15
Mar 07

CHICORY TIP – “Son Of My Father”

FT + Popular34 comments • 5,816 views

#310, 19th February 1972

On a tip on a tip on a chicory tipI’ve spent the last three months on a crash course – is there any other kind? – in fatherhood, and I’d love to report that Chicory Tip have served as guides and mentors in this process. But they haven’t – mostly because Peter Hewson’s chewy way with a lyric makes it quite hard to work out what their child-rearing advice would actually be. “Moolin, I was foolin, I was free from drive” – great lyric, especially “moolin”, a combination of mooching and rolling, perfectly capturing the free-and-easiness of the irresponsible pre-Dad lad. Also: wrong lyric. According to every source I’ve found it’s “Moulded I was folded I was free from draft” – an indictment of risk-free parenting. Who’d be a lyricist?

Hewson’s performance is terrific, anyway, helping to ground the track’s instrumental novelty in rock and stomp. He’s not what anyone remembers “Son Of My Father” for, though – it’s the Moroder involvement, and the chorus, and the moog, the moog, the moog. “Chicory Tip invented techno”, as one running joke puts it, but even if you can’t hear that strand of tomorrow in “Son”, you can locate signposts to many other routes synths in pop took. The solo nods to the contemporary Keith Emerson, knives-in-keyboards school. The mighty riff establishes a mini tradition of banging glam robot rock which has been picked up intermittently ever since (the Rah Band, Denim, Daft Punk). In the rub of Hewson against the buzz and shimmer of his backing, you see the origins of Phil Oakey’s ambivalent futurism. And in the spangly background flourishes that give the track colour, you can hear the joy in synthesised sound that motivated all these and almost everyone else.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 15 Mar 2007 #

    Apologies, by the way, for the lack of recent posts here – nothing to do with new fatherhood, everything to do with a brain-melting blizzard of work, which has now started to ease.

  2. 2
    jeff w on 15 Mar 2007 #

    haha I have been gaga with anticipation for this post, had sort of worked out in my head some things I was going to say, and you’ve pretty much preempted every word! Not least the indecipherable “moolin, foolin” line… but it’s “pre prom dry” surely? :)

    And is it “sadistic” or “statistic” minds a bit later on?

    This is the third (and final) Popular entry that was included on The First LP I Ever Owned* – Joe Cocker and “Get It On” being the previous two. Thus “Son Of My Father” would have always been a potential 10 for me. But those astonishing moog parts push it over the top. A perfect pop single in my book.

    (*The LP also included another Chicory Tip song, “What’s Your Name”, which lyrically is a bit naff and un-PC (not in the “Baby Jump” league by any means but in a similar vein) but again has dazzling, shimmering synthesizer parts – which are satisfyingly different in sound to the synths on “SOMF”. No one-trick pony, Moroder, even back then.)

    IIRC the artwork and cover picture of the Son Of My Father LP has more of the look of country rock record rather than a proto-techno album!

  3. 3

    had the “proto techno” look even been invented yet? kraftwerk sleeves sported traffic cones at this time!

    (in fact what WAS the first sleeve to feature eg a ROBOT? tell me it wasn’t queen)

    (of course there are some hyper-modernist CLASSICAL sleeves in the 60s, tho they tend to be expressionist-futurist rather than cubist or pop-cubist)

  4. 4
    Rosie on 15 Mar 2007 #

    Ah! civilisation returns at last!

    Let’s see, what am I doing at this time? Mock A-levels are over. I’m busy with rehearsals for the school play, The Crucible, which was great fun – it was said of the cast that they didn’t have to act, they were like that anyway. Afterwards we, or at least the oddball faction to which I belonged, would often go to the bar of the Barn Theatre to chill out and set the world to rights and flirt outrageously. I, who had been so quiet and mousy up to this point in my life, began to become outrageous.

    I didn’t care much for this, though, despite its positive associations. I’ve never been wild about electronics, I’m afraid.

