Feb 08


FT + Popular65 comments • 5,898 views

#368, 22nd March 1975

One reason for this entry’s delay is that I was in Paris being trained on how to research teenage consumers. The training had a great deal to say about how to talk to teenagers, their attitudes and lifestyles – but nothing at all about the frightening and awesome power of the teen- and tweenager en masse, screaming for pop.

Another reason is that I don’t like the Bay City Rollers much. I am the wrong age for them; maybe the wrong nationality; perhaps the wrong set of chromosomes – but I enjoy almost every other teen idol whereas the Rollers leave me adrift. I can appreciate “Bye Bye Baby” as craft – the cleverness of theme (Rollerboy longing for you but still untouchable), the puppyish hurt and confusion in the lead vocal, the smooth fusion of 70s bounce and early-60s sap. This isn’t a bad record at all but it can’t get its hooks into me – the closest it comes is the urgent “she’s got me but I’m not free” backing blurt, before the song slips back into pat harmonies and Palitoy guitar.



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  1. 31
    Rosie on 3 Mar 2008 #

    First off, can I say say that I regret it very much if Marcello thinks I accused him of lying. I didn’t, but I can see how it might have been intrepreted that way. I hope he can accept my point that while in retrospect that the BMRB chart is retrospectively the canonical version, in the 1960s it was the BBC chart that most of us accepted as standard and thus we have memories that are at variance with the canon. I do recognise the value of Marcello’s insights here and would regret it if he left. His perspective and mine are not in conflict, just different. And I still have a rotten chest infection although my hormones are settling down now!

    And secondly, Billy Smart, thank you for reminding me of Guys & Dolls, whom I’d forgotten about but now I’m reminded I think I rather liked.

    (Funnily enough, I watched the film of Guys and Dolls last night: this has relevance to the Popular project because entry 51 is from the film (and only the film). In one of the more bizarre piece of miscasting in Hollywood it is sung in the film by Marlon Brando, while Frank Sinatra has little to do. Frankie Laine pulls it off with more aplomb but imagie what Sinatra would have done with it!)

  2. 32
    Erithian on 3 Mar 2008 #

    If I can try to intercede here, Rosie, it looks like you took umbrage (justifiably) at his curt remarks about the discussion about variant charts, and he took your words about “alleged memories” as attacking his analysis of the song, one which he’d said he felt curiously protective about, and by extension his personal memories, which are a vital element of his contribution to Popular. I doubt that he’d have reacted like that if he thought it was just a point about the charts which he’s made himself several times. Hopefully he’ll accept your apology and rejoin the debate. I’m looking forward to his take on a certain sitcom in a few entries’ time!

  3. 33
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Mar 2008 #


    …I was pretty upset on Saturday afternoon for reasons that have nothing to do with Popular but that’s no excuse…and then I clicked on here for some light relief and I internally went “aargh, we’ve done this to death already!!” and grumpily posted post #8. Maybe that’ll teach me never to break the rule about not posting here at weekends but the Rollers post came up teatime on Friday and I was interested in knowing people’s reactions…

    Anyway Rosie went off the handle and so did I and I deeply regret that but yes, I have very deep and personal memories of these times associated with these records because things happened both at the time and later which weren’t so nice and it’s hurtful if people think I’m just making it all up…and that’s what really got me, the inference that it was all fiction even though that’s not what R meant…

    …so yes, I totally accept Rosie’s apology and I hope she accepts my profound apologies because I especially look forward to her views and reminiscences with each new entry and life’s too short to waste on arguments or grudges.

    Deeply sorry, Rosie, no offence ever meant.

    In terms of the charts themselves:
    a) I agree that an FAQ link would be useful so that people can work out what charts are being discussed and the history behind the various charts.

    b) I really wish someone would do a ChartStats-type website for the NME lists or a Popular-type exercise for the number ones that didn’t make it onto Guinness – I know Robin C started one years back and I wish he’d carry on with it.

    c) The NME lists from memory were infinitely cooler than the Guinness ones.

  4. 34
    Rosie on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Oh good…

    And may I make a suggestion? Links from the UK Number Ones list to the article in question would be very useful for me.

  5. 35
    Brian on 3 Mar 2008 #

    I felt at a loss when I missed my Sunday morning Coronation Street omnibus, but after reading this , I feel much better.

    Seriously, I like reading you both and I am glad we are all family again.

  6. 36
    crag on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Crikey is it safe to come out now?
    Hope everyones kissed and made up now. As a relative newcomer to Popular I have greatly enjoyed reading and contributing to the site and appreciate everyones comments whether i agree with them or not and sincerely hope no-one feels the need to ‘leave’. After all, if you can all put up with MY usual nonsense about Steve Winwood lookalikes, Pilot memorial statues and the like then surely you should be able to put up with practically anything.
    Just to stay “on message”, I’ll give “Bye Bye Baby” a 4. It has all the right constituent parts but as a whole it doesn’t move or excite me. It just sort of…exists. Maybe as Marcello said (way back in Post #3) you did have to “be there” to fully appreciate it.

