Apr 08

BAY CITY ROLLERS – “Give A Little Love”

FT + Popular102 comments • 5,562 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.



  1. 1
    Marcello Carlin on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Nodding forward to “Don’t Look Back In Anger” as well, I reckon, that guitar solo, but otherwise pretty fluffy in an annoying way (“dream” rhyming with “seventeen” etc.) and really not very memorable at all (someone here I think was striving for a “Back For Good”-type lighter-bearing swaying anthem but it more anticipates the identikit Westlife so-what form of balladry minus the annoying “soul” mimetics).

    Meanwhile, in the America of late 1975, just after they’d failed (well, got to #3, but there were headlines on John Craven’s Newsround about “flop”) with their attempt at self-reliance rock “Money Honey” they unexpectedly went to number one in the States with a re-recording of their 1973 UK flop “Saturday Night” and got belatedly screamed at there (and influenced the Ramones while they were at it). Not that it did them any real good in the long term, trapped as they were in Hollywood for the best part of 18 months making a terrible TV series with the cast of HR Pufnstuf. And they’re still waiting for their money.

  2. 2
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    “Weedy and horrible” has always been my opinion on this one, and it’s not going to change now. For some reason I remember a “Magpie” feature around that time which showed Jenny Hanley in 50s beachwear to the backing of some choice rock’n’roll, 60s beachwear to the backing of some choice Beat Boom song, and a 70s bikini with “Give A Little Love” playing in the background. The bikini was welcome…

    Re the Rollers and guitar solos – you may well remember that an integral part of the “Shang-a-Lang” programme featured Eric and Woody being given guitar lessons by session player Big Jim Sullivan, whose Wikipedia entry credits him with playing on no less than 59 Number 1 singles from “Tower of Strength” to “January”. Sullivan also toured with Eddie Cochran, gave Ritchie Blackmore guitar lessons and loaned Jimmy Page the acoustic guitar he used on Zeppelin’s first album. So you’d hope Eric’s guitar bit would be OK.

    A memorable letter in “Record Mirror” in late ’75, as I recall it: “Why didn’t “Money Honey” get to number one? Cos the boring old sods who never buy records except during the silly season went out and bought boring old B——- R——- and the like, that’s why! But the Rollers’ll be back, just you wait…”

  3. 3
    rosie on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I almost thought this was a late-1990s boy band when I heard it. I certainly didn’t remember it as part of the summer of ’75, and I’d have been hard-pressed to recognised it as the Bay City Rollers. This is surprising because we have now reached my twenty-first birthday, and also not surprising because it’s amazingly bland and unmemorable. In this case it’s hard to imagine it getting to number one by making an impression either on the casual listener or dancer, so I suspect its success is down to a loyal fanbase.

  4. 4
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Lots of people remember “the Matt Bianco incident” on Saturday Superstore; perhaps less well remembered is the time the “new Roller”, Ian Mitchell, was on the phone-in on Swap Shop soon after replacing Alan Longmuir.

    Caller: “Ian, what did you think of the Rollers before you joined them?”
    Ian: “Err, I thought they were all right, you know…”
    Caller: “Oh, because MOST BOYS THINK THEY’RE POOFS!”

  5. 5
    Marcello Carlin on 2 Apr 2008 #

    No Number Two Watch to report since the next number one was (cue Jimmy Savile impression) queueing up patiently to get to number one as befitting a good re-CORD. Except it was a terrible re-CORD!

  6. 6
    Rob Brennan on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Just listened to this for the first time ever and reckon it’s a pretty weak tune to have as a birthday Number 1. As Marcello hints in #5 though, it could’ve been a lot worse.

  7. 7
    Lena on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I don’t know this one but I should hope the guitar solo is good!

    The US #1 was about to change from the great “Listen To What The Man Said” (which I also remember from the car trip) to Van McCoy’s “The Hustle.”

  8. 8
    rosie on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Not being lots of people, dare I ask what the Matt Bianco incident was?

  9. 9
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Sorry – basically, a caller got through to Matt Bianco (of “Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed” fame) and said something like “Oi, Matt Bianco, why are you such a bunch of w—ers?” Live on Mike Read’s Saturday Superstore.

