8
Aug 08

10cc – “Dreadlock Holiday”

FT + Popular/119 comments • 17,975 views

#426, 23rd September 1978

On one level the ‘plot’ of “Dreadlock Holiday” is hugely important to any judgement of it. On another, not at all, but let’s recap anyway. The narrator is a tourist in Jamaica – he gets mugged for his silver chain and returns to the comfort of his hotel where a woman tries to sell him weed.

Nobody comes out of the story well: the song’s parent album was called Bloody Tourists, and the narrator is a simp, trying and failing to fit in (“concentrating on truckin’ right”) and then fleeing to the hotel at the first sign of trouble. But the island isn’t exactly a welcoming place either, and the message seems to be that if you’re a white tourist, any approach is misguided and nowhere is entirely safe from the scary dark other looking to hustle you at every turn.

This, to my mind, makes for a rather mean-spirited song, a lose-lose game whose main purpose is to make 10cc seem clever and cynically realistic. I haven’t ever been a great fan of 10cc, precisely because I feel there’s this callous smirk behind a lot of their music, and “Dreadlock Holiday” crystallises the feeling for me. That makes me dislike it more than whatever racial or cultural politics might or might not lurk underneath the song: I am sure an extensive comments thread will tease them out!

On the other hand, “Dreadlock Holiday” is often superlative popcraft: that shimmering, unmistakable percussion intro that makes the song a sampler’s or mash-up act’s dream, and the massive chorus – seized on out of context by Sky Sports for an effect darkly comic enough that I’m sure the band enjoy it greatly. Even here, though, the cynicism runs deep. The song, light reggae which slides skilfully from awkward bounce to clammy paranoia, is an inversion of the lyrics’ theme: if you want to be a tourist, it says, stick to the studio and you can happily steal stuff from them. “Dreadlock Holiday” is in some ways the unpleasant opposite of 1978’s other reggae-related #1, “Uptown Top Ranking” – a wiser, crueller denial of its open celebration. Impressive work in its way, but it leaves a nasty taste.

4

Comments

  1. 1
    DJ Punctum on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Following close and intense study, I can confirm that 10cc are the only act in this list in the running for the titles of both the best and the worst number ones ever. The reason for their decline is unclear. By 1978, 10cc were only half the band they used to be; Godley and Crème had left in 1976 to pursue their own paths, commencing with the testing but not unenjoyable triple concept album Consequences – not quite the British Escalator Over The Hill (not even in the same cosmos, let alone the same postcode), though it does contain some intermittently inspired verbal improvising from a sloshed and stoned Peter Cook – before diverting into videos, Proper Hits and Trevor Horn. The remaining duo of Stewart and Gouldman specialised in artful but rather studium-filled AoR, and a crucial element to 10cc’s music had been lost. However, this was the same duo responsible for “I’m Not In Love,” and there had been a history of other suspect tracks like “Oh, Effendi” from 1974’s Sheet Music, so “Dreadlock Holiday” is less easily explicable.

    Let us attempt to bend over backwards to be completely fair to the song; it is highly possible that “Dreadlock Holiday” is a barbed commentary on the endemic ignorance of cultural tourism (note the possible double meaning of the album title Bloody Tourists) – the holidaymaker who’s come to Jamaica because he read about Marley in Harper’s and Queen’s, who immediately gets held up by four muggers for his silver chain and attempts to wriggle out of his predicament with cringe-inducing, well-meaning but dumb touristy quips (“I don’t like reggae – I LOVE it!”). He escapes back to his hotel swimming pool “sinking Pina Colada” and encounters a woman prepared to give him “something hotter,” prompting the ejaculatory exclamation “Don’t like Jamaica – I LOVE her!” – the idea presumably being that our accidental tourist can only abide the surface glamour and not the coldly rationalist reality (“Don’t you walk through my words, ‘cos you ain’t heard me out yet”), so the scenario isn’t that far from the Pistols’ “cheap holidays in other people’s misery.” Also, the marimbas and distant, Coke can popping open organ ripples are a remarkable precursor of what, through Alex Sadkin’s work with Grace Jones and others in the early ‘80s, would briefly become pop’s lingua franca.