  5. 5
    Kat on 15 Mar 2007 #

    Sing along with the video! Words may be subject to change.

    I looked it up because I thought I didn’t know this song. Of course I know this song! What a brilliant moog solo.

  6. 6
    scott on 16 Mar 2007 #

    i’d be surprised if this was the first, but ringo’s ‘goodnight vienna’ (1974) has a robot.

  7. 7
    Doctor Casino on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Glad to see this blog survives! I’ve been looking forward to this entry for many moons; to date, it’s my favorite of the songs I never would have checked out if not for this blog and associated list of all UK #1s. The Moog is so sweet and bright and pure – I think if I could have only one genre of music to exist it would be this type of thing. Not sure Daft Punk is really the heir here – something like Robert Schneider’s side-project The Marbles moreso. Ace popcraft married to a child’s enthusiasm for electronic sounds. It’s a great, great, great song, and a deserving #1.

    “What’s Your Name” is nice too, but the use of the synth there is much closer to, I dunno, Switched-On Bach. Nothing wrong with that, but it doesn’t feel half as fresh and four-tracky as this…

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 16 Mar 2007 #

    There’s a robot on the cover of Can’s Monster Movie (1969). The Tornados had a hit with “Robot” in ’63 but unfortunately they didn’t do picture sleeves at that time.

  9. 9

    well done can! it’s maybe borderline that it’s a robot (rather than a psychedelic fantasy moorcockian warrior-knight), but it’s absolutely proto-techno in style

  10. 10
    Tom on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Isn’t it pretty blatantly Galactus on the cover of MM?

    JACK KIRBY INVENTOR OF TECHNO!

  11. 11
    Rob Brennan on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Kat, that video was shot on Southsea seafront near my old house! I love this song. The moogwork is awesome and Hewson’s having so much fun that it makes me want to go and ruin sing it at karaoke right now.

  12. 12
    Rob Brennan on 16 Mar 2007 #

    I R HTML fule but you can probably work out where I meant to put the strikethru.

  13. 13
    Rob Brennan on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Except it’s now allowed it. Gah!

  14. 14

    maybe it’s a robot simulacrum of galactus!?

  15. 15
    Erithian on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Such a perfect day – sun shining, lunchtime drink with friends, got a photo of 3-month-old Thomas in his Red Nose Day sleepsuit, got a ticket for the first game at the new Wembley and to top it all “Popular” is back.

    The moment of glory for Maidstone’s finest, although they did have a few hits of diminishing size (I wouldn’t have called “What’s Your Name” un-PC, Jeff, more a straightforward tale of boy-fancies-girl, boy-finds-girl-fancies-him-back, happy ending). The indecipherable singer might not be the most successful P. Hewson in pop history but gt to Number 1 sixteen years before the other one.

    But apart from the Moog, which everyone is justly celebrating, there’s another major contribution we can thank the Tip for. A couple of weeks after “Son Of My Father” was deposed from Number 1, Manchester City signed Rodney Marsh from Queen’s Park Rangers thinking he’d be the last piece in the jigsaw that would enable them to clinch the league title (he wasn’t , and they didn’t – but to be fair it was one of the tightest finishes ever). But it was City fans, IIRC, who were the first to adopt the recent chart-topper, turning it into “Ohhhhh Rodney Rodney, Rodney Rodney Rodney Rodney Rodney Marsh” – the template for any number of songs about three- or five-syllable footballers since. Maybe the City supporters’ talent for purloining previous hits rubbed off on a four-year-old Blue growing up in Burnage at the time.

  16. 16
    CarsmileSteve on 16 Mar 2007 #

    i was wondering who the first footballer was that this song was applied to, i think you’ve got a pretty strong case there though :)

  17. 17
    Erithian on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Continuing the footy/music link, this was also the spring in which the first club-based (as opposed to England) football record made the top 10, in the shape of Chelsea’s No 5 hit “Blue Is The Colour”. Unlike “Good Old Arsenal”, which crept into the top 20 the year before, and most hit football songs since, this wasn’t linked to an FA Cup Final appearance – they’d reached the League Cup Final, but then as now the League Cup wasn’t something to make a song and dance about. Just a catchy tune and a trendy club. (It was followed into the top 10 by “Leeds United” by Leeds United, which was neither.)

