Happy Christmas everyone and thank you so very much for reading my blog, especially for those of you who have hung in their for all of my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar posts. With today being December 25th that as they say is that. But I am signing off the Advent Calendar with a real Christmas classic. It still gets played regularly these days as well. It’s from 1973 and it’s Slade with “Merry Xmas Everybody”. It was number one for 5 weeks in 1973/1974.
All very amusing indeed, but Rudolph would like his nose back!
Unlike contemporaries like Mud and the Sweet Noddy and the boys wrote their own songs and this one was written by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea. In 2007 “Merry Xmas Everybody” was voted the UKs favourite Christmas song. The song was recorded at the Record Plant in New York during a small summer US tour for the band. Apparently it was a very hot day in an August heat wave. The echo sound you can hear on the chorus was achieved by recording it in the studio corridor.
So that’s it for this years Advent Calendar, any ideas or suggestions for next years advent calendar theme would be welcomed. In the meantime I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year.
Almost over for this year then, it’s the penultimate day of my UK Christmas Number Ones Advent Calendar, it’s December 24th, Christmas Eve. So as we are that close to the big day I have decided to take you back to the Christmas of 1974 and I hope you won’t be lonely at Christmas because todays song is from Mud and it’s “Lonely This Christmas”. It stayed at number one for 4 weeks. Like many of the big pop hits of the 70s it was written by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, whose publishing company was known as Chinnichap. A bit like a pre Jedward melding of names there methinks.
“Lonely This Christmas” was the second of their UK number ones following “Tiger Feet” earlier in 1974 and a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” in 1975. Singer Les Gray was well-known for his Elvis soundalike vocal, in fact at the time many people believed that “Lonely This Christmas” was by Elvis himself! Sadly Les Gray died of a heart attack in 2004. Drummer Dave Mount died in December 2006.
Of the two remaining band members bass guitarist Ray Stiles joined the Hollies. However lead guitarist Rob Davis has carved out a very successful career as a songwriter. He has written dance hits for Kylie Minogue and Spiller featuring Sophie Ellis Bextor. The latter hit the number one spot with a song that Davis co wrote, it was “Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love)” it also, thankfully, prevented Victoria Beckham from having a solo number one. She remains the only former Spice Girl never to have a solo number one.
Last night I went to see Steve Harley off of Cockney Rebel at the Grand Opera House in York. I saw him there four or five years ago as well. He was excellent then and he was superb last night as well. He played some new stuff and classic oldies, not just the big hits. Stuff like “Sebastian”, “Judy Teen” and “Tumbling Down” both of which I love.
The band were excellent and include Stuart Elliott the original drummer from Cockney Rebel who formed the band with Steve in 1972. According to Wikipedia Steve is now 59, that makes me feel old, but also it seems at 51 I’m not far behind. The backing vocals were provided by the Lartey Sisters, they were also his support act. Well worth turning up on time for, unlike quite a number of people who stayed in the bar. Check them out on MySpace here. Every member of the band was on top form, a supremely skilled bunch. I thought the guitarist looked a little like Stephen King, which is fine with me as I am a massive King fan
He played two cover versions. “Here Comes The Sun” which he had a hit with in the 70s and also a Daniel Johnston song, which he handled really well
Steve Harley has a brilliant rapport with his audience and showed that with some of the between song banter and he also told a great story about busking in the early 70s. The song I was most pleased to hear again, because I haven’t heard it in ages was “Mr Raffles (Man It Was Mean)” Overall he was on stage for around two hours and as you might have guessed he climaxed with “(Come Up And See Me) Make Me Smile” He did mention how most local radio DJs and much of the press seem to assume that song is pretty much all he has done. But added some good words for Johnnie Walker and Steve Wright, both of whom in his opinion really ‘get it’ I’m not surprised either, I have always admired the brilliant Johnnie Walker.
So overall it was an excellent night, just like the last time and probably the next time as well! Well done and thanks to you Mr Harley!
So now all the hype and spin of the UK General Election is over for the time being. Maybe for just a short period too, given that we have a hung parliament there might be another election as soon as later this year, just like 1974. I was thinking earlier that all three main parties must be thinking about how badly they have done this time around and maybe about the recriminations associated with that performance. The Tories must have hoped to have won an overall majority, Labour might have expected to fare a little better (I wonder what influence bigotgate had on their result) and the Lib Dems surely would have wished for a massive improvement rather than going backwards in terms of number of seats. I also feel that this country is crying out for electoral reform. How is it fair that a party like the Lib Dems can win 23% of the votes but les than 10% of the parliamentary seats? That can’t be right, can it? To quote Mr Rotten from San Francisco in 1978 ‘ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?’ I feel very cheated in this election. How does everyone else feel? Still there was a modicum of good news; the Green Party won their first seat in Brighton and the BNP still have no MPs. The BNP also lost 12 council seats in Barking, now that is very, very good news.
Gordon makes it clear what he thinks of his opponents. It certainly doesn't look like an 'I agree with Nick' hand gesture does it?
So back to thoughts of failure, recrimination and blame, with heavy emphasis on the blame element. As I have said plenty of times before this is a music blog so here come some blame songs, please feel free to add your own through the comments option.
“I Don’t Blame You At All” – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. In this clip the song soundtracks the UK chart rundown on the BBCs Top Of The Pops hosted by Jimmy Saville. Just dig that crazy fashion sense and dancing skills among the audience daddyo! Was that really my generation? Surely not. Back in my younger days I first heard this song on a Motown Chartbusters album, Volume 6 in fact. It was the one with the excellent Roger Dean cover of a Fly/ Spaceship hybrid. What do you think of it?
Motown Chartbusters Volume 6 cover - I reckon they should have called this superfly, although Curtis Mayfield may have been upset!
“Blame It On The Boogie” – Jacksons. The Jackson as they became after leaving Motown, they weren’t allowed to be called the Jackson 5 as Motown owned the name rights. They also left Jermaine at Motown and replaced him with brother Randy. Does anyone know what the ectoplasm going on in the video is? Confusingly this song was written by a British chap who rather confusingly was called Mick Jackson (not Jacko), click his name to hear his version. Either way it’s a brilliant disco song even after all these years
“Blame It On The Sun” – Stevie Wonder. Taken from Stevie’s excellent ‘Talking Book’ album from 1972. I really had to include this for other reasons as well. In particular the UK tabloid the Sun, a part of Mr Murdoch’s empire back Cameron and the Tories to win. So maybe Dave will blame it on the Sun. At least there wasn’t the old headline of ‘It was the Sun wot won it!’
“Blame Canada” – South Park. Before I am inundated with comments from angry Canadians, let me just state categorically that I love Canada and certainly don’t blame them for the election result in the UK. Although I am sure that a conspiracy could be woven around that if required. This song is taken from the excellent South Park Movie from 1999, was it really that long ago? Oh Boy! Have you seen it before? If not then click here to buy it.
“Blame It On The Pop” (Top 25 songs of 2009) – Various Artists. Nothing much to say about this mixtastic, medleytastic bunch. It features 25 artists (and in some cases I use the term lightly) including Black Eyed Peas, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Keri Hilson, Flo Rida, Pitbull, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Jay Sean, Lil Wayne, All American Rejects, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx, Kelly Clarkson, Rihanna and Jason Mraz
OK very funny, which one of you b*stards put super glue on the table?
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.