    None of this hides the essential ghastliness of concept and execution of “Dreadlock Holiday,” which in attempting to be well-meaning and sardonic actually comes across as hugely patronising (“I saw four faces, one mad, a brother from the gutter”) and finally contemptible – the unlistenable cod-Jamaican accents and patois which Stewart and Gouldman adopt throughout the song. Bearing in mind that we are now less than a year away from discussing *** ******, “Dreadlock Holiday” could be presumed a premonition of other trends to come. But that Economy Size Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum-package carrying trio, even at their most absurd, at least made a game and serious attempt to grapple with and develop the elements which influence their music, while the 2-Tone movement, which would also explode into public view in the following year, would end up making things like “Dreadlock Holiday” – in the year of Steel Pulse, the Anti-Nazi League and Rock Against Racism – instantly antiquated and crass. Apart from a minor hit with an acoustic reworking of “I’m Not In Love” in the ‘90s, “Dreadlock Holiday” was to be 10cc’s last British hit single, and an unfortunate end to a generally remarkable chart career.

  2. 2
    SteveM on 8 Aug 2008 #

    It’s a shame as I really like the music – does the three note intro take it’s cue from anything specific? There’s always the Destiny’s Child mash-up I suppose.

  3. 3
    Pete on 8 Aug 2008 #

    At least it doesn’t make a Jamaica joke, which to be fair would have fit in with the rest of the sorry tale. Always liked the tune as a kid, but on obtaining a 10CC Best of (bundled with a Godley & Creme retro too) the failings of DH became overly clear. I think its quite a good example of how you can overstep a mark, both by trying to be too clever, and actually being not clever enough.

  4. 4
    Kat but logged out innit on 8 Aug 2008 #

    This is why I’m glad I rarely pay attention to lyrical content! I am happy to remain blissfully ignorant and enjoy this jaunty tune Which Is About Cricket Er Yes. I’d like it equally (not more) if it was an instrumental.

  5. 5
    mike on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Isn’t she offering him “something harder”, to rhyme with “Pina Colada”? No matter. I zoned out on this when it was a hit, simply because it struck me as bloodless and smug, a cheap joke crassly executed, and a really, really poor approximation of reggae rhythms. It hasn’t aged well – apart from the aforementioned Destiny’s Child mash-up, which was quite good fun at the time (and which we can freely discuss at a much, much later date).

  6. 6
    Pete on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Cricket in 1978, we’d won the ashes in Australia and were having a nice summer against Pakistan (Botham took eight wickets and scored a century).

  7. 7
    Billy Smart on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Mm, this is the one instance where I do approach the song as a guilty pleasure; I love the pop craft of it, while finding the narrative regrettably racist (though Marcello makes a valiant effort to show how it could be a well-meaning song, this is certainly not the impression that it’s ever left me with)

    I’ve already learned two things from this thread that I didn’t know. I have always heard that line as “four faces, one matt”, which is admittedly worse! I’ve also always assumed that the woman who appears in the last verse made the narrator a sexual offer (a prostitute?), rather than marijuana, which seemed to be saying to me “these blacks may be muggers, but at least their birds are fit”. As twists in tales go, it seemed to add another layer of offensiveness.

    The afterlife of this song has been surprisingly prolonged. In the early years of 20-20 cricket, I lived a mile away from Edgbaston and used to hear “I don’t like cricket!! I love it!!” blaring unbidden through the skies every time that somebody hit a six throughout summer days. Then I ill-advisedly went to an eighties disco and saw a lot of undergraduates respond to this with delighted recognition a couple of years ago.

  8. 8
    jeff w on 8 Aug 2008 #

    stevem – that image must be the back cover of the sleeve, surely? You can tell by all the small print at the bottom.

    (I like it though)

  9. 9
    Billy Smart on 8 Aug 2008 #

    You’ve got the date wrong, I note pedantically.