  10. 10
    rosie on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Thank you, Erithian. So, basically, a juvenile Bill Grundy moment?

  11. 11
    Marcello Carlin on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Quite, and mention must also be made of the 1986 episode on Saturday Superstore‘s successor, Going Live, where rubbish boy/girl band Five Star, who thankfully won’t be troubling us here, were also taking calls from viewers:

    Sarah Greene: “And what would you like to ask Five Star?”
    Caller: “Why are you so fucking crap?”
    SG: “It’s not big and it’s not clever. But it’s very, very true.”

  12. 12
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Did you make up that last bit, MC?

  13. 13
    Tom on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Five Star: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jg_s6aOp23M

    Matt Bianco: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEkB25V_ow8&feature=related

    The Matt Bianco is funnier – better timing and the guy from Matt Bianco looks cross rather than hurt.

  14. 14
    Tom on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I spent hours trying to think of stuff I could swap on Swap Shop, though I was never allowed to actually do so. (I was also rarely allowed to watch TISWAS). I suspect there will be tracks where we can explore Saturday morning kids’ TV in a LOT more detail should we wish, though. Was the format even going in 1975?

  15. 15
    Billy Smart on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Tiswas was just starting, but broadcast in the Midlands only. And the tapes appear to have been wiped, though the ATV archive is notoriously hard to access.

    Again, not much to get excited about here – though the existence of the rather insipid Aswad cover version offers us an opportunity to continue our discussion from the last entry quite neatly.

  16. 16
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Not as such – I associate the start of Swap Shop with the “Cloggie Cretins” referenced by Marcello in a previous thread, which makes it autumn term ’76 (hope that appeases Spoiler Bunny). Saturday morning BBC around this era included the Banana Splits, athletics coaches showing you how to do the long jump and a German language course called “Kontakte” which really should exist somewhere on YouTube. I think Tiswas had started by this time, but in Granadaland we didn’t even get to see it for many years, so I wondered what the heck Jasper Carrott was on about.

  17. 17
    Mark G on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I guess I might be the only one who remembers the Paul McShane incident.

    Basically, phone-in questions on Pebble Mill, got someone starting off as a fan but then turned into a previous manager who was after some unpaid bill money.

    First rule of comedy: Pay yr bills!

  18. 18
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Billy (#15) – another case of same title/different song I’m afraid. The Rollers song was by John Goodison and Phil Wainman, the Aswad one by Diane Warren and Albert Hammond senior.

  19. 19
    Erithian on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Mark’s #17 takes us neatly back to the Rollers, and a tragicomic TV documentary a year or two back in which Les McKeown tries to track down Tam Paton, and the off-screen interviewer asks him what he’d like to say to Tam once he finds him. The reply is several repetitions, in various tones and emphasis, of the same sentence: “where’s my fucking money?”

  20. 20
    LondonLee on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I remember once when Roger Daltrey guest-hosted TOTP and introduced The Village People, as the camera zoomed in on the band you could hear him shout “mind your backs!”

    In a similar vein, Peter Cook hosting the great punk/new wave show Revolver and declaring “My God, they’re black!” when Hi-Tension came on.

  21. 21
    Billy Smart on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Oops, sorry! That Aswad song must have been bland, though. At least I can remember the Rollers one.

  22. 22
    Dan R on 2 Apr 2008 #

    I’m surprised at the critical reaction here. I rather like this song. I accept, of course, that there’s something very soft-centred about it, and it’s hard to remove Westlife from its image repertoire, as Barthes would have said, if he’d lived to know Westlife. But I think it’s a rather enjoyable tune; I like very much the gradually rising chords and melody in the chorus, and the simple three notes that underpin ‘sun comes shining through’ which are pleasingly coordinated in the dying seconds of the song as the lyric simplifies to ‘sun shines through’. The attempted lushness of the strings sounds to me rather well done, fairly minimally interwoven, given the era. The violins under the chorus first and second times are rather taut and dramatic, I think. There are some false notes of course: the spoken passage, as has been noted, which is even more unconvincing than Johnny Nash’s attempt, and the triplet that introduces the verse is a limp cliche. But the song works for me as a rather sunny and simple sentiment.

