Sep 07


FT + Popular68 comments • 3,473 views

#336, 25th August 1973

Once a teen idol has reached the peak phase of his career, the question becomes – how to stay there? Building a profile is no longer so important – any given single release has a good chance of topping the charts, or close to it, so it’s a matter of selecting songs that either confirm or extend a singer’s image. Both have their risks. A pop idol is playing a role, and can be typecast like any other performer: gradually people lose interest, and the star becomes stranded. But attempting to contradict or develop an image often involves gambling that you understand your audience’s desires better than they do themselves – when in fact their withdrawal of assent (in the form of sales) leaves your rebranding as a ‘mature’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘rebellious’ performer looking inept and chumpish.

Later we’ll meet performers who’ve mastered each strategy – for now here’s Donny Osmond, playing it safe with a cover of a smash from the previous great era of teen stars. His “Young Love” is more unctious than Tab Hunter’s, maybe less sincere, but also a little more winning – Donny can carry off chocolate and candyfloss and his spoken-word interlude here has a pulpy romantic charge for all its corn. The musicians do a creditable job; everyone departs happy and the compact is remade for another record at least.



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  1. 51

    Does this explain…

    waldo yes it does! i spend a lot of worktime gettin other people’s writin better so therefore by the logic of whim choose to waste NONE ON MY OWN qed

    in other (curiously greekly) news: euphemism isn’t a synonym for metaphor (i like metaphors, it’s over-worn coin i’m agin); and “irritating and anodyne” is a very nearly a very lovely example of oxymoron (i think to be an oxymoron proper it wd have to be “irritatingly anodyne”)

    anyway don’t worry about it, and write as you will and have: “pond” is no more than a pet bugbear i am determined to end worldwide, and shall

  2. 52
    Tim on 16 Sep 2007 #

    I had a pet bugbear once. It was cute when it was a baby but it ate too much and grew too big and I had to kill it with a brick.

  3. 53
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Sep 2007 #

    Bit laboured that one. You should have kept it to the original tag of “but the vet had to put him down” as immortalised by Billy Dainty on ATV’s Saturday Variety show in September 1973.

  4. 54
    intothefireuk on 17 Sep 2007 #

    So ……….Donny Osmond then. Young Love – not really a great fan of this then or now. A very tepid re-tread of the old 60s tune which doesn’t really go anywhere or do anything. I can see why we wondered off here.

    Also in the charts around this time were a bunch of old timers enjoying renewed succes either with new releases or re-issues – Al Martino, Elvis, Perry Como, Bobby Pickett, The Goons, Neil Sedaka – any particular reason for this ? Again, in Bobby Boris Pickets case why was Monster Mash a hit at all ? (apart from the fact that it is an excellent record). Halloween was still a month away.

    Talking of which my ‘guying’ days ended abruptly when I carelessly donated some of my old clothes to the cause. I was later horrified to see a life size paper efigy of myself being burnt on the fire. Very unsettling I can tell you.

    Madeline Smith best remembered for her ample features starring alongside the lovely Ingrid Pitt in the Hammer Horror ‘The Vampire Lovers’. She also used to feature regularly in Bruce’s Generation Game mini-plays.

  5. 55
    Marcello Carlin on 17 Sep 2007 #

    In order:

    Al Martino – combination of Radio 2 play and Godfather-assisted comeback.
    Elvis – Always On My Mind, Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite, not dead yet.
    Perry Como – Fluff Freeman responsible for breaking It’s Impossible in ’71 and ergo subsequent UK comeback.
    Bobby “Boris” Pickett – as conjectured above, probably something to do with Noel Edmonds.
    Goons – major revival of interest following previous year’s Last Goon Show Of All, publication of Goon Show Scripts etc. coinciding with Sellers’ comeback as Clouseau and commencement of Milligan’s war memoirs.
    Neil Sedaka – actual proper comeback a la ex-Other Carole King with assistance of 10cc (fact!).

  6. 56
    Caledonianne on 17 Sep 2007 #

    Just back from hols, so coming to this late.

    Re Hallowe’en. It’s definitely inaccurate to say that said festival was not observed “in the UK” until recently. It may not have penetrated London, or south of the Watford Gap, or the Wash, or whatever, but it was joyously and vibrantly celebrated in the Greater Glasgow of 40 years ago, and (I believe) throughout Scotland apart from the most anally retentive Wee Free fiefdoms in the Western Isles. I certainly have a photograph of myself at a Brownie Hallowe’en party in 1968, and can remember dookin’ for apples at home-based parties from the age of five upwards.

    As for this Donny offering. Pretty insipid, and I concur with the nomination of this as his least memorable platter.

