Mar 09

TIGHT FIT – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”

FT + Popular64 comments • 6,368 views

#496, 6th March 1982

All you need to know about this record – and its relationship to the Tokens’ hit arrangement it’s based on – is on the sleeve. The Tokens’ single comes wrapped in a funny, almost suggestive picture of a girl and a stuffed lion, and its hints toward exotica are playful and gleeful. This lion sleeping tonight could be a sly metaphor, or just a bit of nonsense, the song a liberation tune or a nursery rhyme – and this nebula of possible meaning helps give the song an uncatchable, enchanting quality.

Tight Fit, on the other hand, allow no such subtlety: their sleeve has the group as a cross between Blitz kids and Play Away presenters, and their “Lion” is a panto season singalong. My suspicion is that Tim Friese-Greene saw the relative success of Bow Wow Wow and Adam Ant, knew an opportunity when he saw one, and rushed an African-drums cash-in through the studio to be hung on the first borrowed band name he could find. Of course, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” flattens out its rhythms (compared to the addictive rumble of the Tokens’ rhythm track, at least). But not to worry – some African touches are present in the video with its warlike tribesmen ensnaring nubile white women in a great big net.

Luckily, what the Tokens and Tight Fit – and every other version of “Lion”, “Wimoweh” or “Mbube” I’ve heard – have in common is that it’s a great participatory song. Even in this farrago of a single there’s a glory in the reaching high notes and a deep satisfaction in the rolling “wim-o-weh-o-wim-o-weh” beneath.



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  1. 51
    peter goodlaws on 11 Mar 2009 #

    # 42 – “Wales is protected from Telford by the whole of Shropshire!”

    Not quite the WHOLE of Shropshire, Mark, but near as damn it, certainly. And I would never argue with a Shrewsbury man. Is that “Shrows-bury” or “Shrews-bury” btw?

  2. 52
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 11 Mar 2009 #

    aha well now — genuine locals call it shoozebree, and long-time locals (sadly mostly passed on now) call it soozebree

  3. 53
    peter goodlaws on 11 Mar 2009 #

    I am grateful for that. Someone should tell James Alexander Gordon.

  4. 54
    crag on 15 Mar 2009 #

    Cheers for the Doomlord pic! Ok i’ll ask- can anyone recall what other bands had ongoing strips in Look-in and other similar mags of the time? Madness surely? A friend remembers a Bucks Fizz one(gosh that must have been thrilling!)and Martin Kemp played w/ Roy of the Rovers for a while(!) but there must be others?

    Also register another big “non” for Lion from me and an equally big “YES!” for Fantasy Island!

    PS yes a Fall strip would have been great! “This weeks adventure- Death to the Southern Liberal Prole Fuckfaces-ah!!”

  5. 55
    wichita lineman on 16 Mar 2009 #

    Re 54: Madness had an idea for a video which featured the “Nutty” boys on a motionless testcard for the entire length of an album (this would have been when Seven came out). Nothing changed at all until the end of the album, at which point Suggs tipped his hat. That was it. All rather Dada. So you can imagine how disappointed I was when I finally saw Take It Or Leave It.

    Also re 54: Shaky was in Billy The Fish wasn’t he? Or am I losing my mind?

    The mighty jungle; the mighty Fall. Some kind of weird logic to this thread.

  6. 56
    Billy Smart on 16 Mar 2009 #

    TOTPWatch: Tight Fit performed ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ on Top Of The Pops on three occasions;

    18th February 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Madness, George Benson, UB40, ABC, The Jets, Robert Palmer, Toni Basil and The Jam. Mike Read was the host.

    4th March 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Toni Basil, Gary Numan, The Goombay Dance Band, Imagination, The Jets and ABC, plus Zoo’s interpretation of ‘Deutsher Girls’. David Jensen was the host.

    18th March 1982. Also in the studio that week were; Classix Nouveaux, Leo Sayer, The Goombay Dance Band, Japan and Gary Numan, plus Zoo’s interpretation of ‘Layla’. Steve Wright and Richard Skinner were the hosts.

  7. 57
    Billy Smart on 16 Mar 2009 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: Just two TV apperances to report;

    ROD AND EMU’S SATURDAY SPECIAL: with Tight Fit, The Drifters, Larry Grayson (1983)

    SUMMERTIME SPECIAL: with Lena Zavaroni, Bartschelly, The Belle Stars, The Krankies, Tight Fit, Lenny Windsor (1982)

  8. 58
    crag on 16 Mar 2009 #

    Shaky was indeed in Billy the Fish’s Melchester Rovers as was Mick Hucknall, playing a blinder on his first appearance but failing to live up to expectations during further games “in a tragic echo of his musical career”!

  9. 59
    Conrad on 16 Mar 2009 #

    Re 54, I like Take It Or Leave It! – a curio, but inspired in places.

    And delighted to see so much praise for “Fantasy Island”. I’m beginning to think that it is, or rather was, one of the Great Lost Classics of 1982.

  10. 60
    DV on 16 Mar 2009 #

    I have a certain fondness for this record and its comedically high pitched vocals.

  11. 61
    Caledonianne on 5 Apr 2009 #

    Another thumbs up for the Haircuts.

    I’d pretty much given up on chart music by this time, but came to know Love Plus One because just around this time (university Easter vacation, and coming to the end of my post-grad year) we journeyed by bus from Glasgow to Brussels, Luxembourg and Strasbourg to visit EC (as it then was) institutions, on a taxpayer-funded jolly. The undergrads played Nick Heyward and the boys all the time. I thought it was a cracking little record then, and I still do. Never fails to raise a smile.

  12. 62
    Erithian on 17 Aug 2009 #

    Channel 4 Top 100 Watch: astonishingly the 89th best-selling single of all time in the UK.

  13. 63
    Tight Fit on 25 Sep 2009 #

    Hey all you Tight Fit fans, as you may already know we’ve reformed and are now touring the country, here’s a few of our upcoming tour dates….

    Back to the 80’s Night ft. Tight Fit Live in Skipton, Yorkshire 23rd October. Box office: 01756 791411 or buy online: http://www.digyorkshire.com

    Back to the 80’s Night ft. Tight Fit Live in East Kilbride, Scotland 30th October. Box office: 01355 248 669 or Arts Centre: 01355 261 000

    Listen to us being interviewed on BBC Radio Surrey – Interview starts 40mins into the show….


    For more information, music, videos, news and updates….

    Follow us on Twitter – ‘tightfitlive’
    Myspace – http://www.myspace.com/tightfitlionsleeps
    Website – http://www.tightfitlive.co.uk

  14. 64
    thefatgit on 7 Oct 2009 #

    Denise’s dad used to be landlord at The Wellington Arms, Sandhurst. Denise used to put in an appearance from time to time. I must admit, I did lust after her for a hell of a long time, but never managed to summon the courage to chat her up. I did buy her a drink once, but never followed it through. Dammit!

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