Sep 06

TOMMY ROE – “Dizzy”

FT + Popular26 comments • 2,932 views

#271, 7th June 1969


TOMMY ROE – “Dizzy”I’m not a huge fan of late 60s bubblegum in general – though I respect it as a root for a lot of stuff I do love – and “Dizzy” is a puny specimen at any rate. A rewrite of Roe’s earlier (and cuter) “Sweet Pea” with string arrangements, it tries hard to please but its big problem is the title, which it’s too polite and too slow to match: this isn’t dizzy infatuation, it’s a kindly aunt being gently rotated for a game of blind man’s buff. The sparseness of the arrangement doesn’t help: combined with the stately pace it creates a “My First Pop Song” feel, with every hook and beat nicely telegraphed and spelt out.



  1. 1
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 17 Sep 2006 #

    I’m not agreeing with you much here Tom. I love “Dizzy” and HATE “Sweet Pea”!!

  2. 2
    rosie on 17 Sep 2006 #

    Hey, I liked this! Not 9 or 10 liked but 7 liked!

    In the 1980s when the song resurfaced in an inferior version sung by somebody else (I forget who but somebody will remind me) I astonished the children of friends by being able to sing it word-for-word (but not necessarily note-for-note – the bird I sing like is a laryngitic raven). It never occurred to them that it had an earlier incarnation!

  3. 3
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 17 Sep 2006 #

    Vic Reeves did it!

  4. 4
    My name is Kenny on 17 Sep 2006 #

    My dad is a huge fan of Tommy Roe. I don’t really like “Sweet Pea” but it’s by far the pinnacle of this guy’s career, as all of his other ones hurt oh so bad. His voice is so thin, and the key changes so forced.

  5. 5
    Doctor Casino on 17 Sep 2006 #

    Ha, when I downloaded this I didn’t even realize this was the same chap who did “Sweet Pea,” which I love, or at least, loved when I was a kid. At least that one has a fun organ thing going on, I think. “Dizzy” is more like “Woozy,” I was hoping it would sound like Freddy Cannon and it’s more like the Archies with the wind taken out of their sails. Not a great one.

  6. 6
    Doctor Mod on 17 Sep 2006 #

    Slighty better than the Archies, I think–that doesn’t say much for it. It’s just one aspect of the general smarminess that overtook US pop at the end of the 60s–when the more interesting music was on LPs and got played on FM radio, where you’d never hear something like this. I suspect there was a lot more of this perpetrated in the US than in the UK, even though you got your share of it.

    As to this being “the pinnacle of this guy’s career,” Tommy Roe actually made a credible record, “Sheila,” back around 1963. (It was either a Buddy Holly cover or a Holly knockoff.) Then he vanished until he plunged head-first into the bubblegum vat with “Sweet Pea.” I’d say that “Sheila” was the best thing he ever did, his artistic–if not commercial–pinnacle of his career. At least it proved that he didn’t really have to resort to that nasal whine that permeates his later stuff.

  7. 7
    Pete Baran on 17 Sep 2006 #

    It’ll be interesting to compare this with the Vic Reeves / Wonderstuff review when that comes up (which I fear may well be bound up in Tom’s indie disco experiences of the early nineties). For what its worth I always thought that Dizzy was a fun song which sounds incredibly weedy in this version – and almost demands the pseudo comedic reading that it get twenty years later.

    Top key changes near the end mind, and dancefloor crack?

  8. 8
    Tom on 18 Sep 2006 #

    Yes, well you might fear, since you are personally to blame for said binding!

    (well, partly)

    Actually I agree with you re.weediness – this version has made me think more kindly of the Stuffies though I doubt that can override the strong counter-associations I have.

  9. 9
    intothefireuk on 18 Sep 2006 #

    I seem to recall it as slightly psychedelic – listening now though I agree it just sounds puny alongside Reeves’ muscular ‘common room’ hit.

  10. 10
    Marcello Carlin on 18 Sep 2006 #

    Roe had three big UK hits in the pre-Beatles ’60s – Sheila, The Folk Singer and Everybody. As with the Sarstedt brothers, he seems to have bided his time and waited for the Beatles to come and go before coming back (I think the Beatles even supported him on one British tour).

    Personally I would have greatly preferred Lou Christie’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine” which is about as great as this brand of pop gets (#2 in the UK that autumn).

  11. 11
    Chris Brown on 18 Sep 2006 #

    I think I’ve only heard this once. And that was plenty.

    Certainly when the other version was out I didn’t know it was a cover, but then I was only 13. Anyway, I shall save that for the appropriate time.

  12. 12
    Doctor Mod on 18 Sep 2006 #

    I didn’t connect Tommy Roe with “Everybody.” That was actually a pretty good record, probably better than “Sheila.”

