Feb 11


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#653, 3rd November 1990

The charts have always moonlighted as a marketing department for Hollywood but sometimes in the early 90s it seemed that was their primary role. A shrinking pop audience was no match for the commercial wallop of blockbuster cinema, so soundtrack hits could boss the Top 40 for weeks or months on end. Most, obviously, were a great deal worse than this but in 1990 “Unchained Melody” seemed very much part of the problem. Add the song’s unfortunate post-Ghost tendency to hit big no matter which muppet got their hands on it, and you’ll understand why it took me a long time to warm to this. Even now it feels like a fragile truce: all it would take is one flick of Cowell’s little finger and I’d be back cursing it again.

Even if it never gets a fifth turn at number one, “Unchained Melody” has an eternal top-table membership in the pantheon of popular love songs, and like many a great love song it’s absolutely soaked in agony, lust and paranoia. Just like “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”, “Unchained Melody” shows how Phil Spector could use sound to dramatise and intensify the feeling in a song. In “Loving Feeling” he turned a break up into Armageddon, in “Unchained” the stately throb of his arrangement underpins all the frustration and fear in Bobby Hatfield’s reading of the song’s killer lines. “And time goes by so slowly / And time can do so much / Are you still mine?”

Spector also knows when to get out of the way. This is one of the great solo vocals, the pop equivalent of a long tracking shot, holding the focus unflinchingly on Hatfield’s pain even as he seems to crack with the stess of it. Everything you need know about the song is in that thrilling, desolate moment at the end of the song’s first section where “still mine” falters and slides into “I need”, the “I” breaking up as it falls. After that, the inevitable crescendos and crashes don’t take anything away from the record, but they can’t add to it either.

The song’s genius – in this version especially – is also in how it freely mingles the emotional and physical pain of separation. “Oh my love, my darling / I’ve hungered for your touch”: singing this Hatfield sounds contemplative and chaste at first, but then a sudden emphasis on “hungered” and the sharp line-ending of “touch” give the lie to that. In its own way this is as tensely carnal a record as its ’65 contemporary, “Satisfaction”, and you don’t need a potter’s wheel to feel that side to it.



  1. 1
    Tom on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Actually I might not need Cowell’s intervention to tip the balance against it.

  2. 2
    enitharmon on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Out of its turn it may be, but of the many versions of this song this remains the definitive interpretation for me (of course it dates very much from my pop days so naturally I’m biased, but it’s refreshing to see it here amongst so much that goes way over my head).

    I’ve still not managed to track down a DVD of the film, if such a DVD exists. I gather it’s not exactly a classic but it’s no turkey either.

    (No, I don’t mean Ghost, that poor person’s Truly Madly Deeply, either.)

  3. 3
    Mark G on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Ooh! in early.

    Reserving space.

    Or, I would if I had much to say this time around about it.

    Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers version. Nope, done that one already.

    OK, how about: Is there a video of the two RBros performing this, where Bobby Hatfield’s giving it plenty, and the other dude stands next to him and just nods appreciatively?

  4. 4
    Andrew Hickey on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Of course, there’s the question as to whether this *was* a Spector production at all. It was originally intended as an album track, and Spector never bothered producing those, being a singles-only person with very rare exceptions. Bill Medley insists to this day that he produced the track and Spector just stuck his name on the credits when he realised its commercial potential.
    I asked Carol Kaye, the bass player on the session, if she remembered who produced it, and she said it was Spector, but Kaye is notorious as a fantasist and liar, so who knows? It certainly doesn’t *sound* like a Spector production – but then Spector’s ‘sound’ was really more Jack Nitzsche’s anyway, so if it was using another arranger…

  5. 5
    punctum on 7 Feb 2011 #

    If we’re talking about fusion between music and film, then no one fused as firmly or as transcendently in 1990 as David Lynch. In the late darkness of that year Twin Peaks premiered on BBC2, and although it quickly became clear that the series would have done well to have stuck to Lynch’s original concept of a seven-part serial, its vision transfixed with such abundant and focused intensity that it was easy to excuse the multiple holes in the central plot. In particular, Ray Wise’s Leland Palmer demonstrated such a minutely detailed and acute depiction of post-bereavement trauma in extremis that you almost regretted his having to be the killer, or worse, bringing in a shaggy dog of a demon to represent the evil in him. The backwards dream sequences were sublime and the opening avalanche of communal grief was so painful that you were suitably confused as to whether this was genuine emotion or high-flown satire.

    Floating Into The Night, the first album Julee Cruise made with Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, was one of 1990’s best; a Mondrian-meets-Rothko portrait of the haunted emptiness of pre-Beatles ’60s teenpop balladry (“Sealed With A Kiss” and, indeed, “Blue Velvet” – Bobby Vinton’s original recording of the latter was reissued in 1990 and, partly due to a Nivea cream commercial and partly due to momentary Twin Peaks-inspired Lynchmania, made number two that autumn), its bar lines and tear stains stretched out to form blurred horizons, coupled with post-4AD misty danger. Critically and commercially the record was cancelled out somewhat by Badalamenti’s own, huge-selling Music From Twin Peaks soundtrack album, on which several of the Cruise tracks reappear in subtly altered form, but the music’s microscopic weeping retained its quiet power – the serene gore of the first season’s closing episode would have been unbearable to watch had Cruise not been present to counterpart the violence with her knowing, ambient peace. It was hard to believe that her normal specialty was Janis Joplin-type bluesy shouts.

    Similarly, while Wild At Heart veered perilously close to an Airplane!-style Lynch parody, its great moments owe themselves entirely to the skilful use of music – in particular, in one scene, where Sailor and Lula are driving down an open highway, surrounded by fields of corn, in the late afternoon, and Sailor is frantically turning his radio dial to find some music but can only receive news bulletins of death, murder, robbery, war, bloodshed and anguish. Eventually he finds the resonant post-metal tones of Rammstein, whoops a loud whoop of joy as he and Lula get out of the car, pogo around madly to the riff and finally embrace, passionately and close to tears. Music can both save and justify lives. Elsewhere, at night, on the run, they career in near-total darkness down an unlit, narrow strip of road as the placid ghostliness of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” – Edward Hopper sings the Shadows – peals out of the sky like remorseful leaves of lavender.

