Apr 08

BAY CITY ROLLERS – “Give A Little Love”

FT + Popular99 comments • 4,548 views

#374, 19th July 1975

A few entries ago I compared “Oh Boy” to Westlife, which got a few commenters disagreeing. The boyband genes of “Give A Little Love”, though, are far less recessive, and when the Rollers amble into that chorus like a tram on a track you can almost see them bestooled and swaying. There’s enough rock in the rollers for the song to play out with an incongruous and entertaining guitar solo (nodding back to the Beatles’ “Something” if I’m not mistaken) but mostly this is purest plod, with yet another hand-wringingly sincere spoken passage to sap us further. It’s pretty enough, though, and there’s something almost endearing about how brazenly it presses its various buttons – but only almost. There’s no harm in it, but no delight either.



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  1. 61
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    I’d heard a rumour that said notorious anarchist collective sold rather better than the charts allowed, but it was linked to their topical 1982 Brits-abroad number.

  2. 62
    rosie on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Ok, I think I’ve worked out what this is about.

    But if I’m right, it’s surely pretty obscure to anybody but anarcho-punks and music journalists? I’m pretty sure it didn’t impinge much om my consciousness but maybe I’m being forgetful. April 1981 was a turbulent time for me.

  3. 63
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Actually it goes back to 1979 when said record shop chain (following diktats from associated major record label and distributor) banned their work in light of the wraparound poster sleeve for one of their very early singles.

  4. 64
    crag on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Hosannah! Thanks to Wiki I have worked out the fifth Phantom #1! Still cant quite my head around it – surely this wasnt readily available in your average chart return shop in sufficent quantities to have outsold evrything else? Just imagine what kind of different pop world we would be living in today if it really had offically got to the top, though. The mind boggles…

  5. 65
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Well, as I say, their records were banned from one major record shop chain but not from another…and in any case, while Woolies and Boots wouldn’t exactly have been in a rush to stock them, the indie record shops (as in independent rather than specialising in indie music) were fairly well represented, given that the BMRB charts only collected sales returns from 350 shops.

  6. 66
    intothefireuk on 4 Apr 2008 #

    ….making them not representative at all. Why are we avoiding mentioning it ? Are we doing Indie No.1s as well ? It’ll never actually feature here and there is no hard evidence that I can find to say it would have made no1. BTW shouldn’t we also make an exception for a Manc band in 1983 with their 12″ outselling everything else ?

  7. 67
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    350 shops probably was pretty much representative assuming there were quotas for region and size.

    The avoiding mentioning was to make it more fun for people guessing and googling I think!

  8. 68
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Well, yes. I keep forgetting that some people hate fun.

  9. 69
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Oh, it clicked this lunchtime.

    I was thinking of their other falklands song, where they don’t swear on it until the final 20 seconds or so…

    .. which was also out of the chart…

  10. 70
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Actually is there a list of indie #1s anywhere? There wasn’t (or at least I couldn’t find one) when I looked a few years ago, but things might have changed.

  11. 71
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Funny you should say that:


  12. 72
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Hmm, 7 and 14 March it was, mea culpa.

  13. 73
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    AWESOME thankyou Marcello.

  14. 74
    Erithian on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Ah, right! Guessed the band, guessed the country, didn’t actually know the track. You’re right though, guessing and googling is all very much part of the fun. And the 1976 phantom number one does deserve an honourable mention when it comes around.

  15. 75
    crag on 4 Apr 2008 #

    The only phantom #1 that was undeniably the best selling single nationwide in a specific week is the Christmas 1980/81 one. I think the ’77 one should definitely be discussed, however, being as it is hugely significant in the history of pop AND of the pop charts themselves..

  16. 76
    Erithian on 4 Apr 2008 #

    This is an exchange for your FAQs list when you get around to it, Tom…

  17. 77
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    I’d forgotten the FAQs! I was doing some Popular statto stuff last night.

    Good point on the 1980/1 phantom – is it not the case that it was by someone who had a lot of other #s around that time, so we can discuss it in with those I think. I will try and remember though.

  18. 78
    crag on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Its a while off yet and obv the choice is yours – compared to ’77 phantom its hardly pivotal although its about the only one of that deludge of postumous #1s the artist in question had at the time that i can really stomach – and i’m a fan!

  19. 79
    jeff w on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Further to #70 and #71, the entirety of the data in the Cherry Red Indie Hits 1980-89 book is now online:

  20. 80
    Chris Brown on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Yippee! I guessed the anarchist collective right, although the dates don’t seem to match up for the shared country, unless my geography is even worse than I thought. Either way it strikes me as a wee bit self-defeating on their part to break an obvious rule, although I should possibly hang fire until we get to it.
    BTW, there is also a dubious Number One in 1987, but nothing was denied by it so we shall wait until we get there.

    @66 – Are you sure it outsold everything else? My understanding was that the “problem” was in getting sales awards, since it was on a non-BPI label, rather than any chart appearance. Evidently, it was in the chart.

