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Feb 10

JACKIE WILSON – “Reet Petite”

FT + Popular60 comments • 11,746 views

#582, 27th December 1986, video

“Reet Petite” would have fit right in on an advert: I scratched my head for a while trying to remember which it came from. No luck – so I went and looked it up, and of course it wasn’t on one at all. It got to number one on the back of an animated short – played on BBC arts show Arena – in which a triangle-headed plasticine Jackie shook and jived while mouths on stalks quivered behind him in an angular landscape which reminds me a little of Krazy Kat. As an enactment of the song’s pop-eyed restlessness and vocal flexibility it works, and it’s more a fan video than an advert. All the giant caricature lips threw me at first but as a sung performance “Reet Petite” is a real celebration of the mouth with all its trills, twists, held notes and squawks of joy.

Its easy ascent to Number One, though, is a bit more problematic than its video. We’ve occasionally seen records top the charts a half-dozen years, even a decade after they were recorded, but “Reet Petite” came from a generation away: a hit in 1957, and a hit very much of 1957 in its swinging, wisecracking urban R&B feel. As a listener I remember feeling completely alienated – not only did I think it was goofy but it felt like a betrayal of what I’d assumed the charts were for: showcasing new music, even if it wasn’t my new music. Adam Ant hits are as old now as “Reet Petite” was then, and now I can love it, thrill to “she’s AWWL-right!” But at the time its success really bothered me, and an instinctive dislike for reissues remains (meaning this and most others will grab a point or two less than they might have).

So even though “Reet Petite” wasn’t an advertising song it’s worth making a few general points now about what I think was going on. The mid-80s, and the introduction of the CD, saw record labels wake fully to the potential of their back catalogues. People were prepared to buy the old stuff, even if they already owned it. And this raised another question: if that could work for albums, why not for singles? Plenty of great records lurking in those vaults, waiting for potential audiences. What’s more, sales of new singles were in decline – none of the great pop bands of the early 80s were selling like they used to. No better time to promote old records, you’d say.

Except if any label executive did think like that, they hit a problem. The singles market was awareness- and novelty-based: kids bought a track cos they heard it on the radio or saw it on the TV. The crucial radio stations put new records on their playlists, not old ones. And there was no way of getting this stuff on TV at all. So aside from special campaigns – like the Beatles reissues in 1982 – the market for classic singles qua singles was limited to imprints like Old Gold, two old hits on one 7”, steady enough sellers to get a small rack in WH Smith or Virgin but nothing more than a sideline.

And then Bartle Bogle Hegarty helped change all that. They made a commercial for Levi’s – “Laundrette” – in which Nick Kamen stripped down to his underwear while “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” played. The ad is remembered now for its chain-reaction smashing together of sex and denim, but the music was just as important – a reissued “Grapevine” got to #8. This was the vector needed to sell old singles: license them to a well-made advert and you had the equivalent of a video on heavy rotation.

So what was the music that adverts would help sell? Soul music, first and foremost: old soul music, that constant echo in 80s music now completing its journey from style mag reference point to a nationally understood signifier of the authentic, the real, the rooted in a brittle and shallow world. After all, the only people in the world who bang on more than marketers about authenticity are rock critics – even if the two disagree deeply on what it might be or mean.

This was the context in which “Reet Petite” emerged – through quite a different channel, but another piece of proof that timely reissues of singles could really clean up. The after-the-fact success of old soul, R&B and rock’n’roll music in the late 80s charts could be seen as a vindication for songs which were often neglected at the time. But it could equally be seen as confirmation that much of pop had stagnated in the mid-80s: the growing turn to classicist values reaching a logical conclusion. If Tony Hadley, say, was working in the shadow of Marvin, why not just listen to Marvin, who wasn’t in anyone’s shadow? But this new context had a chilling effect on these old songs. A song as free and easy as “Reet Petite” had suddenly become part of a rulebook.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 2 Feb 2010 #

    As I said on the 1987 thread, this was the Xmas 86 number one but also lingered long into the new year, and I think of it as a general winter hit, perking everybody up (or, by my more cynical reading, a reminder that all around is dead and barren)

    I was going to make some portentious reference to what’s up next but no need really ;)

  2. 2
    Tom on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Oh! Though actually speaking of which if anyone has the 7″ mix of the next song on MP3 to gmail me I’d be delighted! I only have a 6 minute version. It’s one of those tracks where there’s so many mixes you’re never quite sure which the “hit” is (there are a couple more like this in our future…)

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Problematic for several reasons, as you say, Tom, but one crucial one at the time. This just sounds (and sounded to me then) an awful lot better than any #1 since what… ‘West End Girls’ a year previously. The crazed, feverish, horny, uncontollable excitement and nonsense of it still came across as wholly necessary and glorious 29 years after it was made. Its a grim irony that it took a dead man to make the most alive-sounding #1 of the year.

