“This may well be an exciting and historical musical experiment, but we’ve had fifteen songs so far and I can count the number of good ones on one finger.”
A telling comment yesterday from djg, who I suspect might be speaking for a few of you. Maybe the real lesson to emerge from this project will be that the charts have always been full of crap.
Or maybe not. Maybe all the solid gold classics are yet to come. Who can say?
(Well, I can say. But I won’t.)
Day 4 then, which brings us the Number 7 singles for this week in the past five decades. Fingers at the ready, panel!
1963: Like I Do – Maureen Evans.
1973: Wishing Well – Free.
1983: Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes.
1993: Exterminate – Snap!
2003: If You’re Not The One – Daniel Bedingfield.
So what do you reckon, then? My view: there are two Corkers, two Clunkers, and one which floats about somewhere in the middle.
Let’s dispose of the Clunkers first, then. Snap! had already given the world a couple of fairly enjoyable commercial dance hits: The Power and Rhythm Is A Dancer. You might not have liked them, but you couldn’t deny that they at least had a certain efficiency. In contrast, Exterminate runs out of ideas almost as soon as it has started. Thirty seconds in, and I was bored already.
As for Cocker & Warnes: I can only hope that they were paid well for this sub-Christopher Cross drivel. Actually, it had never occurred to me before that anything could be fairly described as “sub-Christopher Cross”, but that gruesome electric piano alone is almost enough to push me over the edge. The other tragedy of this record: Joe and Jennifer are both worth so much more than this. After all, this is the man who sang Delta Lady, and this is the woman who went on to produce that timelessly wonderful album of Leonard Cohen covers, Famous Blue Raincoat. It is only their residual vocal talent which lifts this effort one point ahead of Exterminate.
What of Daniel Bedingfield, though? K detests this, and wasted no time in placing it last. As for me: most of my instincts are telling me it’s drivel, and yet, and yet…there’s something curiously beguiling about the melody, which has slowly sneaked up on me in the past few weeks. I don’t hate it. It registers with me somewhere along the line. I’m not altogether sure this is a good thing.
Let us now turn our mind to happier things. With Focus, Status Quo and now Free, February 1973 was clearly a great time for patched and be-denimmed Hairy Rock of the old school. Where did I put my army greatcoat? And where are my Permaprints posters, as ordered from the back of Sounds? (Note: readers under 40 probably have no idea what I’m on about here.) Anyway, Wishing Well still sounds as mighty as ever to these ears. It’s a hirsute, beer-stained, faded blue lump of sheer unreconstructed testosterone, with dirty nails, split ends and the unmistakeable whiff of patchouli oil and Lebanese Black. Top of my pile, then.
Finally, and in complete contrast: a forgotten gem from Maureen Evans, which I had never heard until now. Like yesterday’s Mike Berry track before it, the subject matter of Like I Do is quite unmistakeably sexual: something which I hadn’t expected to find in seemingly innocuous early Sixties Tin Pan Alley pop. On this tune, Maureen Evans deftly spins her web of sexual jealousy, accompanied by some deliciously mocking string counterpoints. I imagine her standing there, smiling oh-so-sweetly, her eyes narrowing in spite all the while. Anyhow, the message comes across loud and clear: Bet she’s a crap shag. Serves you right for dumping me, you bastard.
Oh yeah, and the melody. Does it sound familiar at all? Because K and I were singing along to it from the first line: “Hello Muddah. Hello Faddah. Here I am at Camp Grenada…” Again, you youngsters probably have no idea what I’m on about.
My votes: 1 – Free. 2 – Maureen Evans. 3 – Daniel Bedingfield. 4 – Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes. 5 – Snap! As always, K’s votes are in the comments box below.
Over to you. We’ve now had winners from the 80s, 90s and 00s. Is it time for Maureen Evans to swing it for the 60s, or will Free bring it on home for the 70s? Use your votes wisely…