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Sep 07

WIZZARD – “Angel Fingers”

FT + Popular64 comments • 4,586 views

#337, 22nd September 1973

Again Wizzard offer maximalism pushed to the point of grotesquerie, a sprawling rock’n’roll pastiche that keeps flinging hooks at us, simply not knowing when to stop. This time though the effect is more touching, as “Angel Fingers” is a love song, and a music nerd’s love song at that – Roy finds himself surrounded by his favourite records on a jukebox, pleading with his baby not to leave him. Maybe the song is just all of them playing at once.

Actually, let’s look at that line, “I drove my motorcycle to that small café” – and think about one of Wood’s acknowledged inheritors, Bruce Springsteen. “Angel Fingers” lends “Born To Run” its size and clarity and a heap of specific ideas, but that line encapsulates why there hasn’t been, and can never be, a British Springsteen: our motorcycle dreams end in small cafes, service stations, scuffles on beaches, cold Midlands nights. Our roads are rarely open.

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Comments

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  1. 31
    Brian on 17 Sep 2007 #

    Does ” Driving Home For Christmas ” by Chris Rea count as road song or Xmas song ?

  2. 32
    Tez Burke on 17 Sep 2007 #

    For many years, I laboured under the misapprehension that when Lonnie Donegan sang about the Cumberland Gap being fifteen miles from Middlesbrough, he was referring to the A66 junction of the A1 at Scotch Corner, which is indeed about fifteen miles from Middlesbrough and eventually comes out in Cumberland!

    Not the best song about roads in Teesside though; that honour falls not to Boro boy Chris Rea either, but to Steely Dan’s “A19”.

  3. 33
    Caledonianne on 17 Sep 2007 #

    Steely Dan’s A19 – ROFLOL!

  4. 34
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Sep 2007 #

    Roy Wood was on the Radcliffe/Maconie show last night talking about the reissue of Boulders. Apparently it was recorded in ’69 but didn’t come out for four years since Don Arden essentially sat on it (insert punchline of your choice here) on the grounds that it would confuse Move fans. “Dear Elaine” got played and it never ceases to astound me that it got to number 12 in the chart (yes, I know you only need to sell 12 copies to get to number 12 nowadays but in those days you needed to sell about 20,000 minimum even to get to number 40)…it’s like Animal Collective or Ariel Pink thirty years ahead of schedule, gorgeously wracked avant-indie pop (and better than either AC or AP IMO but then I would say that)…pity they didn’t play “Miss Clarke And The Computer” though, which for 1969 is a pretty bloody astonishing song and production.

  5. 35
    Erithian on 18 Sep 2007 #

    Darn, missed that last night.

    Roy Wood’s Rock’n’Roll Band is still gigging – they’re playing the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford on 15 December. Wonder what the encore might be? (Just steer clear of those toilets, Roy…)

    Number 2 Watch – the week “Angel Fingers” was number one, Sweet crashed straight in at two with “Ballroom Blitz”. Of course I thought it was sure to go the extra step the next week, but didn’t. Gutted. Especially given the record that overtook it.

  6. 36
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Sep 2007 #

    Interestingly, in last night’s interview, Roy gave a severe public reprimand to top Tory drummer Bev “Bev” Bevan for touring with “a bunch of his mates” under the Move name and without Roy’s consent. That’ll learn him to try it!

  7. 37
    jeff w on 18 Sep 2007 #

    I really enjoyed that interview. Roy sure gives good anecdote.

  8. 38
    Snif on 18 Sep 2007 #

    Is that interview available as a podcast?

  9. 39
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Sep 2007 #

    If you go to the Radio 2 website and use the Listen Again facility you’ll be able to hear that programme, including the interview, online up until next Sunday.

  10. 40
    mike on 21 Sep 2007 #

    intothefireuk OTM! Yet to become a serious vinyl collector – that was still a few months way – “Angel Fingers” was a rare purchase, and sounded wonderful when played on the Bush mono gramophone with the smoked-effect perspex hood that my father bought me to cheer me up when my mother walked out on us to marry his best friend. In the midst of such a desperately miserable year, the surging day-glo joyfulness of glam-pop was exactly what was needed to take me out of myself, and “Angel Fingers” took me further than any other single from that year. I played it incessantly and obsessively, luxuriating in its maximalist thrill, dancing with myself in the sanctuary of my room. (I had routines, and a video in my head.) Sonically, it’s a fuller, tighter, more intricately worked upgrade on “See My Baby Jive”, with a scintillating pizzicato break and glorious french horns. Wood’s continuing Spector obsession eventually led me back to the original productions, but this was a case of the pastiche surpassing its source. 10 out of 10 (and having finally, FINALLY heard the “one that got away” space age madrigal “Dear Elaine” for the first time this summer, I can only say that it was worth the wait).