    My reaction was considerable more enthusiastic when I heard this on the radio, than when I saw that sodding video on the television, though. That just turned it into a novelty, something not to be taken seriously.

    Thankfully, the next #1 gave us a 1987 version of the same feelings that Reet Petite evokes; something that sounded strange and surprising, about sex and dancing…

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Re #2: I’m guessing that the one on YouTube with the video shown at the time is the 7″ version.

  5. 5
    Steve Mannion on 2 Feb 2010 #

    I did much prefer the video for the re-release of Nina Simone’s ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ (the song too I guess) later in ’87. Presumably there is a direct connection – the Aardman (for surely it was they, nobody else was allowed to do claymodel animation between 1984 and The Wrong Trousers!) video for an old classic – the success of Reet leading to a second attempt. Interesting idea tho – the video driving popularity but the song’s original greatness transcending/withstanding this, leading to increased mass appeal. I suppose the novelty wore off quickly tho.

    Artists not appearing quite as themselves in videos was naturally becoming more common with the technology improving. ‘Sledgehammer’ and ‘Land Of Confusion’ are among the most ambitious examples. Paul Hardcastle’s ’19′ set a precedent for the ‘anonymous dance video’ which we’ll see more examples of in ’87 and beyond.

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Cover Version watch: Darts (1980) #51, Pinky & Perky (1993, tho’ perhaps much older) #47.

    Never heard either of them. Not sure that I really need to…

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 2 Feb 2010 #

    TOTPWatch EXTRA: Koo! Jackie Wilson once appeared on Top of the Pops, performing ‘I Get The Sweetest Feeling’ on the edition of the 22nd of May 1975. Also in the studio that week were; Slade, Judy Collins, Roy Wood, Catherine Howe (who?) and Desmond Dekker. Tony Blackburn was the host. Frustratingly, no copy survives.

  8. 8
    tonya on 2 Feb 2010 #

    This one makes sense to me as a UK number one because of its novelty song qualities. It’s closer to the chirpybird version of Singin’ the Blues than to (Your Love is Lifting Me) Higher and Higher. Higher and Higher is the superior record, I believe, but would it have reached number one? If I Heard It Through The Grapevine only gets to #8 on its reissue, what does that say about the type of reissue that gets to #1?

  9. 9
    Billy Smart on 2 Feb 2010 #

    #8. That it has to be a reissue of a song that not all that many people have already got copies of, I’d say. In addition to all those who bought Grapevine in 1969, anybody with one of dozens of Motown collections would have aleady had a copy to hand in 1987.

    Reet Petite was the start of a 1987 Jackie Wilson reissue campaign, Sweetest Feeling getting to #3, and Higher & Higher to #15. God, I love those songs!

  10. 10
    TomLane on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Most U.S. readers might think this song charted higher than the #62 peak that it got in 1957. In fact, it never appeared on the R&B charts. But Wilson’s followup, “To Be Loved” went Top 25 and he was on his way. I don’t this is one of Jackie’s greatest songs, but like some of his lesser stuff his charisma and vocal genius elevate it to bigger heights. Needless to say, there was no revival of this in the States in 1986. The original 7 is about right.
    Berry Gordy co-wrote this. And as a side note, Dave Marsh in his Heart of Rock & Soul book ranked this at #273 (out of 1001).

  11. 11
    rosie on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Like a breath of fresh air, it was! Before even my time too. I knew Jackie Wilson for Higher and Higher in the 60s but this was a revelation to me in 1987 – something that was vaguely familiar but I had no idea where or when it came from. Pure early pop: more Elvis than Elvis.

    I didn’t know JW was a Geordie either!

    Oh, and I’d like to suggest that the reason why Grapevine and Nina and Percy Sledge and others were big hits when they got to see some daylight around this time: they were class, and timeless class at that.

  12. 12
    rosie on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Billy Smart @ 6: Oh lucky man, who knows not of Pinky and Perky! I think they’d gone to the bacon factory long before 1987.

  13. 13
    lonepilgrim on 2 Feb 2010 #

    I was familiar with the song via Dexys’ cover of Van Morrison’s ‘Jackie Wilson Said’ and the NME had been plugging cassettes of Ace Records type songs which might well have featured this track. I wasn’t too bothered by a reissue displacing new songs – it’s lively, very danceable – what’s not to like

  14. 14
    Maverick on 2 Feb 2010 #

    A cover of this (with altered lyrics) was used in an advert for Persil Micro washing powder.

  15. 15
    thefatgit on 2 Feb 2010 #

    lonepilgrim @13…that was my introduction to the name Jackie Wilson as well. I might add that Mr Wilson had an impressive set of lungs, and was shocked by his voice. Like nothing or nobody around at the time, Wilson could not help but stand out. The accompanying animation simply underscored the “otherness” of this blast from the past.

  16. 16
    wichita lineman on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Nice argument.

    RP’s success was also a logical conclusion to the re-issue industry that had been building since the early 80s with Edsel, Kent and Ace. There was so much out there which was hard to find, even if you bought Record Collector every month. 1987 was the first time Dusty In Memphis was re-issued – hard to believe, but that’s how ‘underground’ many now accepted classics were back then. As far as I recall there were no decent Jackie Wilson comps available when RP broke beyond the two late-era though excellent Soul Years collections on Kent.

    So, yes, after a couple of bloody awful years of post-Live Aid middle aged tossers dominating the chart (that’s how it felt even if the stats don’t bear it out), this did seem like vindication for nerds into the alternative of ‘old’ music. There was still a bad smell in the air for much of ’87 but I’d venture it didn’t come from the launderette-fresh re-issues.

    I first heard Reet Petite via Darts’ minor hit version and I don’t think I heard the original until this re-issue. I love the fact that its brrrrrr-ping vocal influenced General Johnson on Chairmen Of The Board’s Give Me Just A little More Time, which then informed Kevin Rowland’s rrrrrolling vocal on Geno, and that Rowland later namechecked Jackie Wilson on a Top 5 hit written by Van Morrison. That’s a pocket pop history right there.

    And, yes, so intriguing and so very appropriate that it was butted up against its successor. Two great pieces of sexy saturday night gibberish, three decades apart.*

    Re 7: Catherine Howe may well have been singing the rather sweet Harry, which became a Terry Wogan staple over the years.

    *does the 3.18 edit in my itunes fit the bill? I don’t have the 7″, to my shame.

  17. 17
    taDOW on 3 Feb 2010 #

    my introduction to jackie wilson came via ‘night shift’ (the song not the movie; the movie introduced me to michael keaton and the vagaries of pimping). this resurrection didn’t happen in the states but similar instances did (another lazarus coming up soon for example), usually prompted some film, or commercial, though sometimes just a reunion was good enough. at the time this horrified me – boomer culture seemed like it would never subside. nowadays of course it has (the classic rock station in atlanta plays more def leppard and u2 than beatles and stones) and i miss the randomness and disconnect w/ everything around it songs like this charting at this moment brought to top 40.

  18. 18
    Alan not logged in on 3 Feb 2010 #

    steve, yes. I had an aardman animations VHS that had this AND the Nina Simone AND sledgehammer videos

  19. 19
    taDOW on 3 Feb 2010 #

    re: 16 and reissues this is something p2p/torrents has generally ended yes? not reissues or albums going out of print obv but the experience of hearing about an album (eg in my case the modern dance or collosal youth) years before you’d get a chance to finally hear the thing (i remember the spin record guide saying something like the dream syndicate hit the way they did cuz the velvet underground were out of print at the time)(someone else would probably say the same about stereolab and neu!, etc.). nowadays a kid could read a passing reference to cluster or klymaxx or cabaret voltaire and acquire their discography w/out getting up from his chair.

  20. 20
    punctum on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Demolishing “Space Oddity”‘s six-year record, Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite” unexpectedly became the Christmas number one single of 1986, over 29 years after it had originally made the top ten. In the interim it had drifted out of circulation, become something of a prized soulboy rarity. A bootleg 45 reissue was even given the NME‘s Single Of The Week award in late 1982 by the egregrious Gavin Martin, who swiftly used the opportunity to decry plastic, passionless cocktail New Pop in favour of Sweat and Soul and Passion. So its surprise late triumph could be counted a victory for the Real Soul brigade, although the circumstances of its success could likewise be considered a defeat.