    I should say, of course, that this is pure hindsight. I was only seven at the time and had a bizarrely patchy sense of contemporary music. I don’t remember the Bay City Rollers at all, except for girls in the lunch queue singing, to the tune of ‘Nick Nack Paddywack’, ‘B-A-Y B-A-Y B-A-Y-C-I-T-Y, with an R-O double-L E-R-S, Bay City Rollers are the best’.

  23. 23
    mike atkinson on 2 Apr 2008 #

    “S! A! T-U-R! D-A-Y, DAY!” (BCRs, 1975)

    “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!” (Ramones, 1976)

    D’you know, I’ve never made the connection before. Thud! Slap!

  24. 24
    LondonLee on 2 Apr 2008 #

    We used to sing “Shag-A-Slag” instead of “Shang-A-Lang”

  25. 25
    mike atkinson on 2 Apr 2008 #

    Not a fan of “Give A Little Love”, though – and how strange that neither of the only two genuinely good BCR records (“Saturday Night” and the terrific slice of proto-power-pop that was “Rock And Roll Love Letter”) were hits in the UK.

  26. 26
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    But those two US hits aside, what was it about the Rollers that made them, to my mind, the worst teenpop idols ever – yes, EVER, and I haven’t forgotten about Westlife?

    Maybe it’s the all-pervading cynicism of the exercise. Listening to the old hits, and watching the old performances, it seems to me that no-one, at any stage of the process, gives two shits about the quality of the experience that they are providing. All I hear is joyless hack work, laced with an opportunism that borders on the sleazy. With “Give A Little Love” in particular, its very sluggishness suggests a deep-rooted ennui: can we really be bothered to slog through the motions, just to rake in the dosh (the management) or perpetuate the myth (the band)?

    I also find it impossible to believe that any of the band members even liked the material they were performing, and this above all else is what sets them apart. For example, I am perfectly prepared to believe that the members of Westlife, and the people around them, genuinely think that they are providing a Quality Product, for instance – however restrictive and enfeebled that product might seem to the rest of us. (Their live shows have quite a reputation for consistently delivering, incidentally.)

    So if the Rollers themselves thought they were serving up trash, then what can we possibly gain from listening to them?

  27. 27
    Dan R on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Which raises an interesting question: who should we respect more, The Rollers who disliked their rubbish, or Westlife who think their stuff is magnificent?

  28. 28
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Apr 2008 #

    It isn’t a question of “respect” or artists’ own opinions of their output – it’s a simple matter of which we prefer; it’s been released, the notes are in the air, up to us to assimilate, Eric Dolphy etc.

  29. 29
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    But in the case of the BCRs, whose work I find to be audibly drenched in a particular kind of hollow, decadent, life-denying, cynicism, I cannot seperate out their disinterest (and probable disdain, or even disgust) from my own experience.

    To answer Dan’s question on its own terms: I respect Westlife more.

  30. 30
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Re: 27 – I think that means that I have more respect for Westlife (as hardened people of show) but more sympathy for the Rollers (as weary men on a nightmarish treadmill burdened by doubt).

  31. 31
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    I remember a one-off TV drama from around this time, starring Tim Curry as an embittered, bewildered, frustrated and increasingly angry survivor of the idealistic, “rock and roll will change everything” 1960s, now working as a local radio DJ, and being obliged to play “production line pap”, while slipping in tunes like “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” wherever he could, and ranting emotionally on air about “where did it all go wrong”. (Part Johnnie Walker, part Tony Blackburn?)

    His nemesis comes in the form of an insipid boyband called something like The Natterjacks, clearly moulded on the Bay City Rollers, whose characterless commercialism Curry finds intolerable. He develops a fixation with one of their teenage fans, and stages a “meet the band” competition (“Which Natterjack would you like to go on holiday with, and where?”) in order to award her the winning entry (“I’d like to go to Kenya with Ken, so I could see more of his lovely sun tan.”), and thus to meet her in person. She turns out to be the very apotheosis of Normal, and when he realises he can’t get through to her or make her see the world in a different way (“You don’t actually LIKE this shit, do you?” “Yeah, it’s good”), he flips out, rants and rages, makes her cry etc.

    In other words, its assumptions are about as rockist as you can get. And somehow, it’s a play which could only have been written in 1975.

  32. 32
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    That play is ‘City Sugar’, by a young Stephen Poliakoff.