  7. 37
    LondonLee on 4 Mar 2008 #

    I could never fathom The Rollers’ appeal. Maybe they just came along just at the moment I hit the age when I automatically disdained what my sister liked.

    Doesn’t everyone know that the kid Malcolm McLaren found in Glasgow as a possible Pistols lead singer was Midge Ure?

  8. 38
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Um…yes but I was trying to keep it a secret to be magically revealed when we got to ’76… :-(

  9. 39
    LondonLee on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Sorry, didn’t know there was an embargo on the information.

    No one should read this then.

  10. 40
    Waldo on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Tom’s been in Paris, whilst I’ve just come back from the magnificence which is Rome only to discover Popular a-fiddlin’ and a-burnin’ without the slightest help from neither Nero nor myself. Glad we appear to be okay again. Trebles and dolly mixtures all round!

    My principal memory of “Bye Bye Baby” was not pleasant. It entailed a match Chelsea played at Tottenham in which they were defeated (funny how things don’t change much!). This 1975 thumping pretty much condemned my beloved Blues to relegation to the old Division Two for the first time since 1962 and the Spurs fans were not sympathetic. They promptly picked up the chant of “Bye bye Chelsea, Chelsea goodbye!” and all hell broke loose with a pitch invasion, young men in scarves and flairs having what we called back then a “bundle”. Despite being undeniably present at this game, sweet little Waldo naturally played no part in this violence, no more than I did five years later when I witnessed Alan Minter losing his World Middleweight title to Marvin Hagler at Wembley. This sparked disgraceful scenes at ringside with Hagler being attacked and Harry Carpenter being bottled mid-sentence. Thus “Bye Bye Baby” was forever contaminated for me even had I liked it, which I certainly didn’t. Then Johnny Walker stepped in with his now famed comments on the group responsible and I’m afraid the tartaned ones became the “Gay Shitty Rollers” ever after.

    Happy Days!

  11. 41
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Mar 2008 #

    No embargo as such – it was just my rather sad attempt to create some suspense, a la Patrick Mower on long-lost ITV gameshow Whodunnit.

    Ah yes, Johnnie Walker, who regularly faded out “Bye Bye Baby” on his Tuesday lunchtime chart rundown after about a minute and said “that’s quite enough of that.” His fate was sealed. He also gave a trenchant interview to the NME that year which essentially spelt: “bye bye contract, contract bye bye”…

    Waldo’s football comments also of course remind me of 1975’s two minor FA Cup related hits – the Cottagers had to make do with #45 with their “Y Viva El Fulham” (if only) while 2-0 victors West Ham made it all the way to #31 with, inevitably, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.”

  12. 42
    Billy Smart on 5 Mar 2008 #

    West Ham’s effort featuring fantastic moog and bass – and also being a song, which if you think about it, is as sad as ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’.

  13. 43
    Waldo on 5 Mar 2008 #

    “Whodunnit” was top. It was a Thames tv production chaired by Jon Pertwee in the early evening and as with the splendid “Crown Court” (see Waldo passim), the show provided work for every luvvie of the day, with Patrick Mower and Liza Goddard (see Clodagh moments passim) being regular resident patients as judges. I recall Mower once saying to a scrumtious young actress, who’s name I can’t recall, when it was his turn to pick the killer: “I’m extremely sorry, Christine. You’re a very lovely girl but you’re also the killer!”

    Nice chat-up line there, Pat!

  14. 44
    Erithian on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Lee – yes, no real embargo, it’s just part of the game to make oblique references to things which will come up on Popular in the near future. The nearest thing to a rule is the convention that we don’t embark on discussion of upcoming Number 1s in an ongoing thread, unless we’re making direct comparisons with the song in question – and that’s only because some people aren’t familiar with the sequence of number ones and like to have an element of surprise. Otherwise the joy of Popular is that any thread can go just about anywhere.

    West Ham v Fulham – it was a very different football era, with Derby winning the league and Burnley and Stoke not far away, United in the Second Division and Chelsea heading there, Arsenal mediocre and Liverpool just about to embark on their era of dominance.

  15. 45
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Mar 2008 #

    While in that year’s Scottish FA Cup Final Celtic thrashed Airdrie 3-0.

  16. 46
    Rosie on 5 Mar 2008 #

    West Ham v Fulham being also the first FA Cup Final I couldn’t work up any enthusiasm to watch. I spent the afternoon, would you believe, reading John Thomas and Lady Jane, an early draft of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in which Mellors is called Parkin and it’s mercifully shorter, in a sitting. How different from the year before, when Liverpool was definitely the place to be on Cup Final weekend. Now there was a party!

    I can’t remember when I last could be bothered watching an FA Cup Final. All the fun has gone out of football, now the bean-counters have strangled it.

