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.