  33. 33
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Oh blimey! And, er, IMDB says it was screened in 1978!

  34. 34
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Aha, but Wikipedia says it was first performed on stage in October 1975. The theory stands!

  35. 35

    (good rule of thumb for the late 60s through to the late 70s — TV takes c.3 years to catch up with the pop zeitgeist)

    (also haha that it’s procul harum being treated as the holy flame of — what? — 60s idealism? *prog* idealism? i love “white shade” obv but k-blimey o’reillyXoR as we used to say) (or was the subtle subtext — easy to miss when small? — actually that ms normal was korrekt abt pop, and tim curry was being a weirdo idiot innit?)

  36. 36

    cf also “Jumping Bean Bag” in 1976 (again with curry, which is abt public school glam*): also rock follies of course

    *scroll down for extended synopsis which i briefly posted in its entirety by mistake

  37. 37

    i think it’s the “oh that it has come down to this” response to the rollers — with rollermania compared sourly to beatlemania, and all the possibility the latter supposedly opened up — is important, however good or lame the plays being written about it were (tho i’d like to see jumping bean bag again — i watched it at the time, aged 16, at a school not so far from the one depicted, and was VERY sceptical)

    anyway, malcolm mclaren saw something in this kind of project that tam paton missed — or knew but didn’t dare chase: there’s even an early, never-used photoshoot of the pistols as abused rentboys, and this deadly dodgy territory was what mr sitationist was definitely after stirring up

    (off-topic a bit, but i’ve *always* hated tim curry — he wreckes everything he’s in for me)

  38. 38
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    See Simon Reynolds and Joy Press’ ‘The Sex Revolts’ for a very good critique of McLaren’s preoccupation with sexual exploitation of the young in his projects, culminating with Bow Wow Wow. He doesn’t come out of it very well.

  39. 39
    Lena on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Is the line “Phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” about the Rollers? I never thought of it that way, and in fact once read it was about The Knack…

    Tim Curry is grating.

    Isn’t ‘punk’ an old term for a rentboy, a male prostitute?

  40. 40

    to be honest i’d prefer mclaren’s badboy provocation to simonR’s panicky anti-sex prissiness in this particular territory*: malky puts on scary mask, easily impressed critic confuses mask with actual-real demon of the night, moralistic hilarity ensues

    haha i never thought of that either, re the clash — i am loth to grant them that much latitude, but of course i am a notorious hater!

    and yes, punk means exactly that — ’53rd and 3rd” is where the rentboys hung around for clients, dressed like the ramones! it all fits!

    (*ps simon is an old friend and longtime foe who is of course wrong about EVERYTHING EVER) (if yr reading simon, which i know you occasionally are)

  41. 41
    mike on 3 Apr 2008 #

    And I’m sure we’re all familiar with the other Rollers-to-punk connection, via Martin & Coulter/Slik/Midge Ure/Malcolm McLaren…

  42. 42
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Well, McLaren did enourage the rest of the band to have sex with Lewin and think that it would be a fantastic lark to attempt to turn the Cambridge rapist into a cult icon. Finding all of this distasteful isn’t really being “anti-sex”, surely?

  43. 43

    worth remembering that most of grisliest stories about evil MM come *FROM MM HIMSELF* — and are not the truer for his being source! so i will stay agnostic about that first one for now — mclaren is the person who said, you know what, this [whoever]mania thing is ABOUT TEENAGE SEXUAL URGES AND EXPLOITATION of SAME, let’s put that absolutely upfront and talk about it out loud and see what happens? which he did

    mclaren: “i am going to present myself as behaving in a way that makes me look really unpleasant”
    unwary critic: “mclaren’s behaviour is really unpleasant”

    mm’s demystification of industry process depended precisely on him, mm, playing the prancing worst cynical demon at the centre — keeping his hands clean they’d never have had the force they did — i am pretty ambivalent about a lot of mm’s projects, which spun badly out of control with many people getting hurt (or worse), but y’know, i myself (as a professional critic) am also an result of some of them: i am super-wary of the retrospective critique which says, “think how much more effective this would have been if the horrible rubbish bits hadn’t been there”, cz i’m not sure it WOULD have been more effective…

    anyway we surely really ARE straying into spoiler-bunny territory here! i promise i will also carefully reread sex revolts before the number one at issue (oh not it wasn’t!) (OH YES IT WAS!) and see if i’m being unfair

  44. 44
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    A long way in the future, but I wonder if we’ll also be getting the two other number ones that they lied about and said that they weren’t, once we get to 1981 and 1990…

  45. 45
    rosie on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Is there any evidence for ‘lying’ apart from anecdotal evidence and speculation?

