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.



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  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?

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    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.

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    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”

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    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.

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    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).

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