Sunday, February 05, 2012

New Seekers: Anthem (One Day a Week)

I have become increasingly addicted to the reruns of 25-year-old editions on Top of the Pops. In early 1977 the charts were in an odd state: glam rock, which had dominated the earlier years of the decade was over, and nothing had really taken its place. There is some disco, but there are also a lot of near-novelty records.

The current no. 1 from 25 years ago is Don't Give Up On Us by David Soul, whose popularity rested almost entirely as a fame as an actor in Starsky and Hutch.

Last week's edition had some pretty obscure songs, but as I was 16 when it was first broadcast I knew almost all of them. There was Romeo by Mr Big (who sound like a halfway point between Sailor and Yes) and Jack in the Box by the Moments (who, like many Black vocal groups from this era, now seem rather elderly to modern eyes - no wonder their music was sad and wise).

But there was one song I had forgotten: I Wanna Go Back by the New Seekers. In a way this was surprising, because the New Seekers had been a very successful group only a few years before. But if you heard that edition of Top of the Pops you will know that "forgettable" as the word for this song - in fact you have probably forgotten it.

The New Seekers were formed in 1969 by Keith Potger, a member of the original Seekers who had enjoyed enormous success in Britain in the 1960s. At first they had a slightly alternative vibe, but they then gained enormous fame with I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (which had begun life as I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke in a TV commercial).

After that they almost won Eurovision, before having a few hits which featured Lyn Paul banging out songs that were would-be standards or sounded as they had come from shows. Looking back, they sounded a little dated even at the time. By 1977 they were on the way out as a chart force, though I Wanna Go Back was a minor hit.

All this has been a prologue to say that last week's Top of the Pops led me to look at the New Seekers' discography and to discover another of their minor hits. Anthem was another minor hit from them in 1978 - and I certainly do remember it.

It has a very sixties feel, but that is not surprising as it turns out to be a cover of a song originally recorded by the Australian band Procession in 1967. It still sounds rather splendid today.

Stick with Top of the Pops 1967: Punk and New Wave will hit it later in the year. At the time they felt like a breakthrough to something new: with retrospect, I wonder if acts like The Jam and Elvis Costello were not a final flowering of the sixties pop sensibility before synthesisers and dance music took over


Liberal Neil said...

The charts were generally a bit dire between the end of glam rock and the start of new wave.

Just my luck that this was the period when I was just starting to become aware of pop music. My abiding memories are of David Soul, Mull of Kintyre, Bortherhood of Man and other similar rubbish.

Then, suddenly, is was The Jam, Blondie, The Police, Madness and The Stranglers along with Motorhead and Iron Maiden and all was right with the world.

Jonathan Calder said...

I must be a few years older than you. I was very into the charts in the early 70s, but I sensed that glam rock was pretty thin stuff even at the time.

When Substitute by The Who was rereleased in 1976 it was like something from higher league altogether.