  46. 46
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    1990: Statistics show that both records sold precisely the same amount, but the chart company put the (inferior) one – whose sales had increased by the higher percentage that week – at number one.

    1981: I only knew about this one because Marcello has written about it, but it was deemed ineligible for the charts because it was sold too cheaply.

    1977; Despite this being a thrice-told tale, I really don’t know.

    So, if not “lied” then certainly “did not permit the highest-selling single of that week to be listed at number one in the charts” in at least two instances…

  47. 47

    (if that’s a question about mclaren, rosie, i’m going to hold my fire on the answer till we get to his chiefest and most infamous project)

  48. 48

    (by which time i may with luck have learned to read billy’s posts more carefully — ignore me)

  49. 49
    Caledonianne on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Back to the Rollers. I think this is humdrum in the extreme.

    Some of you may be interested in the WTF??? moment I had last week. After watching the Curse of Comedy: Hancock and Joan thing on BBC4 last week, I felt inspired to read a wee bit more about Ken Stott (he was in my mind as a few days earlier I had watched an episode of Taggart from 1985 in which he featured)

    I had a quick look at his Wikipedia entry, which claims that for three years in his teens he was a member of an Edinburgh band called Keyhole, members of which went on to form the BCR. In the “January” thread the observation that David Paton and Billy Lyall of Pilot had passed through the Roller ranks was mentioned. But an association with Ken Stott??? I’d never have guessed that!

  50. 50
    crag on 3 Apr 2008 #

    Re#46-I don’t know anything about the “fake” number 1 in 1981 but there was a genuine ‘lost’ charttopper at the end of the previous year- unless thats what you’re talking about, Billy?

  51. 51
    Billy Smart on 3 Apr 2008 #

    I don’t know anything about the 1980 record – and will be interested to find out! The 1981 one would certainly have been one of the most audacious – and deeply serious – things to have ever been Number 1, had it been permitted.

  52. 52
    Tom on 3 Apr 2008 #

    No plans to cover the 1981 one, and probably not the 1990 one, monstrous injustice though it was! I could be persuaded on either of those.

    There are good ‘narrative’ reasons for including the 1977 one though and it seems likely. But we’ll get to it soon enough (if I manage to keep up the current pace).

  53. 53
    crag on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Trying to avoid spoilers here- though since its not “official” number 1s we’re discussing i dont know if it really matters- the 1980 “lost” number 1 was a christmas song recorded 8 years previously. Does that help, Billy?
    Any ‘clues’ to help me work out the v intriguing-sounding 1981 hit that was sold “too cheaply”? Just to make a stab in the dark- was it recorded by a US solo artist who later became romantically linked to a famously grumpy rock legend?

  54. 54
    intothefireuk on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Clearly the Rollers were riding the wave having previously released better candidates than this for the number one spot. It’s pretty insipid stuff but has a certain naive charm. As did the Rollers themselves which I would say was the main reason why I would prefer them over the Wastelife boys. Both cynically put together by their respective managers but at least the Rollers attempted to be a band and more importantly they didn’t try and dance ! What would Johnny Walker have done to the WL singles ?

  55. 55
    Billy Smart on 4 Apr 2008 #

    No, it was made by a notorious anarchist collective, a song about one of the most horrifying and bloody incidents towards the end of the second world war. The alternative, official, number one was also a story about the same country, and is about as different from this song as its possible for two singles to be!

  56. 56
    rosie on 4 Apr 2008 #

    I’m thoroughly confuzzled now…

  57. 57
    Mark G on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Nope, neither are clicking in for me.