    Both “Wicked Game” and Julee Cruise’s “Falling” were deserved top ten hits as 1990 crawled to its regretful close, Cruise’s TOTP performance in particular bringing new meaning to the term “stasis.” But the use of the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” in the film Ghost is more problematic, not to mention the film’s own cavalier attitude to death and afterlife. Ghost, as befits its title, is nothing really; a clumsy broth of yuppie romance, supernatural whodunnit and screwball comedy which would have been, in an entirely different sense from Twin Peaks, unwatchable without Whoopi Goldberg’s dynamo of a performance. Swayze quickly and wisely realises that the film is not worth taking seriously and pitches his acting accordingly (whether Dirty Dancing or Donnie Darko, he was always a dopey, amiable big lug and nobody’s idea of a yuppie) – but Demi Moore gives a harsh, unsmiling portrayal so unforgivingly and blankly resentful that it unbalances the fluffy concept of the film entirely; even at the potter’s wheel, she acts as though already bereaved.

    “Unchained Melody,” of course, is used in that famous scene, and thereafter throughout the film as a leitmotif of – what? Everlasting love? The long and loveless life which Moore will be obliged to live before she sees Swayze again? Being “artistic” yuppies, of course, they have their own custom-built home jukebox (see also Pacino’s unlikely alphabetised library of 45s in Sea Of Love) with non-obvious golden oldies; although the Righteous Brothers recording was a reasonably big hit in both the States and Britain on its original 1966 release, it never really achieved oldies radio rotation status. On our way back from the cinema after seeing Ghost we stopped off at the old Tower Records in Piccadilly. Thumbing through their singles section – for yes, once upon a time there were sections for 45 rpm seven-inch singles in record shops – we found one copy of “Unchained Melody” on the Old Gold label, looked at each other and knew this was going to be number one forever.

    “Unchained Melody,” with its panorama of quivering yet noble expectation of long-distance spiritual reunion (and subtle carnal reunion – “Lonely rivers flow to the sea” etc.), is a song which more than most depends on the performance that it is given. The 1955 spring charts were crammed to bursting with different recordings of the song – Jimmy Young, who had the number one, sings it stoutly from a Two-Way Family Favourites perspective; the soldier serving abroad, the war memories still bitingly fresh. Al Hibbler’s reading (USA #1, UK #2) was the pick, his baritone’s tingling sensuality immediately picking up on the song’s real subtext. The Goons’ recording was perhaps far more indicative of war damage than the staunch Jimmy Young; here Milligan and Sellers are ageing buskers, a two-man band atonally bashing out what they think is the song, somewhere in the forlorn pavements of pre-hip Shoreditch High Street, trying and miserably failing to keep up with the times (“Swing them traps!”) but always falling back into the past (they end up singing the 1928 music hall ditty “I Played Me Ukulele As The Ship Went Down”) with resolutely out-of-tune jangling piano, Last Post trumpet and drumming angular enough to give Tony Oxley a headache.

    The greatest straight recording, however, was that of Roy Hamilton, a black singer with an immense technical and emotional vocal range to whom even Elvis looked up but who failed to see his fortieth birthday, and his “Unchained Melody” was the template for the Righteous Brothers’ recording. It was one of many standards which the Brothers and Spector revisited and interpreted in their peak period (see also “Ebb Tide,” “White Cliffs Of Dover,” “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons” etc.) and although their “Unchained” doesn’t quite equal the near-unholy climactic power of “Ebb Tide” in particular, it is nevertheless a fine record due to Jack Nitzsche’s typically regal arrangement, Spector’s gulley-vaulting production and an uncanny vocal from Bobby Hatfield – although credited to the duo, “Unchained” (as with “Ebb Tide”) is a solo Hatfield performance; but then again, at least for its first two verses, Bill Medley has “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” pretty much to himself – with its apparent Aaron Neville influence (his first “I” in “I need your love” spinning out to eight short syllables followed by one, yearning long syllable), his low bow to God on the “God” of the first “God speed your love,” and his towering falsetto of “need” following a more frantic, four-syllable “I” in the final verse. It is as though without imminent spiritual and physical contact, he will crumble.

    Fittingly the reissued “Unchained” featured on its B-side the Righteous Brothers’ greatest recording, “(You’re My) Soul And Inspiration,” produced by Medley rather than Spector and a performance of unfeasibly, near-inhuman candid and volcanic intensity which makes “Lovin’ Feelin'” (which it actually outsold in America) seem like “Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat” in comparison. But this naked soul far outdoes its misuse in a polite, yea-saying piece of family entertainment like Ghost. The latter promises eventual resolution and eternal life, as tawdry and transient as Swayze’s ghastly grin at the end, whereas records like “Unchained Melody” and “Soul And Inspiration” take titanic hammers to the wall of death and try to demolish it forever. “Unchained Melody” became 1990’s best-selling single, but perhaps for the wrong reasons – and the two “interpretations” of the song which Popular has yet to consider would seem to confirm this. I await Lynch’s use of the Righteous Brothers with no small degree of awe.

  6. 6
    Tom on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #4 interesting! I actually edited an “untypically” out of the “knows when to get out of the way” comment – so it’s quite possible I’ve given him far too much credit here.

  7. 7
    Mark G on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #4, ouch! If she was such a fantasist and liar, she’d have told you it was *her* that produced it!

    #8 – OK, so what you are saying is that she maybe didnt play bass on this either, so wouldn’t know who produced it? Or that she’s got a lousy memory?

    #9 Hey, I can answer things backwards! Cool.

  8. 8
    Andrew Hickey on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Mark – google ‘Carol Kaye James Jamerson’ and make up your own mind…

  9. 9
    punctum on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Assertions such as “(Carol) Kaye is notorious as a fantasist and liar” should either be backed up with tangible evidence or left to the dark world of deprived conspiracy theorists or internet messageboard inadequates (which a quick Google search confirms to be the case).

  10. 10
    Billy Smart on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #2 Watch: A week of Gazza & Lindisfarne’s ‘Fog On The Tyne (Revisited)’ followed by a week for Kim Appleby’s ‘Don’t Worry’ – another bereavement record, though you couldn’t call it spectral in any way.

  11. 11
    Andrew Hickey on 7 Feb 2011 #

    punctum – without wanting to derail this, here#s tangible evidence http://www.bassland.net/bh1.htm . An affidavit signed by Brian Holland (writer/producer of the tracks) that James Jamerson played on ten songs, for which he has *always* been credited, and about which nobody other than Kaye has ever said anyone else played the bass part. Kaye to this day insists, despite all documentary evidence (and despite it not even sounding like her playing – Jamerson played with his fingers, she plays with a pick) that she played on those records. Nobody else has *ever* backed her up on this, she has provided *no* evidence at all, and all the evidence (tape boxes with recording sessions listed at the time, musicians union contracts for the dates in question) goes against her.
    If anyone’s a conspiracy theorist, it’s Kaye, because she’s alleging that the Funk Brothers, all Motown historians, several of her LA session colleagues, Stevie Wonder, Holland, Dozier and Holland, Smokey Robinson and more are all deliberately lying about her involvement in a lot of hit records and giving credit to someone else.

