21
Jul 04

THE TEMPERANCE SEVEN – “You’re Driving Me Crazy”

Popular16 comments • 2,641 views

#118, 27th May 1961

Next time you find yourself cursing the radio as another band winds back the decades and nests cosily in music’s past, spare a thought for the Temperance Seven, who were retro before most of pop was even original. “You’re Driving Me Crazy” is a finely-judged, though rather stiff, pastiche of 1920s dance-band music – spoiled by “Whispering” Paul McDowell, whose insincere vocals on the chorus give the gag away too easily.

One of the strangest Number Ones – playing back my CDs the first time, I cursed and reached for the Guinness Book, convinced a slip of the mouse had put some forgotten period MP3 on the disc by mistake – this is also somehow one of the most prescient. The Temperance Seven were art school boys and “You’re Driving Me Crazy” is the first big meta-pop hit: deliberate, tongue-in-cheek commentary on pop via pop, the world of the dance orchestras pushed flippantly into the TV age. This way lies Roxy Music and Richard X – but it seems likely that the people buying the single bought it out of nostalgia as much as delight in its cleverness. So The Darkness beckon, too.

And now how does it sound? Now the music it refers to has slipped out of popular memory? Ignore the cynical singing and the playing is charming, tender even. But even at this distance the novelty outweighs the content.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Chasbo Cox on 11 Dec 2006 #

    No no no! Yes they are a parody, but a very clever one…..and much more besides. Fantastic musicianship…..and a real feel for the lilt in authentic 20s jazz. I agree that PMcD’s vocals are the weakest element, but I guess his rather camp style was part of their appeal……..

  2. 2
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Dec 2006 #

    The first number one single produced by George Martin.

  3. 3
    alex balmforth on 13 Feb 2007 #

    Curious, I cannot listen to the Temperance mob on CD’s, it is only on vinyl that their ‘essence’ translates.

  4. 4
    Keith W on 21 Mar 2008 #

    I think they get away with it. Mind you, I also think Bob Monkhouse gets away with it in the theme tune to You Rang, M’Lord?

  5. 5
    rosie on 27 Jul 2008 #

    This kind of music hasn’t slipped out of popular memory but is continued by, amongst others, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra. The PRO generally attract a good audience when they do the rounds of the provincial halls. I met their pianist, Simon Townley, once. Nice chap, turns up on Radio 4 from time to time.

  6. 6
    DJ Punctum on 28 Jul 2008 #

    Also ought to mention that this directly paved the way for the likes of the Bonzos since they started out as essentially an art school bunch of Temperance Seven wannabes but later upped the Dadaist bar.

  7. 7
    Alex McKenna on 16 Aug 2008 #

    As much as I liked the Temps, theis type of pastiche band always seems to miss the essence of 20s and early 30s bands – the rhythm. The syncopation. As an early reviewer – Jack Good? _ noted, his rare copy of “If I had a talking picture of you” by Alfredo’s Band on an 1930 Edison Bell Radio 8″ disc was far more lively and punchy than the 1962 Syncopators record on Decca 45rpm. The Decca record to me is obviously a repro antique- stiff, amusing maybe but not something you could get excited about. The Alfredo band was always a delight…

  8. 8
    Geoff Bragg on 22 Nov 2009 #

    The arrangements and musicianship of the Temperance Seven is excellent. Hard Hearted Hannah the Vamp From Savannah is brilliant, as is Black Bottom.

  9. 9
    Rob Howard on 6 May 2011 #

    The Temperance Seven, albeit a different line up from the 1960s outfit, are still performing – check out their website. They still sound as good as ever, and their shows are laced with humour.

  10. 10
    mapman132 on 2 Feb 2014 #

    Listening to this, I can’t help but be reminded of New Vaudeville Band’s later US#1 “Winchester Cathedral”. Understandably, this is very much “love it or hate it” territory for many people. Count me as “love it” for both records.

  11. 11
    lonepilgrim on 20 Apr 2014 #

    whereas Floyd Kramer sounded urgent and contemporary this sounds slightly smug and complacent. As others have already commented it’s pretty stiff rhythmically and the singer sounds like he’s perpetually suppressing a self-satisfied snigger.

  12. 12
    wichitalineman on 21 Apr 2014 #

    Roxy Music are a good call from Tom, I can hear Bryan Ferry in the mannered delivery. It’s not hard to imagine Whispering Paul McDowell singing Do The Strand: “Rhododendron is a nice flower”.

    Re 10: I think there was some bitterness from the Temperance 7 when Winchester Cathedral was a hit 6 years later – the biggest US hit of 1966, incredibly.

    Given their name (unless they were all tee totallers), I’d say the T7 schtick was camp, but with an obvious fondness for the 20s dance bands.

  13. 13
    Ed on 22 Apr 2014 #

    @12 And Bryan Ferry has taken it full circle again: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/17383-the-jazz-age/

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 22 Apr 2014 #

    Reading these comments led me down a curious path of listening to T7 and NVB on YouTube. All reminded me of the “Bobbing Along” song from Bedknobs And Broomsticks. I did find myself humming along to “Finchley Central” by NVB, which has become quite a pleasant little earworm these last few days.

  15. 15
    mapman132 on 22 Apr 2014 #

    #12: Actually “Ballad of the Green Berets” was the top US hit of 1966 (a strange result in and of itself). “Winchester Cathedral” was 18th although it probably would’ve been higher if it hadn’t hit so late in the year. NVB notably held “Good Vibrations” to a single week at #1: imagine the hate they would’ve gotten had they actually kept it from the top!

  16. 16
    enitharmon on 9 Mar 2016 #

    And so we bid farewell to George Martin, producer of this fine, quirky and sadly underrated piece which was his first number one. His greatest days were yet to come of course, mostly but not entirely with another chart-topping outfit. He did more than anybody, perhaps, to shape the pop of today.

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