12
Oct 07

ALVIN STARDUST – “Jealous Mind”

FT + Popular47 comments • 4,595 views

#345, 9th March 1974

“Jealous Mind” isn’t that bad a record – though Alvin Stardust does his best to make it one. Stardust took the rock and roll revival at its word and exhumed his own career, left for dead in the early sixties. From a commercial standpoint it obviously worked: even Chinnichap couldn’t turn out hits at a fast enough rate for the market so this tentative fumble at a glam beat sold more than it deserved to. Hearing Stardust sing, though, you can understand why he wasn’t much of a star first time round – he switches between characterless rock’n’roll stylings and a diffident, wimpy high register, and gives a tissue-paper performance with no conviction. What saves the single is his guitarist, who seems to give up early on and play whatever he wants, a soupy, skiddy underlay to the song that reminds me a bit of “Spirit In The Sky”. Even then “Jealous Mind” isn’t much, but luckily Alvin’s such a sap you can almost totally tune him out.

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Comments

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  1. 1
    mike on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Hmm, certainly the third and arguably the fourth Number One in a row with traceable 1950s influences (did That’ll Be The Day kick something off there?), but also by far the slightest, and little more than a brand extension for the amusingly preposterous former Shane Fenton/former Bernard Jewry; not nearly as much fun as “My Coo-Ca-Choo” (which we all loved), but the first hit gave the second hit enough fuel on which to run. I’ve always struggled to remember how it goes, Buddy Holly-esque hook line aside. Written and produced by Pete “Love Me Love My Dog”/”Not The One Out Of The Buzzcocks” Shelley, lest we forget.

    Despite not particularly going a bundle on “Jealous Mind”, I bought Alvin’s album (The Untouchable), and am at a loss to understand why – what strange spell had he cast over Britain’s pre-teens? My first dud album, that was.

  2. 2
    Tom on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Also key wikipedia Alvin fact – his son is junglist Adam F!

  3. 3
    Erithian on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Alvin was another one of those early 70s stars whose 60s career would make an interesting study – i.e. what were Mud, Sweet, ELO etc doing while they were paying their dues? Unlike even Paul Raven, Shane Fenton had hits pre-Merseybeat, and the story goes that he tried to avoid Jimmy Savile at TOTP because he didn’t want to be recognised! Apparently he was working cruise ships by the late 60s, and his revival was another facet of the strong rock’n’roll strain of the era (it went back well before “That’ll Be The Day” I think – maybe you can even trace r’n’r revivalism back as far as Sha Na Na playing Woodstock?

    I’ve always found that pathologically jealous protagonists make for rather unpleasant lyrics – see also the Beatles’ “You Can’t Do That”. Agree about the guitar sound though, Tom – nice and crisp and makes for a good distinctive intro.

    Other key fact – the biggest hit for the Magnet label run by Michael (now Lord) Levy, the archetypal Tony’s Crony.

  4. 4
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    And Magnet’s anxious PR supremo – the man responsible for resuscitating the artist formerly known as Bernard Jewry and giving him his new name – was the erstwhile Coventry Northern Soul DJ Pete Waterman.

    “YOU MUST BE OUT OF YOUR TINY MINDS!”

    Probably best remembered now by those who were there at the time for his Green Cross Code adverts – as immortalised on his flop 1975 single “Be Smart, Be Safe” – early 208 adverts for “My Coo-Ca-Choo” bore the slogan “Who Is EL-vin Stardust?” since the idea was to cross Elvis and Gene Vincent but Waterman had a late change of heart and went for Alvin. There was a very brief “Who Is The Mystery Singer?” campaign, and this was not unprecedented – Marty Wilde attempted a glam comeback a couple of years earlier under the name of Zappo (by ’74 he was busy writing and producing Continental, if not British, hits for son Ricky) – but Alvin made no bones about it being panto glam and he knew that it had a limited lifespan.

    “My Coo-Ca-Choo” was totally “Spirit In The Sky” and “Jealous Mind” was more of the same (though “Coo-Ca-Choo” ended up the bigger seller) and by ’75 the hits were over, so that year’s startling electro reworking of “Move It,” for instance, was lost to the charts.

    All pretty harmless, much like the man himself who has persisted, even briefly returning to chart prominence in the early eighties with his cover of “Pretend” (doubtless with Shakin’ Stevens’ recent success in mind – on Stiff Records!!) and Mike Batt’s dreary “I Feel Like Buddy Holly” before marrying and divorcing Liza Goddard, turning Christian and still by all accounts making a more than decent living.

  5. 5
    Erithian on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Urggh, I’d forgotten Mike Batt wrote that – a worse lyric than “Nine Million Bicycles”!