  11. 41
    Marcello Carlin on 21 Sep 2007 #

    Despite Tom Browne’s sterling efforts on Solid Gold Sixty to convince us that it was about a woman named Deirdre Lane.

  12. 42
    mike on 21 Sep 2007 #

    Oh, and I quite agree about Words being Disco 45‘s poor cousin; the layout was shonky and amateurish even by 1973 standards, and the song choices frequently bizarre and wide of the mark attempts at second-guessing future hits. Whereas Disco 45 was my pre-teen proto-Smash Hits bible, when I wasn’t sneaking glances at my sister’s Music Star

  13. 43
    Caledonianne on 21 Sep 2007 #

    Ooh, Music Star!

    I loved Music Star!

  14. 44
    Marcello Carlin on 21 Sep 2007 #

    My principal reading matter in terms of pop music in 1973 was the Story Of Pop magazine-which-builds-up-to-a-complete-encyclopaedia series, complete with free binders. Even now I’m unsure whether the publishers ever actually completed the run (I also subscribed at the same time to All About Science which was the same thing and probably the same publishers – Phoebus? – but with science, obv. Nice bright blue binders they had).

  15. 45
    mike on 21 Sep 2007 #

    …whereas I was a Pictorial Knowledge child, also complete with (orange) binders, whose run was abruptly and prematurely ended by the publishers.

  16. 46
    Waldo on 22 Sep 2007 #

    I didn’t read any music mags in 1973. I do however recall reading “Catch 22” at about this time and my English teacher telling me that I shouldn’t “fill (my) head with such nonesense”. Heller’s masterpiece is one of the great novels of the 20th century, surely to goodness? Problem was, I was a child who whilst gobby, couldn’t possibly argue with a teacher. I’d rip the idiot to pieces today.

  17. 47

    treasure
    world of wonder (cancelled)
    look and learn (grew out of)
    puffin post (grew out of)
    nme (read then wrote from then “famously” resigned from)
    sounds (stopped takin in disgust at poor review of 1st raincoats LP)
    the wire

  18. 48
    wichita lineman on 19 May 2008 #

    Ah, so that’s who you are, P^nk etc.

    Is Angel Fingers the first pop-fan-as-pop-star number one? The only one, even? The blaring Spitfire saxes, the pin-up strewn bedroom in the opening verse, the image of a divine teen goddess on the chorus, this is just so damn evocative.

    In almost every pub conversation that it’s cropped up in, 25 years and counting, I’ve been the only person defending it. Well done Popular! Another winner!

  19. 49
    richard thompson on 9 Jun 2008 #

    I remember Disco 45 and they had articles about different groups each week and they said all the young dudes should have done a lot better than it did, they got the words wrong to see my baby jive as well.

  20. 50
    mike on 9 Jun 2008 #

    Ooh, did someone mention All The Young Dudes?

    This is as good a place as any to shoehorn in the Exciting Revelation that Overend! Watts! from Mott The Hoople was in our village pub the Sunday before last. He is currently walking from Land’s End to John O’Groats, popped in on his own, and ended up getting dragged into our fund-raising Quiz Night.

    The aforementioned Exciting Revelation is that both Overend and Ian Hunter are in favour of a Mott reunion (“Well, everybody else is doing it”), and that Steps Are Being Taken to that effect. You heard it here first.

  21. 51
    DJ Punctum on 9 Jun 2008 #

    Speaking of which, we ought to compile a list of OTHER RECORDS ARE AVAILABLE BY THIS ARTIST for the benefit of radio station programmers, and Mott/”Dudes” would be top of the list.