    @15 – Guinness tells me that Aswad’s ‘Give A Little Love’ was a cover version of a Bucks Fizz B-side. The mind boggles. Needless to say, Daniel O’Donnell’s only Top 10 single is yet a third song and apparently there’s a fourth one by The Invisible Man. Yet of all these the Aswad hit is the only one I can remember; I think I mentioned before that for those of us not around at the time the Rollers have very much been reduced to one song.
    Of course, I could remedy that, but reading the other posts I don’t think I will.

  21. 81
    Roadhog on 4 Apr 2008 #

    And no-ones’s mentioned the best “Give a Little Love” of the lot – Nookie’s hardcore classic from (I think( 1992.
    And if we’re talking about tracks which sold loads but didn’t get the deserved places in the charts look no further than dance/club tracks. Both pre and post-1988 many (and in some caes most)of the sales were in specialist dance record shops which were very unlikely to be chart return shops.For all you rock fans out there you should be very glad of this as the rave inundation of the charts in 1992 would have been twice as great if this anomaly hadn’t existed…if only

  22. 82
    Roadhog on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Further to my comment above an example would be Acen’s “Trip to the Moon” which only reached something like 39 on the pop charts but which according to what I understand should easily have made the Top Ten.

  23. 83
    Marcello Carlin on 5 Apr 2008 #

    The most outrageous example of this was of course “Planet Rock” by Bambaataa, which is kind of the beginning of the last 25 years of music, which stopped at #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982 despite allegedly selling two million plus.

  24. 84

    as the debates between “what’s number one” and “what’s really number one” and “what should be number one” are pretty central to the social value of pop, i think i would argue that a chart-returns system that was utterly exact and ungameably accurate and infallible would lead to a net diminution in the interest and use of chart-watching — we NEED martyrs and secret majorities and the vast but hidden bit of the iceberg to keep us paying attention and investing and thinking

    ie if the question is “what was everying thinking?”, the answer “seems to be this, but could have been THIS” is more dynamic and revealing than something cut and dried and fixed…

  25. 85
    Waldo on 6 Apr 2008 #

    Lordy, Lordy! Whenever I piss off for a few days, I always come back to a right old carry-on. Last time, a punch up with a quickly reconsidered McGoohanesque resignation. This time, something resembling a manic crossword puzzle straight out of “Alice in Wonderland” with the poor old Spolier Bunny barely at bay but getting madder by the second. After my next break, I shall probably return to find that you are all ficticious characters from a book I’ve been writing:

    “These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits and
    Are melted into air, into thin air”. And I thought I was the nutcase!

    Sooo, to the record in hand. Stomach-churning!

    This wretched rubbish was surely the nadir for the Rollers as far as any pretence to good pop was concerned. This record was just fucking risible and you didn’t need Johnnie Walker to tell you that. Quite frankly, God only knows why teen girls in the UK idolised these talentless girly boys. Extraordinary.

    Bye Bye, Rollers. Rollers, goodbye!

  26. 86
    Dan M. on 7 Apr 2008 #

    damn, I wish we could be talking about “Jive Talkin'” or “What the Man Said,” or “The Hustle…!”

    This, the previous and the next entry make 3 in a row that, as far as I know, never registered at all in the American top 40 — I never heard any of them before (and still haven’t, though I’ll work on it. I guess.)

  27. 87
    vinylscot on 8 Apr 2008 #

    In my opinion, this record is the most obvious precursor to the horrors of Boyzone, Westlife et al, which were to visit us all much later.

    There was always a question mark over how “normal” boys like the Rollers could sing their light throwaway pop songs, and still look at themselves in the mirror (apart from the obvious “perks” of the screaming girls etc.).

    I was always a pop fan, and while I didn’t like them (the Rollers) much, I could see the merit in the likes of “Shang-A-Lang” and “Summer Love Sensation”, and I could understand why they switched to covers like “I Only Wanna Be With You” and “Bye Bye Baby” to avoid “sameness” setting in.

    However, my abiding memory of this song is that even the Rollers didn’t seem to be enjoying it much…. as if it was bad enough being forced to perform silly sing-along numbers, but expecting them to do soppy ballads was just one step too far.

    Ballads often attract buyers who would not usually buy songs by a particular group or artist, and that factor (IMO) helped this slice of mediocrity to its success.

    “Rollermania” was already on the wane in the UK by this time, strangely as this followed their biggest hit, but, in retrospect, the Rollers never really had been much of a force at all, even at their peak.

  28. 88
    Lena on 8 Apr 2008 #

    So do I Dan, so do I…

    …eventually a song will come up that us North Americans will know…

  29. 89
    Snif on 9 Apr 2008 #

    One abiding amusement concerning the Rollers is that whenever they toured Australia, they were inevitably accommodated here…


    …when playing in Adelaide.

    (also a friend recalls crawling around the car park of said establishment at 2am helping a band member find his misplaced supply of illicit substances)

  30. 90
    Mark G on 9 Apr 2008 #

    OK, controversial view ahoy! (and not one I held at the time…)

    It’s an OK song, recorded really badly/cheaply/poorly.

    “It’s a teenage dream to be seventeen”

    A bad rhyme? Actually, it’s a point. Old enough to have options and freedoms, young enough to not fear the end of yr teenage dreams, old enough for sex, and to get away with dringing in pubs, etc. Pre-teens dream of being thirteen but then find it’s no different to 12.

