Apr 08

TINA CHARLES – “I Love To Love”

FT + Popular78 comments • 5,943 views

#386, 6th March 1976

I get the strong impression that whoever wrote this came up with the line “I love to love but my baby just wants to dance” and then wrote a lyric around it – which is fine, it’s a great line, but it leaves Tina Charles in the position of having to sell a song around the idea of a boyfriend who never wants sex because he’s always out disco dancing. Maybe there are deeper issues, Tina. Just saying, like.

Anyway, this is British disco, not as tight as the American stuff or as futuristic as the European, with an arrangement that sounds like it’s been built from a “disco sounds” checklist, but a singer who gives it a lot of welly. Charles may not be the greatest vocalist but she actually does sell the song, or at least give you permission to howl along with it. It wrings a good deal of enjoyment out of some fairly ropey raw materials and you’d never begrudge it its success, but I end up wanting to like it more than I actually do.



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  1. 31
    Matthew H on 28 Apr 2008 #

    I have a 1000 book on my desk right here, by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh – published by Omnibus. It’s not bad for anecdotal stuff.

  2. 32
    Matthew H on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Re #30 – I stopped picking up the Guinness Hit Singles books at about edition 12 or 13. Said edition was so riddled with inaccuracies it was a complete waste of time – actually detrimental, in fact.

  3. 33
    Tom on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, I have the Kutner/Leigh – I used to check it for the occasional facts, but frankly now I’ve got you lot I hardly need a source of anecdote :) (or corrections!)

  4. 34
    Erithian on 28 Apr 2008 #

    B-b-but Tom, some of OUR anecdotes come from Kutner/Leigh! Said book is certainly better than the GRRR 500 number ones book. I also had, but have mislaid, a similar well-produced book of US number ones which began arbitrarily with “Rock Around The Clock” and ended with USA for Africa, as though that was the very last word. (to be fair, they had to stop somewhere)

    My favourite “British Hit Singles” booboo was the year they listed Judy Garland as “US, male vocalist”.

  5. 35
    DJ Punctum on 28 Apr 2008 #

    The quite extreme booboo with the current edition of British Hit Singles And Albums is the complete omission of all Various Artists compilation albums.

  6. 36
    mike on 28 Apr 2008 #

    My faith in the Guinness series was shaken when one volume omitted one of Abba’s big hits (I think it was “Chiquitita”) – and that was just on Page One. In fact, that edition was so error-ridden that a revised version was hastily issued. (Which begs the question: how can anyone muck up an annual copy-paste so badly?)

    Guinness used to publish a book of complete week-by-week Top 40 singles listings, but I think that stopped a good few years ago. Far too useful!

    It must have been around this time that the headline of one of the NME’s singles columns read “Don’t Look Now, But You’re Living In A Golden Age”. That did seem to be stretching it somewhat.

    Meanwhile, and courtesy of a near-immaculately preserved collection of 78s which had just been exhumed from my gradmother’s basement (one of her former lodgers had left it behind a few years earlier), I was going through a major Sidney Bechet phase.

  7. 37
    Mark G on 28 Apr 2008 #

    One major boob was the song “Enz Live” on two-tone records, apparently a hit for Herb Alpert.

  8. 38
    Lena on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, I am also surprised that “Convoy” did so well! It went to #1 in the US, back in January (as Popstrology says, it’s in the Had To Be There constellation). Meanwhile, a variety of songs followed – “I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow, “Love Rollercoaster” by Ohio Players and Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.”

  9. 39
    Matthew H on 28 Apr 2008 #

    I love it that everyone* here has a story about an error in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. It takes a special kind of forum…

    *you knowharrimean

  10. 40
    rosie on 28 Apr 2008 #

    A forum about hit singles?

    I expect that there are forums for trainsp railway enthusiast where everybody has stories about errors in Railway World!

  11. 41
    LondonLee on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Looking at the lyrics it seems Tina’s bloke does just love to dance, maybe she should have added: “I love to love but my baby just loves to dance and buy antiques and watch Judy Garland movies” to make the nudge-nudge subtext a bit clearer.

  12. 42
    Matthew H on 28 Apr 2008 #

    To Rosie at #40:

    Well, quite, but it’s the eye for the minutiae, the statistics, and actually knowing better than the machine. Great stuff.

  13. 43
    mike on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Re: “Convoy”: Well, CB Radio did become quite a thing over here. Ever the eager faddist, my dad had it installed at home – and a couple of years later, my teenage step-sisters would spend many a happy hour chatting up truckers, in that quaint argot which everyone felt obliged to deploy.

