Apr 08

DAVID ESSEX – “Hold Me Close”

FT + Popular111 comments • 5,501 views

#378, 4th October 1975

A matey vocal matched with a jaunty tune,”Hold Me Close” is clumsily eager to please. It claps me hard on the back and makes me splutter, its bogus bonhomie too loud and too close. Essex’ singing on this is such a put-on: sure, all pop singers act but few of them this badly and baroquely, with such deliberated roughness. An out-take from Oliver fifteen years late, or an echo of “Parklife” two decades early? Either way, I’m allergic.



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  1. 31
    stevietee on 11 Apr 2008 #


    This is surely the most bafflingly undermarked single yet!

  2. 32
    crag on 11 Apr 2008 #

    Re: “More than Words” (#14)- Er, do you mean the track by the rather different Extreme, vinylscot?

    Re: new ‘cockney’ryhming slang(#27)-Is “Scooby Doo” really a new innovation? I remember people using that regularly when i was at primary school in Edinburgh over 20 years ago! Maybe its another example, like “Minger” or “chav, of an English appropriation of a well-worn Scottish slang term?

    Re; Hold Me Close(finally)- frankly i’m at a loss for words! 2 out of 10?! IMHO I don’t think Ive so disagreed with a score since i started reading Popular!Admittedly, I’m not sure why i love this song so much. Unlike “Rock On”it’s in no way cutting edge or innovative,the cheeky cockney delivery really should grate, especially since it looks forward to the awful Kate Nash and her fellow Brit School alumni and the sub ‘Pebble Mill’ arrangement would be considered too soft for Val Doonican.

    And yet the sheer joyfulness of Essex’s vocal(genuine or not? In this case it doesnt matter since its so infectious) and the magic of the song’s melody mean that this track can’t fail to put me in a good mood and put a spring in my step. The moment when Essex jumps an octave on ‘hold’ in the final chorus is a truly great pure pop moment.Why something so catchy hasnt became a standard and subsequently been butchered by yr Pop Idols is a mystery to me(not that i’m complaining). This has to be at least an 8 for me.

  3. 33
    Snif on 12 Apr 2008 #

    Dare I ask what Number 2 was?

    In these parts, The Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together” was in its last of four weeks at Number One, as the country was on the eve of Abbafication.

  4. 34
    Billy Smart on 12 Apr 2008 #

    There wasn’t a number 2, just the predecessor and successor number ones on their way down or up to the summit. Five consecutive weeks at number 3 for ‘There Goes My First Love’ by The Drifters, though.

  5. 35
    Billy Smart on 12 Apr 2008 #

    1975 TOTP camera rehearsals with floor manager standing in for Essex –

  6. 36
    Pete on 12 Apr 2008 #

    This is at least a seven for me – probably an eight. I think this is one of those rare singles where the studied delivery of the performer, the actor in Essex actually helps the song. It has always felt to me like a song that is the culmination of a well planned evening with his beau. He’s made dinner, some excellent wine, profiteroles and then – when she least expects it – the lights dim and Essex springs out with his twinkly eyes singing “Hold Me Close”. This is a song with a smile written all over it, winking in a completely sincere manner. The arrangement is wimpy, though as I’ve said elsewhere I am a sucker for flute in songs, but that helps its charms.

    I think its heartning that Tom can get something so wrong every now and then! Its getting played at the next Popular, if not Poptimism.

  7. 37
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 12 Apr 2008 #

    minger isn’t scottish it’s ancient roman!
    (from “mingo mingere minxi mictum = to piss”)

    (i have no idea if this is true or not i just hope it is)

  8. 38
    crag on 12 Apr 2008 #

    Believe it or not, p^nk s lord sukråt, before i read ur last line there i actually believed you!
    Gullible or what?

  9. 39
    Mark M on 12 Apr 2008 #

    I too think that 2 is wildly harsh.

    lord sukråt is right, I think, on both the ever-changing London accent and the market trader life-as-performance aspect. I also think people in the public eye are held to standards of purity on these subjects that we don’t apply to our friends – (unconscious) accent drift is very common indeed. (The cod-Cosmic Scouse used by the Clapham-born and raised singer from the Kooks is, however, unacceptable under any conditions).

  10. 40
    Rob M on 12 Apr 2008 #

    This is one of my most hated songs of all time, along with “Hotel California” which thankfully shan’t be mentioned so no spoiler bunny for me. Now I know why I hate “HC” so much – it goes back to a specific incident in secondary school where a bunch of boys decided to sing it – including closing guitar solos – in the library, air guitars in hand. For some reason, that put me off the song which I was never really that fond of anyway, and whenever I hear it now I’m back in that library with these boys… anyway, we’re not talking about that.

