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MARC ALMOND WITH GENE PITNEY – “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart”

Popular89 comments • 6,540 views

#622, 28th January 1989

Reaction amongst friends at the time was a sort of bemused approval: it was a Good Thing for this kind of record to get to number one, but nobody really seemed to love it, and the Pitney/Almond team up was faintly baffling. Of course, that was the odd-couple appeal of it: a gentleman from some ancient past allied to a leathered perv from a more recent one. And even though I remembered “Tainted Love”, in the bright world of Kylie and Jason both pasts seemed equally lost, both sides of this revenant alliance surprising.

Twenty years later, “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart” has aged well, and seems to look forward rather than back – the cross-generational duet became a 90s fad, then a commonplace, and by the end of that decade we had Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews crooning at each other, and Jarvis Cocker writing for Tony Christie. Placed in that micro-continuum “Something” has aged rather well, mostly because neither singer acknowledges the curiosity value or leans too hard on their particular schtick. Almond, with a chance to be the old-style showman he’s always wanted to be, puts his back into it. Pitney glides witchily over the top with rather less audible effort but still steals the show.

So why Pitney anyway, and why this? Almond may have felt some sympathy for a man who’d began his prime decade as a new star only to not quite fit in. The Gene Pitney past feels exotic partly because it never really happened: he’s a wanderer from a parallel 60s, where rock’n’roll gave the pop establishment a shot in the arm then slipped into history. Or he might just have been attracted to Pitney’s voice, which could give corny material a sense of urgent dread – “24 Hours From Tulsa” being the obvious example, where the compulsion and mystery in the song is all down to Pitney’s delivery. As for the choice of song, Nick Cave had covered it before Almond took it on, identifying the Gothic streak in it which this version acknowledges and ripens. The strings do the heavy lifting, the intro cutting through whatever else was on 1989 playlists and the arrangement helping the two singers locate the exact point where kitsch bleeds into mystery.

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Comments

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  1. 76
    punctum on 13 Aug 2010 #

    #73: Can’t agree at all, I’m afraid; “Love Shack” is one of my all-time favourite number twos.

  2. 77
    Mark G on 13 Aug 2010 #

    I thought it was the Sugarcubes the first time I heard it. Compare it to “Luftgitar” if you want to see why…

    *edit* Ha that looks REALLY SILLY on the Popular page. I’m meaning “Love shack” not “Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart”

  3. 78
    Erithian on 8 Sep 2010 #

    Rory #62 – that list was produced by a friend of mine, Sharon Mawer, who tells me she was unable to add to the list after mid-2007 due to its being on a virgin.net website she was no longer able to access. However she’s now managed to post a fully updated list at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sharonmawer/UK%20number%20two%20singles.htm

    It would be remiss of me not to plug Sharon’s magnum opus on the album charts, which goes back as far as the closing months of World War II when the first US album chart was produced: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/sharonmawer/contents.html
    It’s more factual and less of a review project than Marcello’s own magnum opus “Then Play Long” (link in the column to the right, pop-pickers!), so I don’t think I’m treading on toes here…

  4. 79
    punctum on 10 Jan 2011 #

    Indeed, Ms Mawer’s work is almost beyond remarkable and has proved a fine and necessary fact-checking source for my own endeavours; it’s a real shame that The Official Charts Company pulled her data from their website following its revamp.

    No TPL toe-treading involved at all, since SM’s work is about The Facts whereas I use The Facts as a starting point.

  5. 80
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  6. 81
    Mark G on 3 Jan 2014 #

    Why?

  7. 82
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  8. 83
    DanH on 2 Feb 2014 #

    Curious how Pitney had dual lives in the U.K. and U.S. Charts, with not a lot of crossover (“24 Hours” and “I’m Gonna Be Strong” being the only two to make both Top 20’s). As said earlier, the U.S. tended towards the more upbeat Pitney. “She’s a Heartbreaker” was already mentioned, but there was also “(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance” (NOT the movie theme for the John Wayne movie for legal reasons) and “It Hurts to Be In Love.” The latter was a Neil Sedaka track with Pitney vocals, that the record company used instead of Sedaka’s vocals for some legalese reasons…and Sedaka was none too happy about it.

    This song’s a fine one though, too bad it didn’t register in the States. Especially since it kept M&M at #2 with one of my first songs I actively hated at age 5 (see Foreigner’s sole #1 as the other).

  9. 84
    Patrick Mexico on 8 Feb 2014 #

    There’s a complete playlist of number twos here, going up to the present day:

    http://open.spotify.com/user/1189234760/playlist/2YJJ1t2pviHm9impvC6OGy

  10. 85
    flahr on 30 Jun 2015 #

    What with my tastes being objectively perfect I don’t often find myself disagreeing with my past self; however, I don’t know what I think I was playing at attempting to have an opinion on this record before ever having fallen in love. This is the real thing: 9. “too much”, you (you! YOU!) callow fool.

  11. 86
    Lazarus on 30 Jun 2015 #

    It’s a little surprising that it hasn’t been mentioned before – unless I missed it – but Almond was telling anyone who’d listen from ’81 onwards that this was his favourite song; he was always going to have a stab at it sooner or later. And if he was a Pitney fan too, what better than to get the original performer to join him? He’s still releasing albums on a regular basis – no fewer than three last year, and ‘The Velvet Tree’ his 20th solo effort, in March 2015. Five star review, no less, from Record Collector magazine.

    #12 Natalie Cole duetting with Nat ‘King’ Cole, yes – that was ‘unforgettable’ all right, and not in a good way.

  12. 87
    Phil on 30 Jun 2015 #

    Sorry if this has been covered already, but this was far from being the first cross-generational collab – Sandie Shaw’s “Hand in Glove” came out in 1984, the gut-clenchingly wonderful (but sadly unbunnied) “WHIDTDT”* in 1987, and the Art of Noise & Tom Jones’s “Kiss” in 1988 (two years after the Age of Chance’s superior but sadly not chart-bound version).

    *You know how classical musicians are supposed to be able to get one or two notes beyond the top of their instrument’s range, and people in the know who book them for sessions will ask them if they could do that note? (That’s what I heard about the trumpet break on “Penny Lane”, anyway – I mean, I heard that that’s what Paul McCartney asked for, and that it’s something people do.) Well, that; Dusty’s usual warm, throaty voice**; and the second section she does on WHIDTDT. I’m actually tearing up just thinking about it.

    **Chesty, in terms of voice production, but that would sound wrong.

  13. 88
    Mark G on 1 Jul 2015 #

    Well, at this distance it probably doesn’t seem so, but pairing Bing with Frank on “Well, didja evah” was certainly a cross-generational meet-up.

  14. 89
    Chelovek na lune on 1 Jul 2015 #

    I’d go so far as to rate the PSB’s cross-generation colloborations, around this time, not only with Dusty, but with Liza-with-a-zee (not Lisa with an ess) – the album “Results” – as among their very finest work. (just) post-imperial phase pomp, even.

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