Sunday, January 06, 2019

5 January 1974: One of the best top tens in British chart history?

Embed from Getty Images

It was in 1974, when I turned 14, that I was most interested in the singles charts. I collected them from Record Mirror and really cared about which record would be the next number 1.

Almost ever since, I have been quick to say it was a thin year for music and claim that I sensed it even then.

There may be some truth in that claim - I did, just, remember the glory days of the 1960s. Certainly, I rushed out to buy Substitute when The Who re-released in 1976 because it was so much better than anything else in the charts.

But today I saw a post by Alwyn Turner on Lion & Unicorn that claims:
if we go back 45 years, to 5 January 1974, we find one of the best top tens in British chart history.
So let's go back to the glory days of blogging, when bloggers discussed posts by other bloggers, and see if he is right.

1. Slade: Merry Xmas Everybody

I didn't like Slade in 1973 and I don't like them now, even though Noddy Holder was inspired to go into music by Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group.

Maybe there is a bit of snobbery here - a leftover from the brief middle-class period of my childhood that had ended the year before, but there is something vulgar about them. Certainly, they seemed to attract all the worst kids at school.

Merry Xmas Everybody is a period piece, best listened to with a tin of Quality Street (they used to be bigger) and the Christmas double-issue TV Times.

2. The New Seekers: You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me

You young people won't have hard of them, but The New Seekers were chart players in those days. By now they were in danger of sounding a little dated - I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing had been right on the mark back in 1971.

Alwyn Turner says You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me is "a kind of 1930s pastiche", and that is about right.

3. Gary Glitter: I Love You Love Me Love

Leave aside, if you can, the fact that he is a raving pervert, Glitter was just not very good. Mentioning rock and roll in every lyric does not make you a rock and roller.

4. Wizzard: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday

Still no great record, but Wizzard were some band. I used to feel guilty that I had liked, them, but one you learn about the Birmingham music scene and grasp that they were a natural development from The Move, you feel different.

And as Alwyn says, they had previously had a run of great singles: Ball Park Incident, See My Baby Jive,Angel Fingers.

5. Alvin Stardust: My Coo-Ca-Choo

This one was played for what months on Radio Luxembourg (listened to under the covers when your Mum thought you were asleep) before the BBC took it up and it became a hit.

Great record? Maybe not, but these are great memories.

6. Marie Osmond: Paper Roses

I hated the Osmonds in all their varieties, though Donny seems a nice guy today. As Alwyn points out, this is the only American record in this top 10.

7. Leo Sayer: The Show Must Go On

Now you are talking. He may be remembered as irredeemably naff, but Sayer's first appearance on Top of the Pops, singing this song in a clown's costume had an extraordinary impact.

Sadly that recording is now lost, but it is one of my great TV pop memories, up there with ABBA at Eurovision and my first sight of the Spice Girls..

8. David Essex: Lamplight

Alwyn is rightly appreciative of this one too. As I wrote of Essex's first previous as a teens' heartthrob Rock On:
It's not that this is a very good record: it's that it is far better than it needed to be.
9. Mott the Hoople: Roll Away the Stone

A very good band and a very good song. Sometimes Ian Hunter's voice, with its hint of Johnny Rotten, let's you see what was to come.

10. Roxy Music: Street Life

I can remember not liking Roxy Music - too grown up, too sexy - but by 1974 I think I had learnt to like them. And this is a great track.

So, one of the best top tens in British chart history? Maybe not, but it was much better than I expected.

And if you turned it on its head, making Roxy Music number 1 and Slade number 10, it would be even better.

No comments: