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May 08

SHOWADDYWADDY – “Under The Moon Of Love”

FT + Popular139 comments • 5,498 views

#397, 4th December 1976

A recurring theme on recent Popular comments threads has been the idea that one track or another represents “why punk had to happen”: a feeling – easy, perhaps too easy, to identify in hindsight – that pop and rock had stagnated or slipped into irrelevance. The phrase is slightly weaselly – it suggests that bad or dull records somehow caused punk, whereas more likely they provided the background conditions for it to be embraced. Anyway, here’s another candidate, at Number One when the Sex Pistols were first nosing into the charts and when John Peel was publically embracing the new music.

Showaddywaddy’s rock and roll revivalism – covering obscure numbers like this and more fondly recalled classics – is bouncily riskless, a jolly dead end. It’s the culmination of a turn back to rock’n’roll that’s been gathering pace for most of the decade, from the half-remembered inspirations of Roxy and T Rex, through the muscular callbacks and pantomime references in glam, and ending up at Showaddywaddy’s honks and vamps and put-on voices.

But the problem is that punk is also born – in part – out of that opening up of rock’n’roll and the 1950s as a well to draw on: viewed through a particular lens the back-to-basics, DIY spirit in punk is skiffle run through the greaser aggression of the Teddy Boys and rockers. Showaddywaddy are as effective an alternative to progressive “bloat” or complexity as punk was – they just seem like a less honourable one.

Their alternative won in the end, though: making soundalikes for 20 year old (or older!) records isn’t disreputable any more, far from it. I’ve seen pop-loving comrades digging tracks this year by Duffy, Alphabeat, and Annie which keep the revivalist spirit burning bright. Turns out it’s a Showaddywaddy world after all.

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Comments

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  1. 126
    swanstep on 5 Nov 2009 #

    Goodness, so *this* is what kept the utterly dominating, now multiply immortal ‘Somebody to Love’ out of #1 (thanks punctum, 108). That’s hilarious. God it is awful. Tom’s essay is interesting: a second epic Queen #1 would have at least been worth punk’s while revolting against I suppose (a little like over-throwing Versailles perhaps).

  2. 127
    lonepilgrim on 22 Jul 2012 #

    what irritated me about Showaddywaddy (as well as the insipid music) was that while seemingly every other member made some effort to look Ted-like the lead singer kept his long flowing locks intact – no commitment!

  3. 128
    flahr on 7 Nov 2012 #

    The new Official Charts Company book avers that ver Waddy have just made it past the million sales mark with this song thanks to downloads since 2004. Clearly there are people in the 21st century who still felt an “Under the Moon of Love”-shaped hole in their lives – shows how far we’ve come…

  4. 129
    punctum on 8 Nov 2012 #

    It wasn’t my fault.

  5. 130
    wichita lineman on 8 Nov 2012 #

    It wasn’t my fault, either. But the b side of UTMOL (as pointed out in TPL) is the very Denim-esque Lookin’ Back, which means it’s deffo worth 25p from Oxfam.

    So the first 950,000 purchasers of the ‘waddy’s biggest hit are the lucky ones, and the downloaders an even more baffling bunch.

  6. 131
    Erithian on 8 Nov 2012 #

    Admin – we need the links restored on this and a title in Populist!

    The Official Charts Company’s recently-published list of the UK’s 123 million-sellers claims that there have been loads more in the past ten years than in any previous decade – but does the act of downloading a single really equate to the act of going out to buy one? Much easier now of course, and crucially much, much cheaper in real terms. It costs less to download a single than it cost to buy one in the late 70s, so to adopt the principle of the Financial Times’ Big Mac index, the average wage earner must take a fraction of the time to earn the cost of a single now compared to 1976. So much so that, as I’ve mentioned before, people buy downloads as a gesture – to stop the X Factor getting the Christmas number one, or to get a Celtic anthem into the charts to rival a Rangers anthem – and not only because they like the song. Are we really comparing like with like when talking about download-era singles sales?

  7. 132
    punctum on 9 Nov 2012 #

    Actually cost-wise it’s about the same now – 65p? 75p? £1? – as it was back then. Singles sales now are probably as buoyant as they were back in ’78 or ’84.

    Did people buy “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” because they liked the song, or as a gesture?

  8. 133
    Mark G on 9 Nov 2012 #

    Was pondering that specific example, yeah.

    What was the first ‘gesture buy’ single? There were plenty after BandAid, where people bought it without intending to ever play it, really (cf: the numbers of people that bought DTKIC in multiple quantities)..

    Also, that article was saying that the price of “She Loves You” would equate with inflation to around £5.50, which was only slightly cheaper than what Fopp had Paul Weller’s 7″ single on sale for about 6 months ago.

  9. 134
    Erithian on 9 Nov 2012 #

    And of course people bought armfuls of Elton CDs in ’97.

    In third place on the all-time best-sellers list, I dare say a fair number of those who bought “Bo Rhap” after Freddie’s death were similarly motivated, and it was the re-release that pushed the song from the mid-teens on the all-time list to number three.

    In fourth, many copies of “Mull of Kintyre” were no doubt bought for relatives for Crimble, but mainly because said relatives liked the song. The top few in the list are perhaps the exceptions that prove the rule.

    Punctum – I’d all but stopped buying singles by ’84, so DTKIC for me was largely gesture but I genuinely liked the song too. Buying Band Aid 20 was pretty much entirely gesture!

  10. 135
    glue_factory on 9 Nov 2012 #

    Watching those repeats of Top of the Pops, Danny Mirror’s record seems pretty much like a gesture purchase.

  11. 136
    Mark G on 10 Nov 2012 #

    Maybe, but I know people who bought it and played it lots!

  12. 137
    flahr on 10 Nov 2012 #

    #132 – “probably as buoyant” seems a trifle understated when 2011 was the best year for singles sales since records began.

  13. 138
    punctum on 12 Nov 2012 #

    Hence the word “probably.” Rhetorical understatement innit.

  14. 139
    glue_factory on 13 Nov 2012 #

    @136 I’m surprised – but I guess I’m mistaking my own dislike of the record for the idea that no-one could like the record, except in gesture kind-of-way. Something I’ll be prone to do with a similar record released after the death of Notorious B.U.N.N.I.E.D

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