  12. 12
    swanstep on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Great record of a deserved, standard song – 8 or 9 easy, although I dare say that when you *first* hear it, it’s so giddy-making that absolute top marks would probably be consensus if everyone were asked to vote in their first flush stage!

    To Punctum’s ‘spooky retro’ pantheon that was big at the time I’d add Cowboy Junkies’ Trinity Sessions versions of Sweet Jane and Blue Moon. Have those songs too been Cowellized?

    As for the film, I think it may be a little better than people here are giving it credit for. It’s harder to make an efficient weepy thriller than it looks (just as it’s harder to write an Unchained melody than it looks) – Hollywood would remake Ghost every year if it could. The script for Ghost was by one Bruce Joel Rubin, who had a very good 1990. He’d shopped two death-centered scripts around Hollywood for a number of years before suddenly getting hot and having both produced almost at the same time. His second script was for Jacob’s Ladder which came out in November 1990 in the US and was genuinely creepy and upsetting (Jacob’s Ladder has been a big influence on horror video games, and anticipated the look of stuff like Se7en, but otherwise seems to have been largely forgotten), and with Gulf War I brewing its sub-themes about cover-ups of defense dept experimentation on soldiers struck a bit close to home in the US too.

  13. 13
    David Belbin on 7 Feb 2011 #

    I first heard this song on a Phil Spector’s greatest hits comp around 1973. It didn’t entirely belong, perhaps for the reasons Andrew gives at number 4, but also because it felt like a much older song. I fell in love with it, though, ten years later, when Joni Mitchell released her cover as a medley with an original song ‘Chinese Cafe’, by far the stand-out track on the ‘Wild Things Run Fast’ album. It is one of Joni’s very best later period songs, the second (after ‘Little Green’ on ‘Blue’) to refer to the child she gave away for adoption(and was not reunited with until quite recently. Her use of ‘Unchained Melody’ to evoke the romanticism of youth is sublime, and this remains my favourite version.

  14. 14
    Tom on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Things I never knew before I looked on Wikipedia number one million: it’s called Unchained Melody because – duh – it’s from a fillum called Unchained. Kind of makes it less poetic a title TBH.

  15. 15
    lonepilgrim on 7 Feb 2011 #

    somehow, given it’s intimations of eternity in both lyric and mood, it seems appropriate that this song should appear at number 1 in 1990 like Brigadoon. As Marcello has indicated it was a haunted year for popular culture.
    It somehow seems an appropriate soundtrack for the political drama that was unfolding at the time with the Conservative party conspiring to dispatch Margaret Thatcher – although her departure coincided with the next number 1. I can imagine her listening to this on a scratchy gramophone shrouded in cobwebs like Miss Haversham. Another ghost that continues to haunt us.

  16. 16
    lonepilgrim on 7 Feb 2011 #

    …oh, and another vote for Joni Mitchell’s use of the song in ‘Chinese Cafe’

  17. 17
    Mark G on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #14, damn, I was going to put that in at #3, but then I thought “ach, they all know this”…

  18. 18

    Are they even ghosts that don’t continue to haunt?

    (= “Where does my headache go when it goes away?” I guess)

  19. 19
    enitharmon on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Well yes, Unchained was the film I was referring to at #2. I’m pretty sure I also mentioned it ages ago, in the entry for Jimmy Young’s version.

    (Although now that I look I think that must have been in a Haloscan comment, or even the system in use before Haloscan.)

  20. 20
    MikeMCSG on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Oh dear. dog in the manger time again. I don’t like the song in any of its versions I think because it seems to be promising a big “You’ll Never Walk Alone” type chorus and then doesn’t deliver it. And I hate Hatfield’s yowling vocal; maybe I’m just uncomfortable with bare-wired emoting.

    I did like “Twin Peaks” while agreeing with DJP that it outstayed its welcome. Surely the best-looking cast (M & F) ever assembled for a TV series.

  21. 21
    Tom on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #20 pretty sure everyone thinks TP went on too long – though even the weakest season 2 episodes were watchable and had ideas, even if they increasingly seemed like ideas’ for ideas’ sake. Loved the final episode, though.

  22. 22
    Mark G on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Well, I didn’t get into it until about halfway through, so I’m glad it ran for as long as it did.

    I’m sure everyone’s more pleased the latter series existed more than didn’t.

  23. 23
    MikeMCSG on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #21 “Loved the final episode, though”

    Hmmm. I thought it was OK. I liked the idea that Bob’s evil trumped that of Wyndham Earle who I thought was a bit superfluous to proceedings but again the curtains sequence went on too long.

    This must be a cue for DJP to compare and contrast wth the last episode of “The Prisoner” ?

  24. 24
    DietMondrian on 7 Feb 2011 #

    @12 – Jacob’s Ladder gives me the absolute flipping creeps. It’s a shame it’s so little regarded.

    @21 and others – agreed that Twin Peaks dragged on a bit, but I’d still rather watch one of its slow second season episodes than about 99 per cent of everything else that’s ever been on the telly.

    I can’t stand Unchained Melody, though. The little part of me that wants to destroy the passer by gets absolutely furious on hearing it.

  25. 25
    Mark G on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Well, that had a definite ending.

    The TP one was more an inconclusive conclusion…

  26. 26
    MikeMCSG on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Thinking back I seem to remember that in the last, execrable (I loved the programme as a whole) series of “Dallas” which was running (if that’s the right word) at this time there was a scene where Bobby and another character start dissing TP for no good reason. This must have been uncomfortable for his screenson who was in both series.

  27. 27
    Tom on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Was Bobby complaining they’d done all that freaky dream shit years ago?

  28. 28
    punctum on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #23: I believe Lynch originally wanted TP to be just a seven-part mini-series but ABC wanted a full season for syndication purposes. It was the same story with Lew Grade and The Prisoner, although I still think that the full 17-episode run of the latter has a cumulatively numbing power of its own, even the relatively boring episodes (e.g. the one with Derren Nesbitt as Number 2, who looks the spitting image of Joe 90 but doesn’t quite have the latter’s acting versatility).

  29. 29

    Yes, I seem to remember Lynch saying that they were scripting TP from ep to ep as if it was going to be cancelled forthwith, never knowing (or caring) how the original whodunnit played out — and their employees kept on asking for more, so they had to resolve more than they meant to. I always quite liked the backwards-soundtrack stuff — my sister had done some in her graduation film-school film, and we both got quite good at mimicking it to make each other giggle.