  10. 10
    lex on 8 Aug 2008 #

    that shimmering, unmistakable percussion intro that makes the song a sampler’s or mash-up act’s dream

    NOOOO I still have horrid memories of 2ManyDJs desecrating Destiny’s Child by “mashing” this “up” with ‘Independent Women Part 1’ :(

  11. 11
    Tim on 8 Aug 2008 #

    I always heard it as “four faces, one man” and assumed that the fellow in question was there with three women, which still makes a sort of sense, to me.

  12. 12
    DJ Punctum on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Hmm…my tactic when preparing these responses is to:

    a) listen to the record and take down the lyrics in shorthand whenever audible/intelligible;

    b) check with Gary and Mary’s indispensable No 1 Lyrics site and use that as a base;

    c) listen to the record again to double check for lyrical mistakes.

    So it could well be “four faces, one man” and the “mad” was Freudian/wishful thinking on my part. The only other possible explanation is that all four of 10cc were being mugged which I find unlikely if there was only one mugger, especially with big man Kevin Godley to hand…

  13. 13
    rosie on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Not going to get embroiled in the politics of it. As a song I like it, at least a 6, possibly a 7 from me. It’s an enjoyable, summery song as far as I’m concerned, and well-executed with it. I’ll leave the exegesis to others and I’m refusing to be outraged by it.

    Sometimes the commentary feels a little like those politicians who conveniently decided that The Satanic Verses was unreadable (it isn’t.)

  14. 14
    DJ Punctum on 8 Aug 2008 #

    I read The Satanic Verses all the way through and thus came to the informed conclusion that it was tedious, puffed-up Hampsteadian slash fan fiction.

  15. 15
    rosie on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Ah, well, Marcello, we’ll talk about it some more when we get to the station ;)

  16. 16
    vinylscot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    I also hear it as “One mad”, and DJP, remember they didn’t have big Kevin Godley to look after them by now, as he had departed along with Lol Creme (wonder if he regrets that name now, lol)

    This was typical 10CC, tieing themselves up with their own cleverness. They claim the song was based on actual events, and it appears they had about four different ideas which they wanted to include, so rather than having more than one song, they tried to cram them all into this one track, with the result that, whatever you think of any underlying racism/sexism, the song is clumsy as a whole (a bit like this sentence). It’s been suggested earlier that it was all done with the best of intentions, but Stewart and (esp) Gouldman should have seen that it wasn’t working and put some more work into it. The cod-Jamaican accents in particular we could have done without.

    I do think there is an element here, also shown on the album “Bloody Tourists”, of Stewart and Gouldman trying to prove something to the other two and/or themselves. There are quite a few songs on the album which are just too clever for their own good – “Shock on the Tube”, and “Anonymous Alcoholic” being the two which spring to mind. 10CC always used humour in their lyrics, even in the later (four man 10CC) albums like “How Dare You” and “Deceptive Bends”, but here it was forced, and stilted – it was disppointing to have a 10CC album where the lyrics are not a strong point.

    Then to cap it all, they refused to release the most obvious single on the album, “From Rochdale to Ocho Rios”, but as it was a light-hearted calypso, maybe they felt they would be typecasting themselves.

    All in all, 10CC’s third best #1, and I would agree with Tom. probably a 4.

  17. 17
    SteveM on 8 Aug 2008 #

    So was there any real controversy or objection to this song at the time in the press, or among DJs voicing opinion on air?

    I am intrigued by the contrast between pleasant music (it may sound bloodless but from a tehnical pov it seems to tick all the basic boxes) and unpleasant sentiment/context here. I wonder if we will have other examples of this to come on Popular that seem quite so stark.

  18. 18
    Alan on 8 Aug 2008 #

    i always heard “four faces, one man” but it makes no real sense thinking it through – sorry Tim. that’s what I get for not thinking about the overall meaning.

    still weird that only the mad-faced leader of the 4 indeterminate ppl would look like a brother from the gutter. were the others more well to do? i guess he was only focussed on the confrontational chap, hence only saw the others as faces.

  19. 19
    Billy Smart on 8 Aug 2008 #

    I wonder if you could defend ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ as being a work of magical realism?

    It would, at the very least, explain the hydra-headed mugger.

  20. 20
    SteveM on 8 Aug 2008 #

    or it was a man with four faces, like the cherubs of Ezekiel!

