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Feb 08

BAY CITY ROLLERS – “Bye Bye Baby”

FT + Popular63 comments • 5,091 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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Comments

  1. 1
    Rosie on 29 Feb 2008 #

    And here come proto-Westlife.

    I guess I had a sudden awakening to how far I had become detached from pop when I encountered a cluster of young girls in Newsham Park, Liverpool, all wearing tartan ribbons on their wrists, and I had no idea what is was all about.

    It is a good song with plenty of good hooks that work for me, but the Four Seasons did it so much better (I was about to say that the Four Seasons were a sixties force to be reckon with that we didn’t have a chance to discuss, and then I thought better of it!)

  2. 2
    Monitor on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Musical appreciation later but this must have been one of the – if not THE – fastest selling single of the year. It’s the biggest seller AND it came in at number 2. Nothing that year came in at Number 1.

    In fact, it’s a striking feature of the charts in the 1970s that almost nothing went in at number one. There may have been a Gary Glitter song, but otherwise 2 was the highest new entry. In fact, apart from GG, the last song to come in at number one was, I believe, The Young Ones in January 1962, which did so, presumably, off the back of Christmas outings to see the movie. For the next song to come in at number one I think you’d have to wait until 1981.

    After 1981 the frequency start accelerating until the late nineties when it’s a rarety for singles to climb to the top.

    I guess the reason for this is an industrial change. At this stage, perhaps, singles were still profitable in themselves. By the time CD came in the price differential on albums and singles (for essentially the same manufactured product) was so massive the single became purely a marketing tool for the album. At which point it makes sense to ship em all out in one go, sell tens of thousands in two weeks helped by much more extensive poster and magazine advertising of the release date, thus saving on warehousing costs and so on.

  3. 3
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

    With the Rollers more than any other teen idols I can think of, it seems to be the case that you really had to be there, in the middle of its ideal context.

    I emphasise that “maybe” since I feel curiously protective towards the Rollers, and not just because I’m a Scot, although I note that McLaren more or less based the Pistols template on how Tam Paton shaped the Rollers, including the umpteen preternatural personnel changes before they really got going; the Bay City Rollers who went top ten under Jonathan King’s watch with “Keep On Dancing” in ’71 were almost entirely a different band from the one who beamed their way onto Tuesday teatime screens from ’74 onwards. I further note that McLaren, half-anxious not to have to deal with Lydon, travelled up to Glasgow in mid-’75 to look for a possible alternative lead singer; he found one musician who looked and sounded the part (to an extent) but the musician in question wasn’t interested – as he turns up on Popular in his own right in ’76 at the beginning of one of the most extraordinary of chart topping careers, I’ll leave his identity shaded for now.

    And I was recently reminded that the Ramones template (musically) was pretty well entirely derived from “Saturday Night,” the American chart topper which Britain never had (and which still seems to me their best and boldest record). So a case of some solidity for the Rollers as partially unwitting harbingers of punk could be built.

    However, as far as the Rollers worshipped and fainted at over that grey ellipse of ’74-5 are concerned, their pop makes me think of cantering merrily down a hill, perhaps towards the sea, full of piping life and merry contentment, despite the background stories, despite Martin and Coulter writing their hits and Clem Cattini depping for Derek on drums on the early hits…as with the Monkees, it didn’t really matter; it was the cumulative effect, their hoped-for aura, which proved the attraction.

    Thus the genius of Nick Lowe, who executed two splendid BCR tribute singles under the nom de plume of “The Tartan Horde,” lies in the fact that “Remember (Sha-La-La-La),” the first hit of the new Rollers age in early ’74, sounds exactly like something Nick Lowe might have done (thanks to Lena for that observation), and the artfulness of Rollers pop is that “Shang-A-Lang” and its successors are exactly the type of mindfully carefree bubblegum you’d want as a supporting plank on the punk proscenium (what is that wraith of an ultra-high, brittle backing vocal which appears on the fadeout of all of these hits?).