    I still have the whole lot on home-taped video, if the plastic hasn’t turned back to air and dust.

  30. 30
    MikeMCSG on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #27 I might not have the context absolutely correct but I think Bobby was rather creepily courting a much younger girl in the hope of extracting the whereabouts of her mother ( a terrorist who’d been responsible for the death of his new wife on their honeymoon), and he appeared on her campus. A film student friend of hers came up and started pitching his idea for a series based on a lady who talked to a log and Bobby laughingly put him down.

    Funny that the very last episode of Dallas featured a demonic character and a parallel universe.

  31. 31

    their employERS I mean

  32. 32
    DietMondrian on 7 Feb 2011 #

    It seems wrong to me that Dallas and Twin Peaks could have been in production at the same time. The former seems so much of an earlier age, whereas Twin Peaks ushered in a new one.

  33. 33
    punctum on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Did it, though? There were a few subsequent series with the mannerisms of TP but no subversion beneath (Northern Exposure, anyone?).

  34. 34
    Tom on 7 Feb 2011 #

    I have a bad feeling that the era TP helped usher in – by its immediate success and then slow mainstream failure – is the era of ghettoised ‘cult TV’.

    Where’s PROFESSOR TV Billy Smart to drive a coach and horses through some of these arguments?

  35. 35

    Twin Peaks end broadcast mid-1991; The X-Files begins broadcast end 1993: the latter is certainly well in the former’s slipstream, but far more comforting than it was unsettling. (“The truth is out there” versus “The truth will make no imaginable sense to you”…)

  36. 36
    Mark G on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Kind of implies that there is a truth.

    The one that *you* are being protected from by Buffy.

  37. 37
    MikeMCSG on 7 Feb 2011 #

    # 32 Well as I said, that last series of Dallas was excrutiating; the cast were deserting in droves and yes it did seem well out of its time. BBC1 realised what a dog it was and put it into the Last Of The Summer Wine Sunday teatime slot.

  38. 38

    Actually my lovely beloved “Roswell High” may come closest, though that didn’t arrive till 1999. The episode where the Roswell crash museum is compared to the Ann Frank museum (while William Shatner no less opens the 50th anniversary festival* dedicated to the crash as backdrop) is some of the most jawdroppingly WTF TV I ever watched in kiddie-broadcast hours

    *(This festival — inc. Shatner’s presence — being an actual real event filmed in real time by the people making the series, to cut into the action…)

    Fair enough Mike, but one is Truth in the Asimov/Arthur C. Clarke sense — will seem like amazing magic but is explicable — and the other is Truth in the Lovecraftian sense, of screaming till your face falls off.

  39. 39

    “screaming till your ace falls off” is truth in the sylvester mccoy sense (typo since corrected)

  40. 40
    punctum on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Do we think there will be any magic realism or indeed Sylvester McCoy in the new Dallas series that is currently being put together?

  41. 41

    Soaps with ghosts are surprisingly common — I found this out ilx back in the day. Soaps with deliberately non-signifying conventions less so.

  42. 42
    wichita lineman on 7 Feb 2011 #

    Gosh, I’m late on this one. Bill Medley’s writing, producing and arranging chops are proven by this fabulous record , though I’m inclined to think Unchained Melody does sound like the work of Jack Nitszche.

    “I’ve hungered for your touch” is, I think, one of the greatest lines in all pop. Cowell cannot diminish it.

    Has anybody actually seen Unchained? Apparently it stars Elroy ‘Crazylegs’ Hirsch as a hungering convict.

  43. 43
    Kat but logged out innit on 7 Feb 2011 #

    #41 in 2004 there was no Hollyoaks character that was not a ghost! Then they paradoxically killed them all off…

  44. 44
    lonepilgrim on 7 Feb 2011 #

    I’m sure that I read that Lynch was pressurised by the studios to reveal ‘who killed Laura Palmer’ – when he would have preferred to keep it a mystery. Episode 1 of Series 2 is one of my favourites.

    more subversive still is ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with me’ which tellingly begins with a TV being smashed

  45. 45
    anto on 7 Feb 2011 #

    This ones moved into interesting digressions very early on –
    affadavits, David Lynch and the last days of Southfork.Unchained is the right word.
    It took me a while to really appreciate the song. Punctum made a smart point about it’s reputation having really grown in the 20 years since rather than the 20 years before this. It’s one example of a number one which was unequivally not for kids. I’ve never seen Ghost and at the time it felt a bit like Unchained Melody was being foisted upon us.
    Now I can hear the wonder of it. There is a touch of androgyny about Bobby Hatfields voice and the lyrics are ungendered so in that’s another way in.

  46. 46
    thefatgit on 7 Feb 2011 #

    The Righteous Brothers…the BLOODY RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS!

    At the time this reached #1, I was pleased that a record from the year of my birth had been embraced by a new generation, albeit they were influenced by the erotic juxtaposition of fingers and wet clay. And then…I thought little more about it. At this time, I was soaking up the techno and the new hip-hop influenced “ragga” stuff that David Rodigan was playing alongside dub and roots reggae.

    Fast-forward to 1996 and my wedding. The DJ at my reception played “Unchained Melody” as the First Dance record. The DJ was a work colleague, who did weddings and parties as a sideline. I got him on mates rates. “Unchained Melody” hadn’t been my choice as the 1st song I would dance to with my new bride. We had discussed a few choices between us and agreed that an uptempo or dancey song might get the party started. I don’t remember all the choices we submitted, but one that stuck out was Bryan Adams’ “Summer Of 69”. I submitted the list to him at work before the big day. Imagine my surprise, when we walked out to an empty dancefloor hand in hand, as the opening bars of “Unchained Melody” strike up from the speakers. My Bride looked at me quizzically. “Oh, this is so cheesy”. I flashed a pained look at the DJ. He responded with a broad grin and a shrug of his shoulders. So to all the family and friends present, this had somehow been interpreted as our song (just as well it hadn’t been the tainted bunnyable version).

    What struck me like a bolt of lightning, whilst reading Tom’s essay was his mention of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling”. At the point where our marriage was about to become a 1 in 3 statistic, I had heard this on Radio 2, and there it stayed in my head, after I learned the awful truth of my wife’s infidelity. A marriage parenthesised by The Righteous Brothers’ two most popular hits. In hindsight, however I prefer to remember my marriage to be parenthesised by Erik Satie; Gymnopedie #1 at the beginning, Gnossienne #1 at the end. No lyrics to wound, but wistful thoughts remain.

