With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Play It Again Mayhem – “Slow Down” – John Miles August 2, 2020

Filed under: Play It Again Mayhem — justwilliam1959 @ 7:36 am
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This is the fifth song in the Play It Again Mayhem series which began earlier this year. Check out the earlier posts by clicking here (Betty Wright), here (Elton John), here (Roxy Music) and here (The O’Jays). This one is another from the 70s, 1976 as I recall (However Wikipedia says 1976, while the Official Charts site says 1977. But the label on the record in the YouTube clip below says 1976) . “Slow Down” became John Miles’ biggest US hit, reaching number 34 on the Billboard chart. In the UK it made it to number ten. Many people remember John Miles’ chart heyday for the epic “Music”, a UK top 3 hit, but I very much prefer “Slow Down”. It is a first class dance tune which has funk, disco and power pop in equal measures. I remember it being played a hell of a lot in many of the nightclubs that I frequented back in those days, although never in any of the punk shows I went to, although that is not surprising I suppose.

John Miles has played with many great artists over the years; Tina Turner, Jimmy Page and Joe Cocker to name just a few. He also appeared as guest vocalist on four of The Alan Parsons Project albums from 1976 to 1987. He is still very much around and won the “Outstanding Musical Achievement” award at the 2017 Progressive Music Awards. He has been a regular at the annual ‘Night Of The proms’ event since 1985. I have played “Slow Down” loads of times since rediscovering it!

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Play It Again Mayhem – “I Dig Your Act” – The O’Jays July 21, 2020


This is the fourth song in the Play It Again Mayhem series which began earlier this year. Check out the earlier posts by clicking here (Betty Wright), here (Elton John) and here (Roxy Music). All the previous songs were from the 1970s, for this one I am taking you back to the 1960s for an early track by an iconic soul group, the O’Jays. The song is “I Dig Your Act” which was released as the B-Side of 1967’s “I’ll Be Sweeter Tomorrow (Than I Was Today)”. “I Dig Your Act” was written by brothers Robert and Stanley Poindexter, with someone called L Harper. The siblings also wrote the A-Side with Jackie Members and Emma Jean Thomas. These were among a number of tracks recorded by the O’Jays in the mid 60s for Bell Records. While the group garnered a few minor US hits in the 60s none matched the scale of their breakthrough smash “Backstabbers” on the Philadelphia International label in 1972. That was a US R & B number 1, number 3 in the main Billboard chart and a top twenty hit in the UK. Incidentally did you know why they were called the O’Jays? I didn’t until I did the research for this post. In the early 60s they were a quintet consisting of Eddie Levert, Walter Williams, William Powell, Bobby Massey and Bill Isles. They were not making much progress until they were taken under the wing of Cleveland Radio DJ, Eddie O’Jay, who became their manager. At that point the group changed their name from the Triumphs to the O’Jay’s in Eddie’s honour.

I believe that “I Dig Your Act” was a minor Northern Soul success in the UK, at places like the Twisted Wheel, the beat suggests as much, albeit at the less frenetic end of that Northern Soul pace. I used to own the record on 7 inch vinyl, which I probably purchased at the Bop Shop in Rayners Lane near Harrow in West London. In my teenage years full of angst I played it a lot, especially when I was dumped by the girl of my dreams, and to be fair there were plenty of those girls. I felt that the bravado and swagger of the tune and the lyrics probably helped me to get through many rejections from girls as a teenager. To be fair and to add some balance I was probably the dumper as often, if not more often, than I was the dumpee. Lyrics like “I dig your act, I want a front row seat to watch you try in vain to get me back” probably soothed my angst very well. On top of that the production and call and response style gave the song a really happy vibe. I hope you enjoy it, I still love it even after all these years.

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Play It Again Mayhem – “Pyjamarama” – Roxy Music June 11, 2020


This is the third in an occasional series of songs that I don’t believe ever got the airplay they deserved, or at least not much airplay since the original release. The previous two were “Everybody Was Rockin‘” by the late great Betty Wright and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John. I hope that eventually there will be an accompanying playlist for this series!

Number three in the Play It Again Mayhem series is Roxy Music’s 1973 single “Pyjamarama” which reached number ten in the UK singles chart and stayed in the charts for twelve weeks. It was released between the first album ‘Roxy Music’ and the second album ‘For Your Pleasure’ but it featured on neither of them. It was only the band’s second single coming out around eight months after breakthrough hit “Virginia Plain”, which also never featured on a Roxy Music studio album (apart from some later pressings of the record). The band line up was largely the classic Roxy line up and still included Brian Eno. “Pyjamarama” was written by Bryan Ferry and was supposedly the first Roxy song that he wrote on the guitar. Instrumentally Phil Manzanera’s guitar sound is impeccable and I love Paul Thompson’s drum sound too. This is my favourite Roxy Music single by a long way! I also think it is one of the best one-word song titles ever. I would love to hear your thoughts on the track. Lyrics are copied below in case you want to sing along! There is also a video of a live version included which feels slowed down and quirky.

