May 08

SHOWADDYWADDY – “Under The Moon Of Love”

FT + Popular146 comments • 8,029 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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  1. 91
    wichita lineman on 21 May 2008 #

    Paint It, Black had a comma on some pressings but not all (might have depended on the pressing plant – but that’s getting into scary territory!) . Definitely true about The Beatles, only Strawberry Fields had a UK pic sleeve, and only the first pressing at that which explains Rosie’s green Parlophone sleeve.

  2. 92
    and everybody elses Mark G on 21 May 2008 #

    All the StrwabFields singles with the pic sleeve that I have seen/checked have the “G” stamper code, meaning that the pic sleeves were very limited indeed. (I have one)

  3. 93
    and everybody elses Mark G on 21 May 2008 #

    The daft thing is: For all that the limited natire of pic sleeves meant a sales push, would it have stopped people buying the non-pic version by dint of “maybe I’ll find one later, oh no they gone everywhere, oh well I’m not settling for less…” and actually stopping sales?

  4. 94

    haha contra that mark, i distinctly recall my friend chris f going out to buy “oh bondage! up yours!” several times and coming back w/o it bcz only the 12″ was on sale and we collectively disapproved of this blatant virgin-esque gimmick — we cracked in the end but felt had too

  5. 95
    and everybody elses Mark G on 21 May 2008 #

    ha, and ironically, I got mine as a freebie from Radio London, a little ahead of release date (pic sleeve included), and ‘turned on’ the sixth form to punk in general.

  6. 96
    Tim on 21 May 2008 #

    But mark (s) a pic sleeve came at no extra cost, where 12″s were way more expensive than their 7″ counterparts (vast swathes of text were devoted to this issue in my sort of mid-80s fanzines and I still feel it’s an article of faith even though I was always unable to resist the lure of that draedful additional track on side 2).

    I definitely tried not to buy things which had reverted to comapny design sleeves.

    I’m finding the memory of the magic word “(pic)” appended to entries in the Small Wonder (was it Small Wonder?) list in the back of the NME is surprisingly evocative. My pocket money wouldn’t stretch to the P&P, generally.

  7. 97

    i think the issue WOULD BECOME “this gimmick is lame and pointless” (2.5 min x ray spex song on 12″) vs “yowza THIS gimmick is awesome” (malcolm garrett buzzcocks sleeves), but as of whenever “oh bondage!” was, it seemed like a sea of comedy-coloured vinyl (which — it was argued, possibly incorrectly — was worse quality than proper black vinyl) (which is i believe dyed black cz its actually colour is a muddy white)

    also recall “we” were fighting the idea that Punk Itself was Just An Gimmick

  8. 98
    and everybody elses Mark G on 21 May 2008 #

    12″ Xray Spex was super loud (got one eventually) and was Black vinyl.

  9. 99

    yes the problem in our case with the super-volume there was the er “deck” it was being played on — also there was something a bit annoying about all the acres of unused ungrooved shiny black space, you felt you’d paid over the odds for THAT real estate!

  10. 100
    Erithian on 21 May 2008 #

    Good old X-Ray Spex – Poly Styrene turned out to sing “Oh Bondage” at the Love Music Hate Racism event in Victoria Park recently and looked, while you might hesitate to say attractive, easier on the eye then she did thirty years ago. More than you could say for Jimmy Pursey.

  11. 101

    wash yr mouth out erithian PS wz my TOTAL SUPER-GORGEOUS YEAR-ZERO DALEK-TEEN THROB in 77 and ever shall be [/waldoismus]

  12. 102
    and everybody elses Mark G on 21 May 2008 #

    Actually, she was on some punk documentary not so long ago. Attractive pretty much covers it.

  13. 103
    and everybody elses Mark G on 21 May 2008 #

    I got that “Let’s Submerge” XRaySpex anthology recently.

    Has there ever been as big a leap of quality as there was from “Silly Billy” to “Oh Bondage” ?

    (Falcon Stuart produced both tracks)

  14. 104
    Erithian on 21 May 2008 #

    OK, I’ll go with “attractive”. “Germ Free Adolescents” shoulda been a monster too.

    Misheard lyric spot – I always thought the Waddy were singing “your ass shining so brightly, under the moon of love”. The fact that it got broadcast suggested otherwise, mind you.

  15. 105
    LondonLee on 21 May 2008 #

    “Germ Free Adolescents” got in the Top 20, not too shabby. Though I did think it was a bigger hit than that.

    Picture sleeves did make a difference in sales. I had a Saturday job in the record department of a WH Smith and when a new Jam single came out there was a stampede of local Mods into the store to snap (no pun intended) them up. I remember rushing to a record store after school just to get a piccie sleeve of ‘When You’re Young’ on the day it came out.

  16. 106
    Alan on 21 May 2008 #

    /posts germ free adolescent cover and girls aloud biology covers

    oo, as seen here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biology_%28song%29

  17. 107
    Snif on 22 May 2008 #

    Speaking of picture sleeves, in 1979 i picked up a Japanese import single of The Jam’s “When You’re Young”…it even printed the lyrics on the picture sleeve. Now I have a tin ear when it comes to picking up lyrics at the the best of times, but I’m not quite sure what was going on in that Tokyo Polydor office.

    Here’s the actual lyrics…

    Life is timeless, days are long when you’re young
    You used to fall in love with everyone
    Any guitar and any bass drum
    Life is a drink and you get drunk when you’re young

    Life is new and there’s things to be done
    You can’t wait to be grown up
    Acceptance into the capital world
    You pull on some weed and you pull on someone when you’re young

    But you find out life isn’t like that
    It’s so hard to comprehend
    Why you set up your dreams to have them smashed in the end
    But you don’t mind you’ve got time on your side
    And they’re never gonna make you stand in line
    You’re just waiting for the right time

    You’re fearless and brave – you can’t be stopped when you’re young
    You swear you’re never ever gonna work for someone
    No corporations for the new age sons
    Tears of rage run down your face
    But still you say “it’s love”

    And you find out life isn’t like that
    It’s so hard to understand
    Why the world is your oyster but your future’s a clam

    It’s got you in its grip before you’re born
    It’s done with the use of a dice and a board
    They let you think you’re king but you’re really a pawn

    You’re fearless and brave – you can’t be stopped when you’re young
    You used to fall in love with everyone
    Any guitar and any bass drum

    And here’s what was on the sleeve….

    Why does time take so long when you’re young
    Used to fall in love with anyone
    Any guitar and any bass drum
    Life was a drink and you get drunk
    When you’re young

    Life is new and there’s things to be found
    You can’t wait to be grown up
    Your set turns into the capital world
    You pull out the weeds and they pull us along
    When you’re young

    But you find out life isn’t like
    It’s so hard to comprehend
    You set up your dreams
    To have them smashed in again
    But you don’t mind
    You got time on your side
    You know you’ll never get ‘em
    If you stand in line
    You’re just waiting for a lifetime

    You’re finished with life your clock stopped spinning around
    This way another lover’s gonna suffer so hard
    No corporation starts a new age son
    Tears of fright run down your face
    When they say it’s done

    But you find out life isn’t like that
    You try hard to understand
    That the world in your eyes
    Is just a future Japan
    You said you’d read the script before you’re bored
    You’re stoned with a reason that I can’t afford
    They let you be a king
    But you need applause

    If you’re to survive you can’t stop when you’re young
    Used to fall in love with everyone
    Any guitar and any bass drum

    Make of that what you will, music lovers.

  18. 108
    DJ Punctum on 22 May 2008 #

    With all this talk about picture sleeves, we seem to have overlooked Number Two Watch, which in Showaddywaddy’s case was “Somebody To Love” by Queen. One of only three singles in the second half of the seventies to debut within the top five on a Top 50/Top 75 basis (unless you know different) – and out of these three, only one made it to the top.

  19. 109
    Billy Smart on 22 May 2008 #

    “You pull out the weeds and they pull us along/ They let you be king/ but you need applause” – I like this imaginary song. In my head, it sounds a bit like Radiohead.