  47. 47
    DanielW on 8 Feb 2011 #

    Yes, Twin Peaks was excellent wasn’t it? It’s one of those TV shows/films that make you wish you could jump into the screen and cross some magical reality barrier and actually live there.

    The 16-year old me knew of the Righteous Brothers through “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'” which I loved the first time I heard it, despite going through an ignorant adolescent phase of hating anything more than a decade old. I had never heard of “Unchained Melody” until it’s re-release. It’s a fantastic song and Bobby Hatfield’s performance is superb, just a shame it’s been so brutally bunnyed….

  48. 48
    enitharmon on 8 Feb 2011 #

    Brutality to the song isn’t necessarily a leporine matter, Daniel, as an inspection of the Popular archive for 1955 will confirm.

  49. 49
    enitharmon on 8 Feb 2011 #

    lonepilgrim @ 15

    Can I pick you up on something? If the dates in the No 1s list are correct then it is indeed during the reign of this song at the top. On 22 November to be precise, and I have good reason to remember that date because I was in the US at the time, at mom-in-law’s house in upstate NY, and it was, yes, Thanksgiving Day! Never was Thanksgiving Day more apt as far as I was concerned. I went to bed the night before with the words of Peter Jennings ringing in my ears: “Tonight, British premier Margaret Thatcher is fighting for her political life”. And in the morning I heard the news of her resignation on an AOR radio station that didn’t normally carry news. I burst into a rendering of “Oh What A Beautiful Morning”, quite spontaneously.

    What were you doing when you heard?

  50. 50
    Tom on 8 Feb 2011 #

    #49 I was at home, my friend John was staying over for a few days and we were lazing about in my brother’s room playing on the Atari ST. Obviously we’d been following what was happening so it wasn’t a huge surprise when Mum called upstairs “Thatcher’s gone!” but it still was very obviously a Big Deal and we were very happy.

  51. 51

    I was watching it unfold on TV all day. In the evening my sister and I went to the Scala cinema to see “The Singing Ringing Tree”, a v.odd Czech (?) TV fairytale we had loved as kids. On the way home, B3cky nabbed an Evening Standard newspaper flyer — “Thatcher quits” — which was up on her wall for years, and possibly still is actually. I rang my former colleague C4th C4rr0ll in the US to tell her the excellent news, and started pitching a piece about the whole thing to the Village Voice, which ended up largely being about Goths and witchcraft and wasn’t run, for some reason.

  52. 52
    wichita lineman on 8 Feb 2011 #

    Quite a strong memory of this day. I was at home, I’d met a perky blonde at a club the night before, and we’d spent the day lounging in my flat. We went out and bought a bottle of champagne when we heard the news. We did not break into a chorus of Unchained Melody.

  53. 53
    Ed on 8 Feb 2011 #

    #14: I am unbelievably disappointed to discover that. I had always assumed it was one of those songs where the title described what it was, like ‘Acid Trax’ or ‘Ant Rap’ or ‘That Song About the Midway’ or ‘Only a Northern Song’. Or, indeed, ‘Song for Whoever’.

    I imagined North picking it out on the piano, or maybe humming it to himself, and – possibly slightly awe-struck by what he had just created – saying “That’s UNCHAINED, that is!”

    Which would have been entirely merited. As a demonstration of what can be achieved by sheer melodic loveliness, the arrangement of a line of notes, it is hard to think of anything that can top this.

    #13, #16: On Joni, again, I heard the tune first in ‘Chinese Cafe’, and I would endorse the earlier votes for its heart-rending beauty.

    There are some songs that not even Cowell can kill, and we will meet at least one of them, eventually. For me, this is another.

  54. 54
    will on 8 Feb 2011 #

    I was on the dole living in a dingy bedsit in Swansea and (somewhat appropriately) had just got back from signing on when my girlfriend greeted me with the news. I punched the air, we scraped together our meagre funds and went down the pub to celebrate. I had been waiting half my life to hear the news

  55. 55
    swanstep on 8 Feb 2011 #

    I remember seeing Morrissey on MTV news in the US being all contrarian and acting sorry that Thatchula was dead and expressing some quasi-aesthetic reservations about the manner of her going. Six months later, he last-minute cancelled an evening outdoors concert in Pittsburgh (which was my one real chance to catch him live) because of a late afternoon thunderstorm (which soon passed) and because the arena/bowl was (I shit you not) ‘too close to the railway tracks’. Grrrr.

  56. 56
    Mark M on 9 Feb 2011 #

    We went to the Warehouse (in Leeds) that night to celebrate – I think they did play Margaret On the Guillotine. I do, however, remember my friend Carl being presciently downbeat on the (correct) grounds that the medium-term effect would be that the Tories would win the next election.

  57. 57
    Ed on 9 Feb 2011 #

    *Realises everyone is talking about something else*

    I was working for the BBC, where everyone made a studious effort not to seem jubilant, although I would guess most of them were.

    The most opening rejoicing was over John Sargent looking silly in the “where’s the microphone?” incident. An intimation of his later fame as a national figure of fun.

  58. 58
    swanstep on 9 Feb 2011 #

    And in the Grauniad today:
    Meryl Streep *is* Thatchula

  59. 59
    Ed on 9 Feb 2011 #

    @57 Erm: “The most open rejoicing…”

  60. 60
    MikeMCSG on 9 Feb 2011 #

    I was at work and some guy down the office had a transistor. Although not being of a Left disposition even then, I couldn’t abide her philistinism and it felt like a liberation- more so than the Berlin Wall the year before. If you were a public sector worker you knew you were on her hitlist so it was a case of someone get her before she gets me.

  61. 61
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Feb 2011 #

    MC (#23) – I never noticed the Derren Nesbit/Joe 90 thing before in “It’s Your Funeral” but do you know something, you’re absolutely right. When Number Six bursts in to the Green Dome to try to tell Derren that the “little watch maker” was going to blow him up, Nesbit does indeed start nodding like a Gerry Anderson puppet. It’s hilarious. As indeed is the watch maker’s hammy over-acting and cod German accent: “MUSHT GET ON WIT MY VERK!! MUSHT GET ON WIT MY VERK!!” Annette Andre is still lovely, though, even though she has often stated that Mcgoohan treated her like shit throughout the whole shoot.

    The new “Dallas” will only work if it is played out as a comedy. Surely a part can be found for Texan born Peri Gilpin somewhere? If I had a say, I’d bring my personal favourite Daniela Denby-Ashe over to play a femme fatale as she did to such great horny effect in “Torchwood”. But that’s just the Swede being pervy and sad.