    Hold Me Close then. Why do I hate it so? Sure, I don’t like the jaunty intro and the charming wideboy act. It irritates me, but that’s not enough to hate it so much. So I’ve been considering this over the past few weeks, knowing it was coming up, and I think I know what it is.

    During the song’s rise up the charts, my family went on holiday to a caravan in Tenby for a week. I think something changed in me during that week because it’s the first time I can remember feeling dreadfully unhappy and depressed, and not in a childish way but in a proper suicidal i-don’t-want-to-live-anymore way, a feeling I would become familiar with as I got older, and one I feel uncomfortably close to today. But at 6 years old? Well, yes. I can remember running away from the caravan and hoping never to come back, just like I’ve done many times since. And all the time these strange new feelings were brewing in me, this song was playing everywhere I went – the jollity being at odds with my emotions, and making me hate it more and more. As far as I know, this is probably the first time a piece of music has become entwined with my personal memories and circumstances – another feeling I would become familiar with as I immersed myself deeper into music as I got into my teens.

    Sorry for getting personal and honest, but this song hits a painful nerve I wasn’t aware was there until I found it, and I wish I hadn’t.

    On a lighter note regarding the accent, wasn’t David Essex supposed to come into EastEnders last year – possibly in the role now played by Bobby Davro – but his stage commitments meant it didn’t happen.

  11. 41
    intothefireuk on 12 Apr 2008 #

    Poor old Sir Essex of Essex slighted for his faux cockney when he probly don’t no no be’er. Obv over exagerrated but I couldn’t dislike the chap for it as it does seem quite natural for him (whereas I could very easily dislike yer Nash’s & Allen’s). There’s still an innocence here that has been lost in pop and although the song itself is not very substantial it is amiable, cheery and immensely likeable. 2 is incredibly harsh. Maybe you had to be there. I cannot agree with Oh What A Circus being better though – it’s a horrible show tune.

  12. 42
    Tom on 12 Apr 2008 #

    I am glad Pete has stepped in to salvage geezaesthetix from its fun-hating grave!

    “Innocence lost to pop” though? Maybe of Adam Faith in 1960 but not this.

    I’m happy the controversy is centering around the mark for once :)

  13. 43
    crag on 12 Apr 2008 #

    Re#40-Essex was actually lined up to play Honey Mitchells dad in ‘Enders as eventually portrayed by Nicky Henson a.k.a the Orangutan from the Fawlty Towers “Psychiatrist” episode.
    Sorry to hear about your bad experiences, Rob, please accept my best wishes..

  14. 44
    Mark M on 12 Apr 2008 #

    He comes from Plaistow and his dad was a docker – how on earth can he be faux?
    As a reference for his speaking voice (looking oddly like Peter Gabriel):

  15. 45
    Tom on 12 Apr 2008 #

    As I said upthread, I never intended to suggest he was faux (though I didn’t know he was ‘real’ either) – the review is criticising what I see as an affected lack of technique: it sounds to me like he’s singing deliberately badly, the accent has nothing to do with it.

  16. 46
    Mark M on 12 Apr 2008 #

    Yeah, it wasn’t you, Tom, that I was reacting on that one…

  17. 47
    intothefireuk on 13 Apr 2008 #

    Innocence lost ? Maybe I should explain what I meant by innocence. Even in the mid 70s, pop was still a relatively young industry. It still wasn’t regarded as something little Johnny should be wasting his time thinking about as a career. Pop wasn’t something you could study at university or even read that much about. Records or bands weren’t put together by committee & marketed to the nth degree to achieve no1. Pop happened (in the UK) on BBC Radio 1, (sometimes Radio 2), Radio Luxembourg, a smattering of local stns (Capital here in London) and on Thursday nights on TOTP. That was basically that. Contrast that with what we have now (myriad radio & TV stns, internet (incl. popular),pop idol – ad infinitum and it’s difficult not to see this as a relatively innocent time. Music was played by musicians and sung by artists who had actually played Dagenham Working Mens Club (ok maybe not all). I know I’m veering into dangerous Peter Powell rockist territory here but I think it’s valid. No one would make a pop record like this now because it doesn’t fit the accepted model….and yes if we ever make it to the 90s I shall be losing it on regular basis.

  18. 48
    intothefireuk on 13 Apr 2008 #

    re #44 No I was disagreeing with the opinion that it was an example of early mockney.

  19. 49
    Marcello Carlin on 13 Apr 2008 #

    Don’t forget, though, that in ’75 we also still had a fertile and articulate music press – the four main weeklies (MM, NME, Sounds and Record Mirror) were all going strong and all more than worth reading, and monthlies or bimonthlies like Street Life, ZigZag and Let It Rock were still flourishing. And there was certainly far more room for theorising and inventing then than there is in the straitened demographic-dependent print press of today, but I think we all know the reasons for that.

