Feb 08


FT + Popular76 comments • 5,793 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.



  1. 1
    Tom on 21 Feb 2008 #

    Popular commenteers with a competitive streak (and a bit of free time) are invited to take part in Europop 2008: http://freakytrigger.co.uk/ft/2008/02/europop-2008-a-freaky-trigger-event/

  2. 2
    Matt DC on 21 Feb 2008 #


    I have never even heard of this, let alone heard it.

  3. 3
    lord sukrat even more logged out then usual on 21 Feb 2008 #

    this song is based on my book!

  4. 4
    Marcello Carlin on 21 Feb 2008 #

    And, perhaps unsurprisingly, we come to the first entry on Popular which is currently unavailable on CD; it has never appeared on seventies compilations and none of Telly’s albums (yes, there wasn’t just the one) has warranted revival.

    I disagree about the root song being gloopy; I’ve always liked the original, despite or because of its mixed metaphors (erm, wouldn’t you be in one place at two times rather than two places at one time and where exactly is the magic in that?), and to give Kojak his credit he acts it fairly well to dysfunctional TV movie level UNTIL he gets to that “mmmm…” which simultaneously bothered and continues to bother me but which I think is the record’s key hook, remembering that he was a huge sex symbol at the time (it was, after all, 1975).

    Possibly the last TV cop with such a major appeal to The Ladies was Peter Wyngarde as Jason King; his own album, 1970’s When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head is a remarkable (and quickly withdrawn once RCA got around to listening to what he’d recorded, although it is now available again on CD) piece of work, even if it was never going to yield a chart topper.

    Unfortunately on TOTP Telly elected to “sing” some of this song and it was a truly painful experience. Worse, his follow-up, a heartrending interpretation of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” saw him “singing” the chorus. It is perhaps not startling that it stalled at #49.

    A mention also for the inevitable parody record which ensued; the double-sided “If”/”Butch Soap,” a Top 30 hit a couple of months later for a duo called Yin and Yan. Some people, me included, initially thought it was Stan Freberg but in fact it was ex-Corrie actor Chris Sandford (who scored one of the earliest soap star crossover pop hits with “Not Too Little, Not Too Much” back in 1963) and ubiquitous gravel-voiced Canadian voiceover man Bill Mitchell, the missing link between Brut 33 and Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

  5. 5
    Billy Smart on 21 Feb 2008 #

    There’s also another parody, sung by Clive James on Pete Atkin’s patchy 1975 contractural obligation album, ‘Live Libel’. It isn’t very funny.

  6. 6
    Tom on 21 Feb 2008 #

    “Gloopy” should not be taken as a total perjorative – I enjoy my best of Bread CD a great deal! I don’t think “If…” is one of their very best moments though possibly the Bread fans in the FT staff will disagree.

    Who needs CDs when you have YouTube:


  7. 7
    Marcello Carlin on 21 Feb 2008 #

    A remarkable televisual feast, that.

    Memo to Kaiser Chiefs: this is what you should have been aiming for at the Brits last night.

  8. 8
    Rosie on 21 Feb 2008 #

    It could, after all, have been a lot worse. You’re right – Telly’s voice suits the song, and although it seems to me little more than a novelty, capitalising on the popularity of Kojak (a programme I very much enjoyed watching when I got the chance.)

    There’s a whole sub-genre of “singing” non-singing actors – cf Lee Marvin earlier in this exercise, and Richard Harris, whose non-singing version of Macarthur Park knocks eight bells out of any number of versions by more accomplished singers. Do I want to count Audrey Hepburn’s Moon River in this? Why not, although Moon River is a finer song than either Macarthur Park or this one and thus it doesn’t sound embarrassing when sung properly. But these are, or were. all good actors, and I think lesser actors might not have carried off the songs a fraction as well. There is, after all, a very strong sense of theatre in pop, and it takes a skilled practitioner to do it.

  9. 9
    Andy M on 21 Feb 2008 #

    For a second there I thought you meant this track was the closing theme to hilarious scouse sitcom Bread.

  10. 10
    Mark G on 21 Feb 2008 #

    Mmmmmm, the game’s gettin’ hard!

  11. 11
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Feb 2008 #

    There are, of course, the strange cases of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy to take into account…

  12. 12
    Erithian on 22 Feb 2008 #

    Audrey Hepburn, whose singing voice in “My Fair Lady” was dubbed by Marni Nixon, whose son Andrew Gold had two hits which were guilt-free pleasures of mine, in particular “Lonely Boy”.

    Yes, the Telly Savalas Number 1 was a novelty, not one I particularly liked but one I could accept wasn’t pitched at the likes of me anyway. At least the one he reached Number 1 with was atmospheric and fairly pleasant – it could have been “Who Loves Ya Baby?”

  13. 13
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Feb 2008 #

    I wonder if he influenced “Who Loves You” (“pretty baby”) by the Four Seasons later in the year?

    Oh yes, and let’s (not?) forget another Kojak-inspired top ten hit from the end of ’75/beginning of ’76 – “King Of The Cops” by impressionist Billy Howard, wherein he also “did” Columbo, Cannon, Steve McGarrett and Ironside to the tune of “King Of The Road.” You had to be there.