  62. 62
    punctum on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Nesbitt’s performance really does radiate the message: “Please do not give me any major acting work ever again.” Easily the worst Number 2 (the Number 2 of 2s, so to speak).

  63. 63

    “he told me that he had just completed filming on the new Ray Winstone thriller The Hot Potato

  64. 64
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Feb 2011 #

    # 62 – He was certainly the Number 2 one would have fancied one’s chances against above all the others. The next time I noticed Derren was in the eighties when he and some serious-looking woman were trying to clobber Tony Robinson in an episode of “Bergerac”. At least he’d stopped nodding by then.

  65. 65

    In Where Eagles Dare he needed R.Burton, C.Eastwood *and* M.Ure (in a tight ski sweater) to foil his dastardly plans. Effective villainy is not about eloquent monologues you know.

  66. 66
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Feb 2011 #

    That’s perfectly true, Mark. The other side of the same coin, though, is that effective villainy is surely compromised by acting performances which are not meant to be funny but are. I’m sure that Mr Nesbitt turned in many fine performances over a long career but his Number 2 was not his greatest hour in what was supposed to be a drama.

  67. 67
    wichita lineman on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Derren Nesbitt is the cinematic equivalent of Heinz.

    Mary Ure is the cinematic equivalent of Jackie de Shannon. Dear Mary Ure.

  68. 68

    “You laughed when I ordered red wine with fish, but who’s on his knees now?”

    (Not a good example of villainy actually, because he monologued instead of letting fly, but people finding you amusing = lulled into a false sense of security…)

    (I have been researching the history of the male blond bubblecut as a signifier of EVIL HAIR)

  69. 69

    wine/fish lines spoken by Mr Mary Ure, come to think of it!

  70. 70
    wichita lineman on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Here is ‘Evil Hair’ Nesbitt’s strongest link to Popular . Theme tune by The Scaffold. I have no memory of it – mind you, I’m sure my parents wouldn’t have encouraged me to watch a programme about graverobbing murderers when I was 7. Besides, it also starred Francoise Pascal and Yutte Stensgaard, the combination of which might have blown my tiny mind.

  71. 71

    “graverobbing murderers” = this business model seems flawed in terms of necessary workload

  72. 72
    MikeMCSG on 9 Feb 2011 #

    # 67 Don’t diss Heinz – he played on one of the greatest singles of any era and compared to some of the muppets of our own time (Jason Orange, Posh Spice) he was multi-talented.

  73. 73
    wichita lineman on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Well, iirc they started as graverobbers and ended up as murderers to lighten their workload. I haven’t bothered watching the show to see if Nesbitt is Burke or Hare or Mulligan or O’Hare.

    On a ridiculous tangent, I’m shocked to find next to to nothing on Millican and Nesbitt on the internet. Not a single clip on youtube. Erased from history! From memory, they looked about 65.

    Re 72: obv I have a ton of his 45s, beyond Telstar, and some of them are phenomenal (I’m Not A Bad Guy, Big Fat Spider, and world cup winner Questions I Can’t Answer) but may I suggest it wasn’t Eastleigh’s favourite son who was the magic ingredient on any of them?

  74. 74
    Erithian on 9 Feb 2011 #

    – and as recorded elsewhere on these pages, Heinz once had Dr Feelgood as his backing band!

  75. 75
    MikeMCSG on 9 Feb 2011 #

    # 73 Fair comment but those people were happy enough to work with him even when it was clear he wasn’t going to sustain his success.

  76. 76
    lonepilgrim on 9 Feb 2011 #

    re #49 I’m happy to be corrected Rosie – and in answer to your question: I celebrated by having a long first kiss with the woman who is now Mrs. Pilgrim.

  77. 77
    wichita lineman on 9 Feb 2011 #

    Re 75: I was only saying he was the Derren Nesbitt of pop, don’t think I was toooo harsh.

    I’d say Joe Meek treated him much like Phil Spector treated Ronnie Spector, though, so a large proportion of his singles are particularly strong when stacked against other 1963-66 RGM output. That extra bit of care being taken on each of them. And any singer – even Iain Gregory – could’ve made a good job of them.

    Re 76: that’s great!

  78. 78
    hardtogethits on 10 Feb 2011 #

    Back in the room. Whether to comment on the record, or its role as a chart topper? This seems to me the very opposite of the ballad that preceded it at the top. Unchained Melody was old, over-produced, lyrically stale, and on this version of the worn-out song, sung with those histrionic noodlings that many believe sound like heartfelt passion.

    Some have said that a great love song is like a hymn. This has many of the characteristics of a hymn – it has no pace and the melody is laboured; the words are timeless but do not reward great study, and they demand that the singer draws them out beyond their standard pronunciation and length (otherwise they won’t fit the melody); and, above all, just like a hymn, once it starts I realise it is going to end as soon as I would wish. “Time goes by so slowly” indeed. How could you sing that line anything but slowly if it were to retain its meaning? Saying it slowly and more than once does not make it pass any more quickly. Yet the same rules – rapidity of delivery being matched to concept being expressed – don’t apply when it comes to “Speed your love to me” – ok, that’s understandable, any song would struggle with that change in rhythm, but the singer is doomed to sound absurd. You can’t convey the need for hurry as slowly as that. And if you think I’m going on a bit, I started to type this at the “w” in “woah my darling” and he’s just about reached “darling” bit … wait… now.

    So why so popular? As punctum points out, if anyone had wanted to they could have bought it between 1984 and 1990, when it had been continuously available on the Old Gold label. But few did. It is absolutely endearing that people will seek out an original recording following the use of it in a film or an advert; I bet we have all done it. But when so many do it that it sends a familiar standard to no.1, it feels like we are being deprived of something that has a unique role to play in defining what was popular at the time – a contemporary number one.

    So if I were to be kind, I could label this ‘timeless’ and just say I want number ones to be ‘of their time’. And give it 2.

  79. 79
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Feb 2011 #

    # 70 – Yutte Stensgaard! Oh, Mumma! There’s an episode of, I believe, “Jason King”, where this uber-ravashing girl beats the crap out of Micheal “Ranji Ram” Bates when he is supposed to be guarding her for King. Following the coup de grace, Yutte leans over him and chides him as he passes out to a face-full of smiles, wavy blonde hair and other things. Pretty fabulous, I would say.

    # 73 – Millican and Nesbitt. I’m afraid that “Vaya Con Dios” is in the Swede’s collection, a legacy of my old man, long passed, who thought it was wonderful. As Lino said, they looked about 65, which says everything really. Didn’t they “come through the door of opportunity” or am I mistaken?

