Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Paul's Incomplete Guide To Classic Pop 1975-79 Part 1

'January' by Pilot (1975)

"January, sick and tired, you've been hanging on me." Heard that everywhere in 1975. Never knew what it meant. Never realised that January was a girl's name like May, April or June. Never realised that the song was, like a lot of vital art, probably alluding to a faltering relationship. I actually thought the lyric was "January, second time you've been hanging on me" and that the singer was lamenting the fact that he'd had a disastrous start to the last couple of years - damn that month of January.
      To latter-day ears it sounds a lot like what a mid-'70s McCartney-led Beatles single would have been like had they stayed together (one can easily imagine 'January' joining 'Michelle', 'Eleanor', 'Prudence' and the rest of an illustrious group of girls feted by the Beatles in song).

'Single Bed' by Noosha Fox (1976)

S-s-s-single bed. Clap. Clap. S-s-s-single bed. Clap. Clap. If the anemic, forty-something, Noosha Fox took a demo of this song to a record company today she'd be summarily escorted from the premises by security guards under strict instructions never to let her darken their door again - her mere presence having the potential to 'harm the brand' or some such. 
      In 1976, however, things were different. You could have very little going for you image-wise – she also had lank, lifeless hair and sang like a Frenchwoman impersonating an Englishwoman – but if your song had a hook that was catchy enough to get a run in the schoolyard, then you had a hit on your hands.
      Maybe the hint of permissiveness in the lyric also helped its chances. After all, Noosha spends much of the song affirming that her bed isn’t big enough for two. Is she happy about this state of affairs? No, we – the playground jury – assumed not. 
      There was still some ambiguity though: was the fact that “all (she) got is a single bed” an admittance of defeat, that she’d be sleeping alone, perhaps, to take it to its extreme, in perpetuity?; or would these would-be lovers run the risk of being cramped and make-do with the titular single bed?
      I personally think its success was all down to those handclaps…

'The Way That You Do It' by Pussyfoot
More Beatles influence (it sounds almost exactly like Ob La Di ob La Da). And more Gallic flavour (this time courtesy of a ludicrous, and stridently meaningless faux-French refrain that can best be 'translated' as "ooh nunna hiyah, ooh nunna hiyah, hiyah). 
      Again, the Beatles influence went unnoticed by me at the time: although other acts were having huge success releasing tracks highly derivatibe of the Fab Four (ELO and 10cc being the most obvious, but by no means only, examples), the Beatles themselves were not particularly in vogue either as a group (Beatles nostalgia as we know it today only truely kicked in with the advent of the CD and the re-release of their albums on that format), or as individuals (John had 'retired' and become the world's most musically gifted house husband; George was releasing hitless albums that you've never heard of like Extra Texture (1975) and Thirty-Three & 1/3 (1976); McCartney had hit a mid-career slump (Wings At The Speed Of Sound anyone? Didn't think so.); and Ringo, I'm not sure what Ringo was doing.

'Glass Of Champagne' by Sailor 

Hello Sailor...goodbye.

1 comment:

  1. I think i bought the Sailor album based on this song - god knows why!? Possibly it had something to do with the nifty sailor outfit the vocalist was wearing? I was also asked by my mother to get her a copy of S s s single Bed. Could u imagine a 15yo boy walking into Brash's, fronting up to the counter, hoping against hope that you'll be served by the nerdy sales guy and not one of the 3 spunky chicks (it's the 70's - 'hot' was not yet a description of attractiveness). Of course it was inevitably one of the spunks.