    When his career was in its early 80s doldrum, Janis Ian was asked to write an adult, self-analysing song that could become a career-defining anthem for him, as At Seventeen had been for her. The resulting song “Childhood Hero” was too much strong meat for Donny’s management who ran a mile. The songwriter’s own version is on the Janis album “Unreleased 2: Take no Prisoners”

    (Janis Ian)
    I can’t believe so much could go so wrong
    It seems like every door is closed to me
    I wake every morning resolved to be strong
    I tell myself I keep good company

    I can’t believe that this is my life

    There’s always been someone to shelter me
    Now I’m out there on the streets without a knife
    being told I’m ancient history

    The doors that close once opened wide
    I try to take it all in stride
    and hold my head up to the sky
    But now they slam right in my face
    with unseen hands that can’t be traced
    and leave a bruise that even you cannot erase

    They say that art’s become an industry
    and that I’ve been away too long this time
    They say I’ve taken too much liberty
    Well what kind of punishment fits that crime?

    They say success came much too fast
    I never learned to suffer or to beg
    Just look at the bruises I’ve amassed
    I’ve paid my dues now – can we start again

    The doors that close once opened wide
    I try to take it all in stride
    and think of better times gone by
    But I’ve heard everyone’s excuse
    It’s no longer any use

    I might have been your childhood hero
    I might have been your native son
    but I was grounded close to zero
    Now that rocket ride is done

    And if I never reach Orion
    And if I never fly that far
    Still, there’s no harm in trying
    to go walking on a star

  7. 57
    intothefireuk on 18 Sep 2007 #

    Yes I can also confirm that Hallowe’en was celebrated in the 60s & 70s in London’s leafy suburbs. I remember making masks, window hangers etc at school as well. Trick or treating wasn’t much in evidence then and that has become the norm now. Schools of course have long since given it a PC wide berth.

  8. 58
    Mark M on 18 Sep 2007 #

    My impression is that trick or treating here peaked in the early 90s. Every year I buy some sweets just in case, but nobody ever comes by. And it’s not that kids in my building aren’t allowed to knock on people’s doors – they come round asking to wash the car or raising money for a school trip or whatever. Maybe in south London they’re all about the cash money and Halloween doesn’t cut it. I remember it being big in Leeds, but maybe that was just another excuse for the local 12-year-olds to terrorise the students.

  9. 59
    Mark G on 18 Sep 2007 #

    Xpost to the Janis Ian song.

    ha, I wrote one for David Bowie once. He didn’t use that either…

  10. 60
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Sep 2007 #

    It wasn’t the one he did in Extras was it?

  11. 61
    Waldo on 19 Sep 2007 #

    Just back from a mini break in Madrid. Magnificent. And I certainly didn’t confine myself to “Frozen Orange Juice”, I promise y’all…

    pˆnk s lord sükråt cunctør – I agree with and accept everything you say with regards the wonderful world of euphemisms, metaphors and oxymorons, as we cordially draw a line under the “pond” debate. I remember once an exchange between myself and a Glaswegian colleague, who was in the TA. I suggested to him that “military intelligence” was an oxymoron, which displeased him to say the least. Somebody walking past patted me on the shoulder and said “Brilliant, Waldo!” This, alas, enabled the TA bloke to fix me with a hateful glare and practically spit out “THAT’S a f***ing oxymoron for you, pal!”

  12. 62
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Sep 2007 #

    James “1973” Blunt to thread.

  13. 63
    mike on 21 Sep 2007 #

    Oh, is this blog up and running again, then? Big whoops… but better late than never.

    In which case, I have to be the voice of dissent, as “Young Love” is my favourite solo Donny hit. The pre-pubsecent songs were too strained and pleading for me, whereas DO seems a lot more relaxed and at ease here, stretching back and enjoying the peak of his success. The clippety-cloppity Windy-Miller-style “ambling gait” is also a key factor.

    But then, I lived in an Osmonds World. My younger sister was in the official fan club and adored them without reservation, and so they were pretty much inescapable during the second half of 1973. The brothers’ finest hour was of course The Plan, their splendidly wonky attempt at a deep and meaningful concept album, which – although we didn’t know it at the time – under-performed badly in the US, causing the brothers to retreat into showbiz, abandoning any further rock-oriented aspirations forthwith.

    Key memory of “Young Love”: at the presenter’s suggestion, turning down the brightness control during the video clip on TOTP, so that only the waggling teeth remained.

  14. 64
    richard thompson on 9 Jun 2008 #

    Didn’t Donnys voice break at this time?

  15. 65
    Brooksie on 8 Feb 2010 #

    Least favourite Donny song. Loping and lumpen. I also don’t like his vocals; “Feeeeled with deep devooooshan.”

  16. 66
    Auntie Beryl on 27 Mar 2013 #

    Donny Osmond’s Soldier Of Love written by Peter Gabriel? Not in this universe.

    (Six year late nitpick, there.)

  17. 67
    Lena on 6 Aug 2013 #

    Radio as time machine: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/when-i-was-young-carpenters-yesterday.html Thanks for reading, everybody!

  18. 68
    Lena on 22 Aug 2013 #

    Dancing to a pan-European pop: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/hold-her-tight-barry-blue-dancin-on.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

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