    However, by now the Rollers had worked themselves free of Martin and Coulter, wanting to prove they could do it alone (and, incidentally, isn’t the ’74 Scottish World Cup Squad’s “Easy Easy” the great Rollers record that never was?). So the Four Seasons cover – for the third time in Popular history, an act gets to number one with a cover of a Four Seasons song which didn’t chart at all in its original form here, but we must be patient since the Four Seasons will have their day yet – was a canny move; its rollicking descants tie “Bye Bye Baby” in securely with its predecessors, but the record expands on the known formula with its out-of-tempo intro and the greater distinction between highs and lows (all centering on Faulkner’s brief but key guitar solo). It also artfully plugged the heartfelt woe-is-me Osmonds gap in the ’75 market and to the hundreds of thousands of girls who bought it, the record must have felt like all of their Valentines being posted at once – oh Leslie/Woody/Derek you’re too BEAUTIFUL to suffer (would a 21st century boy band get away with having members called Les and Derek?). It did its job admirably even though it already sees its own end coming; and in Britain (it actually debuted at 8, then climbed to 2 and finally to the top for six weeks) it outsold every other single released in 1975 – with one eventual exception. Try to touch us? If only their fans knew how much the Rollers wanted to be touched.

  4. 4
    Michael Daddino on 29 Feb 2008 #

    What kind of research did this entail? One-on-one communications with the kids (interviews, questionnaires, etc.) or something more mediated? (Or both?) If the former, could the reason why your research training didn’t have much to say about this TWEENAGER POWAH! you speak of is because the kids don’t like revealing this side of themselves when under the researcher’s microscope?

  5. 5
    Rosie on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Beatles songs regularly entered the charts at the top in their week of release in the 1960s. So, I think, did a couple of the earlier Stones records.

    In what way was this not a hit of any description for the Four Seasons? I can remember it clearly being played on Radio Luxembourg (complete with atmospherics and fading) and when I encountered it in 1975 it was very familiar asa song.

  6. 6
    Monitor on 1 Mar 2008 #

    If this useful online reference – http://www.everyhit.com/ – is accurate (and using the standard BMRB chart: it doesn’t seem to say anywhere on the site), no Beatles or Stones singles debuted at number one.

    I was mistaken about this single however – I was foolishly anticipating an event to come later this year. This single came in at #31, rose to #7, then hit #1.

  7. 7
    Rosie on 1 Mar 2008 #

    Nobody was paying attention to the BRMB chart in the 60s. The BBC chart as featured on Pick of the Pops, Top of the Pops, and latterly announced on Radio One was what counted to those of us who were there. And besides, I’d rather trust my own experience of being there than an online reference compiled by somebody who didn’t live it. Believe me, Beatles records routinely entered the charts at the top in their week of issue.

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 1 Mar 2008 #

    This topic has been exhaustively discussed previously on Popular and there is nothing to be gained by reviving it now.

    Perhaps posters might like to discuss the record and the group under consideration in this post.

  9. 9
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 1 Mar 2008 #

    actually, while it’s true that those of us who’ve been here every day since day one HAVE been over this before, there’s no way that newly-googling newbies especially are going to know this — maybe there should be an FAQ on which charts are used and why (with attendant comments down the ages attached or linked)?

  10. 10
    Rosie on 1 Mar 2008 #

    Right, that’s it. I’m pig sick of being patronised by the bloated and verbose ego calling itself Marcello. Of course, if he want to spout reams of screed and alleged ‘memories’ of a time when he wasn’t even around, that nobody except him is much interested in anyway. As he said himself once when was taken to task for wanting to be the centre of attention,. I don’t know why I bother. And since it’s clear that what I have to say is of no value, I’ll go and do something worthwhile instead.

  11. 11
    Tom on 1 Mar 2008 #

    An FAQ is a good idea yes!

    Marcello, you’re entitled to your opinion but I think the way you expressed it this time was so condescending as to border on a personal attack. You’re not a moderator: please don’t act like one!

    Whenever I post a Popular entry I always look forward to reading certain people’s takes on the song – Rosie and Marcello are both very high on the list of said people. I’d hate it if either of you left.

    Now back to the Rollers please!

  12. 12
    Rosie on 1 Mar 2008 #

    Yeah, well, I’ve got a filthy cold and my hormones are in overdrive and all I needed was a trigger like that to set me off this afternoon. I accept that my response was out of order and let’s hope we can get back to the matter in hand.