  21. 21
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    my raw memory of the chronology of these times is distressing unreliable, but surely by this point in 78, virgin frontline had hired j.rotten as its reggae ambassador and ferried him off, with viv goldman from sounds to document and promote, to jamaica itself to meet some of his heroes, and make (good) decisions who they should release LPs by? (there was a lovely sounds feature competely with pasty lydon disporting himself happily on the beach: this was NOT tourism, one-and-all concluded, bcz of his role making good reggae available to the world) (i’m not being remotely sarky either — lydon is someone i have a LOT of time for)

    chris salewicz — another well-informed commentator — had run a two-part piece in nme on the reggae greats

    so in the rock press a line was certainly being drawn between the cognoscenti who “got” dread; and useless lightweights who were faking it (not necessarily a reliable line — haha i know which side i would have placed myself on emotionally; i was rather patronising towards my college chum P when he became a big reggae fan 18 months later, even tho — with hindsight — he totally put the legwork in and bought and listened to a TON of records, whereas i as so often contented myself with having read about it all beforehand)

    in fact i think the 10cc split had very much already left the ones stuck with the name the moral losers — for a triple concept LP, consequences got an unusually concerted attempt at fair judgement from punk know-it-alls (=me) (and even peelie ircc); and i think the “other two” def didn’t get any kind of benefit of the doubt pointed their way… there were Important Battles to be Fought and they were useful as an Awful Moral Example in all kinds of ways

    (i have to say i look back on my year-zero self with a mix of pride — so spunky and determined to CHANGE THE WORLD! — and horror — so incredibly ignorant!)

  22. 22
    vinylscot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    SteveM, I’m pretty sure there was no controversy at the time. Most radio DJs back then just played nice tunes and didn’t really care for the music enough to consider the lyrics.

    Also, 10CC were rather a clean-cut bunch of chaps and it probably wouldn’t dawn on anyone to have a look at their lyrics.

    However, if Bernard Manning or Jim Davidson had recorded it…

  23. 23
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    i think vinylscot is correct that there was no fuss to speak of in the World of Grown-up Papers and Radio (let alone TV), which (quite apart from being apolitical in the terms we’re discussing) was fairly passive towards pop back then — i wasn’t in london yet so i can’t answer for the relics of the bohemian press (time out still in 68er agit-prop mode; the one i’ve never seen copies of, penman loved it — was it called “in the city”?), but i would be startled if they hadn’t copped attitude; and yes, the rock press were by now largely parti-pris and pro a strictly-roots take on reggae — melody maker a lot slower on the uptake as ever in those days

  24. 24
    Alan on 8 Aug 2008 #

    “didn’t really care for the music enough to consider the lyrics”

    i would dispute this generic connection/construction!

  25. 25
    vinylscot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Alan, I did say “most”. Certainly not all, but do you really think DLT, Noel Edmonds and the like spent much time actually listening to music?

  26. 26
    LondonLee on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Whatever their intentions it’s a perfect example of why middle class smarty pant white boys should stay away from trying to make clever jokes about race or even play with reggae (Paul Simon did a better job with ‘Mother and Child Reunion’, what’s 10cc’s excuse?), it just falls flat on its arse. I can forgive a song a lot if it has a good tune and is well made but this doesn’t quite overcome its problems, even at 15 when it came out I thought it was a bit dodgy.

    It’s a long fall from “I’m Mandy, Fly Me” to this.

  27. 27
    Alan on 8 Aug 2008 #

    sure, maybe they didn’t care AND they they didn’t consider the lyrics. but i’m disputing the connection from one to the other in general. both that you would only consider the lyrics if you cared for the music, or that you couldn’t both care and not consider the lyrics.

  28. 28
    mike on 8 Aug 2008 #

    (i have to say i look back on my year-zero self with a mix of pride — so spunky and determined to CHANGE THE WORLD! — and horror — so incredibly ignorant!)

    I echo this sentiment! As a by-product of hanging out on this blog over the last few weeks (from “No Charge” onwards, basically), I’ve had to stare quite hard at my own Year Zero teenage self, and it has been a revealing process.