  20. 50
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 13 Apr 2008 #

    intothefire and marcello both quite correct here — tho i would add that who was (generally) allowed to be considered to be being inventive and daring within the rock press in 1975 was (somewhat) constrained*, and that innocence was an ambiguous virtue: it sometimes merely meant “silly kids who didn’t understand the importance of the 60s counterculture”

    *perhaps a fairer word is “contested” — i after all have a big dog in this fight, as an nme reader passionate to have become an nme writer by 1983: i felt and feel that the orthodox rock discourse of the mid-70s was grumpily missing an important dimension (one which could acknowledge the imagination and haha “embedded radical theory” of the sillier reaches of teen-pop then also); but i have also strongly come to feel that the seeming triumph of “my team” in the mid-80s has enormously contributed to the corrosive cynicism of the present

  21. 51
    Erithian on 14 Apr 2008 #

    Mike (#28) – I wasn’t suggesting you sneak-peek ahead at all, just that you’re around the same age as me and we appear to have been equally obsessed with the charts at 13, so I thought you’d know the sequence off by heart!

    Rob (#40) – I haven’t been affected by those kind of feelings but someone very close to me has, so my best wishes too.

  22. 52
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Apr 2008 #

    General breakdown of 1975 NME critical trends:

    Lisa Robinson – US correspondent and first actual NME writer to report what was being stirred up at CBGBs etc.

    CSM – jumps on it enthusiastically with his inventive daring which in ’75 still involved talking Bangsian at one remove.

    Farren – our ship is sinking, listen to Marley and learn from our betters before it’s TOO LATE!

    Steve Clarke – pah I contend that Gregg Allman will still save us all

    IMac – I can’t go on I go on

    Brian Case – wrote two most punk articles in ’75 NME, viz. Robert Wyatt interview where RW gives theory of longer line > scat singing, followed by vituperative Mel Torme WHO IS THIS CANTERBURY PUNK retort.

    Meanwhile, in MM:
    Karl Dallas – Ommadawn will save us all.
    Steve Lake – pah Patti is just bad Ayler ripoff flyshit listen to Poco and Eberhard Weber instead kids
    Chris Welch – ho ho ho!

  23. 53
    mike on 14 Apr 2008 #

    Also, a widespread belief in the superiority of music from the US in general. (Max Bell took this line, didn’t he?)

    Can anyone precis Mick Farren’s famous “The Titanic Sails At Dawn” article from 1976?

  24. 54
    rosie on 14 Apr 2008 #

    Just a thought. David Essex sings this in, let’s call it a deliberately enhanced version of his natural accent (which as he is from Plaistow is strictly more South Essex than East London but I don’t suppose that’s a terribly important issue), and that gives the performance certain connotations. But what, I wonder, would be the connotations if the song were sung in:

    a) A Scouse accent?
    b) A Geordie accent?
    c) A Glasgow accent?
    d) Received Pronunciation?

  25. 55
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Apr 2008 #

    Max certainly did, though this was for a time counteracted by young NME writer Paul Gambaccini’s weekly Quick Before They Vanish column, which more often than not came to the conclusion that the US singles charts were far healthier than the UK ones.

    I can do better than precis Farren’s Titanic piece; here’s a direct link to it!

  26. 56
    vinylscot on 14 Apr 2008 #

    Crag 32 – of course you’re right – I appear to be a twat!

    I don’t know how I got that wrong, i must have been distracted!

  27. 57
    rosie on 14 Apr 2008 #

    Can that young and thrusting Paul Gambaccini that I’ve just been listening to on Radio 4, presenting the music quiz Counterpoint in succession to the late Ned Sherrin? Surely not!

  28. 58

    as a matter of interest who began reading which rock papers and/or pop mags when? i began nme on a diligent nay obsessive basis only in aug 1977 (i was ill in bed and my little sister bought me the issue to read with the wayne kramer prison mugshot on the cover *aw bless*): i had read other people’s copies at school for a year or more before this* but not on a rigorous basis — once i began getting nme every week (which necessitated long walks across town to one of the only two newsagents which stocked it) i quite soon began getting sounds as well, and mm, though i actually stopped reading the latter pretty soon, as too too stodgy and pompous for my wild and edgy young mind (?)

    *when wz csm’s bowie interview?

  29. 59
    Marcello Carlin on 14 Apr 2008 #

    If you mean the “Heroes (Why The Inverted Commas?)” CSM/Bowie interview it was November ’77.

  30. 60

    haha oh! was there a low-linked interview in 76 then? i (dimly) recall spending an afternoon reading an interview at school before i was buying it myself: pretty much the first time i devoted this much attention to the paper

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