  13. 13
    Lena on 1 Mar 2008 #

    An FAQ on charts would be most welcome, esp. since in a while there will be a #1 that both was and wasn’t recognized as one, depending conflicting charts. There are so many charts in the UK (whereas when I mention something, it’s always Billboard)!

    I only know one Rollers song from the time itself – two years after it got to #1 (in the US, obv.), I heard “Saturday Night” on KRLA in Los Angeles and jumped up and down on my bed in sheer excitement. I was all of eleven and I imagine the eleven-and-up girls of the UK having the same reaction (and many others) to them. I agree that they were unwitting forefathers of punk – “Hey, Ho, Let’s Go!” was directly inspired by “Saturday Night”‘s chorus spell-out.

    At ILM there’s a thread about the early Beatles’ singles and the joy in them and what other songs have the same energy and joy, and “Saturday Night” would be an easy answer from me.

  14. 14
    Kat but logged out innit on 1 Mar 2008 #

    In my admittedly blurry knowledge of seventies pop, the Osmonds and the Rollers totally blur in to one, save for a vage association with teeth for the former and tartan for the latter. I have no idea whose songs are whose! I wonder why I haven’t been spurred on to find out and fill up the void, as usually I end up quite curious about this sort of thing (i.e. petrified that my musical ignorance will show!). Perhaps they’ve suffered from a lack of modern nostalgia revivals (unlike say, disco or punk)? Have there been any that I missed?

  15. 15
    Billy Smart on 1 Mar 2008 #

    Ever since I got a good 4 Seasons Greatest Hits and fell in love with it, I’ve found it hard to listen to this without a pedantic pop swot voice in my head saying “Of course, this isn’t the definitive version, you know!”. Before I knew the original, I found this quite agreeable, now I find it to be pleasantly tolerable.

    Some of their other hits are the business, though, especially the Shang-a-Lang/ Remember/ Summerlove Sensation trilogy: Youthful frolics all rather oddly framed in the past tense, which makes them affect me when I’m feel either cheery or sorrowful.

    And Keep On Dancin’ and Saturday Night are both joyous things, but – as they come at either end of their career – I suppose they must be atypical.

  16. 16
    o sobek! on 2 Mar 2008 #

    i’m not sure i’d agree with the ramones template being entirely lifted from the rollers but joey ramone was pretty upfront about them being an inspiration. oddly i think i have a bizarro tom response to them – other 70s teendrip acts (barring the j5 and to an extent the defranco family) leave me dry but even the non-‘saturday night’ rollers hits (was ‘saturday night’ really their only hit in america or was it merely their only HUGE hit over here? i’m thinking they’d have the ‘one hit wonder’ tag here but i’d bet there’s some revisionism there the same way falco or kim carnes would be described as one hit wonders) possess a spark and fizz that i can hear what others respond to even if it doesn’t provoke that response in myself. whereas say w/ most osmonds stuff all i can figure is ‘ok, you just wanted to fuck donny right?’

  17. 17
    Snif on 2 Mar 2008 #

    One thing I’ve liked about this song ever since its release is reminding my older brother that he liked it when he least wants to remember (he’s in full denial about it, as well as the David Cassidy poster)

    “…the fact that “Remember (Sha-La-La-La),” the first hit of the new Rollers age in early ‘74, sounds exactly like something Nick Lowe might have done”

    At the time he had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance in the David Essex “Stardust” movie (it can be seen on YouTube)

  18. 18
    Marcello Carlin on 2 Mar 2008 #

    Well, yeah.

    There you go, folks. The surest route to unpopularity. Post a detailed, coherent and factually provable (both in terms of statistics and autobiography) comment and you’re accused of being an egotistical liar. Why do I bother indeed.

    I took my previous sabbatical from Popular comments in part because of the attitude of one particular poster and I’m sad to see that things haven’t changed. I unreservedly apologise to Tom if my comment upthread was out of order in terms of phrasing. But I don’t really see the point in staying here when one other poster makes it her business to disagree with every opinion that I offer and then uses her own issues as an excuse for her behaviour.

    And if the same person is prepared publicly to brand me a liar (see #10 above) then Popular stops becoming fun and starts to become unpleasant and stressful. I get enough of that in my day job and really don’t need it elsewhere in my life. I’ve got better and more important things to be getting on with. Bye, everyone.