  29. 29
    Matthew H on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Another vote for “one mad” here. I like the tune, wince at the execution – like many above.

    10cc are playing the Mick Jagger Centre, five mins walk from my house, in October. Well, I SAY 10cc; the flyer makes pointed mention of Graham Gouldman and no one else. Anyway, I thought I might as well pop along, until I looked at the damage – 30 quid!

  30. 30
    DJ Punctum on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Mark, you’re thinking of City Limits.

    Re. 1978 radio, Blackburn in particular spent most of his time ranting against the Callaghan Government, strikes etc. though the likes of Travis and Edmonds were still very much in Radio Tip Top/ignore the outside world/It’s All Fun denial mood.

    At the opposite end of the ’78 pop telescope – “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” by the Clash whose protagonist goes out in search of “real” roots culture, finds glamorous cabaret instead and ends up crouched in a corner realising he understands nothing; it’s one of the loneliest of all pop records.

  31. 31
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    no i’m not actually marcello — CL didn’t exist yet, and there was a london-only rock-and-listings paper which has got lost in history’s shuffle (the only “name” writer i can half-think of who had cachet was called iestyn something; i’ve never read a word by him, but penman and savage BOTH rate him/her) (even if not each other!)

    (if i wasn’t at work i could look it up)

  32. 32
    rosie on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Marcello @ 30: Time Out was still Time Out in 1978. City Limits splintered off in about 1983-84.

  33. 33
    DJ Punctum on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Iestyn George maybe?

  34. 34
    a logged-out pˆnk s lord whatnot on 8 Aug 2008 #

    1981 according to wiki (sad little stub of a wiki article)

    street life it was called, and idris walters is who i’m thinking of, not iestyn george

  35. 35
    mike on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Presumably this was a different Street Life from the excellent and sadly shortlived national music paper bearing the same name, which ran a superb extended feature on dub reggae in, ooh, I’m guessing early 1976?

  36. 36
    LondonLee on 8 Aug 2008 #

    ‘What’s On In London’ maybe? I just about remember that one.

    Edit: never mind.

  37. 37
    a logged out p^nk s lord sukråt wötsit on 8 Aug 2008 #

    haha ok i think it turns out i may mean “london-only” in the specialist technical sense of “impossible to find in shrewsbury”, mike — i imagine that IS the one i mean, but i never saw a copy and only know it by repute (did it close bcz it didn’t achieve the countrywide distribution it needed?)

  38. 38
    pink champale on 8 Aug 2008 #

    this is is the first song i have clear memories of actually being at number one, watching as a five year old the video on that bit of swap shop where they counted down the pop charts at the same time as the swapping vimto for spangles board. i liked it a lot at the time, probably because it all felt very exotic and adult and also perhaps because the narrative of being out of your depth in a world you don’t quite understand and can’t do anything about is quite a familiar one at the age when you’re just starting school. i’m sure, being a child of the seventies, i also thought the comical jamaican were a big plus point. and if push came to shove, i’d still have to say it was my favourite rascist reggae song.
    one thought, was “safe european home” in some way an answer record to this (or even the otehr way round) and is it not in any case just as reductive?

  39. 39
    Michael Lee on 8 Aug 2008 #

    Say what you like about dodgy lyrics or musical quality, they guaranteed themselves a play at every single Australian BBQ for the next 20 years, quite the feat in itself…

  40. 40
    o sobek! on 9 Aug 2008 #

    vile song on every level

  41. 41
    Tommy Mack on 9 Aug 2008 #

    Is it really racist? It’s just a song about a gormless prick who goes on holiday and gets himself mugged wandering around the backstreets, isn’t it?

    Maybe it was John Lydon who mugged 10cc – the mad face, a brother from the gutter etc. he was in Jamaica at the time, after all…

  42. 42
    Chris Brown on 9 Aug 2008 #

    Chalk me up as another vote for the four-faced man interpretation.

    I first heard this as the opening track on my Dad’s 10cc best-of CD and for a while I loved it. But now I can’t even stomach the “good” 10cc records, let alone this one. Even ignoring the vocals entirely, the music sounds very slack and off-the-shelf, like some sort of library music for commercials. Although that percussion in the middle is good, but not enough to save the song.