  6. 6
    mike on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Yes, Alvin’s stripped down cover of “Move It” was, well, downright sexy actually…

  7. 7
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    And then, less than a decade later: “I won’t run away…the baby’s mine too…” Feckless glammer knuckles down to familial responsibilities!

  8. 8
    jeff w on 12 Oct 2007 #

    No dance routines for our Alvin. His schtick was to point a black leather-gloved finger directly into the camera lens (or was that just for “You You You”?) and glare, as if to say “Only a 4, Ewing minor? See me afterwards”.

    Me and my sister thought he was scary.

  9. 9
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Oct 2007 #

    Ah, but he also twisted the gloved hand upside down to hold the microphone as though about to go into “alas, poor Yorick” though it may have been to prevent the site of his green dye gel running down in the heat of the studio lights and unloosening his stick-on sideburns.

    This record more or less marks the end of the glam number one boom in earnest; most of the rest of 1974’s chart toppers got there on an individual song/record basis rather than being performed by “stars” as such.

  10. 10
    Tom on 12 Oct 2007 #

    I had forgotten it was him with the black glove! Good marks for image then but it makes his wimpiness on this record even more annoying.

  11. 11
    intothefireuk on 13 Oct 2007 #

    If it’s the same guitarist as on Coo ca choo then he also does a sterling job on that single. Jealous Mind would probably be a better single if MCCC hadn’t hadn’t existed as it pretty much covers the same ground albeit in a slightly less interesting fashion. Alvin’s ‘thing’ was to wear black leather, stand perfectly still and have his hand impersonate a microphone stand – that was it. It was never going to be a long term tilt at stardom with that weak a concept. Again it’s disappointing from a historical perspective that JM made no.1 and MCCC didn’t, but quite simply the competition wasn’t as stiff. While glam began its death throes, elsewhere in the chart we saw the debut of the ubiquitous ‘Candle In The Wind’, Maccas excellent ‘Jet’ and the Rollers with ‘Remember sha la la la’ starting to exert their grip on the girly teen population.

  12. 12
    Doctor Casino on 13 Oct 2007 #

    This is a stupid song, whose players seem to not really be talking to each other – everything is slipping apart, but not in a provocative or energizing way. It just feels like the tracks didn’t get synchronized right. The guitar is nice but a bit too politely-mixed; “Spirit In The Sky” had so much more OOMPH. 3-4 is the right range – it’s pretty lousy but only seems godawful in the context of it being a #1, which makes no sense to me at all.

  13. 13
    Marcello Carlin on 13 Oct 2007 #

    Bear in mind that it was only on top for one, presumably very slow, week.

  14. 14
    Lena on 13 Oct 2007 #

    The US #1s from this time (winter ’74) include “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr, “The Way We Were” by Barbra Streisand and Barry White (as Love Unlimited Orchestra)’s “Love’s Theme.” In Popstrology this is the only year with no dominant star, as it’s a year when just about everyone around had a #1 song – some great, some not-so…

  15. 15
    Waldo on 13 Oct 2007 #

    At some point Alvin Stardust was married to ultra smiley actress Liza “Give Us a Clue” Goddard, another lady who eased effortlessly onto Waldo’s Wishlist of Never-to-bes. I actually much preferred her in her guise of classy tea leaf Philippa Vale from “Bergerac”, which provided the odd Clodagh Rodgers Moment but never mind that. The other thing which interested me about Alvin was how erudite he clearly was. Ample proof of this was provided when he appeared more than once in the centre space of “Celebrity Squares”, no place for a fuckwit. True, he still pointed out at you with that stupid glove of his from under his fringe but you’ll forgive anything to someone who knew that Fray Bentos was a town in Uruguay.

    As for “Jealous Mind”, this is the only one of Alvin’s records I bought and it was his only Number One, as we all know. Listening to it now, it seems like something out of nothing and it appears to be over in a blink, just like those earlier discs by Adam Faith, a clear influence. My Stardust preference, in fact, became the equally dull “Red Dress” but that’s only because at school myself and a kid called Neil Harris penned an absolutely disgusting lyric to it, which I’m certainly not reproducing here.

  16. 16
    Caledonianne on 14 Oct 2007 #

    I can remember someone at school telling me that there had been some directive that Alvin wasn’t allowed to be seen on television on a Sunday, because the black leather gear and THE GLOVE were adjudged too disturbing and provocative for a Sabbath still (just about) presided over by Jess “The Bishop” Yates…

  17. 17
    rosie on 15 Oct 2007 #

    Talking of overblown, as I was doing when I appended a remark to the last entry just now, this performance reminds me somewhat of Tommy Steele attempting “Singin’ the Blues” (qv), going into all kinds of vocal contortions in order to sound hip and American. (Of course, Steele was shown up by the real American Guy Mitchell being perfectly lucid)

  18. 18
    Marcello Carlin on 15 Oct 2007 #

    Not to mention the Jason Eddy and the Centremen version/demolition of the song which Joe Meek produced in ’66 complete with skronky sax and which I have always assumed was his self-revenge on having engineered the Steele one.