    A lot of the US pop performers who came back at the end of the 60s had been around for quite a spell, many of them being displaced from their first 7.5 minutes of fame by the British Invasion. So they came back for their remaining 7.5 in the bubblegum fad (a form of artistic death in and of itself) just as the Beatles came to the end of their road, only to vanish once again (thankfully, in most cases) when they’d hit the fifteen minutes Andy Warhol said we would all get. (Nowadays, thanks to reality television, it’s probably down to fifteen seconds of fame.)

    It’s rather a sorry matter that bubblegum became America’s way of winning back the charts–but then the Brits created a better brand of bubblegum. More on this when we come to Edison Lighthouse, ere long.

  13. 13
    Doctor Mod on 18 Sep 2006 #

    As to it being “psychedelic,” it wasn’t really–but if you’d had enough to smoke and spun around the room several times, you might think it was.

  14. 14
    blount on 19 Sep 2006 #


  15. 15
    wwolfe on 20 Sep 2006 #

    I have a soft spot for this one, just as I do for late 1960s American bubblegum in general. The interplay of Hal Blaine’s drums and Joe Osborne’s bass; the very high, chopped guitar played above the drum hook; the string interjections; and Roe’s vocal, with its lazy, understated slur, as if he were slightly under the influence, be it love or something less legal (this vocal effect is why the song had an air of mild psychedelia at the time, I suspect) – the combination adds up to a happy sound for me. Not a 10, but a good, solid 7 on my personal chart.

  16. 16
    koganbot on 22 Sep 2006 #

    I don’t think of this as bubblegum, which tended to be more salacious and hysterical. What this feels like is 1966-era pop displaced into 1969 and given an inexplicably mild performance. In the vid he’s dressing like Glen Campbell. (My explanation for the inexplicable is that he’s not going for the teenybopper audience but for the adults who never got comfortable with the ’60s but who still wanted a little rock ‘n’ roll in their pop.)

    I know not this Vic Reeves of which you speak, but I know the dark Bonaparte bogeyman babes of Boney M, who are typically half-detached and half-lunatic as they cover this on 1,000 Lightyears.

  17. 17
    Oh No It's Dadaismus on 22 Sep 2006 #

    Hmmmmmmm, how to explain Vic Reeves?

  18. 18

    reeves and mortimer = the uk penn and teller (except for MAGIC substitute LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT)

    (ok i know it doesn’t really work but it’s NOT BAD)

  19. 19
    Marcello Carlin on 22 Sep 2006 #

    reeves and mortimer = the uk smothers brothers minus the politics

  20. 20
    Doug "Joe Lee" Bush on 10 May 2009 #

    I was Roe’s first bass player here in Atlanta when he was working frat parties and joints. Let me assure you that he has plenty of “stones” and was singing Hank Ballard stuff before it was “trendy” to do so.
    He knew one of the oldest rules of show business though..”Find out what the public wants and then give it to them”. And he did just that.
    He did a helluva song called “The Room” (with the Tams as backup vocals). But, alas, it was never pushed or released.
    That is also me playing harmonica on “The Foreman”.
    Had lunch with him a few months ago when he was here and we enjoyed going over the old “gig stories”.
    Just a comment from an old rocker here.

  21. 21
    wichita lineman on 11 May 2011 #

    It’s intriguing to see how badly Tommy Roe’s version is rated by people who first heard the song via Vic Reeves. I’ve never understood how it got to number one, first coming across it on a Radio 1 Ten Years Of Hits comp in 1978. I can appreciate it’s woozy marshmallow-psych arrangement, which is obv stomped all over by Reeves/W’Stuff, but the song seems sooo slight.

    Earlier T Roe UK Top 10 hits: Everybody (great spacey production), Sheila (Peggy Sue knock off), The Folk Singer (story song, nice guitar part, predictable but cute enough), all better than Dizzy.

    Weirdest T Roe title: Jam Up Jelly Tight (“you look a little naughty but you’re so polite” – gosh).

  22. 22
    Cumbrian on 12 May 2011 #

    I’m just impressed that in basically one year Tom has managed to go from a cover of Tommy James and The Shondells to a cover of Tommy Roe, in covering 66 #1s.

    Could we get Tiffany and the Wonderstuff together to cover something else – preferably by another Tommy?

  23. 24
    lonepilgrim on 26 Feb 2017 #

    I remember selecting this on a jukebox in 1969 on my first holiday in Europe. My mum and dad took our family to Denmark to see my mum’s pen-friend and I played this while staying in a motel outside of Copenhagen. It does sound tailor made for kids – with a simple tune, hook and sound – and with teenagers and twenty somethings moving on to albums we were an emerging audience for singles.

  24. 25
    Peter Noakes on 24 Apr 2021 #

    A fun piece of bubblegum-psych fluff. Charming stuff 8/10.

  25. 26
    Gareth Parker on 10 May 2021 #

    I think this is a fun single. I would award a 7/10.

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