Swedish pop giants Abba scored their second UK number 1 in 1975 with “Mamma Mia”. The song was taken from the self titled ‘ABBA’ released the same year. It also hit the top spot in Australia, Ireland and Germany. Many of you will be familiar with it as it provided the title to the mega successful film musicals; ‘Mamma Mia: The Movie’ and ‘Mamma: Mia: Here We Go Again’. But did you know that the song was never intended to be a single and more importantly Abba had originally not planned to record it at all. The song was offered to the UK’s Brotherhood Of Man who won the Eurovision Song Contest two years after Abba. But Brotherhood Of Man turned it down, I wonder if they regret that? I also wonder what the stage musical and film musicals based around Abba’s music might have been called if Benny, Bjorn, Agnetha and Anni-Frid had not recorded it. The opening of the song features an African version of the xylophone known as a Marimba, an instrument used extensively by Earth, Wind and Fire in the 70s.
Talking of 70s soul and funk, Abba were apparently massive Stevie Wonder fans and they utilised and slightly reworked the bass line from Wonder’s “I Wish” on their sixth UK number one “The Name Of The Game”. In 1997 the Fugees sampled that Abba bass part on “Rumble In The Jungle”, a top 3 UK hit, which was the first time Abba had ever allowed one of their songs to be sampled.
Mr O’Brien is also the father of soulful UK chanteuse and Brit School alumni Katy B. Given the family connection maybe we should ask her to represent the UK at next years contest. “Sing Sang Song” finished in 15th place in a year where the UK actually won. The crown was taken by Brotherhood Of Man with “Save All Your Kisses For Me“; not one of my favourite songs!
Please allow me to paraphrase from an Elton John song for just a moment; ‘ho ho ho grab a beer, the bearded weirdy’s nearly here’. Yes folks in just a few days Old Saint Nick will be giving your chimney a good clean with his beard. Don’t worry if you don’t have a chimney, in that case he’ll just break into your house. Of course he is the only person who illegally enters your property and leaves stuff rather than taking anything, well not counting the odd tipple or mince-pie of course. Anyway it’s now December 20th and therefore day 20 of my ABC of Motown Advent calendar. Which brings us to the letter T. For me this was an easy choice. It’s “Take Me Girl I’m Ready” from the stellar band that was Junior Walker and the All Stars.
Surprisingly for me Junior Walker wasn’t his real name. When he was born in June 1931 in Blytheville, Arkansas he was called Autry DeWalt Mixon, Jr. He played in a number of bands from the age of 14 including the Jumping Jacks and the Rhythm Rockers before settling on the All Stars. The band was spotted by Johnny Bristol who was friendly with Harvey Fuqua who had is own Harvey label. Fuqua signed the band in 1961 but they didn’t have much success until the Harvey label was bought by Berry Gordy to become part of his Motown empire.
Their first Motown hit was the timeless classic “Shotgun” which was written by Junior Walker and produced by Berry Gordy himself. It also featured Funk Brother James Jamerson on bass. That song reached number 4 in the US Billboard chart and was an US R & B number one in 1965. They had plenty more hits but the only one that equalled “Shotgun” in the charts was “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969, that song also hit number 13 in the UK. Sadly Junior died from cancer aged just 64 back in 1995.
“Take Me Girl I’m Ready” was originally an US hit in 1971 reaching number 50 in the Billboard chart. It was written by Pamela Sawyer, Gloria Jones and Johnny Bristol. Bristol produced the song which was arranged by Dave Van DePitte. It was a record I could never get hold of in my early teenage years, but then it was finally reissued in the UK in 1977. Obviously I bought it as soon as it came out. I no longer have the vinyl copy but I have it on CD and MP3.
I have blogged about this song before with regards to its appearance on a pub jukebox. Myself and a bunch of friends used to be regulars at the Windmill pub in Ruislip Manor back in 1977/ 78 and “Take Me Girl I’m Ready” was selection number 77A on the pub jukebox. Usually it was myself or my good friend Glen Voisey who were first at the jukebox and without looking we would always select 77A. However on one occasion I approached the jukebox as usual and fed my coins into it and then hit the buttons for 77A. I then started looking for what other tracks I would choose. After a few seconds of that scratchy stylus hitting plastic sound a familiar refrain started. However it wasn’t Junior Walker, much to my dismay and embarrassment it was “Save All Your Kisses For Me” by Brotherhood Of Man. My friends just started laughing and muttered about disowning me, but I was able to prove that I had indeed chosen 77A. The landlord stepped in to support me when he said that all the records on the jukebox had been replaced and the old tenant of 77A no longer lived on the machine. It was a devastatingly disappointing moment for me, but as they say, ‘what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger’!
