Dec 07

DAVID ESSEX – “Gonna Make You A Star”

FT + Popular65 comments • 8,929 views

#360, 16th November 1974

Checking the usual sources, David Essex’s early career seems to be a complex mesh of meta – being a star, then playing someone who wants to be a star, then singing about turning someone who wants to be a star into a star, then playing someone who’s been turned into a star… at some point, probably the point at which you are listening to this song, you have to stamp your foot and say “OK BEING A STAR IS NOT THAT INTERESTING REALLY”. Except it is interesting, or can be – from the Byrds to Bowie to Britney there are hosts of well-known records about stardom which also manage to be good, draw you in even if it’s just to recoil or envy.

So the problem is with honest toiler David Essex – but he’s made good records too, or at least more entertaining ones than this. Glorious flukes like “Rock On” aside, they seem usually to have been yoked to narratives, big corny ones like Evita or War Of The Worlds. “Gonna Make You A Star” is sung with a dollop of stagey though satisfying grit, but it sounds like it’s hunting for a big story that never coalesces – and it’s an effort, too much effort, to try and unravel the lyrics. Maybe in 1974 the big story was David himself – if that’s the case, it hasn’t travelled.



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  1. 31
    CarsmileSteve on 10 Dec 2007 #

    i thought the longest title was: Where The Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Of You) / How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?

    also no one has said “King of the Gypsies” yet, so i willl.

  2. 32
    Caledonianne on 10 Dec 2007 #

    Sigh! Magic by Pilot! Me, too, Marcello, me too – the 28th most-played track on my Ipod, entirely due to its place on my “Driving” playlist. It just always makes me feel glad to be alive (taking or leaving the West of Scotland football associations, natch!).Must see what Dale had to say about it from listen again.

    If memory serves we may be discussing the boys anon, when I look forward to your take on the album whence springs their bestselling effort.

  3. 33
    crag on 11 Dec 2007 #

    i thought Where The Streets Have No Name (Can’t Take My Eyes Of You) / How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously (thank god for cut n paste!)didnt count since its a double A side and therefore consists of two different recordings…
    Still, good call acknowledging Dave’s status as Overlord of the Romany Nation. A sign of changing attitudes – can u imagine a pop act trading sucessfully on his so-called “pikey” heritage in today’s pop(and political)climate?

  4. 34
    Mark G on 11 Dec 2007 #

    I was going to say, “Ire Feelings” was not banned at the time.

    Maybe when the BBC actually worked out what it was actually about, did they (retrospectively), or at least removed it from their “oldies” programming.

  5. 35
    Erithian on 11 Dec 2007 #

    I believe the longest unbracketed title was “I’m In Love With The Girl On The Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk” by the Freshies. For airplay reasons they changed “The Manchester Virgin Megastore” to “A Certain Manchester Megastore” thus losing one letter. Great record too.

  6. 36
    Mark G on 11 Dec 2007 #

    I have a copy that says “I’m In Love With The Girl On A Certain Manchester Virgin Megastore Checkout Desk”

    I think the idea was to put a strike through the word “Virgin” but they didn’t do (all of) them.

  7. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 11 Dec 2007 #

    Current edition of Guinness Hit Singles rather wimpily settles for “Certain.”

  8. 38
    Waldo on 12 Dec 2007 #

    Erithian # 14 – I don’t agree with you that in the main the expression “not very PC” is being used ironicaly with regards 60s and 70s culture. This would indicate a sense of humour, something which most disciples of PC singularly lack. Like you, I don’t think there’s any point in opening a can of worms about this, as I fear the worms have long since escaped. The principle may well have been well intentioned but alas the respect was and is tailored only for selected groups and not everyone. Like most “blokes”, I think Clarkson is top geezer as he stands up to the people I’m referring to. In his dreams he would have machine gunned those hoodies, I’m sure.

    MC – I had no idea that Anton Rogers had died. Smarmy proto-Yuppie Number Two is a great description. He can now pass on his messages to “Susan Curtis” himself…

  9. 39
    Marcello Carlin on 12 Dec 2007 #

    Recommended listening: “Cassetteboy’s Quite Funny Jeremy Clarkson Bit” on the 2005 Dead Horse album by Cassetteboy.

