My earliest musical memories continue with a chant on a bus for one of Britain’s most popular boy-bands, many years before the likes of One Direction…
It was funny watching the BBC documentary on Friday night (Top of The Pops: The Story of 1978) that looked at 1978 from a musical perspective, as it reminded me of a few other things – the main one being Legs & Co on Top of The Pops dancing around a grease pot to the tune of Grease. I think that Frankie Valli was unable to appear on ToTP and so Legs & Co were left to apply their unique “literal interpretive dance techniques”. If you are unfamiliar with this dance troup, they would usually appear on Top of The Pops when the artist themselves were unable to get to the studio (this was when music videos were uncommon).
Their technique would often be to mime words whilst dancing along to the tune. (Example: pointing to an eye and then their heart and then to the viewer in order to interpret the phrase I Love You). They danced to Grease around that oversized pot of grease three weeks in a row as it hit the number one spot. Now that’s what I call prime time viewing. I just remember being very unimpressed by both the song and the dancing around the grease pot – it just made no sense to my eight year old brain. I can only imagine what they would be dancing around if they were still going nowadays. Presumably when Robbie Williams’ Candy hit #1 they would have circled menacingly around an oversized bag of Licorice Allsorts…
On with the second selection of early musical memories. When you get to the end why not see if you can recall your own earliest musical memories and tell me what they are…?
6. Hearing Bay City Roller Chants:
I was sitting amongst a coach full of Girl Guides with my sister on our way to see The Blackpool Illuminations whilst they sang Bay City Rollers chants: (to the tune of “this old man”) B-A-Y / B-A-Y /B-A-Y-C-I-T-Y / With an R-O-Double-L-E-R-S / Bay City Rollers are the best!
I thought they were singing “Pastry Rollers” are the best. Quite why people might sing about baking utensils never really occurred to me. My bad. But then, I didn’t know who the Bay City Rollers were at the time…I was only five years old.
Whilst writing this article, I came across the Bay City Rollers Wikipedia entry which rather wonderfully (and surprisingly) actually references this chant! (Always good to know it’s not just me remembering these things). According to the article there was a second verse also (which I did not recall) that went: Eric, Derek, Woody too / Alan, Leslie, we love you / With an R-O-double-L, E-R-S / Bay City Rollers are the best! Here’s a clip of them on Top of the Pops from 1975:
7. Terry Wogan‘s The Floral Dance.
My mum loved the Terry Wogan Radio 2 show, and this was a novelty hit he sang in the late seventies. As bad as it sounds. Everything That Was Wrong With British Radio encapsulated into three minutes.
8. Wings – Mull of Kintyre was number one for a hundred weeks in 1977.
This is, I believe, the first time I was aware of the pop charts, because the song hung around for ever. I last heard it when McCartney played it live at the O2 Arena accompanied by a bagpipe marching band. I think they were bagpipes. They might have been cat-strangling. It was lovely.
The launch of Multi Coloured Swap Shop in 1976 increased my awareness of pop music a hundred fold over the next few years even though whilst I sang along to Macca, The Sex Pistols were leading a rebellion. However, The Sex Pistols were too early for me. Kids of seven years old (hopefully) have little to rebel against, aside from having to tidy their rooms and not eat too many sweets.
9. Kenny Everett dresses up as Rod Stewart singing Do You Think I’m Sexy.
This is from 1982, which surprised me as I thought it was earlier than that. I also seem to remember a Kate Bush parody – but can’t find a clip of this – so maybe I imagined it?. The Rod Stewart impression still makes me smile as his rear end inflates to ever wider proportions. I do remember the outrageous Rod Stewart original video and am still unsure which is more ridiculous:
10. The Beatles cartoon – playing Day Tripper.
Remember this? The first time I saw the Beatles was in this cartoon. Although I didn’t really know what they were, I thought they were pretty cool. In hindsight, I guess I wasn’t wrong. This cartoon was played on TV during the summer holidays when “normal” TV was replaced by different shows over the summer period (Indeed, a quick search on the internet suggests that the series debuted on British television in 1980 when it featured on early morning TV on Granada – which is when I first saw it).
So there it is. My formative musical memories. What conclusions can I take from all that? I still like The Beatles. I find electronic music and show tunes harder work. Perhaps most of all? There aren’t many good tunes in that list. I remember all the novelty hits – which were massive in the seventies and eighties in the UK. You clearly had to work pretty hard to listen to a decent tune in those days…
And (related to the Matt Bianco clip from my previous post) here’s a final video clip of Five Star from 1989 being similarly abused on Going Live. Not an early memory for me – I was a bit older then – but still an amusing one: (contains swearing):
Record #138: The Beatles – Day Tripper