    “Who loves ya baby?” also turns up as an alleged punchline on one of 1976’s many controversial chart toppers.

  14. 14
    jeff w on 22 Feb 2008 #

    The proper comparison, surely, is not with Marvin or Shatner but with Burt Reynolds

    Kojak wins, I reckon.

  15. 15
    Erithian on 22 Feb 2008 #

    Crikey, yes: “You’re all dumbos, Columbo’s… King of the Cops”!

    No doubt at all that the Four Seasons title was inspired by one of the top catchphrases of the era.

  16. 16
    henry s on 22 Feb 2008 #

    the Singing TV Cop genre is a mighty deep well, indeed…Jack Webb, both Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser broke into film with Fiddler On The Roof) and Hutch (David “Don’t Give Up On Us, Baby” Soul)…who am I missing?…William Conrad?…Karl Malden?…of course, all of this led to the monuMENTAL achievement that was Cop Rock, but surely that’s for another post…

  17. 17
    Dan M. on 22 Feb 2008 #

    Telly Savalas hitting number one on the UK charts??????? WTF!? This is a serious blow to my Anglophilia. I never even heard this song. And I hate to seem snobby, but… I don’t WANT to hear this song. Even if it’s not so bad. It’s just… wrong. Hmmm… it’s coming up on limewire… must resist…

  18. 18
    Erithian on 22 Feb 2008 #

    If that tested your Anglophilia, Dan, two or three of the next four entries will test it even further…

    Singing cops – do we include Dennis (Carter) Waterman and Jimmy (Spender) Nail?

  19. 19
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Feb 2008 #

    …and Nick Berry?

  20. 20
    Tom on 22 Feb 2008 #

    It’s a fair cop.

  21. 21
    Billy Smart on 22 Feb 2008 #

    I take your Nick Berry and raise you ‘A Copper’s Tale’ by Jack Walker of Dixon of Dock Green fame, as featured on the super 1980 LP ‘BBC Detective Themes’.

  22. 22
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Feb 2008 #

    I further raise you Actual IRL Cop turned Number One Pop Star Dave Dee!

  23. 23
    henry s on 22 Feb 2008 #

    I counter with former NYPD officer Eddie Money!

  24. 24
    henry s on 22 Feb 2008 #

    …who, er, actually only got to #4 in the states…

  25. 25
    Waldo on 23 Feb 2008 #

    Nothing to do with public school boys losing the plot in one of my favourite all time films (my “fiancé” Mark could tell you a bit about that) and everything to do with David “Whitey” Gates striking again. But whereas Ken Boothe had embellished his work so admirably, this pig-ugly, fat, coarse, slap-headed TV cop knees poor Gatesy straight in the bollocks. I’m not going to waste my time slagging this mercenary shit off. All I can say is that the Yin and Yan spoof was the perfect antidote to it, although having said that Telly’s version was high comedy in its own right. Okay, Coouchy-Coo?

  26. 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!”


  27. 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…

  28. 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?!

  29. 29
    Billy Smart on 25 Feb 2008 #

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

  30. 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.

  31. 31
    Lena on 27 Feb 2008 #

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

  32. 32
    Waldo on 27 Feb 2008 #

    A subtle prompt there, Frau Carlin!

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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”?

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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!

  39. 39
    Marcello Carlin on 28 Feb 2008 #


  40. 40
    Brian on 28 Feb 2008 #

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

  41. 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/

  42. 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!

  43. 43
    Erithian on 29 Feb 2008 #

    These prods are getting less and less subtle, Tom…

  44. 44
    Tom on 29 Feb 2008 #

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

  45. 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…

  46. 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…

  47. 47
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

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

  48. 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.

  49. 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? ;)

  50. 50
    Marcello Carlin on 29 Feb 2008 #

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

  51. 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.”

  52. 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!

  53. 53
    Mark G on 29 Feb 2008 #

    M? Robin Scott?

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

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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…

  57. 57
    Monitor on 29 Feb 2008 #

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

  58. 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)

  59. 59
    Billy Smart on 29 Feb 2008 #

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

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

    certainly not jeff w at 49!

  61. 61
    Billy Smart on 1 Mar 2008 #


  62. 62
    Chris Brown on 2 Mar 2008 #

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

  63. 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?

  64. 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?

  65. 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.

  66. 66
    Alan on 3 Mar 2008 #

    Little Richard stopped the Tutti Frutti single, obv.

  67. 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.

  68. 68
    SteveM on 3 Mar 2008 #

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

  69. 69
    Alan on 4 Mar 2008 #

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

  70. 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.

  71. 71
    Lena on 23 Mar 2008 #

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

  72. 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.

  73. 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?

  74. 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!

  75. 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.

  76. 76
    lonepilgrim on 3 Nov 2019 #

    Telly Savalas creates the template for Leonard Cohen’s late career – sans rinky-dink preset synth – thank heavens the performance is relatively short

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