    “Bread for the teeth!”

  20. 110
    DJ Punctum on 22 May 2008 #

    According to the trailer for his interview on the Janice Long Show on Sunday, Weller is currently listening to inter alia William Walton and the Velvet Underground so clearly more observations of this nature to be expected on imminent epic double concept album, though if his performance on Jools on Tuesday was anything to go by the new album should have been called 22 Pub Rock Greats.

  21. 111
    Rob M on 22 May 2008 #

    Going back a bit – the unexpected bonus of those twelve inch singles with acres of ungrooved space in the middle was that they were ideal bases for playing flexidiscs. Very handy in the C86 era – again, won’t be troubling Popular at all with that!

  22. 112
    DJ Punctum on 22 May 2008 #

    I hope I’m not over-tempting SB by musing that 1986’s number ones, with a few sore-thumb-sticking-out exceptions, don’t quite live up to the standard set by 1976.

  23. 113
    Tim on 22 May 2008 #

    Rob – I’m not sure about that, because lifting the flexi off a 12″ record was much more difficult than lifting it off a 7″: using a 12″ generally resulted in my leaving big greasy fingerprints all over the 12″ vinyl.

    Regular 7″ers were OK as long as they didn’t have those great big moulded notches around the moulded label that Polydor (in particular) seemed to like.

  24. 114
    rosie on 23 May 2008 #

    A thought – in the musing about why there should have been a sudden enthusiasm for 50s music round about now – nobody’s mentioned Happy Days and The Fonz – very popular with my 12-13 year-olds at this time.

    Just a thought that occurred to me.

  25. 115
    DJ Punctum on 23 May 2008 #

    Happy Days didn’t get shown on TV here (at least not on STV) until early ’78.

  26. 116
    pink champale on 23 May 2008 #

    yes, i was wondering about a ‘happy days’ connection too, not least because i have a great charity shop-purchased ‘fonze’s favourite 50’s hits’ (or similar) cash-in compilation album from around this time. aside from being the first place i ever encountered the flamingos’ immortal ‘i only have eyes for you’, the record is notable – and glorious – for two reasons: i) the front cover is a portrait of the fonze giving it the classic sly grin and thumbs up pose, unadorned by and title or any other writing and the back cover is cut with one of those punch-out triangular stands you get on the back of picture frames – so you don’t just get a record, you get a portrait of the fonz to put on your dressing table and moon over! this is a great gimmick that i’ve never seen elsewhere (though i’m sure others will know of examples); and ii) the final track is called “the fonz rock” or something and is a generic rock ‘n’ roll backing track over which someone who is very clearly not henry winkler runs through selection of fonze-like catchphrases in a desultory fashion, mainly “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh” and “sit on it!” if i remember rightly.

  27. 117
    pink champale on 23 May 2008 #

    oh. x-post. another great theory down the dumper.

  28. 118
    DJ Punctum on 23 May 2008 #

    Ah yes, Fonzie’s Favourites on Warwick Records which I once had and which began with a version of the Happy Days theme which wasn’t the same version as on the 45 (which was a minor Top 40 hit in late ’77 so I guess it must have been showing somewhere here) but merely an amateurish cut-up as though someone had taped it off the TV and glued all the different bits together. I think there were a few “RE-RECORDED BY ORIGINAL ARTISTS” tracks in there too. The final track I have long forgotten and by the sound of it it’s probably just as well.

  29. 119
    pink champale on 23 May 2008 #

    yes, i’d forgotten about the version of the ‘happy days’ theme, which is very much as you describe.

  30. 120
    Martin Skidmore on 23 May 2008 #

    Leaping into action by replying to comment #1:
    Wichita Lineman: The leader of Linus (a bloke, thus not entirely Riot Grrrl) was a really good friend of mine. He looked a lot like Robert Pires, so you were sort of close. (I say ‘was’ because he sadly died a couple of years ago.) (Another parenthesis to say it was good to meet you last week! I was the old bloke in a suit!)

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