Jun 07

LITTLE JIMMY OSMOND – “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool”

FT + Popular52 comments • 8,452 views

#324, 23rd December 1972

Lil Jimmy O 

My feeling – hard to pin down – is that this record is something new under the chart sun: the birth of a different kind of novelty hit. The “novelty records” that have featured on Popular before now have been so mostly because they’re comedy songs or because they’re hits appealing to the well-established music tastes of people who don’t usually buy singles. “Ernie” might be an example of the first, “Amazing Grace” the second.

“Long Haired Lover” is something else entirely. It’s a bad record, and what’s more it’s a deliberately bad record: a record whose badness has been specifically calibrated to appeal to people who find the idea of a small child making a record endearing, but only if said child makes something this toothily, winsomely, perkily, grotesquely, exploitatively bad. To be fair there is also a market for spookily competent children as well as angelically rubbish ones – recent show Britain’s Got Talent had one of each in its final as far as I could see, though both were beaten by an opera singer. A child performer as bouncily horrible as Little Jimmy, though, manages to shame even this ignoble variety tradition, as well as being a poisonous force in pop. Poisonous because this stuff sold and taught promoters that you didn’t even need the veneer of songcraft or production quality of a “Grandad” to make a smash. Five weeks, for mercy’s sakes – and only the first of them at Xmas, so that’s almost a MONTH of Little Jimmy souring the already bleak midwinter.

(Of course, “Mouldy Old Dough” can also be taken (wrongly) as a deliberately bad novelty hit, designed to appeal to people who thought it was great that an old granny with a piano could get into the charts, a set of people which plainly includes me. So it’s not that I find the appeal of Little Jimmy inexplicable – just intolerable.)



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  1. 31
    Brian on 22 Jun 2007 #

    JJ Barrie recorded a song with Notts Forest Football team. As an LFC fan , I’d say no Canadian would be that stupid and besides ” No Charge ” isn’t what I would call a novelty song. Novel perhaps.

    Ray Stevens was always around but not that often at # 1 in Canada – again , from a Canadian point of view, he had a very American sense of humour, methinks.

    At his time the only song that comes close is ” Brand New Key ” by Melanie.

  2. 32
    Chris Brown on 22 Jun 2007 #

    There’s a small rebellious streak in me that, having grown up with this as the sterotypical awful record, would like to able to do the revisionist thing and claim it as some sort of brilliance. But I can’t, of course. I am surprised that it never got a release in North America though, considering that it’s obviously supposed to be aimed at an American protagonist. Lucky escape for North America though!

    Re the scarcity of novelty chart-toppers on the other side of the Atlantic, couldn’t the different chart methodologies also be a factor? I obviously can’t remember 1972, but most of the recent for-profit novelty Number Ones I can think of haven’t been major radio hits.

  3. 33
    Snif on 23 Jun 2007 #

    As a member of the Commonwealth, Australia must have felt some sense of obligation to go with the flow – don’t remember if it made Number 1, but “LHLFL”: was a stone cold motherless hit down thisaway.

  4. 34
    Erithian on 25 Jun 2007 #

    Welcome along Snif, the more contributors from around the world the better! Look forward to the Aussie perspective on more records as we go on.

    Waldo – no idea what a hoser is, but the drought would have been a good time for a ban on them!

  5. 35
    Brian on 25 Jun 2007 #

    From Wikipedia – !

    Hoser is both a slang term and a stereotype, originating from and used primarily in Canada.[1]

    Like the very similar term hosehead, it originally referred to farmers of the Canadian prairies, who would siphon gas from farming vehicles with a hose during the Great Depression of the 1930s. The expression has since been converted to the verb ‘to hose’ as in to trick, deceive, or steal – for example: “That card-shark sure hosed me.” Hosed has an additional meaning of becoming drunk – for example: “Let’s go out and get hosed.”

    The term “hoser” refers to an era in hockey before the ice resurfacing machine came into use. The losing team had to hose off the ice. The term “hoser” can then be construed to mean loser.

    ——–and that pretty much says it – Also the term hoser was revitalized by the characters of Bob & Doug Mackenzie ( played by Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas ) in a sketch developed for Saturday Night Live to take the piss out of Canadians. It’s still so true it’s frightening !

