Sep 06

AMEN CORNER – “(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice”

FT + Popular53 comments • 6,208 views

#266, 15th February 1969


Amen Corner flap dangerously on the boundary between dreamy and drippy, and then tip right over thanks to the washed out vocals of Andy Fairweather-Low, whose voice is a pale and smeary thing, a wimpy croak that leeches any real delight out of the song. The final straw is when the song wheezes to a halt halfway through, sacrificing what little energy it had. A waste of an attractive tune and a good hook.



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  1. 31
    Doctor Mod on 14 Sep 2006 #

    This made no impression stateside, but I’ve managed to hear it a number of times over the years. (For some reason, I have a persistent memory of seeing it performed on television by the Dave Clark Five–or some portion thereof–as a cover version and I know this MUST be WRONG, so I’m doubting my sanity at the moment . . . .)

    As to the Amen Corner version, of which I have verifiable evidence of its existence, I find that the trouble in discussing it as that it’s too insipid to love and too inoffensive to hate.

  2. 32
    intothefireuk on 14 Sep 2006 #

    Aren’t we still in the 60s – so here we have our protagonist being sent to Paradise & Heaven (admittedly though whilst still on Earth). Does this then qualify this record as an end of decade disc of impending doom ? Well not quite that’s a stretch. It sounds incredibly lazy from Lows’ vocals to the slurry brass sections and bereft of any real clout for a band purporting to be attached to the Mod movement (it was on Immediate as well). It is though a pleasant tune. Trivia fact : It was composed by an Italian songwriter and originally titled ‘Il Paradiso’. It was also covered by the Bay City Rollers & Aztec Camera.


  3. 33
    bramble on 14 Sep 2006 #

    Maybe the lyrics suffered from the translation from Italian but they always struck me as a bit odd. “If paradise is half as nice as the heaven that you take me to, who needs paradise, I’d rather have you”. This is tautology, or speaking the bleeding obvious. If the first thing is only half as nice as the second, of course you would prefer the second. It would make more sense if paradise was twice as nice.

  4. 34
    Marcello Carlin on 15 Sep 2006 #


  5. 35
    rosie on 15 Sep 2006 #

    If it’s true that comments on the old entries show up then it’s probably time for me to trawl through the back issues and wibble about them!

  6. 36
    rosie on 15 Sep 2006 #

    By the way, I liked this one and I liked Andy Fairweather-Low but like Marcello I think Wide-eyed and Legless worked so much better.

    And I’m glad to see P*nk Lord making the point I’ve been making before – this was the time the album started to become the significant medium in the record shops and the singles charts began to fill with what was recognisable even then as dross.

    The rise of the album also meant a significantly different style of music-buying too. Instead of going into the local record shop and asking for your 45 from the rack behind the counter, you could browse through the racks of LPs and listen to samples in the booths. This was also a social activity – hang around the record department of the Welwyn Stores for long enough on a Saturday morning and sooner or later all your friends would pass through, and you could discuss the merits of various albums with them.

  7. 37

    rosie, i believe welwyn stores is the centre of the universe — my mum shopped there as a kid in the early 50s, and i still have books of hers with the little welwyn stores label in the front cover! i remember going there as a tiny myself

  8. 38
    Tom on 15 Sep 2006 #

    Rosie don’t you think that the singles charts were always full of dross – as well as awesome stuff – though?

    Last night I was looking over the next 5 years or so and getting hugely excited about all the amazing records coming up (as well as less excited by all the terrible ones).

  9. 39
    rosie on 15 Sep 2006 #

    Pink Lord (I prefer this to Punk Lord, I think, and nothing else seems to make sense): Welwyn Stores became John Lewis Welwyn sometime in the 1970s and was never the same again.

    Tom: Yes, there was always dross in the charts and quite a lot of it got to the top. But it does seem to me that there was a much higher proportion of it round about the time we are at. Grapevine notwithstanding, of course. Maybe it was something about growing up though.

  10. 40
    Tom on 15 Sep 2006 #

    I think the chart-toppers from 68-70 were pretty erratic, there’s not much feeling of a direction or major trend happening (though Marcello’s comments on a “blacker” chart are very interesting) because the record labels didn’t have much of a singles market strategy I suppose. But I was surprised sitting down to write these entries how many of them I enjoy. And when glam comes along the charts get a lot of their energy back.

  11. 41
    Marcello Carlin on 15 Sep 2006 #

    Also don’t forget that the Motown/Stax-friendly pirates had gone, leaving all to the mercy of Radios 1 and 2 and their hands-in-ears-I-can’t-hear-you-Donald-Peers-is-king remit.

  12. 42
    Tim Hopkins on 15 Sep 2006 #

    Rosie, he’s actually called the PENK LORD S, as a result of having made an entire room in his flat into a massive shrine dedicated to Steve Penk.

  13. 43

    Today it is just a shrine — but one day soon and forever after it will be his TOMB!

    all hail penkankhamun MONARCH OF SEDGE AND BEAN

  14. 44
    rosie on 15 Sep 2006 #

    Whoops, my humble apogolies ;)

  15. 45
    pink champale on 18 Mar 2008 #

    Dale’s favourite ever record, he was saying a couple of weeks ago.

  16. 46
    Marcello Carlin on 19 Mar 2008 #

    I heard that as well.

    Still can’t get with this record – AFL’s strangulated voice just puts me off, and my overall impression is one of pub rock trying to don teenpop clothes.

  17. 47
    Margaret on 27 Apr 2008 #

    I would like to know who composed the lyrics. Does anyone know?

  18. 48
    Margaret on 27 Apr 2008 #

    Does anyone know who composed the original lyrics?

  19. 49
    DJ Punctum on 28 Apr 2008 #

    Lucio Battisti composed both the music and the original Italian lyrics; English lyrics by Jack Fishman.

  20. 50
    Matthew on 16 Jan 2009 #

    Predictably, I really like this, not a perfect pop song by any means but it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy and happy inside. I am actually liking 1969 so far, even if the greatest decade in the history of mankind is about to be over, and as Presuming Ed here has so consistently pointed out, we have failed to paint it black.

  21. 51
    rw on 2 Feb 2010 #

    Andy Fairweather-Low is still performing, and in many people’s opinion better now than he did then.

  22. 52
    lonepilgrim on 3 Jan 2017 #

    There was/is a part of Tooting in South London (where my grandparents lived) called Amen Corner and that was enough to make me interested when the band popped up on TOTP. I think I found AFL’s voice more curious than compelling then – and now I just find it irritating.

  23. 53
    Gareth Parker on 11 May 2021 #

    I take the point about AFL’s vocal stylings, but I still like this enough to stretch to an 8/10.

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