    “Reet Petite” is one of the cornerstone black pop records; the first successful song written by the young Berry Gordy, it laid the foundations for Motown and is thus utterly crucial. As a record, too, it pops and squeals with a force which seems to overcome Dick Jacobs’ deliberately old-fashioned big band arrangement; not only do Wilson’s multiple “ooh”s, “ah”s and “oo-wee”s reach deep into the backwoods of black music history – recalling the jump bands of the ’30s and ’40s – but also set out the ground for both James Brown and Michael Jackson, and maybe even the erasure of “meaning” which comes about so remarkably in the next number one.

    While there is a certain degree of relish in the spectacle of snobbish soulboys having their “secret” blown wide open, the story behind “Reet Petite”‘s renewed success is depressing. By 1986 Wilson had been two years gone, following nine years in a coma occasioned by a heart attack, onstage as part of a Dick Clark oldies revue, in which he injured his head so severely while falling that he also sustained near-irretrievable brain damage. There were unworthy tussles over wills and bills; indeed Wilson’s medical bills were eventually met and paid for by Michael Jackson, a frequent visitor to his bedside. Able to communicate only by infinitesimal movements of his eyelids, Wilson’s last years were wretched, and his passing perhaps a merciful release.

    Although Wikipedia mistakenly attributes “Reet Petite”‘s success to inclusion in a Levi’s ad campaign, its popularity actually came about as a result of a (then) hi-tech video made – irony of ironies – by the same team responsible for the video to “Happy Hour” by the Housemartins. It was aired regularly on children’s television and became a cult favourite. But the video itself – featuring stop-motion plasticine puppets of Wilson and others – was reasonably criticised for tastelessness, racism (those bulging, head-free Minstrel lips) and even necrophilia (there are shots where Wilson’s head rolls off his neck and along his arms). Not that this worried the kids who were taken by what they assumed to be a wacky children’s novelty song; the record was duly reissued and became that season’s big seller. And while it did perform the necessary function of introducing Wilson’s music to a new audience who might otherwise never have heard of it, the video still leaves a rather nasty taste in the viewer’s mouth. Yes, “Reet Petite” deserved to be a number one – but did it have to be this way? 9 for the record, 1 for the concept.

  21. 21
    MikeMCSG on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Like Tom I had to check wikipedia for the context. It’s an interesting example of word of mouth spread since Arena’s audience was tiny and probably didn’t contain many singles buyers. Would the video be acceptable today with its emphasis on the flared nostrils and thick lips ? I suspect it might be deemed borderline racist.

    Jackie’s story is probably the saddest in all popular music. He was an awesome talent a major influence on both rock and soul but he could also hold his own with the crooners. Many of his US hits from the early 60s are big semi-operatic ballads. Unfortunately like so many black artists he was ripped off and never made serious money. He also had to cope with the death of his son in a shooting incident. It’s a shame his TOTP appearance is lost since it would have been one of his last performances. Just months later he had a heart attack on stage while performing in a fleapit and hit his head on the concrete floor. It’s often reported that he was in a coma for the next 8 years but that’s not quite true. He came out of the coma after a month or two but was left brain-damaged and unable to speak. A course of therapy was started and appeared to be making progress but was abandoned due to legal wrangling between his heirs i.e they weren’t sure who was going to pay for it and the chance was lost. And now many people remember him as either a plasticene man or for being confused (deliberately?) with a lardy Scottish darts player!

    This wasn’t the first out-of-its era number one (Space Oddity,Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me) but by far the longest in gestation and they became much more common after this.Let’s hope we don’t end up talking about Journey – it was a source of national pride that Britain used to turn up its nose at their like (despite Jonathan King’s best efforts).

    As for the song I’ve always found it quite annoying to be honest.

    EDIT: Obviously punctum and I were typing at exactly the same time !

  22. 22
    wichita lineman on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Rather than Reet Petite reaching number one being seen as a “defeat” (a pub argument at the time, too) I preferred to think of it as a wake up call – this is the future unless A) big names cut out the gated snare, write better tunes and get people dancing again B) radio supports interesting new music.

    This is how it felt to me in the 86/87 Christmas season. The Top 20s when this was number one don’t reaIly bear this out. While there was some turgid fare from the Live Aid era/pre punk oldsters:

    Alison Moyet – Is This Love
    Genesis – Land of Confusion
    Status Quo – Dreamin’
    Elkie Brooks – No More The Fool

    …there was an equal amount of excitable post-New Pop:

    Madonna – Open Your Heart
    A-Ha – Cry Wolf
    Erasure – Sometimes
    The Communards – So Cold The Night

    Still, this was a full 5 years after New Pop’s peak. The only single that gave an inkling of what was to come was the no.6, The Rain by Oran ‘Juice’ Jones, a Def Jam oddity that updated The Dramatics’ mood piece In The Rain with an electro backing and gave a softly pulsing suggestion of modern r&b.

  23. 23
    Rory on 3 Feb 2010 #

    I came to this completely cold, as “Reet Petite” and its 1986 video were nowhere to be seen in Australia. Without that context, and in the context of Popular where dozens of ’50s hits are only a few clicks away, this sounds terrific to me; the trilled “rrrrrreet” is what puts it over the top. The video doesn’t hold up well – we’ve been spoilt by 25 years of superior stop-motion animation since – but the song’s big band sounds have only benefitted from increased exposure to 1950s swing via the 1990s lounge music boom. Definitely a 7, and possibly an 8.

    On this point about reissues losing a point or two by virtue of being reissues, aren’t we trying to consider the songs as songs, free of context? I’m not sure that aim is entirely helpful myself; ignoring the context takes away half the fun of hating on the stinkers, for one. “The Lady in Red”, for example, seems even more awful because of its cultural baggage. (I feel a bit better now about letting the context inflate my mark for a certain monster charity single.)

    Context aside, some of these reissues never made number one first time around, so it’s our first chance to talk about them here. Indeed, it was probably critical to their later success that they weren’t number one hits in the UK the first time round, because it meant that they hadn’t been flogged to death on Hits and Oldies AM radio stations in the years in between. I’m thinking here not so much of “Reet Petite” as the next one, though, so I’ll shut up now.

  24. 24
    punctum on 3 Feb 2010 #

    #22 – I liked all of these!

    “The Rain” (which actually peaked at #4) was and is a scary record, particularly in its second half turnaround (“Don’t touch that COAT!”). Bought a Dramatics best-of for three quid out of Fopp on Saturday and as far as seventies soul groups were concerned they were seriously out there, even by Whitfield/Temps standards – try “The Devil Is Dope” for starters.

    Also deserving of mention: “Big Fun” by the Gap Band, their biggest UK hit (peaking two places higher than “Oops!”) with its delicious Human League rhythmic undertow.

  25. 25
    will on 3 Feb 2010 #

    This just annoyed me at the time. Whilst there seemed some logic to reactivating oldies like I Heard It Through The Grapevine and indeed RP’s follow up I Get The Sweetest Feeling – 60s soul worship was ubiquitous in the mid 80s – this was from a generation before and sounded (to my 16 year old ears) just ancient, music for pensioners. That a record from 1957 could top the charts nearly 30 years later seemed a damning indictment on the class of ’86.

  26. 26
    swanstep on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Hmmm… Jackie Wilson hasn’t really been a character in my world (beyond ‘Higher and higher’), so it’s been interesting for me to read up on him now. What a horror end of life story for an evidently lovely man and huge talent. I thought nothing would top Curtis Mayfield’s tragic last ten years (after a lighting rig accident on stage) for brutal waste and torture of a great human being, but Wilson’s story is up there.

    That said, while it’s obvious that ‘Reet Petite’ is an astounding record with some serious vocal gymnastics in it, for whatever reason the song just doesn’t grab me the way Wilson’s more straightforward ’60s stuff does or, say, Louis Jordan’s late ’40s stuff does. Musically RP is such a fascinating hybrid – big band, sun elvis, rca elvis + jordinairres, about 5 different types of later soul in anlage – but for me the overall effect is crowded and overpowering rather than strictly pleasant. Berry Gordy wrote this? Blimey – talented dude. Figures tho’: there’s a record label’s worth of ideas in this one song and its arrangement.

  27. 27
    Kat but logged out innit on 3 Feb 2010 #

    My context for adoring this record was plain and simple: I was five years old and loved the silly video that looked a lot like Trapdoor. I knew that the jeans advert song and My Baby Just Cares For Me were famous old songs (probably because my parents knew the words!) but as far as I was concerned Jackie Wilson was a fictional dude in a blue suit made out of clay, straight out of kids’ tv. The record is absolutely fantastic of course – and also the reason I learned how to roll my Rs at a very early age :)

  28. 28
    Billy Smart on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Its really before documented pop discourse existed, but I’d be absolutely fascinated to know about any sort of press or critical response to this in 1957.

  29. 29
    Alan on 3 Feb 2010 #

    ditto to liking all of the songs in #22. maybe less so on the quo. elkie and alf got a play on that recent and previously mentioned POTP that featured Popular’s next #1 at #1.

  30. 30
    Martin Skidmore on 3 Feb 2010 #

    I am prompted by comment 15 to add a bit of backstory about Jackie Wilson: he became well known when he replaced Clyde McPhatter in Billy Ward And The Dominoes in 1953 (McPhatter left to form the Drifters). The high yipping and other vocal tricks came in part from McPhatter, who was a far more OTT singer emotionally, if rarely as tricksy as on RP. Listen to BW&tD’s The Bells for the most excessively emotional performance ever committed to vinyl. The Drifters’ version of White Christmas has McPhatter in sillier mode.

    Anyway, I love RP, and always enjoy it enormously, and while I would never wish to claim reissues as the best of their latter day, 7 is too low for such a joyous, fun record.

  31. 31
    inakamono on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Interesting to read the comments about oldies revivals at this time. To me it felt more like a revival of oldies revivals, because I remember the period around 74/75 when the charts seemed to be full of oldies. Honey by Bobby Goldsboro for example getting to No.2 for the second time, or Young Girl By Gary Puckett & The Union Gap going top ten again just half a dozen years after its first run. I also remember that time as being a real low ebb for pop music [with some significant exceptions of course] — after all, the Bay City Rollers were at their peak around then.

    Maybe there’s some correlation between the two: when the “current” acts are pretty second-rate, there’s a gap to be filled and the oldies creep in and fill it. I can’t seem to remember any influx of oldies during the later 70s and early 80s; maybe there just wasn’t a need for them.

    However, I will thank this period for introducing me to Nina Simone, who had never crossed my radar before. I always associate the Reet Petite revival with the revival of My Baby Just Cares For Me, and I’ve been hooked on Nina ever since. So sometimes revivals can be a good thing.

  32. 32
    Mutley on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Re #28. A contemporary admiring comment on Jackie Wilson is made by none other than Elvis Presley during the Million Dollar Quartet session. Elvis saw Jackie perform in Las Vegas in 1956 in the group Billy Ward and the Dominoes. He didn’t know Jackie’s individual name at that time, but said that his version of “Don’t be Cruel” was “much better than that record of mine..”

  33. 33
    Billy Smart on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Re #16 and others. The thought’s just struck me that the periodisation of the availability of old music precisely corresponds with John Ellis’ 3 stages of television; an age of scarcity, an age of availability (the video/ CD), then a digital age of plenty (internet).

  34. 34
    Tom on 3 Feb 2010 #

    #33 Music’s actually a lot further along – while there’s a hell of a lot of old digitised TV out there to get the more obscure stuff still requires a good deal more legwork than music.

  35. 35
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 3 Feb 2010 #

    seventh seal watch: tich and quackers on bit-torrent

  36. 36
    thefatgit on 3 Feb 2010 #

    @33 Billy, is there a specific year when broadcasters’*archived recorded material switched to video tape? And was cellulose film used before then?

  37. 37
    Billy Smart on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Because old videotape was so expensive, BBC programmes were transferred to 16mm telecine recordings until the early 1970s, which also meant that copies could be reproduced and distributed.

    I’m not sure when precisely in the 1970s the practice changes, but I do know that the BBC started systematically recording and keeping all programmes on videotape in the autumn of 1977.

    Each ITV company had its own archiving policy (ATV’s seeming to be “throw it away!”)

  38. 38
    wichita lineman on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Re 31: Good call. 1975 was a stinker of a year, though Young Girl and Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross had both gone Top 10 again in ’74. 1975 also saw Je T’Aime and The Israelites back in the chart, as if there was some weird 1969 mini-revival. One of the Top 40’s more obscure mysteries.

    The doo wop revival, which was represented on Popular by Blue Moon, similarly saw oldies re-chart in the fallow period of 1960/61.

  39. 39
    Elsa on 3 Feb 2010 #

    In the States a lot of TV programs (as we call them) from the ’60s or earlier were never preserved at all on any medium and are lost. If they were on videotape originally the tapes were often erased to be used for new programming. Infamously, the 1968 appearance of Lennon & McCartney on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show when they were announcing the formation of Apple was not saved by the network.. the only version of it I’ve seen is a grainy film that some TV watcher made by pointing a portable camera at his TV screen.