“Pyjamarama” – Lyrics (Bryan Ferry)

Couldn’t sleep a wink last night
Oh how I’d love to hold you tight
They say you have a secret life
Made sacrifice your key to paradise
Never mind, take the world by storm
Just boogaloo a rhapsody divine
Take a sweet girl just like you
How nice if only we could bill and coo

I may seem a fool to you for ev’rything
I say or think or do
How could I apologise for all those lies
The world may keep us far apart but up in heaven, angel
You can have my heart
Diamonds may be your best friend
But like laughter after tears
I’ll follow you to the end

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Play It Again Mayhem – “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John May 23, 2020


This is the second of an occasional series of songs that I don’t believe ever got the airplay they deserved, the previous and first was for “Everybody Was Rockin'” by the late great Betty Wright. Click here to check that one out. I suspect that when I have completed a few in this series there will be an accompanying playlist!

My favourite Elton John album is ‘Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy’ and it has been ever since it was released in 1975. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” is not only my favourite song on the album it was the only single to come from it. The record performed well in the US chart, reaching number 4, (and number 2 in Canada), but in the UK chart, it only made a lowly 22. The song, and indeed the album, is autobiographical and covers Elton and Bernie Taupin’s early life together as struggling songwriters. “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” describes Elton’s failed suicide attempt on the eve of a potential and probably disastrous marriage in 1968. He had tried to gas himself, but when Bernie Taupin found him the window was also open. Which meant it was an inept attempt at suicide or maybe just a classic “cry for help”. The “someone” and the phrase “sugar bear” in the song are believed to refer to Elton’s 60s friend Long John Baldry who spent a lot of time and effort trying to steer the then Reg Dwight away from that marriage. For me, it ranks as one of the best lyrics Mr Taupin ever wrote (lyrics are copied below). Maybe the song was too long for a UK single at 15 seconds shy of seven minutes. But Elton, given the deeply personal nature of the tune, refused to edit it for single release. It was also the last single, for 8 years, to feature the classic Elton John Band line up of Dee Murray (bass), Davey Johnstone (guitar), and Nigel Olsson (drums). The song has been covered by Mumford and Sons, sampled by Kanye West and referenced a few times in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

I have added a bonus live version of the song from Central Park, NYC in 1980. If the woman who made it onto the stage at around 6 and a half minutes in is still around I would love to chat with her for another post. Is it you? Is it your Mom? Do you know her? Please let me know!

“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” – Elton John (music Elton John, lyrics Bernie Taupin)

When I think of those East End lights
Muggy nights
The curtains drawn in the little room downstairs
Prima donna Lord you really should have been there
Sitting like a princess perched in her electric chair
And it’s one more beer
And I don’t hear you anymore
We’ve all gone crazy lately
My friends out there rolling round the basement floor
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye
I never realized the passing hours
Of evening showers
A slip noose hanging in my darkest dreams
I’m strangled by your haunted social scene
Just a pawn out-played by a dominating queen
It’s four o’clock in the morning
Damn it listen to me good
I’m sleeping with myself tonight
Saved in time, thank God my music’s still alive
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye
And I would have walked head-on into the deep end the river
Clinging to your stocks and bonds
Paying your H.P. demands forever
They’re coming in the morning with a truck to take me home
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight, someone saved my life tonight
Someone saved my life tonight
So save your strength and run the field you play alone
And someone saved my life tonight sugar bear
You almost had your hooks in me didn’t you dear
You nearly had me roped and tied
Altar-bound, hypnotized
Sweet freedom whispered in my ear
You’re a butterfly
And butterflies are free to fly
Fly away, high away bye bye

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Play It Again Mayhem – “Everybody Was Rockin'” – Betty Wright May 13, 2020


This is the first of an occasional series of songs that I don’t believe ever got the airplay they deserved. The idea came to me on 9th May after I heard this Betty Wright track on one of my Spotify playlists, spookily she died the following day and she was only around five years older than me! Anyway, I remember buying this single as a US import from a little record shop in Windsor Street, Uxbridge. I had heard it once on the radio when it was released in the US in 1974 and never heard it again on UK radio at the time. It was included on Betty’s 1974 album ‘Danger High Voltage’ along with two singles that did make the UK charts, “Shoorah Shoorah” and “Where Is The Love”. Her UK releases at the time were on the RCA label, but my US 7 inch was on the Alston label. Many people will know Betty Wright from perhaps her biggest hit “Clean Up Woman” from 1971. I love that tune, but my favourite song by her is “Everybody Was Rockin'” by a long way. It was written and produced by Clarence Reid and Willie Clarke. What gives it that real funky pop punch though is the band, which is in effect KC and the Sunshine Band, you can tell from that awesome signature horn sound. Put on your boogie shoes and have a dance to this gem of a track that did not and does not get enough airtime!

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