  10. 40
    Erithian on 21 Dec 2007 #

    Today will be the last chance I get to read “Popular” this year, and from my experience of Christmas with a one-year-old, Tom is unlikely to get time to post any more entries before then. So it looks like we’ll reach the festive season two entries short of one of my favourite Crimbo records.

    12 months ago we were discussing “Get It On”, so we’ve covered nearly 3½ Popular-years in one real-time year. Still good going for your present circumstances Tom! Best seasonal wishes to Tom and everyone else who contributes to or reads this forum, and let’s have some virtual mulled wine and mince pies.

  11. 41
    Marcello Carlin on 21 Dec 2007 #

    Ditto. I’m rather sad that Tom didn’t get around to doing at least the next entry since I was looking forward to that; no doubt when I come back after the New Year there will have been 100 new Popular entries and I will go ARGH! in enclosed spaces for prolonged periods. Or maybe not.

    Anyway, joyeux Noel and buon Natale to everyone here innit.

  12. 42
    Brian on 21 Dec 2007 #

    All the Best to everyone from a really snowy Canada. Global warming ? White Christmas ? Bah humbug !

  13. 43
    Tom on 21 Dec 2007 #

    Merry Christmas to all readers! (The next two entries WILL be going up before Christmas, but I’m in the middle of a house move which is why things are a bit slow currently.)

  14. 44
    Waldo on 22 Dec 2007 #

    I too would like to add my compliments of the season to everyone. You are a very civilized and erudite bunch and I look forward to continuing our road to Damascus in 08.


  15. 45
    Geir H on 24 Dec 2007 #

    I tend to like those David Essex hits from the 70s. They sound great, and there’s a Steve Harley thing to his way of singing that gives sort of a fitting “twist”, but without losing the song’s catchiness.

    I mean, as an actor, David Essex isn’t a technically good singer, but his voice has character still. And, well, it works out fine. Plus there are some nice synths and.. Well. Not bad at all, although I like “Hold Me Close” better.

  16. 46
    wichita lineman on 13 May 2008 #

    The intro might sound like a Don Everly song but try singing Gonna Make You A Star over Major Lance’s Monkey Time. It’s extreeeemely easy! But, hey, good source material; I’m not gonna throw stones, and I love both songs to death. I assumed at the time that the story in the song had to relate to Stardust (the movie) which I was too young to see.

  17. 47
    DJ Punctum on 13 May 2008 #

    I’m not gonna throw stones

    Not even Bill Wyman?

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist it.

  18. 48
    Billy Smart on 13 Feb 2009 #

    NMEWatch: September 28 1974. Charlie Gillett reviews David Essex alongside ‘Down On The Beach Tonight’ by The Drifters;

    “Dare we hope that these records are so bad they won’t be hits? There is reason for optimism. The charts have rarely been so full of attractive, well-constructed, dancable numbers. Look out for Rod, The Main Ingredient and Ace, and leave these two to die quietly.”

    Single of the week was ‘Farewell’ by Rod Stewart.

  19. 49
    punctum on 14 Jul 2011 #

    TPL reaches That’ll Be The Day and one of the greatest comebacks in British rock: http://nobilliards.blogspot.com/2011/07/various-artistsoriginal-motion-picture.html

  20. 50
    lonepilgrim on 14 Jul 2011 #

    that’s a fantastic entry Marcello – although the current cover image is more than a little disturbing

  21. 51
    punctum on 15 Jul 2011 #

    Ah yes – the occupational hazard of ingrates, the equivalent of “NO TURNING IN MY DRIVEWAY.” Now fixed!

    (“Don’t these people know who I AM? I’m doing them a FAVOUR!” *flounces off in purple bathrobe*)

    Seriously, though, I am merely using Google Images to find my illustrations (not having a digital camera to take my own pictures, and yes I know I should sort that out) and if anyone has a bone to pick about that, then email me at marcellocarlin at hotmail dot com and I’ll be happy to give you credit or remove the image if you don’t want it there.