  40. 40
    AndyPandy on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Oran ‘Juice’ Jones “The Rain” and the Dramatics “In the Rain” are completely different songs both tune and lyrics-wise – the former sort of a revenge song the latter the singer describing walking in the rain to hide his tears.

    Parts of The Dramatics distinctive instrumentation has been sampled in on more than 1 occasion by hardcore and techno tracks.

    It’s debatable whether this could be described as “soul” as we came to know it and by my time may have been played at a rock n roll/doowop club but definitely not a soul club.
    Having said that “I Get the Sweetest Feeling” was one of the rare pre-1970s hits that you would hear at soul/funk clubs/weekenders while that scene still existed pre-1988.

  41. 41
    LondonLee on 3 Feb 2010 #

    The version of ‘Grapevine’ in the Nick Kamen 501s ad was a sound-a-like cover version because, I think, record companies weren’t wise to the marketing potential and didn’t want their music cheapened by use in a commercial. They soon got wise obviously and ad agencies started to employ people to dig up oldies to use. I had two mates working at Saatchi & Saatchi at the time who were working on a Burger King campaign (think it was) and they came round my flat one night to dig through my soul records to see if any might be suitable. They ended up choosing “Me and Baby Brother” by War, but I assume the client didn’t go for it otherwise we might have been talking about that record at some point.

    I hated this video back then, thought it turned Jackie Wilson into a novelty act though admitedly his operatic vocal style could get a tad cartoony at times. A lot of fun but I prefer him being more soulful like ‘I Get The Sweetest Feeling” and it’s thumping b-side “Soul Galore”

  42. 42
    Elsa on 3 Feb 2010 #

    I wonder when was the last time a man or woman on the street used the word “reet.” That bit of slang is deader than the Lindy Hop.

  43. 43
    Matthew K on 3 Feb 2010 #

    #23 – Rory, I can assure you this song and its clay video were most definitely on the air and in my brain back in 1987 Tasmania. Probably as a result I can admire it for its pop brilliance and great performance, but I feel nothing but irritation when I hear it. I tend to prefer soulless music to soul any day.

  44. 44
    rosie on 3 Feb 2010 #

    Elsa @ 42: Beside the Tyne they say ‘reet’ all the time. Also, it is a few years since I attended jive nights regularly but I believe there is a still a dedicated band of lindyhoppers dedicated to getting in the way of their deadly rivals the lerocers!

  45. 45
    Snif on 4 Feb 2010 #

    #23 and #43 – It also got plenty of airplay (and TV play on local music shows) in Adelaide!

    I seem to recall reading/hearing somewhere that Nina Simone absolutely hated the Aardman film clip for “My Baby Just Cares For Me.”

  46. 46
    Elsa on 4 Feb 2010 #

    Rosie: Crazy, man, crazy. How did Jackie end up using a bit of Geordie slang?

  47. 47
    wichita lineman on 4 Feb 2010 #

    Re 40. Atmospherically? Both got sound effects, dead moody, about being in the rain, y’know…

  48. 48
    Rory on 4 Feb 2010 #

    #43 – really? I’m amazed. Genuinely hadn’t heard it before, even though I was still keeping an eye and an ear out in ’87. Now if it had been ’89, I wouldn’t have had a clue…

    So did it chart? I can’t find any stats online, and my old pile of Australian Music Report charts is long gone.

  49. 49
    Gavin Wright on 4 Feb 2010 #

    Totally agree with #20 and #21 about the video – I saw it recently on one of those ‘Every Number One of the Eighties’ music channel countdowns and found it incredibly unpleasant. I’d agree with Tom’s mark for the song itself – it’s a great vocal, even if I prefer the other big Jackie Wilson hits.

    As for the reissues thing, it was more or less standard practice by the time I’d started paying attention to the charts – in fact I remember when Madness had a hit with a re-released ‘It Must Be Love’ in 1992 I was confused that there didn’t appear to be a proper *reason* for it. Of course there was the then-new Divine Madness hits compilation (my first ever album as it happens) but I just assumed there must be an advert or film or *something* to explain the timing – of course it turned out to be the Madstock-era reunion but the idea of bands splitting up and reforming was alien to me at that point…

  50. 50
    thefatgit on 4 Feb 2010 #

    “Reet” being Geordie for “right” is also listed on Babynames.com as the greek name for “Pearl” (and there’s me thinking it was short for Rita) who knew? I’m willing to guess that there are obselete meanings from the ’40s/’50s that we have no knowledge of (unless someone can prove otherwise).

