21
Feb 08

TELLY SAVALAS – “If”

FT + Popular75 comments • 4,740 views

#367, 8th March 1975

Bread’s closing vision of cosmic apocalypse is curious enough to begin with and becomes frankly sinister in Telly’s hands: “and when the world was through…MMMMMM.” Savalas as the angel of death: a terrifying and somehow believable prospect. As for the rest of this, Tel’s burnished tones suit the gloopy material well and the record has an oddly narcotic effect – anyone who’s encountered a self-hypnosis tape will be familiar with this ‘genre’ though when the spell is broken I’m more than happy to hear almost anything else.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    Waldo on 23 Feb 2008 #

    That Billy Howard record (Ref # 13) was wonderful and deserved to go higher. Top lines:

    Cannon: “One day I trailed some men. A gang of maybe nine or ten. I was alone but I didn’t need help…”

    Columbo: “I can believe that. You surrounded them yourself!”

    Cannon went on to tell the cops that he was an expert in karate chops…

    Columbo: “The only chops you know are the ones you stuff in your fat face!”

    Blinding!

  2. 27
    Caledonianne on 24 Feb 2008 #

    Oh yes, Mr Savalas was a hit with the Laydeez, and perhaps his – ahem – penetration went further than you might think.

    I was blessed to have a truly exceptional history teacher and, as we got to grips with the rise of Italian fascism, she leapt upon our text book’s description of the poet d’Annunzio as “bald, one-eyed, with a certain romantic charm”. Such a picture invoked nothing but sceptical mirth in the heaving bosoms of us, her devoted gels, so she groped for a contemporary comparison. “A bit like Kojak”, she said, somewhat dreamily. Now, our latter-day Jean Brodie was believed to co-own a house with another teacher, and both were understood to be apostles of Sappho, but old Telly seemed to be pushing some buttons somewhere.

    Perhaps it was this record that did it? The Heineken of its day…

  3. 28
    crag on 24 Feb 2008 #

    a terrible terrible record thats so bad its not even funny-1 out of 10 without a dought
    How did this guff get to the top when Jon Pertwee’s vaguely contemperaneous (and awesome) “Who is the Doctor?” didnt even chart?!

  4. 29
    Billy Smart on 25 Feb 2008 #

    “Who is the Doctor?” is not a patch on “Worzel’s Song”, which did.

  5. 30
    LondonLee on 26 Feb 2008 #

    God, I thought I was the only one who remembered Yin and Yan. Trust Marcello.

    I preferred ‘Butch Soap’ to the a-side.

  6. 31
    Lena on 27 Feb 2008 #

    I can already hear the teenage girls screaming for the next song…

  7. 32
    Waldo on 27 Feb 2008 #

    A subtle prompt there, Frau Carlin!

  8. 33
    Brian on 27 Feb 2008 #

    Weren’t there a gazillion hits from the TV series ” Miami Vice” with Don Johnson, or maybe just the soundtrack was a hit.

    I always wanted ” C.S.I. to put out a soundtrack CD. SOme of the muisc that they use during the ” science bits ” is really good. However they seem to have dropped those segments in recent seasons.

  9. 34
    Brian on 27 Feb 2008 #

    Yikes ! I just discovered that Don Johnson realeased his own album, ” The Essential ” in 2003. It includes ” Can’t Take Your Memory” which may or may not be a trbute to Telly.

  10. 35
    Marcello Carlin on 28 Feb 2008 #

    There were two instrumental hits from Miami Vice – the theme itself and Crockett’s Theme (both by Jan Hammer) which both went top five in the eighties. Don Johnson’s only UK hit was a duet with Streisand – “‘Till I Loved You” though I gather he had more in the States.

    I certainly have never heard that Savalas tribute – “bye bye Telly, Telly goodbye”?

  11. 36
    Erithian on 28 Feb 2008 #

    Maybe that’s what that bloke was singing 21 months down the line after seeing the Pistols on the Bill Grundy show.

  12. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 28 Feb 2008 #

    Ah yes, the LORRY driver OUTRAGED at the PROFANITIES being UTTERED while his ONE-YEAR-OLD SON sat and watched TEATIME TELLY and PUT THE BOOT through the SCREEN.

    There were clearly other ISSUES involved.