  80. 80
    Billy Smart on 10 Feb 2011 #

    I’m sorry that I’ve been out of circulation while all of this has been going on! (I’ve been preparing for an interview with one of the only ten actors to have appeared in both Doctor Who and Star Trek, cultishly enough.)

    I share Tom’s distaste for ghettoised cult TV. I’ve been doing some work on the mid-eighties recently and – to take two disparate examples – looking at Robin Of Sherwood and The Singing Detective, I was struck by how much both series expected of their audience, the one in expecting them to grasp concepts of mythology and medieval history, the other in interlacing three plots one of which is memory and the other of which is a fantasy. Yet there was no attempt to pitch or promote either at a cult audience, they were both made for a general viewership. Contrast with the recent BBC Robin Hood or Ashes To Ashes…

    It’s after my period, but I think that the reason for the change is for a variety of reasons, largely to do with financing and marketing; the rise of subscription channels and sales of videos then DVDs, etc. And possibly a generational shift – more likely to be impressed by self-referring ironic narrative, more sceptical about emotive depictions of character and Aristotelian notions of plot.

  81. 81
    Billy Smart on 10 Feb 2011 #

    No-one has yet mentioned Derren Nesbitt’s biggest role as Detective Inspector Jordan in the first two (1969-70) Thames series of Special Branch, i.e. before it was made by Euston films. In theory he’s a dishy undercover cop, but this is one of those sixties characterisations that you really have to imaginatively squint to accept 40 years on.

    The one moment where he really lives up to his star status is as the Mongol warlord Tegana in the 1964 Doctor Who story Marco Polo, though admittedly, I’m basing this assertion from off-air audio recordings and off-screen telesnaps, the actual episodes long since lost.

    According to Wikipedia “in 2008 he was writing a book on “biblical myths and falsehoods”” It also suggests a reason why people were reluctant to cast him after an incident in 1973.

  82. 82
    punctum on 10 Feb 2011 #

    “TV actor spanked ‘unfaithful’ wife with thong.”


  83. 83
    Jimmy the Swede on 10 Feb 2011 #

    As the aforementioned Jason King would say: “Fancy!”

    And he probably would have…

  84. 84
    wichita lineman on 10 Feb 2011 #

    … and he has such a kind face. Who’da thought it?

    Re 78: many of the earlier versions of the song (Roy Hamilton, Al Hibbler, Les Baxter) do double the pace of the lyric just ahead of “God speed your love to me”. Not that the scales will suddenly drop from your eyes or anything.

  85. 85
    Billy Hicks on 10 Feb 2011 #

    In my Grandma’s record collection – which spans my grandparents’ purchases in the 60s (a million Gilbert & Sullivan soundtracks), my older aunties in the 70s (Queen/Beatles/Mull of Kintyre) and my mum in the 80s (Pet Shop Boys/Erasure/New Order), there exists a ‘Best of the Righteous Brothers’ LP produced in 1990, likely to cash in on this. No one knows where it came from, not least my Grandma who famously has hated Unchained Melody for over half a century, and was somewhat horrified when it came back again at this time. It’s one of my family’s many mysteries, all I can guess is that it was a joke purchase one Christmas.

    I personally have always liked it, especially this version. My favourite is the live version that all the music channels play, where he gets gloriously carried away at the end with some breathtakingly high notes.

  86. 86
    Paulito on 11 Feb 2011 #

    Poor old Bobby Hatfield, who on his untimely demise was subjected to the indignity of one of the Sun’s most tasteless (though, admittedly, rather amusing) headlines: “You’ve Lost That Livin’ Feeling”.

    For me, perhaps the most poignant and powerful rendition of “Unchained Melody” is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXDUKDtOP9Q. At twilight’s last gleaming, a moment of genuine triumph.

  87. 87
    hardtogethits on 11 Feb 2011 #

    That’s a good spot #84, they do though, don’t they? Thanks for pointing me in that direction. It certainly makes me believe that Bobby Hatfield could have put a little more thought and a little less foghorn into his delivery. That said, I have listened to 10 full versions of the song (8 of them hits) and a further 20 for the bit about Speed Your Love To Me (it’s almost always around 70 seconds in) and I have finally heard one (only one mind) which suggests the singer sees this line, as I do, as an explosion of impatience. And of course, wouldn’t you know it, that version is not very good.

    Throughout this, I am glad I have got my headphones on. Otherwise I think I’d be heading for the tabloids. “Neighbours complained that Hardtogethits (41) had been playing various different versions of the song continuously for three days.”

  88. 88
    MikeMCSG on 11 Feb 2011 #

    #87 I know what you mean. I compile pop quizzes and occasionally do classic song rounds where I play snippets of 20 different versions of the same song. My wife always complains when I’m compiling them; I’m not going to do one on this because as said above I loathe the song.

  89. 89
    wichita lineman on 11 Feb 2011 #

    Re 86: That’s pretty unchained. I think it was recorded for a tv special, along the lines of Aloha From Hawaii – Col Parker really didn’t think much of Elvis (beyond being a cash cow) did he?

  90. 90
    vinylscot on 11 Feb 2011 #

    The Elvis version is a little OTT, is it not? I always wondered whether he was taking the p*ss with it a bit.

    The live version on the (Canadian) single thankfully featured a different, and better, performance from Elvis, but it was let down slightly by some VERY fake crowd noise (a pretty obvious loop at the end IIRC).

  91. 91
    vinylscot on 12 Feb 2011 #

    Doing a bit of f*rting about his morning, I came across the rather bizarre fact that the lyricist of this song, Hy Zaret, was also responsible for the sublime (and slightly less melo-dramatic) “Why Does The Sun Shine (The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas)”, as made famous by They Might Be Giants.

    If you don’t know it, listen to it, and see if you can spot any similarities!!

  92. 92
    Ed on 14 Feb 2011 #

    Inspired by @13, I went and listed again to ‘Wild Things Run Fast’, for the first time in about two and a half decades, and it’s great! “Chinese Cafe’ is indeed the best song, but the rest of it is charming, or striking, or beautiful, or all of those things at once.

    It is a record that really shouldn’t work. It has an 80s “modern rock” production that dates it instantly. It has lyrics about “we’re middle-class, we’re middle-aged”. It has fretless bass, and Frank Zappa’s drummer. It has that fake-tough guitar sound that sounds like the Cowardly Lion going “grrrrr!” You can practically hear the jacket sleeves being pushed up in the studio. In fact, I think Mitchell does have her sleeves rolled up on the cover, although I would need to see the vinyl version to be sure. It has an Elvis cover, and a song with lyrics taken from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, (Chapter 13, the famous bit that you get at weddings.)