So without further ado please enjoy the former occupant of 77A on the Windmill pub jukebox in the late 70s; “Take Me Girl I’m Ready” from Junior Walker and the All Stars. This one goes out to Glen Voisey, Keith Plant, Chris Skinner, Neil Payne, Phil Isaacs and Jonesy (aka Bryan Jones)!
RIP the Windmill Pub in Ruislip Manor. It was built in the 1930s and closed down in 2006. Like many of my old haunts it has been knocked down or put to use other than as a pub.
The UK entry in this years contest was a song written by Mike Stock and Pete Waterman off of Stock Aitken Waterman. It was performed by 19-year-old Josh Dubovie and it is called “That Sounds Good To Me“. But clearly it didn’t sound good to the rest of Europe as for the third time in eight years we came last. OK I know all the conspiracies about neighbourly voting with the Balkan States voting for each other just like the Scandinavians. But really how good was our song? In my opinion it was ok and Josh’s performance was very good. But as the Catwoman said to me during the show “you could almost imagine Kylie singing that a few years ago” It is that which is probably the crux of another UK failure, the song was 80s cheesy disco and very dated.
Still at least it was better than the atrocious and out of tune nul points performance of Jemini back in 2003. The sad thing is that wherever we finish we will always be in the next years contest in the final. Germany, Spain and France will be too. Simply because it is those four countries that fund the whole shebang. Read about the whole thing on the beeb by clicking here
My personal favourites last night were Iceland and Turkey. Kind of Euro Dance and slightly rockier respectively. When Lena sang the German winning entry, “Satellite” I did say somewhat prophetically (or more like a lucky bloody guess) that this one is the winner. It was probably helped by the fact that it has been heard all over Europe already, but it’s not a bad song. Although I do find some of her English enunciation a little strange. But then coming from someone like me who speaks just one language (unless bollocks, bullshit and double dutch count) that’s a bit rich. So congratulations to Lena for achieving Germany’s second win. The first was with Nicole’s “A Little Peace” back in 1982.
Can we learn from Germany? They won in 1982 with Nicole and this year with Lena. So next year perhaps the UK's entry should be sung by Doris, Ethel or Chardonnay!
There were some rather strange moments last night. The Spanish performance was interrupted by a random guy in a stupid hat jumping on the stage and dancing. Personally I didn’t think he looked out-of-place among the toy-like dancers providing a backdrop to a dreadful song. Sung by someone who looked like a reincarnated Leo Sayer. Then there was Armenia who sang a song about apricot stones, what was that all about then? Well apricot stones obviously, but I mean why? Apparently the apricot is their national fruit. Then there was the Belarus entry “Butterflies”. Graham Norton had said before their appearance that the dresses they were wearing would be hotly desired by every little girl in Europe aged under 10. I didn’t understand why until partway through the song when they transformed into dresses with added butterfly wings. They also nearly managed to finish below us but picked up some massive votes towards the end.
So let us now ponder on what the UK will do next? Personally I think we should ask Muse and Radiohead to combine for next years entry. It might not win but it would be credible and blow everyone else away! How else will we add to that illustrious list of previous UK winners Sandie Shaw, Lulu, Brotherhood Of Man, Bucks Fizz and Katrina & The Waves? Let us also hope that this has no similarity with the result of the impending World Cup in South Africa!