  13. 38
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 28 Feb 2008 #

    NASH BRIDGES, the don johnson tv-tec follow-up (feat.CHEECH of cheech&chong in a post-duo mix&match), had a FANTASTIC themetune by eno’s successor in roxy music, eddie jobson

    my favourite omg moment in re csi soundtrackin was when they were proving that a SKELETON WAS PREGNANT to the pop stylings of einsturzende neubauten!

  14. 39
    Marcello Carlin on 28 Feb 2008 #

    If only NAUGHTY NEUBAUTEN’s BONKERS BASHING had been used back in the EIGHTIES to soundtrack TOP GIRLY COP series of the time CAT’S EYES starring LUSCIOUS LESLIE ASH and SUPER-SEXY FIRM BUT FAIR JILL “GENTLE TOUCH” GASCOINE!

  15. 40
    Brian on 28 Feb 2008 #

    Are caps the new indicator of some sort of arousal . Big naughty caps that they are.

  16. 41
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 28 Feb 2008 #

    \n/ for me they mean i am WAVING MY ARMS AROUND EXCITEDLY as i type \n/

  17. 42
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Much as the TEENYBOPPERS of 1975 used to WAVE THEIR ARMS AROUND EXCITEDLY at top pop band the BAY CITY ROLLERS!

  18. 43
    Erithian on 29 Feb 2008 #

    These prods are getting less and less subtle, Tom…

  19. 44
    Tom on 29 Feb 2008 #

    I know I know! I have a good excuse (well for the first half of the week).

  20. 45
    Billy Smart on 29 Feb 2008 #

    The problem is – that although pop music might well be a source of inexhaustible fascination to us – there really isn’t very much that can be said about Telly Savalas…

  21. 46
    Erithian on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Well, he’s the third cast member of The Dirty Dozen to have a UK hit after Trini Lopez and Lee Marvin, and possibly the only Bond villain (having played Blofeld in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). I’m sure the film buffs among us can chew on that while Tom dons his tartan trousers…

  22. 47
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Provided we don’t chew on Tom’s tartan trousers, that is.

  23. 48
    Lena on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Back in the early 80s I read a now out-of-print book about cool as a concept (called The Book of Cool I believe – American so I don’t know if it came out in the UK) there was a glossary of cool slang, made up by the authors as far as I could tell – ‘to Kojak’ was to find a perfect parking spot right in front of whatever building or place you were going to visit. It also means to shut your car door by sheer means of acceleration, I think.

  24. 49
    jeff w on 29 Feb 2008 #

    “…possibly the only Bond villain”

    The gauntlet is thrown down! Hmm, let’s see. Lotte Lenya sung Kurt Weill, Yaphet Kotto made some “dope soul shit”, and can we count Louis Jourdan? ;)

  25. 50
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Yes, but none of these ever had any UK hit singles!

  26. 51
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

    OK, I’ll give Christopher Walken a free pass because of his unquestionable contribution to the success of Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon Of Choice.”

  27. 52
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 29 Feb 2008 #

    :D let us not forget the singer of NEW YORK LONDON PARIS MUNICH! the biggest bond villain of all in my book!

  28. 53
    Mark G on 29 Feb 2008 #

    M? Robin Scott?

    I was just going to say Grace Jones, but hey.

  29. 54
    Monitor on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Actually Bond villains have rather distinguished history of recorded music, though admittedly not necessarily on singles. In addition to the above, Jonathan Pryce (Tomorrow Never Dies) sung the Engineer on the Miss Saigon original cast album, Charles Gray (Diamonds are Forever) is on ‘Time Warp’ from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Christopher Lee sung on the soundtrack to The Wicker Man, and was recently on some ghastly Italian metal band’s record, and Richard Kier (The Spy Who Loved Me onwards) sang a song in an episode of The Monkees.

  30. 55
    Monitor on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Oh and of course Steven Berkoff (Octopussy) was on N-Trance’s ‘The Mind of the Machine’ in 1997.

  31. 56
    Erithian on 29 Feb 2008 #

    Jonathan Pryce also played Juan Peron in “Evita”, and to complete the circle, his missus in that film was played by someone who’s also turned up in a Bond film (though “villain” might be stretching it a bit) and had a couple of hit singles in her own right.

    That stirred the pot nicely, didn’t it? If you hate me after what I say (ah-ahhh), can’t put it off any longer…

  32. 57
    Monitor on 29 Feb 2008 #

    I could reply but why begin it? ‘Cos there ain’t any future in it.

