to ensure that we finally did get the message, "Working Class Hero" - "You're still fucking peasants as far as I can see." Thus is the dream already doomed.

5. Jim Capaldi - Love Hurts
Rather unattractive discofied AoR Orbison update which pinpoints grief and loss on the same scale as losing one's shaving brush.

4. Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy
A brief comeback to complain about the crap songs he'd been given to sing in the intervening four years since he'd last had a hit in Britain, including, presumably, that entire 1974 album of Jimmy Webb songs including "The Moon's A Harsh Mistress."

3. Roxy Music - Love Is The Drug
Now long since de-weirded, but Ferry is the ideal funnel through which to filter his quiet disgust at fast love, vapid parties, dimming the lights, and as for his future career, you could easily have guessed the rest.

2. Billy Connolly - D.I.V.O.R.C.E.
The folkies-turned-comedians were one of the major chart breakthroughs of 1975 - this week, Max Boyce had the number one album with We All Had Doctors' Papers, from which Dale, with gritted teeth, spun the "Sospan Bach" audience intro. Meanwhile, the Big Yin starts to solidify with an unfunny Tammy Wynette variant which puts wives on the same level as dogs.

1. David Bowie - Space Oddity/Changes/Velvet Goldmine
One of the RCA Maximillion series of three-track 45 reissues to circumvent the E.P.-banning chart rule, and sounding far more lost and dislocated than it did in '69; here the drug trip as space trip allegory becomes painfully apparent, as Bowie (or Barrett, or whoever) drifts out of contact, into unreachable black holes, and stays there, astute enough to know that distance, if handled adroitly, means a long and successful career. And then it segues into the opening radiowaves of "Station To Station"...


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