    (“Yeah, four on that, four on that.” Why don’t you just say YES? Which you’ve actually just said ANYWAY?)

    But then, maybe a major part of the song’s British appeal lay in decoding the CB-speak, and feeling all special because you had unwrapped the meaning.

    (Me aged 14, to a visting American family friend: “What’s a reefer?”)

  14. 44
    DJ Punctum on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Listening to yesterday’s Gold countdown, “Dat” by Pluto Shervington was also hanging around in the top ten and I remember Record Mirror publishing translations of lyrics for both that and “Convoy” at the time.

    Although the best record in yesterday’s top ten was “It Should Have Been Me” by Yvonne Fair – Christ, what a voice she had, what a performance, and a sight better than at least one certain wedding-themed number one to follow in the VERY long term…

  15. 45
    Lena on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Was that the song Adeva covered?

    I’ve never heard of “Dat”!

  16. 46
    DJ Punctum on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Yes, the very same song.

    “Dat” was a shaggy dog story, sung entirely in Jamaican patois, about a Rasta sneakily trying to buy some pork despite it being against the tenets of his religion but it was great fun and a fab tune. He also produced Paul Davidson’s holy cover of “Midnight Rider.”

  17. 47
    mike on 28 Apr 2008 #

    “Dat” is bloody GREAT! I hadn’t made the “it’s fun to decode the lingo” connection with “Convoy” before, but it was certainly part of the appeal of both for me.

    “Dat” was cited in the same NME column as evidence of said “Golden Age”, and I’d have thought it more than likely that Yvonne Fair must have been mentioned as well. Other possbile candidates: “Love To Love You Baby”, “No Regrets”, “Love Machine”, “Low Rider”…?

    Round about the same time, another NME singles column slagged off the new Gladys Knight single as “music to shave your legs to”, drawing on-air praise for the columnist from John Peel. The name of this new recruit to the NME staff? Julie Burchill.

    I also remember a Shock Horror Why Oh Why Must We Fling This Flith At Our Pop Kids “think” piece in the Daily Mail, citing “Love To Love You Baby”, The Who’s “Squeeze Box” and R&J Stone’s “We Do It” as disturbing evidence of a new wave of disgustingly lewd perv-pop. Little did they know what was to hit them before the year was through…

  18. 48
    Erithian on 28 Apr 2008 #

    We’ve touched before on the subject of the exoticism of US place-names, and part of the appeal of “Convoy” were the references to “Shaky Town”, Interstate 44, long-haired friends of Jesus, bears in the air and so on – which is also why the Laurie Lingo version appealed, with its counterblast of Newport Pagnell, Toddington and Spaghetti Junction.

    In my hitch-hiking days I spent a fair amount of time listening to CB conversations on the road to the likes of “Brown Bottle City” (that’s Newcastle to you) as truckers would say things like “eyeball-eyeball 14-wheeler” and swap news of the road ahead. I also met one trucker who was having it away with his boss’s daughter. She wasn’t much to look at, apparently, but then “you don’t look at the mantelpiece when you’re poking the fire.” Kings of the road…

  19. 49
    mike on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Talking to anonymous strangers down a telephone line using weird specialist lingo? OMG WTF LOL, what were we thinking!

  20. 50
    Mark G on 28 Apr 2008 #

    When we speak, we elongate the language. When we type, we go shortn.

  21. 51
    rosie on 28 Apr 2008 #

    mike @ 47: Meh – there’s nothing new under the sun. When the Stones did Let’s Spend The Night Together ten years earlier it was the end of civilisation as we know it.

  22. 52
    DJ Punctum on 28 Apr 2008 #

    I gather Jo Stafford’s 1954 top tenner “Make Love To Me” also raised questions in the House.

  23. 53
    LondonLee on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Not to mention the trouble Will Shakespeare got into with the Lord Chamberlain when he penned “Hey nonny nonny is that a lute I espy in my codpiece or am I just pleased to see thee?”

  24. 54
    Waldo on 29 Apr 2008 #

    The main thrust of this, if you pardon the pun, was that Tina Charles’ “baby” was clearly of a certain persuasion. Whilst it is true that she was no Catherine Deneurve, Tina was a jolly wholesome and grabable girl who was clearly foaming for it. “Baby”, alas, preferred boogie-woogie to upsie-downsie. His loss. As a matter of fact, I recall Tina appearing on “Swop Shop” and practically verifying this truth about “Baby”, having been persistently prompted by a manic Noel Edmonds, who was flirting with her most unsubtly, thereby ticking every box which would today guarantee him a visit from a police armed response unit.