  18. 18
    Erithian on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Weirdly, when I googled “Blue is the Colour” to check its chart position, I stumbled onto a blog called Troubled Diva, where the following has been posted this very morning. Tom, no offence taken if you edit this post if you think it’s inappropriate, but since it’s Red Nose Day, FT readers might like to know about this:

    Bloggers publish book for Comic Relief.

    100 bloggers have published a book to raise funds of the BBC’s Comic Relief appeal on Friday 16th March.

    ‘Shaggy Blog Stories’ features hilarious contributions from Richard Herring of ‘Fist of Fun’ fame, BBC 6Music presenter Andrew Collins, comedian Emma Kennedy, and James Henry, scriptwriter from Channel Four’s ‘The Green Wing’.

    Authors Abby Lee, David Belbin, Catherine Sanderson and The Guardian’s Anna Pickard have also contributed pieces to the book.

    The vast majority of contributions, however, are the work of many of the lesser known and unfamiliar heroes of British blogging; going under pen names such as Diamond Geezer, Scaryduck, Pandemian and Unreliable Witness.

    Also contributing to ‘Shaggy Blog Stories’, and hoping to raise funds for the Comic Relief Appeal is local writer INSERT YOUR NAME, LOCALITY AND BLOG DETAILS HERE.

    The book is the idea of blogger Mike Atkinson who writes the ‘Troubled Diva’ weblog. ‘Shaggy Blog Stories’ features comic writing from not only the cream of British blogging, but also the best up-and-coming and undiscovered writers publishing their work on their own websites.

    Giving himself a “ridiculously short” seven days from idea to finished product, Atkinson admitted that he was overwhelmed with the response, which gleaned over 300 submissions for publication.

    With a pool of talented writers, and the latest publishing-on-demand technology, Shaggy Blog Stories bypasses the usual snail-paced publishing industry, and offers a mail order service to customers who will receive their finished copy within days of placing their order, and only a couple of weeks after the original idea.

    “Blogging creates complex, worldwide networks of friendship and contacts on the internet”, says journalist Alistair Coleman, one of Shaggy Blog Stories’ contributors. “By creating a buzz about this book, we can reach out to hundreds, thousands of readers who’d be willing to part with a few quid for this very good cause. Mike’s got some excellent writers on board here whose work deserves a wider audience. Everybody wins.”

    For details of how to order the book, visit http://www.shaggyblogstories.co.uk.

    For the background story on the creation of Shaggy Blog Stories, take a look at http://www.troubled-diva.com.

  19. 19
    Tom on 16 Mar 2007 #

    No worries – Troubled Diva is a good blog and a good bloke. If I checked his site more often perhaps I would have badgered Tanya Headon to submit something!

  20. 20
    jeff w on 16 Mar 2007 #

    Troubled Diva is syndicated on LJ, so you can keep tabs on it through yr LJ friends page, Tom. That’s what I do. Saves the effort of having to check the site every day.

  21. 21
    Tom on 16 Mar 2007 #

    My LJ friends page is overrun with syndications as is. No, I need a proper blogroll agaun.

  22. 22
    doofuus2003 on 19 Mar 2007 #

    As a 16 year old at the time, with likes as wide apart as Dave and Ansil Collins and T.Rex from this list (as well as Black Sabbath et al) and with loads of mates who liked everything from Tamla to Crimson, I can safely say that we all hated this disc; especially the synth riff, which is annoying in a Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep kind of way. Thus I am puzzled by the positive thoughts expressed…

  23. 23
    Grebbsy on 4 Apr 2007 #

    I always assumed the line was “moulded, I was folded, I was free-form packed…” i.e. wrapped up neatly and made to conform. But what do I know? I am but an egg.