  6. 36
    vinylscot on 23 May 2008 #

    I know that posting this, so long after the last comment, will put it up on the “Recent Comments” section on the front page, and that you probably followed that link to get here.

    I am therefore sorry if the following piece of information puts you off your food for any length of time.

    As Neil Reid was mentioned earlier in the thread, by Marcello, I was sure someone would have pointed out the the b-side to “LHLFL” was in fact Little Jimmy’s version of Neil Reid’s “classic” “Mother of Mine”. (See pic sleeve above for confirmation)

    It is all you would expect it to be!

    What’s the opposite of synergy?

  7. 37
    DJ Punctum on 23 May 2008 #

    Oddly enough, it’s “antagonism.”

  8. 38
    vinylscot on 23 May 2008 #

    That’s rather fitting in this particular situation, I would agree!

  9. 39
    richard thompson on 24 May 2008 #

    I bought one of the TOTP albums at this time which was full of cover versions and there was a worse version of this on there and My ding a ling as well and I got the original version of it at the time, I liked those songs then, I was ten at the time.

  10. 40
    punctum on 28 Sep 2010 #

    I’ve had some further thoughts on Neil Reid (and tracked down his album) and am quite surprised at what I found: http://nobilliards.blogspot.com/2010/09/neil-reid-neil-reid.html

  11. 41
    lonepilgrim on 28 Sep 2010 #

    I thoroughly recommend Marcello’s meditation on the boy Reid

  12. 42
    wichita lineman on 29 Sep 2010 #

    Snap, I instantly went to gemm to locate a 45 of Hazel, but none there sadly. Can I also recommend the 1973 Man Alive doc Twinkle Twinkle Little Star about “the search for the British Jimmy Osmond”. It concentrates on Ricky Wilde (incredibly cool for a 10-yr old), the James Boys (both looking like the young Gaz Coombes), and the ill-fated Darren Burn – all are notably more modern than Neil Reid, and none of their records sound much like Jimmy Osmond (or the Free Design or Derek Bailey for that matter). But plenty of solid b-grade glam from Wilde and Burn.

  13. 43
    Dispela Pusi on 17 Dec 2010 #

    Incredibly, LJO managed to make an even worse record for his follow-up (“Tweedle Dee”). One of the few where I simply had to hit the Off button.

  14. 44
    Jimmy the Swede on 19 Dec 2010 #

    Jimmy Osmond is in panto, playing Buttons in a production of “Cinderella” at the world-renowned venue of the White Rock Theatre in Hastings. Jimmy Osmond is 12.

    Down in Eastbourne, we’ve got the woman who plays Jean Slater in “EastEnders” plus Clare Buckfield from “Two Point Four Children”.

    Yep, it’s all gravy down in Sussex, folks!

  15. 45
    Lena on 31 Dec 2012 #

    Slade know the kids are alright: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-slam-beginneth-slade-gudbuy-tjane.html Thanks for reading, everyone, and Happy New Year!

  16. 46
    Lena on 25 Jan 2013 #

    Marc I and the Gimme Gimmes: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/thoughts-of-king-t-rex-solid-gold-easy.html Thanks for reading & I’ll post asap everyone!

  17. 47
    Lena on 29 Jan 2013 #

    The Dame Arrives: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/let-yourself-go-david-bowie-jean-genie.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  18. 48
    punctum on 31 Jan 2013 #
  19. 49
    Lena on 31 Jan 2013 #

    Great, like (not): http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/high-expectations-wings-hi-hi-hic-moon.html Thanks for reading, retweeting and commenting, everyone!

  20. 50
    lonepilgrim on 27 May 2019 #

    as a kid at the time this hit number 1 my choice of role models was broadly between rebels – such as Dennis the Menace and the Bash Street Kids from The Beano – and earnest ‘explorers’ – such as The Famous Five – each in their way suspicious of adult authority. LJO came across as a total suck up, grinning and posturing in a toothy burlesque which I found profoundly irritating

  21. 51
    Stephen David Wyatt on 2 Apr 2021 #

    A fun catchy song. A worthy number one in my book. 7/10 for me.

  22. 52
    Gareth Parker on 6 May 2021 #

    I’ll be brave enough to put my head above water and give little Jimmy 2/10!

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