  33. 58
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 29 Feb 2008 #

    haha gerd fröbe sang peachum in the threepenny opera!

    (also he was a “talented violinist” acc.imdb which seems a missed trick goldfinger-wise)

  34. 59
    Billy Smart on 29 Feb 2008 #

    And speaking of Brecht, who could forget Lotte Lenya in From Russia With Love?

  35. 60
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 29 Feb 2008 #

    certainly not jeff w at 49!

  36. 61
    Billy Smart on 1 Mar 2008 #

    Doh!

  37. 62
    Chris Brown on 2 Mar 2008 #

    Did Madonna play a villain? I never saw that film.

  38. 63
    Lena on 3 Mar 2008 #

    I didn’t see it either, but as I recall she played Bond’s old fencing coach, so I doubt if she was a villain (that was Toby Stephens). But who knows?

  39. 64
    SteveM on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Further to earlier answers, a Bond Villains In The Top 40 list could include Goldie (The World Is Not Enough) altho he is merely a henchman.

    Has Robbie Coltrane ever seen any kind of chart action?

  40. 65
    Billy Smart on 3 Mar 2008 #

    I don’t think so, though he does have the claim to pop fame of having been on the cover of the NME in 1987.

  41. 66
    Alan on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Little Richard stopped the Tutti Frutti single, obv.

  42. 67
    SteveM on 3 Mar 2008 #

    (un)fortunately I have just remembered Coltrane releasing a cover of Pat Boone’s ‘Speedy Gonzales’ from The Pope Must Die soundtrack. I remember hearing it on the radio at the time but polyhex (still going! fight the machine!) has no entry for it so presumably it didn’t trouble the top 100 tho apparently it did involve Jeff Beck in some capacity.

  43. 68
    SteveM on 3 Mar 2008 #

    It could be great for all I remember. Anne Dudley also involved!

  44. 69
    Alan on 4 Mar 2008 #

    Does indie-disco fave ‘Low’ by Cracker count?

  45. 70
    intothefireuk on 21 Mar 2008 #

    My Mum was a great fan of Kojak but even she couldn’t bring herself to listen to this slice of unadulterated shite (my words not hers by the way). If it’s really not available on CD then for once I’ll applaud a record company for showing some taste & decency.

  46. 71
    Lena on 23 Mar 2008 #

    I just heard it on POTP and it is…unique…

  47. 72
    snoball on 24 Mar 2008 #

    A dreadful dreadful record. Shatner shats over this death wish drivel from several miles up. And I’d much rather listen to Charles Gray doing the Timewarp as my sing-a-long-a-Bond-villian choice.

  48. 73
    AndyPandy on 15 May 2009 #

    As so often idly messing around on Popular takes me in the weirdest directions and last night for almost definitely the first time since about 1975 I heard this. And i thought that this is possibly unique for a Number One from post late 72 time when I started listening to the charts in that even with the absolute shite I’d heard them somewhere since they were hits…but not this one…

    And I was pleasantly surprised – I like the backing/production, Telly’s delivery is the nearest the white man gets to Barry White (in the timbre and vibe of his voice if not melodically!)and I’m not one who usually thinks actors/celebs are particularly “cool” but Telly was undeniably as cool as it gets.

    I like it enough for it to have made it to one of my hallowed car compilation cds…and I’m gonna give it at least 8 (ps I’ve never heard the Bread version but I cant see it beating this because its all about the interface between song and Telly’s stratospheric aura of greatness that makes it for me…and I’ve heard it his cool was laced with a down to earth man of the people down to earth good blokeness – what can you say?

  49. 74
    mapman132 on 29 Apr 2014 #

    As descriptions of number one hits go, it doesn’t get much more WTF to my American ears than “guy from Kojak does spoken word interpretation of Bread’s ‘If'”. I mean, hearing it for the first time tonight, it’s not quite the worst record I’ve come across on this forum (although it’s close), but its presence here could easily be Exhibit A of proof that British record buyers can be seriously weird sometimes!

  50. 75
    CriticSez on 9 Jun 2016 #

    I quite like this one. I don’t find it dreary at all, and it’s a pleasant change to have a spoken-word song now and again.

    Wait till we get to Sw***er J***er (BUNNIED, of course). That actually is bad.

    I say a 7 for this one.

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