    The rest of the song is reflective, and in better hands (and some bad line pruning) could have been a “Father and Son” type ‘anthem for the masses’. But the lame realisation by those who thought they didn’t have to try too hard killed it. Oh, it got to number one, but I find that often, the quality (or lack of) in a particular track manifests itself in the success (or lack of) in the next single. (eg Culture Club’s “The War Song” was badness, “The Medal Song” was fine but failed for possibly the same reason)

    “Money Honey” was not a great song, but was a great recording/realisation. But by then it was downhill for the band who had lots of fans buying but slowly drifting off, and no-one ‘impartial’ doing the same.

  31. 91
    Tom on 9 Apr 2008 #

    We do a teenage survey at work (I think a previous Popular entry mentioned this), and teenagers’ ideal future age is one of the questions we ask: it’s consistently two-three years ahead until 19 is reached and then it stabilises and drops.

    I like the “you’re only as good as your last track” theory.

  32. 92
    Marcello Carlin on 9 Apr 2008 #

    I’d be surprised if the writers (John Goodison and Phil Wainman, for what it’s worth) put more than about half a second of thought into that “dream”/”seventeen” rhyme.

    They switched to the covers because (a) they’d decided to part company with Martin and Coulter who wrote all their ’74 hits (and “Saturday Night”) and (b) Tam told them to, even though, as their albums demonstrate, they actually wanted to rock or at least power pop and write their own stuff.

  33. 93
    wichita lineman on 14 May 2008 #

    Going waaay back to 39, I guessed “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” was about the stage show Beatlemania which came to London in ’79 (I think, I remember a feature on Nationwide) and, umm, bit the dust quite quickly.

  34. 94
    Brooksie on 9 Feb 2010 #

    The Rollers actually wrote some pretty good stuff themselves (for teenyboppers). But they never really got the chance to show it. I like this, and I think it does what it needs to do, but it’s a little weak.

    I agree with the “only as good as your previous single” theory. But I don’t think that works as well for The Rollers. Groups like The Rollers whose teen audience is totally teenage girls-and-their-hormones related, will always sell with consistency that will taper off with time. For the Rollers their drop off from this # 1 to the # 3 ‘Money Honey’, and the drop off from the # 1 album ‘Once Upon A Star’ to the # 3 ‘Wouldn’t You Like It?’, has far more to do with a new school year moving up – meaning a whole chunk of their fans suddenly feel too old to but them anymore, and the new year feels like they’re the band their big sisters liked – than anything to do with musical quality. Groups are also tied to fashions, and when the fashions change if they are associated with them then they will fall. The most these bands can hope for is 3 solid years at the top – with 1 year ascent and 1 year descent at either end – and they *must* have broader appeal to manage 3 years rather than 1. More nuanced groups can manage a little longer, if they time things just right. For example; Wham! managed to split in June ’86, before a new school year moved up. Duran (who were older than Wham! and had already lost fans to A-ha) came back in October ’86 and couldn’t break the top 5. Culture Club’s ‘War Song’ was a very silly song, and it slammed the breaks on their career, especially with a critically mauled album (which was actually pretty good, just not as good as their previous effort). One could point at ‘Ant Rap’ as another example of a silly song which damaged the maker, but Adam got rid of the Ants and came back with a good pop track both of which helped to halt any damage, plus Adam had a *lot* of male fans.

    The Rollers peak year was Sept ’74 ’til Sept ’75, after that it was all descent. They had one more year and then they were done; they never bothered the top 10 after Sept ’76.

  35. 95
    wichita lineman on 9 Feb 2010 #

    I think their descent was hastened by Money Honey’s sequel, rock-a-ballad Love Me Like I Love You which sounded really dated in the spring of ’76. Plus the odd fact they only released two singles that year. In the US they also released powerpop anthem Rock’n’Roll Love Letter in spring ’76, but went the whole summer without a single in the UK. Nuts! Hardly surprising that they fell off the map in ’77.

  36. 96
    Brooksie on 10 Feb 2010 #

    This is true; in ’76 The Rollers left for the US which meant their presence to the teenybopper fans in the UK wasn’t felt the way it should be. I agree that ‘Love Me Like I Love You’ was weak; it sounded like they were trying to write a ‘Bye Bye Baby’ for themselves – and it didn’t work. In charts now filled with the production glories of ABBA, The Rollers sounded tinny and weak, and they weren’t even around to promote themselves.

  37. 97
    wichita lineman on 25 Jun 2010 #

    Those terrifying Rollers fans caught on camera:


  38. 98
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Sep 2010 #

    The third number one of my life, and I don’t think I’d heard it before today. Nowhere near as bad as I feared it would be. (Very interesting comments thread, this one, too.) Dare I say that this is preferable to the Aswad number of the same name? I think I dare…

  39. 99
    lonepilgrim on 8 Nov 2019 #

    I had a knee-jerk disdain for the Rollers at the time because they were making music for girls. In retrospect that seems a reasonable and time honoured motive for much pop music but this is still a leaden dirge

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