    Yet for all that, it really does work, reconciling her jazz instincts with a pop aesthetic in ways that are fresh and often gorgeous. The only real flop is the Elvis cover, a ham-fisted take on ‘(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care’, but even that has a kind of awkward charm: she is making a fool of herself, and knows it, but like the song says, she doesn’t care.

    She was listening to The Police and Talking Heads at the time, apparently, and the album is both smarter and more appealing than a lot of what those bands were doing at the time, and certainly better than what they would go on to do.

    Now all the cool kids are listening to Hall & Oates and Toto, it is surely ripe for rediscovery.

  93. 93
    lonepilgrim on 14 Feb 2011 #

    re 92 – I must listen to ‘Wild Things Run Fast’ again. She toured on the back of the album and so I had a rare chance to see her play live in the mid-80s. Her reluctance to tour due to health reasons and a cussed nature have been one reason why her profile has waned a bit – although I have friends who have recently begun to explore her back catalogue.
    She featured on the Radio 1 equivalent of Desert Island Discs around the same time and she was understandably a little snarky about the fact that while her jazz stylings had received criticism from the likes of Rolling Stone magazine in the 70s, Sting’s use of jazz players a few years later had been praised to the sky by the same people. I remember her choosing ‘Nefertiti’ by the Miles Davis band and ‘Gaucho’ by Steely Dan among her musical choices.
    I really like the ‘Dog eat Dog’ album which has even more of an 80s production sheen thanks to the involvement of Thomas Dolby but which has quite a pleasantly sour quality to it – criticising both the religious right and some of the more utopian pronouncements from the Live Aid performers.

  94. 94
    David Belbin on 16 Feb 2011 #

    Good old Joni, always ahead of her time. I thought ‘Dog Eat Dog’ was a superior album to WTRF, indeed it was my favourite of 1985 (of course I made a list, still do). Never got to see her live but the recordings of the ’83 tour make it sound like a decent show, albeit the new material isn’t strong enough to let the setlists compete with the ’79 tour that produced ‘Shadows And Light’ – she always played ‘You Dream Flat Tyres’ and ‘You’re So Square’ neither of which I was keen on.

  95. 95
    Erithian on 21 Feb 2011 #

    Agree with Rosie (way back at #2) on the merits of “Truly Madly Deeply” (“I have a bunch of dead people watching videos in my living room!”), a film which means a lot to me and my other half and which I can’t watch without a packet of Kleenex. “Unchained Melody” is a fine, fine song but not so fine that it deserves to be number one in umpteen versions. But this is by far the best one I’ve heard.

    I think it was around this time that somebody on Comic Relief had the genius idea of “The Righteous Brothers featuring Postman Pat”, in which a younger, black-and-white version of Postman Pat is spliced into a clip of the RBs doing “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling”.

  96. 96
    punctum on 21 Feb 2011 #

    I’m afraid that Truly, Madly, Deeply makes me wish for NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST IN FIVE SECONDS but each to their own.

  97. 97
    pink champale on 22 Feb 2011 #

    Yeah, afraid I’m the same on ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ – THE HOPPING!!!!
    The most comprehensive case I’ve ever seen made for the wretchedness of TMD, including its massive inferiority to (the still pretty poor) ‘Ghost’, was by – unexpectedly – Ian Hislop.

  98. 98
    LondonLee on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Thank Christ I’m not the only one. Has there ever been a more annoying example of smug Hampstead luvvie-dom committed to film?

  99. 99
    swanstep on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Hmmm, it’s been a while since I saw TMD, but I remember it as being quite understated and reserved modulo its basic premise. I therefore wouldn’t have picked it as the sort of film that *could* provoke strong allergic reactions. Love Actually by way of contrast….

  100. 100
    punctum on 23 Feb 2011 #

    The first two minutes of Love, Actually make me wish for nuclear holocaust in 0.0000000000000000000005 seconds.

  101. 101
    Erithian on 23 Feb 2011 #

    I thought Juliet Stevenson in particular was excellent, but yes, each to their own. I’m certainly not in thrall to “Hampstead luvviedom” – couldn’t care for any of the characters in Four Weddings or Love Actually – but let’s just say that my attachment to TMD derives partly from the stage in our lives we were at when we watched it. It’s a deeply personal thing I wouldn’t want to discuss on here, and I’m sure Punctum recognises that feeling.

  102. 102
    enitharmon on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Anything is better than the torrent of smug Los Angeles luvviedom that plagues our cinemas.

  103. 103
    punctum on 23 Feb 2011 #

    My wife is from Los Angeles.

    Maybe a “Think Before You Post”/”Do You Really Want To Post This?” function would be useful.

    Or maybe just think, very carefully, before you post remarks which are likely to be offensive to others.

  104. 104
    Mark G on 23 Feb 2011 #

    He didn’t accuse her of making those movies though.

  105. 105
    LondonLee on 23 Feb 2011 #

    Juliet Stevenson was excellent, as was Rickman. But there was that scene in a restaurant or something which I swear involved mimes and people being oh so quirky… I’ve blocked the specifics out of my mind but Lord how I wanted to slap them all. I’d rather have Demi Moore making pots.

  106. 106
    enitharmon on 23 Feb 2011 #

    LondonLee @ 105

    It was the Orangery at Goldney Hall in Bristol. Much of TMD was filmed in and around Bristol even if purportedly set around Highgate, so ‘Clifton Luvviness’ might be more apropos. I never minded the mimes and the quirkiness, it lent a touch of magical realism as if a roomful of ghosts watching videos wasn’t enough. The mime/conjuror was a highly empathetic teacher of people with learning difficulties and I was very much touched by that.

    Besides, my personal nomination for “best film ever made”, Les Enfants du Paradis, involves a mime and lots of quirky people.

  107. 107
    hectorthebat on 19 Mar 2015 #

    Critic watch:

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1-1001
    Pitchfork (USA) – Top 200 Songs of the 60s (2006) 138
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 365
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 374
    Steve Sullivan (USA) – Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (2013) 601-700
    The Recording Academy Grammy Hall of Fame Albums and Songs (USA)
    Mojo (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles of All Time (1997) 53
    NME (UK) – The 100 Best Songs of the 1960s (2012) 61
    Neil McCormick, The Telegraph (UK) – The 100 Greatest Songs of All Time (2009) 4
    The Guardian (UK) – 1000 Songs Everyone Must Hear (2009)
    Rolling Stone (Germany) – The 500 Best Songs of All Time (2004) 416
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    STM Entertainment (Australia) – The 50 Best Songs Ever (2007) 20

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