  24. 24
    VP on 22 Nov 2007 #

    There’s a store in Bristol that still plays this! And I’ve written about it in my blog today and found you as the perfect link to explain what it’s all about.

    Thank you!

  25. 25
    baz music on 6 Dec 2007 #

    Chicory tip are still gigging (minus Hewson) With Richard taking lead vocals. Richard played the moog on the the record but now plays it on his 60’s strat.

  26. 26
    Marcello Carlin on 7 Dec 2007 #

    Now this is a song which I want to see Rhydian tackle on X-Factor.

  27. 27

    […] The Freaky Trigger blog references a “running joke,” which states that, “Chicory Tip invented techno,” adding, “but even if you can’t hear that strand of tomorrow in ‘Son,’ you can locate signposts to many other routes synths in pop took.” A bold claim, to be sure. (2) […]

  28. 28
    Clive on 28 Sep 2009 #

    It’s worth noting that Chicory Tip’s single was based on an already established hit (in Europe) by Giorgio Moroder. Their recording had no direct involvement from Moroder at all, or any of his cohorts, and was put together in such a rush that they had to guess at several of the lyrics.

    Following Chicory Tip’s success with what was, essentially, a cover version Moroder and his English songwriting partner Pete Bellotte, were happy to write a few more similar sounding songs for them in the hope of gaining another UK number one. That particular distinction was to elude them until the summer of 1977…

    (It’s worth seeking out the original “Moroder” version. It sounds much better than Chicory Tip’s pale imitation. Also, lurking within the background vocals of Moroder’s original, is the voice of one Donna Summer, soon to become a star in her own right.)

  29. 29
    Waldo on 19 Oct 2009 #

    Liked this in 1972, am rather annoyed by it now. Erithian mentions the chorus used as a footy chant. I am prepared to accept “Ohhh, Rodney, Rodney…” as being the derivation (in the same way that “One (Peter) Marinello” was certainly the inaugural corruption of “Guantanemero”) but it also stemmed into “Ohhh, lucky, lucky…” whenever one’s team conceded a goal, which for Chelsea, about to enter a dark age at that time, was every twenty minutes or so.

    Listening to SOMF now, I am struck by just how “recorded on a shoestring” it appears. But it is annoyingly catchy and it was clearly going to chart big whether it was Chicory Tip or anyone else. If you ever wanted to present an example of a pop record to a visiting Martian, you couldn’t go far wrong with this.

  30. 30
    flahr on 30 Oct 2010 #

    This is hilarious (hilarious never precludes great – I’ve listened to Mansun’s “Drastic Sturgeon” almost every day for the past fortnight). If I hadn’t been told it was a cover of a synthpop song, I would have thought it was an accident – extra big wave comes in and washes CT’s guitars away, leaving the big-haired proto-Sladesters lost, until perhaps the drummer points to their lorry and goes “I suppose we could try using one of those keyboard thingummies…”

    Not completely taken with the vocal though. 7.5.

  31. 31
    Royal Crown Sheet Sets on 11 Apr 2012 #

    My brother suggested I would possibly like this blog. He was once entirely right. This publish truly made my day. You cann’t consider just how so much time I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  32. 33
    Lena on 2 Oct 2012 #

    Rock and roll is dead, reportedly: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/death-is-not-end-don-mclean-american-pie.html Ta for reading, everyone!

  33. 34
    mapman132 on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Knowing nothing of Chicory Tip (they never had a US Top 40 hit, at least in Billboard) and seeing the song title, I was expecting a slow ballad of some kind. Not the first time I’ve been (pleasantly) surprised on this blog! Wow, is that really a synthesizer in 1972?* I can definitely see the path from this to future new wave and techno-pop hits. Definitely at least an 8/10, maybe even a 9/10.

    *I should note I am aware of the contemporary instrumental “Popcorn” which was a transatlantic Top 10, but I wasn’t expecting to hear a synth at #1 this early on.

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