  58. 58
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    First of all, for the 95% of regulars here who don’t know what I look like (and I have been scrupulous about not posting photos of myself on t’web), I have been told by numerous people (not least my first wife) that I bear some striking physical resemblance to Ken “Rebus” Stott (or Ken “Taking Over The Asylum” Stott since I still think that’s one of the best things he’s done on TV) so you have been warned…

    (though the eyes are definitely Italianate rather than Scottish/Stottish)

    Now, to what I call the “phantom” number ones, and these break down as follows:

    1. 1976 – the shortest-lived number one ever, since it was announced as number one on Johnnie Walker’s Tuesday lunchtime show before the BMRB realised that they’d missed out a whole day’s worth of sales figures, hurriedly recalculated the chart and produced the correct one in time for the Tuesday teatime recapitulation, by which time the chart-topper in question had been demoted to third place.

    2. 1977 – Jubilee week, say no more (though clearly there’ll be a lot to say when Popular gets there)…

    3. 1981 (1) – first chart of the year. At the time the Christmas chart officially stood for two weeks but the BMRB usually privately compiled a list for the missing week. In general this hardly varied from the Christmas chart at all but in this particular missing week one single was found to have overtaken the official number one in sales. But by the time the next chart had been compiled it was overtaken by another single and therefore never formally reached the top.

    4. 1990 – equal sales for top two singles but instead of awarding a joint number one as they should have done, Gallup gave the top spot to the single whose sales had increased more over the previous seven days.

    5. 1981 (2) – there is still a question mark of sorts over this, but at this time I was working weekends and holidays in a chart return shop in Glasgow and I saw all the various data printouts which the BMRB sent routinely after the new chart had been issued which showed ALL sales figures. For two weeks (weeks ending 11 and 18 April, to be precise) there was a single which was clearly outselling the official number one but which had been “disqualified” due to chart compilation rules which said that singles had to retail at a certain minimum price. At the time the mininum was 59p and this particular single was selling at 49p. This was undoubtedly at least in part a political manoeuvre since the act’s records were banned from a major nationwide record shop chain until well into the nineties.

    IDs to come as and when the time comes, unless you can guess them…

  59. 59
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Further re. #27: Hitler thought his stuff was magnificent so that argument doesn’t really work.

  60. 60
    crag on 4 Apr 2008 #

    I know #s 1-4 but have no idea as to the identity of #5 whatsoever! I’ve worked out the subject matter( i think) thru Billy’s clues but am still drawing a blank. A “notorious anarchist collective”?!Nope, i’m stumped..
    As for the other 1981 phantom a further really obvious clue to those still pondering-it was a posthumous number one…
    come on i’m practically giving it to you now!

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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…

  65. 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.

  66. 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 ?

  67. 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!

  68. 68
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

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

  69. 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…

  70. 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.

  71. 71
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

    Funny you should say that:


  72. 72
    Marcello Carlin on 4 Apr 2008 #

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

  73. 73
    Tom on 4 Apr 2008 #

    AWESOME thankyou Marcello.

  74. 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.

  75. 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..

  76. 76
    Erithian on 4 Apr 2008 #

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

  77. 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.

  78. 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!

  79. 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:

  80. 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.

  81. 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

  82. 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.

  83. 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.

  84. 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…

  85. 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!

  86. 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.)

  87. 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.

  88. 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…

  89. 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)

  90. 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.

  91. 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.

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

  94. 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.

  95. 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.

  96. 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.

  97. 97
    wichita lineman on 25 Jun 2010 #

    Those terrifying Rollers fans caught on camera:


  98. 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…

  99. 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

  100. 100
    Musicality on 20 Jan 2020 #

    Not as memorable as their previous number one record earlier that year.

  101. 101

    Very funny coincidence of discussing both Aswad and the infamous Matt Bianco/Five Star phone-in disasters here. I clearly recall a CBBC Q&A c. 1994 when Brinsley Forde and co themselves received a prank caller asking “What do you think of twats?” Riding high in the charts that summer with Shine, they seemed to quietly giggle like schoolgirls. Toby Anstis, on the other hand, uber-camply exclaimed something like “Well there’s always one… bad.. apple that spoils.. the.. bunch.”

  102. 102
    Gareth Parker on 2 Jun 2021 #

    #27 A good question and you are entitled to answer it, I wish the idiot at #28 would get a life. If he doesn’t want to engage he doesn’t have to. 3/10 for the Rollers imho.

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