Hello again good people and also to anyone not in that category! I’ll kick off with some news. Yesterday on BBC Radio 2 Rob Dryden hosted a countdown of the Top 75 songs that have been heard in public places in the UK. So that would include cafes’ restaurants, pubs and the like. The chart was compiled by PPL a music licensing company. The top 10 was as follows;
5. Bryan Adams – (Everything I Do) I Do It For You
6. Robbie Williams – Angels
7. Elvis Presley – All Shook Up
8. Abba – Dancing Queen
9. Perry Como – Magic Moments
10. Bing Crosby – White Christmas
Some good songs in there, but Robbie…… give me a break! Robbie even tied with the Beatles for most entries in the top 75 with three. I really don’t like that Bryan Adams song either. But fair play to Procul Harum though, “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” is a great song. Anyway if you’d like to see the whole of the Top 75 just click here
They had wanted to record Stairway To Heaven but made do with a Whiter Shade Of Pale
Next some bad news and some good news. First the bad news Phil Spector has been found guilty of murder and will no doubt be held behind something a little stronger than a wall of sound. I suspect that’s the end of Spector’s career now. But then he deserves the punishment if he committed the crime! The good news is that Robbie will not be rejoining Take That according to Gary Barlow. Click on their names for more information
Phil Spector's attempt to escape custody while disguised as a toilet brushed failed abysmally
Some even more sad news is that Sandi Thom’s cat Toots has been shot dead near her parents home in Scotland. Click here to read the story. Toots looks a little like my youngest cat Benny. What sort of person would shoot a cat?
On a brighter note and yes I know it’s yet more shameless promotion of my son Luke’s band, but they are looking for gigs. They will be playing in Abingdon on 24th April. Check them out on MySpace, give them a gig or go and see them and tell them I sent you! They are called Steal The Smile and they are bloody good!
Give these boys a gig............NOW! You won't be disappointed
On to the usual stuff for today and let’s try and cheer up after all the glum news shall we? Let’s start by wishing a very happy 67th birthday to Tony Burrows today, April 14th. Many of you probably don’t think that you know who Tony is, but if you read on I think you’ll find that you may be somewhat familiar with him. He was lead vocalist for Edison Lighthouse who topped the UK charts with “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” in 1970. He also holds the record for having the most records in the UK top ten at the same time, all under different names. In 1970 in addition to Edison Lighthouse he was also in the Top 10 with “My Baby Loves Lovin'” – White Plains, “Gimme Dat Ding” – The Pipkins and “United We Stand” – Brotherhood Of Man. On one edition of Top Of The Pops in that year he appeared three times, the only act missing that week was the Pipkins, but he did appear with them a week or two later. He was the lead vocalist for First Class in 1974 for their hit “Beach Baby” and he was also a vocalist for the Flowerpot Men on their hit “Let’s Go To San Francisco” in 1967. Here’s one for you fact fans, that group also contained Jon Lord and Nick Simper who went on to become founding members of Deep Purple. Click on the song title to see Tony singing “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” on Top Of The Pops in 1970 and introduced by Jimmy Saville
The Pipkins play human scrabble aor go to a fancy dress party as two "P"s in a pod!
On this day in 1971 the Illinois Crime Commission issued a list of ‘drug-oriented’ records which included Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”, the Beatles “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and would you believe it for the second time today, Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. I’m not sure why they issued this list, maybe they were making recommendations as to what to listen to when smoking a joint. Well whatever it was it’s good to know that the ‘powers that be’ are getting their priorities right……………..NOT! How about getting out and catching some real criminals?
Jefferson Airplane's secret giant cannabis tree would not be secret any longer, the Illinois Police had smoked them out!
On this day in 2003 a man was arrested and accused of making up a Bjork concert and then selling tickets. Alex Conate managed to persuade a San diego night club owner that Bjork had a greed to play a show there. He allegedly sold $14,000’s worth of tickets before he was rumbled. He was accused of taking the money and moving to Hawaii which is where he was arrested.
Bjork just wished that everyone would leaf her alone!
And finally for todays ‘onthisday’s in 1975 all the rumour and conjecture about who would replace Mick Taylor as the new guitarist with the Rolling Stones was put to bed. These rumours suggested that Steve Marriott, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Chris Spedding may have been considered. But we know that it was all round good bloke Ronnie Wood. Ronnie’s autobiography is one of the best rock biographies I have ever read, if you’d like to try it for yourself just click here
Ronnie was surprised at how well Keef was dressing these days
And now a proper and finally have you seen the new T-Mobile advert where the babies and toddlers are dancing to “Blame It On The Boogie”? It’s a real fun advert, click here to check it out! Check out the original Dancing Baby by clicking here, this is like the one that used to appear on Ally McBeal.