  22. 52
    punctum on 15 Jul 2011 #

    Hang on, though, the site that came from is all about illegal downloads!

    Now HOP it before I get the cops on you!

    The SAUCE of some people.

  23. 53
    AndyPandy on 15 Jul 2011 #

    It’s like ‘Soulseek’ great for listening to obscure music but full of slightly neurotic bedroom-dwellers who have the effrontery to ban you from downloading stuff on a whim when I thought the whole idea was free access to music…and its not “really” there’s anyway.

  24. 54
    Jimmy the Swede on 19 Jul 2011 #

    I’m still waiting for the bit where Eddie Moon is strolling through Albert Square market and is accosted by Fat Boy who tries to sell him some seventies albums. “You probably remember all this cheesy old stuff, bruv, innit?”

    I do hope the writers have the nerve.

  25. 55
    Erithian on 19 Jul 2011 #

    Yes, but I listened out in vain for any Spandau Ballet playing on the Vic jukebox when Steve Owen was in.

  26. 56
    wichita lineman on 20 Jul 2011 #

    Re 48: I’m quite fond of Down On The Beach Tonight as a lite update of Under The Boardwalk, and I’m VERY fond of Gonna Make You A Star. Even by 70s rock/soul snob standards that seems incredibly blinkered.

    Interesting how Farewell is possibly Rod’s least remembered Top 10 hit from his imperial phase. Maybe because it’s a fourth generation xerox of Maggie May, coloured in by a member of Fairport Convention (I do like it, btw).

  27. 57
    Mark G on 20 Jul 2011 #

    I dunno, it seemed like the first of his “oh I am nostalgic for the comforts of my home”, as per “Every Beat of my Heart” and suchlike, only this time he hadn’t gone yet.

  28. 58
    wichita lineman on 9 Nov 2011 #

    A plug for my blog, including a chinwag with David E about his film and pop career in the seventies:

  29. 59
    Jimmy the Swede on 9 Nov 2011 #

    Nice one, Lino. Memories of a 13 year-old Swede just about getting past the border guards at the Odeon Elephant and Castle to see “Stardust”, an AA film and therefore forbidden fruit for another year.

    Happy Days!

  30. 60
    wichita lineman on 9 Nov 2011 #

    Hats off! I was only 9 so couldn’t get in to see it, much as I wanted to as I LOVED Gonna Make You A Star. I looked so young I still struggled to get in to see an AA when I was 18.

    With all the talk of “event singles” in the mid eighties Popular posts, can I flag up my feeling that this was definitely an event single in ’74? One of those records that sounded like an obvious number one on first listen. Same goes for Tiger Feet. Apologies if I’ve said this on Popular before, and not just down the pub.

  31. 61
    Mark G on 9 Nov 2011 #

    I remember when Stardust was on the telly, the final scene where DEssex/Jim got carted into the hospital and the doors slam shut. Then my sister piped up “Well, he’s obviously all right”

    Which cracked everybody up, and my dad shouted “HOW DO YOU GET THAT CONCLUSION???”

  32. 62
    wichita lineman on 9 Nov 2011 #

    Was Jim McLaine’s tv death based on a true story?

    I’ve assumed it was a loose adaptation of Jim “Leatherhead” Morrison’s demise. Bit early to be Tommy Cooper.

  33. 63
    thefatgit on 9 Nov 2011 #

    Or that fella from Ou Est Le Swimming Pool.

  34. 64
    lonepilgrim on 1 Nov 2019 #

    David Essex always comes over as a likeable chap but that quality always seemed to slightly undermine any credibility he might have had as a singer and writer. His earlier hits, particularly Rock On, suggested the potential to become someone more challenging than the lumpy Glam wannabes but he soon settled into the role of beloved entertainer. This song feels as if it’s just on the cusp of that move and the call and response “I don’t think so” sounds a bit panto.

  35. 65
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    7/10 for David here, I enjoy most of his singles.

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