  19. 19
    Rosie on 2 Mar 2008 #

    Bye

  20. 20
    Billy Smart on 2 Mar 2008 #

    This is like a family – we’re good at welcoming friendly-looking strangers and warding off troll outsiders, but we fall out with each other!

  21. 21
    Monitor on 2 Mar 2008 #

    Oh lord, sorry for raising the chart issue. I hadn’t realised it had been raised extensively before, apologies for creating the occasion for a flame war. Marcello, I do hope you’ll reconsider; your contributions are much of the reason I’ve been visiting this site for the last year.

    I think ‘Bye Bye Baby’ has real guts to it; it’s a nice chunky production – the drums particularly well recorded – and the change of tones, not just between verse and chorus but within the verse too, give it a propulsive forward movement that’s very satisfying. It’s also the elusive Scottishness of it that works for me; the harmonies and guitars – if you slowed it down slightly, it would sound like Teenage Fanclub.

  22. 22
    Chris Brown on 2 Mar 2008 #

    I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the fact that all this is happening on an entry called ‘Bye Bye Baby’.
    In the absence of an FAQ I’d direct googlers to the comments on ‘Get Back’, the one Beatles single that did enter the BMRB chart at the top. We’ll leave the rest until it next becomes relevant, perhaps.

    @14 – I was under the impression that there had been a lot of attempted revivals of this one – certainly I’m very familiar with it, and it’s certainly not for want of trying that people wouldn’t know it. That said, whilst I could name other Rollers hits I’d struggle to hum any beyond this one.
    None of the Rollers has managed the sort of subsequent career that Top-10-Every-Mother’s-Day-Donny has, that’s for sure.

    @16 – My Great Rock Discography lists the following: ‘Money Honey’ (Number 9, 1976); ‘Rock And Roll Love Letter’ (28, 1976); ‘I Only Want To Be With You’ (12, 1976); ‘You Made Me Believe In Magic’ (10, 1977); ‘The Way I Feel Tonight’ (24, 1977) and a couple of others that charted outside the Top 40. Make of that what you will.

    At the risk of spoiling, I’ve never really been able to stand the Four Seasons so I’ve never come anywhere near their version. That doesn’t explain why I don’t especially like this, but I think I had to be there (at least chronologically, if not geographically).

  23. 23
    Caledonianne on 2 Mar 2008 #

    I was slightly too old to be enamoured of the Rollers, and never found any of these anaemic-looking, near-anorexic boys with their white bread music to my taste.

    Needless to say the least cool girl in the class liked them(tho’ for the life of me I could never see why Woody – the particular object of her affection – would set anyone’s heart aflutter.) The song made an impression to the extent that I rememember the tune and am (worryingly) word perfect on the lyrics, and I quite liked the strand of chaste regret that runs through it. Otherwise it seemed pleasant enough but uninspired (give me Pilot any day).

    As for the Rollers – twenty-five years down the line from this an English workmate (crucially three years my junior) was utterly unconvinced that someone of my origins could have been unmoved by the great Rollers juggernaut, and so gave me Caroline Sullivan’s memoir “Bye Bye Baby: my tragic love affair with the Bay City Rollers” for Christmas one year. Aptly described by the Big Issue as “A must for all Roller fans and a good sniggering read for the rest of us” this account of a US teenager’s desperate quest for groupiedom is a startling insight into the Rollers American Odyssey (and certainly debunked my belief that they had no fans over 15). It was surprisingly entertaining, and left me feeling better-disposed to the lads than I had before.

    Marcello – please come back. We need you (if for no other reason than to share your erudition on Mary and Mungo’s pal;-). Cambuslang expects…

  24. 24
    Erithian on 3 Mar 2008 #

    What happens to people on this site on winter weekends? We last had a spat like this just over twelve months ago on the “Telegram Sam” thread, and that all happened over a weekend too. Seems like a couple of people were being thin-skinned and a tad intolerant at the same time – a fatal combination!

    I’ll agree with Tom that Marcello and Rosie are two of the most reliably informative and readable posters on here, and the rest of us look forward to their opinions and reminiscences – come on guys, there’s room for you both, but please don’t attack each other’s egos or claim that they’re inventing their memories (what is this, I Heart the 70s?) And Marcello, it might have been more helpful to refer Rosie, Monitor and others to the discussions on “Get Back” and “School’s Out” where you covered this topic. New people stumble upon Popular every week, and their enjoyment of it can only be enhanced by someone guiding them around the archive.