    ILTL, meanwhile, was certainly an above average pop song and Tina’s own performance was strong and first rate (very Lyn Paul). She could actually belt out a number as powerfully as any female I can think of, despite some rather odd antecedents. Having much earlier failed to capitalize following a season with The Two Ronnies (it wasn’t always Barbara bloody Dixon) when she was very young indeed, Tina settled down as a backing singer, notably for Steve Harley, before being handed this chance, which was gratefully snapped up. What stands out even more was the presence at number one of a single female British artist, the first of only four to do this in the entire decade, which is remarkable.

    DJ Punctum #2 – I rather fear that you’re one number one too late to talk about Geoff Love’s phantom chart topper, as from personal memory (I invite you to see my contribution) it affected The Four Seasons and not Tina Charles.

  25. 55
    Erithian on 29 Apr 2008 #

    LondonLee – I see your Shakespeare and raise you The Miller’s Tale, which must have got old Geoff Chaucer into hot water for lines like:
    “This Nicholas anon leet fle a fart
    As greet as it had been a thunder-dent”
    (i.e a fart like a thunderclap)

    Mind you I think it was Sounds which reported that a reverend in the US objected to “Love To Love You Baby” on the grounds that “there are 22 orgasms in it”. Sounds gleefully asked: “Who’s counting, Rev?”

  26. 56
    DJ Punctum on 29 Apr 2008 #

    Quite correct, Waldo – it was the chart w/e 28 Feb and the Four Seasons were still on top with Tina making her move to the all-important number two position.

  27. 57
    Lena on 29 Apr 2008 #

    I heard Toni Basil’s “Mickey” the other day and I guess it’s the same thing, only done cheerleader style?

  28. 58
    DJ Punctum on 29 Apr 2008 #

    What, “I Love To Love”? Not really…much more like a Brit “Rock Your Baby” as Lulu might have sung it; here’s a helpful link

  29. 59
    pink champale on 29 Apr 2008 #

    sorry, a bit late on this, and it’s not about the tina charles record which I don’t think I’ve ever heard, but the big thing about michelle mcmanus was that she would never have won pop idol if she hadn’t been fat. her winning was entirely down to a desire on the part of the audience to play out the against all odds narrative of the girl who doesn’t look like a conventional pop star but has a million dollar voice, the producers went all out to play this up too, but she was pretty much the worst singer in the final twelve. simon cowell and pete waterman consistently pointed out that this was all just wishful thinking and that a) she wasn’t a very good singer; and b) the public would have zero interest in her as a pop star. this would always be met with ferocious booing by the studio audience who i imagine were fairly representative of the people who then a) bought none of her records b) bought loads of the celeb mags and tabloids that bullied her mercilessly about her weight.
    leona lewis excepted, the thing that does get you voted off these programmes, regardless of how good a singer or how attractive you are, is being black. andrew lloyd webber had a bit of a rant about this at the weekend when the last black contestant got kicked off the oliver show – he stopped short of saying the ‘r’ word but it was pretty clear that’s what he meant.

    it could well be that michelle mcmanus was good on r4 though – as the oliver programme is proving with terrible precision, there’s a big difference between having a good voice/being a good singer and being able to sing pop songs well. or perhaps living through the terrible experiences of the last few years has given her access to the well of the pain and oppression the lies at the heart of soulful and authentic proper music…

  30. 60
    DJ Punctum on 29 Apr 2008 #

    I can’t even remember any of the other singers who were alongside Michelle in that series, which may prove something or other but I’m not quite sure what.

    I’m afraid you may have a point with the incipient racism in the public vote for these types of programmes; note for instance how the judges on the last series of Dancing On Ice were always adamant about keeping Zarrah Abrahams in the contest despite her regularly having to appear in the “dance-off” even though she was clearly one of the best dancers/skaters on the show (Alecia Dixon is perhaps the other exception that proves the rule here) and this was also very evident in the last X-Factor series where the only qualification for victory now seems to be that you cry a lot and love your mum and two immensely superior black female singers got the early bath (and ageism is also an issue here).

    Don’t know about the existence of “soulful and authentic proper music” which to my mind has become as artificial a marketing device as any other in recent years, i.e. Adele and Duffy are “soulful” and “authentic” whereas Estelle has the temerity to be (a) pop and (b) black.

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