  17. 47
    Waldo on 5 Mar 2008 #

    The fulham ‘keeper in that 1975 Cup Final was called Mellor, funnily enough (that’s goalkeeper not gamekeeper). For all that, he may well have been better of getting his rocks off that day with some posh totty like his near namessake, as both of West Hams’ goals were down to him.

    I totally agree that football is completely void of fun now and would be the first to admit that the guy running my own club is in the vanguard of what is wrong. I tend to just pop down to Eastbourne Borough FC if I fancy a live game now. But then again, this has not so much to do with a laudable protest against corporate greed up at Stamford Bridge as with being too fucking pissed most days to chance a journey back to the Smoke.

  18. 48
    LondonLee on 5 Mar 2008 #

    The West Ham v Fulham cup final was a big deal round my way as I grew up in Fulham. Though I was (and am) a Chelsea fan and my sister fancied West Ham’s Billy Jennings so we were the only two on our estate who wanted the Hammers to win.

  19. 49
    LondonLee on 5 Mar 2008 #

    PS: Sorry about spoiling the fun with Midge Ure. I wondered why Marcello was being so coy about it.

  20. 50
    Erithian on 5 Mar 2008 #

    I don’t think we’re so precious as to hold that against you Lee!

    Supporting Chelsea, though, that’s a different matter.

  21. 51
    Waldo on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Behave yourself, Erithian!

  22. 52
    mike on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Re. Johnnie Walker: His “I’m too rock and roll for this sh1t!” stance was somewhat undermined when he went on to say that, come the revolution, he’d still be playing the Bellamy Brothers…

  23. 53
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Mar 2008 #

    He was and is big on his Doobies and Eagles, it has to be said.

  24. 54
    John Pompadeii on 10 Mar 2008 #

    Haha. The Gay Shitty Rollers got their glasgae teeth kicked in by angry south-east londoners that had enough of both their music and also their “ayrdness”.

    What more can you say to that. :)

  25. 55
    Lena on 10 Mar 2008 #

    Wrong city, pal, wrong city.

  26. 56
    intothefireuk on 21 Mar 2008 #

    My that was a somewhat arduous read. Now about these charts……

    Anyway back to the Rollers. I was there at the time and probably in the right age group, however they were almost an exclusively female pleasure. This single came along at just the right time for them. Bolan & Bowie had receeded from the Teen limelight somewhat which left us with the Osmonds but they weren’t ‘ours’ were they ? So the Rollers part glam part Monkees found themselves propelled into the media glare. A fate which they didn’t seem best prepared for. This was all documented rather amusingly a few years ago on a channel 4 doco wherein Les McKeown is brought face to face with their former manager Tam Paton. The enduring memory is when McKeown exasperated by Patons flaky excuses about the lost millions just says ‘Where’s my f**king money, I want my f**king money!’ I must admit although I found them too lightweight for my own tastes they were an interesting distraction and I was quite happy to sit & watch ‘Shang-a-lang’ – a certifiable guilty pleasure.

  27. 57
    gerry on 16 Jun 2009 #

    Les of the Bay city rollers still milking it in Japan. Did you know Saturday night is a huge hit in Japan?

  28. 58
    wichita lineman on 17 Jun 2009 #

    Last time I saw Les he was dj’ing at a friend of mine’s 40th in an Islington pub. So I can’t blame him for milking his past.

    I wonder if Tam Paton really did leave his fortune to animal charities as he said he would.

  29. 59
    malmo58 on 14 Jan 2012 #

    I would gladly buy the Rollers a pint each for keeping Bobby Goldsboro’s saccharine and depressing Honey off the #1 spot.

  30. 60
    punctum on 4 Feb 2012 #

    TPL on “Bye Bye Baby”‘s parent album.

  31. 61
    mapman132 on 1 May 2014 #

    Egad, this is even more mediocre than I was expecting. At best a 3/10. Fortunately their US #1 was a bit better.

    Interesting fact: The Bay City Rollers got their name from a dart thrown at a US map that hit near Bay City, Michigan. There’s no evidence the Rollers ever actually visited the town, but coincidentally Bay City was also the birthplace of a then unknown teenager named Madonna Ciccone. Pretty random for such an unremarkable town (I’ve been there) to have two such brushes with pop music history.

  32. 62
    lonepilgrim on 3 Nov 2019 #

    I hated this at the time for no good reason and was condescending towards the girls in my classes who were fans. Nowadays it seems pleasantly efficient, better than I remember but still looking back to an anaemic 1950s as had so much c list glam before them

  33. 63
    Musicality on 20 Jan 2020 #

    This is the Bay City Rollers track I find most interesting and memorable.

  34. 64
    enitharmon on 22 Apr 2021 #

    Bye bye Leslie, Leslie goodbye…

    He was still younger than me. Eek!

  35. 65
    Gareth Parker on 22 May 2021 #

    A 3/10 would be my limit here.

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