    Also:
    Harley/Cockney Rebel (Make Me Smile)
    Talking Heads (Lifetime/Road To Nowhere)
    Curtis Mayfield (Move On Up)

    (posters plz come up with other examples kthnxbye)

  22. 52
    Billy Smart on 9 Jun 2008 #

    We may be pre-empting ourselves a bit here, but –

    THE HUMAN LEAGUE, CULTURE CLUB AND DEXYS DID HAVE OTHER HITS, YOU KNOW! Some of which are every bit as good…

    Barry White

    Take That

  23. 53
    mike on 9 Jun 2008 #

    Human League: “D*** Y** W*** M*”
    The Clash: “Rock The Casbah”
    The B-52’s: “Love Shack”

    (EDIT: Oh, snap!)

  24. 54
    DJ Punctum on 9 Jun 2008 #

    Yesterday on BBC Radio London Tony Blackburn treated us to “Together In Electric Dreams” by “Philip Oakley.”

  25. 55
    Billy Smart on 9 Jun 2008 #

    Heaven 17

    ABC (why does everybody know The Look Of Love, and no-one under 35 know Poison Arrow?)

  26. 56
    Laban on 6 Jan 2009 #

    A lot of Roy Wood’s Wizzard stuff is pop-fan-as-pop-star. I’m particularly fond of “Eddy and the Falcons”, pastiche of everyone from Del Shannon through Dion to Neil Sedaka. And the cover features a small ‘greasy spoon’ caff of the sort where you’d go to hear the jukebox and play pinball, before you were old enough to go to the pub.

  27. 57
    wichita lineman on 7 Jan 2009 #

    Yes, Laban, I’ve always been very fond of Forever which is theoretically a Neil Sedaka tribute but trumps everything that noxious character every recorded (how unpleasant is The Queen Of 64?). “I saw my brand new baby walk out the door” – such a fabulously POP opening line.

    Just dug out Eddy & The Falcons for the first time in years. It’s rather pub singer isn’t it? And incredibly muddy. Hats off to Everyday I Wonder for blurring the lines between Del Shannon’s Runaway and ELP. Spector-drear This Is The Story Of My Love is quite perfect, though. Such odd chords. The brownness and pub element take it away from ’62 pastiche and into suburban 70s caffdom; it’s the sound of Angel Fingers slowly being swished around the two-thirds-empty glass of a pint of mild.

  28. 58
    AndyPandy on 4 May 2009 #

    Listen to “In a Shady Nook (By a Babbling Brook)” by Donald Peers then listen to this – slight similarities to put it mildly…

  29. 59
    wichitalineman on 4 May 2009 #

    Bloody hell, good spot! I was prepared to give Roy the benefit of the doubt til it got to the last line of the chorus. Unlikely source of a Popular entry on a par with Rolf Harris’s War Canoe. I’m also impressed by how you ended up listening to Donald Peers on a grey bank holiday.

    In A Shady Nook reached no.3 on the Radio Luxembourg chart in early 1949, even though Peers recorded it in ’44. For the record.

  30. 60
    Erithian on 5 May 2009 #

    Another connection we can no doubt credit to Mike’s “Which Decade” project, which recently featured Donald Peers’ unlikely top-five comeback in 1969 – that has to be why Andy was searching out his work. I love how this stuff all fits together!

  31. 61
    AndyPandy on 5 May 2009 #

    Erithian beat me to it there!
    I read about Donald Peers on here the other week and remember my dad mentioning him once or twice (I think in a kind of ‘Peers=very old-fashioned way’) then when I saw he’d had a hit in the late 60s thought I’d see what it sounded like (ie there’s not many top 10 hits from about 1964-about 1987 I havent heard).
    Been meaning to mention the Angel Fingers similarity on here for the last week or so…

  32. 62
    wichitalineman on 6 May 2009 #

    Snap. I don’t think I’d ever heard Please Don’t Go, which has to be one of the most obscure Top 3 hits of the 60s (in as much as it’s never been an oldies hit). More cod contintentalism. Not as good as In A Shady Nook, is it?

  33. 63
    AndyPandy on 6 May 2009 #

    I’ve already forgotten what it (“Please Dont Go”) sounded like! Shady Nook I suppose would have already been slightly dated in the 30s kind of a slightly more poppy ancestor of the kind of thing that’d be being sung as they shifted to the more middle class characters in a dinner party scene in a dramatisation of “Our Mutual Friend” or something…

    I say dated although particularly amongst Celts (esp Irish, Welsh) up until quite recently there has been quite an audience for this type of stuff amongst quite working class people (Joseph Locke etc).

  34. 64
    Lena on 17 Sep 2013 #

    Drug is the love?: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/vanishing-dreams-rolling-stones-angie.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

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