    Monitor (#2) – there were four No 1 new entries in the 70s, all in 1973 – Gary Glitter’s “I Love You Love Me Love” and three by Slade. Then a six-year gap until Polydor’s marketing of The Jam singles really got into its stride. And Rosie’s right in that the chart used as the basis for Guinness books which is now the “accepted” canon of number 1s was not the one that most people followed in the 60s.

    Ahem – not much I can helpfully say about the Rollers now. As others have said, perhaps their best singles had already come and gone – the string of them in ’74 as they were building up their fanbase with top 5 hits – and the number 1s they eventually had were more than a little weedy.

    Billy – re “Keep On Dancing” and “Saturday Night” being at either end of their career, I think the latter was a flop from circa ’73 that was revived after they’d peaked in Britain and was an unexpected US hit – I may be wrong.

  25. 25
    Erithian on 3 Mar 2008 #

    BTW, Caledonianne, what exactly was the Pilot/Rollers connection? I remember a Record Mirror headline saying “We Were Rollers – Pilot Confess” but can’t recall the details.

    My cousin had a strange musical journey in ’74-75 – her tastes moved on from the Rollers, via Cockney Rebel, to Pink Floyd in the space of a year. Not sure what happened there.

  26. 26
    Billy Smart on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Number 2 watch: ‘There’s A Whole Lot of Loving’ by Guys & Dolls (the prototype Dollar) for 2 weeks, then The Sweet’s first hit away from Chinn and Chapman – the rockin’ ‘Fox On the Run’ for 2 weeks, and finally a rerelease of Bobby Goldsboro’s unctuous ‘Honey’ for a week.

  27. 27
    mike on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Erm, if I might just delicately side-step the most regrettable unpleasantness upthread: Monitor, the everyhit.com “Retro Charts” aren’t the actual weekly BBC sales charts for the periods in question, as they’re (very annoyingly) under copyright – so everyhit have come up with the fudged solution of compiling their own agglomerated charts for the “early”, “mid” and “late” periods of each month. Therefore, the 31 to 7 to 1 progression that everyhit maps for “Bye Bye Baby” never actually took place. I hope that makes things clearer.

  28. 28
    Erithian on 3 Mar 2008 #

    That’s reassuring for anyone like me who’s sad enough to recognise some records by their progression to number 1 – there’s one coming up which went 28-2-1, another not far behind which went 47-17-9-1 and one next year that went 23-16-1. One of my favourites of the decade went 22-9-7-3-2-1… and I bet Marcello recognises all four of these straight away.

  29. 29
    Mark G on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Sham 69 started out as a “miming Bay City Rollers” tribute act.

  30. 30
    Lena on 3 Mar 2008 #

    I looked up the Rollers at wikipedia and it seems they had a follow-up hit to “Saturday Night” that cracked the top 10 (“Money Honey”), but that was it…and I don’t recall ever hearing it (doesn’t mean it wasn’t played of course).

    The only other thing (and this goes back to tv detectives…sorry, I don’t want this to become a loop) is that Ken Stott almost was a Roller…not sure if he declined them or they declined him…

  31. 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!)

  32. 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!

  33. 33
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Well…

    …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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

  38. 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… :-(

  39. 39
    LondonLee on 4 Mar 2008 #

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

    No one should read this then.

  40. 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!

  41. 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.”

  42. 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’.

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

  45. 45
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Mar 2008 #

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

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.

  50. 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.

  51. 51
    Waldo on 5 Mar 2008 #

    Behave yourself, Erithian!

  52. 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…

  53. 53
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Mar 2008 #

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

  54. 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. :)

  55. 55
    Lena on 10 Mar 2008 #

    Wrong city, pal, wrong city.

  56. 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.

  57. 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?
    http://japansugoi.com/wordpress/smap-sing-saturday-night-with-les-mckeown-bay-city-rollers/

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 60
    punctum on 4 Feb 2012 #

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

  61. 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.

  62. 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

  63. 63
    Musicality on 20 Jan 2020 #

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

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