  19. 19
    Mark G on 15 Oct 2007 #

    Does anyone (Marc?) remember Alvin’s first appearance on “Lift Off” where he appeared in a gold afro wig, one half of himself painted gold (the left half), the other silver?

  20. 20
    Marcello Carlin on 15 Oct 2007 #

    Sadly, yes. About as sensual as Deryck Guyler falling comedically out of the back of a dumptruck circa 1978.

  21. 21
    wichita lineman on 16 May 2008 #

    Blimey. On my own here. The excessive slapback echo (which I guess is what Alvin’s vocal is playing on, Be Bop A Lula style), brevity, and all-round crispness have always made this a big one for me. Yes, he seemed sinister (Sparks appearing in the same year to doubly freak out pre-teens), but every time he pulled that glove trick my mum would tut and say he’d pinched it from Dave Berry.

    Quick mention for Baby Blue by Micky Moonshine on Decca, the only Alvin S wannabe I can think of. Great Moogy instrumental version of the A-side or Wigan dancer Name It You Got It on the flip, depending which issue you pick up. Win win!

  22. 22
    vinylscot on 17 Jun 2010 #

    Another Alvin Stardust wannabe at the time went under the possibly-not-his-real name “Errol Flynn” who had a single called “The Top Of My Head” on RAK, which Luxy tried to break for a month or two.

  23. 23
    wichita lineman on 29 Mar 2011 #

    I’m pretty sure “Errol Flynn” was “Errol Brown”, the RAK label being a big clue.

    Poor Alvin, almost as heavily dissed as Don McLean! The wimpy vocal and sinister glove chime well enough for me, in the same way that I like to hear tough guys (Laine, Shannon, Orbison, the almost forgotten Dee Clark) brought to their knees until they scream out their agony in a falsetto.

    Not quite sure what this says about me.

  24. 24
    vinylscot on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Brown denied being Flynn at the time, so I wonder how it would have been promoted if it had been a hit. Listening to it last night for the first time in many years, I can hear that it probably was him. I guess it was just such a flop that nobody knows about it!

  25. 25
    Mark G on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Well, looking at it and the previous record in the RAK cataloguing series, “Emma” on http://www.beautiful-records.com/discographies/RAK/RAK_199.htm I’d say no: The production credits and publishing companies are different, and as you say: How would they have promoted this while the chocs were in their purple patch, hitwise…

  26. 26
    wichita lineman on 29 Mar 2011 #

    RAK 178 (Mud), RAK 179 (Dum)… not sure what Les & Co would have done either if In The Mood had been a hit. With reference to the matter in hand, Peter Shelley (or was it Marty Wilde?) is meant to have sung My Coo Ca Choo and that didn’t stop Shane Fenton from fronting it… who wasn’t even the REAL Shane Fenton because he died and Bernard Jewry, the Fentones’ roadie, acquired his name…

    Pop… bloody hell.

  27. 27
    Erithian on 29 Mar 2011 #

    This is glam’s answer to “Paul Is Dead”. Tell us more Wichita!

  28. 28
    Mark G on 29 Mar 2011 #

    I actually got to ask Les Gray about this.

    Apparently, there was a difference of opinion as to which should be the new single. “In The Mood” was the band’s choice (I believe), “Rocket” being the label’s. Only one got the proper billing and promotion, hmm guess which…

    So, they got to release both, simultaneously. The “Dum” one I got second-hand, and despite being an avid popwatcher, I knew nothing about it.

    Note: The b-side, “Watching the clock” resurfaced as the b-side of “Oh Boy” with the “dum” writer credit intact (the website has that single wrong), it was an instrumental knocked out for b-side use. A later single had “Still watching the clock” which was the same tune, slightly slower. Les admitted it was an easy, quick and cheap way to furnish/finish the single.

  29. 29
    wichita lineman on 29 Mar 2011 #

    Erithian, will attempt to verify… now… must… work…

  30. 30
    vinylscot on 29 Mar 2011 #

    RAK seem to have a history of doing this sort of thing. In 1974-5 they had two different acts called “Kenny”, and both had hits with Martin-Coulter songs. The first was Irish showband veteran Tony Kenny, and the second was a group of sub-BCR London lads, formerly named “Chuff”.

    I presume they had big plans for the original Kenny, and these didn’t quite work out. It’s quite common for the session singers to be ignored when an act unexpectedly has to make public appearances, but I always thought this a little odd, as they were such different acts – one solo bloke vs five kids!

    Maybe, if “The Bump” hadn’t been a hit, we would never have known!

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