  51. 51
    Erithian on 4 Feb 2010 #

    For this and a lot of questions from my youth I turn to the back issues of Mad magazine. At a point in the early 70s when Howard Hughes was believed to be on the point of emerging from his reclusive existence, “Mad” carried a feature titled “Inside Howard Hughes’s Wallet” which purported to show the documents he’d collected prior to coming back into the public eye. The gag was that his world-view was stuck in the 40s – so for instance he wanted to do a TV interview with Milton Berle on the Texaco Star Theatre because he’d never heard of Johnny Carson. And in one letter to a friend he said he was looking forward to hitting New York because he had “a zoot suit with a reet pleat and a drape shape that’ll knock the bobbysox offa them!” So that’s what the word “reet” signified to me when I first heard this song sometime in the 70s – something vaguely affirmatory and definitely cool, albeit stuck in a time-warp.

    As a record, yes I enjoyed it, if not as much as “I Get The Sweetest Feeling”, it was certainly fun. The video I didn’t go overboard for – yes it was fun too, but detracted slightly from the record as being somebody else’s interpretation of it. But, risking opening a can of worms here, is it really racist? Any claymation/Aardman-type animation is going to involve a degree of caricature, and if you’re caricaturing someone you have to focus on their distinguishing features. If you’re a political cartoonist, it’s almost racist *not* to lampoon Obama now and again, and if you do so you have to exaggerate facial features the way you would with Gordon Brown. With Jackie Wilson, it’s a portrayal of an individual black man rather than a minstrel “type”, and surely, too, it’s showing affection rather than ridicule.

  52. 52
    Rory on 4 Feb 2010 #

    Aha: its impact in Oz was regional, and it didn’t do well in Sydney, which suggests it wouldn’t have charted highly overall. #42 Sydney, #11 Melbourne, #17 Brisbane, #1 Adelaide, #29 Perth. No idea about Hobart, but that at least explains your memory of it, Snif.

  53. 53
    MikeMCSG on 5 Feb 2010 #

    #22 wl – Alison Moyet was/is not a pre-punk oldster. Her first record was Yazoo’s Only You in 1982 a synthpop classic. It’s a shame she sullied her reputation with those awful supper club covers when she went solo.

  54. 54
    wichita lineman on 5 Feb 2010 #

    I was thinking of her as part of the Live Aid era establishment, most safe and dull. I love the Yazoo stuff but, boy, did she become an oldster before her time. Quite a lot of warmth upthread for Is This Love, mind you! Still sounds like a 5th rate Cher album track to me, with the most unnecessarily loud snare in all pop history.

  55. 55
    abaffledrepublic on 5 Feb 2010 #

    Am I the only one here who can’t stand this record? I don’t know whether it’s the OTT vocals, the stupid naff horns that echo them or the overall feeling of enforced jollity that probably made it a big hit at Christmas parties. Whatever, I hated it at the time and still hate it now. The video gave me the creeps as well.

    Much much better just around the corner though, and totally agree with all those praising the Oran Juice Jones tune, it’s absolute class.

  56. 56
    anto on 5 Feb 2010 #

    Re :55 I wouldn’t say I can’t stand it but I don’t especially rate it.
    I didn’t realise it was so well thought of. I assumed even Jackie Wilson fans considered it a bit lightweight.

  57. 57
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Feb 2010 #

    But of course Wilson was a Geordie! You’ve all heard of “Wor Jackie”, haven’t you?

  58. 58
    vinylscot on 4 Mar 2010 #

    Sorry to come to this one so late – has anyone else heard really strong echoes of this record in Paolo Nutini’s recent “Pencil Full Of Lead” ditty?

  59. 59
    hectorthebat on 23 Jan 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 273
    Greil Marcus (USA) – STRANDED: “Treasure Island” Singles (1979)
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    Shredding Paper (USA) – The 50 Greatest Singles Ever (2002) 11
    NME (UK) – The 100 Best Songs of the 1950s (2012) 80
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 866
    Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) – 50th Anniversary of Rock (2004)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009

  60. 60
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    I’ll go with 8/10 for Jackie. Great fun in my view.

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