  43. 43
    wichita lineman on 9 Aug 2008 #

    Their previous single was the creamy ballad People In Love, a blue-eyed soul/Macca confection which featured a spectacular bagpipe-guitar line that sounded HUGE on AM radio in ’77. It got plenty of airplay (anyone else remember it?) and sounded like a shoe-in for the Top 5 (well, if Good Morning Judge could make it…).

    So maybe the abject failure of one of their loveliest songs led Stewart and Gouldman to roll up their sleeves and go “RIGHT….”

    Dreadlock Holiday has always made me cringe. I always thought the final verse was about a prostitute. Bloody sex tourists.

  44. 44
    Caledonianne on 9 Aug 2008 #

    I’m with Rosie in refusing to be outraged by it.

    Didn’t get outraged by the – much more prominent – cod-French accents on One Night in Paris from The Original Soundtrack, so in the interests of consistency I can follow the narrative here with impunity.

    Real reason I liked this was the way “I don’t like cricket” (zzzzzzzzzz) resonated with me; I clearly managed to screen out the “I love it” addendum. In fact, I was always singing, “I hate it” in my head.

    It definitely came to mind when I was mugged by a man and two women combo in Rio 25 years later!

    And I don’t like reggae.

  45. 45
    Waldo on 10 Aug 2008 #

    I’m grateful to Marcello for his reasoned opinion on this. I personally was ready for a long-anticipated handbag-swatting session with him over this one. Instead I find myself nodding my head at parts of what he says. What must be added, though, is that anyone who would fain unfettered outrage at the tale this song is telling ought to get out more. I wonder how the same people might react to somebody like Aswad doing a pastiche about one of them wandering around Glyndebourne, getting robbed of his bling by” four faces” called Rupert, Giles, Mason and Marmaduke, nervously professing to his attackers a love for croquet and Mozart before “hurrying back to the tennis court” to sink glasses of Pimms with a girl called Annabelle, who offers to open her legs as a bonus. I’m pretty confident that there would not be a problem with this amongst the same critics. Quite the contrary, in fact.

    And let me assure you, there certainly was not a problem with “Dreadlock Holiday” back in the day. Alas, Political Correctness has a mighty backward reach. Unless I am mistaken, it was voted “Best Single” at the embryonic British Rock and Pop Awards, now the Brits. Quite right too, as it was just sooo good. Pure class in a glass, for me, and it was very gratifying to see it just make the top either side of two long-staying chart toppers, both of which would have definitely seen it kept at bay as one of those truly tragic number twos (eg: “Jean Jenie”, ”Vienna”). This track has the mark of quality stamped all over it, as do the band performing it, and for me, at least, it is quite simply one of the best records of the decade.

    Perhaps as an addendum, I might remind those in the thread who disagree with me on this of two popular tracks by London born and bred reggae artist Smiley Culture from 1984: “Cockney Translation” and particularly “Police Officer”. This second track is hilarious, Smiley jumping effortlessly between Jamaican patois and an exaggerated cockney dickhead accent to outline an exchange between himself and a copper who had stopped him in his car for possession. On eventually recognising him, the star-struck Plod lets Smiley go for the price of an autograph. This record is wonderfully funny and not offensive at all, as (on the other side of the coin) was much of the offerings from Judge Dread, who was enormously popular in Brixton and Stockwell but whom would no doubt raise a few eyebrows in this day and age from those who have a bee in their bonnets about DH thirty years after the event.

  46. 46
    Caledonianne on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Hey Waldo,

    Have a bit of a dicky tum this morning, and was feeling sorry for myself after a disturbed night.

    “I don’t like croquet” was a fantastic pick-me-up!

    Cheers.

  47. 47
    rosie on 10 Aug 2008 #

    As for the “I don’t like cricket … I love it” I always thought there was a touch of coercion in between the two phrases, making our tourist even more of a wimp than maybe he really was.

    Waldo – spot on there lad!

  48. 48
    Waldo on 10 Aug 2008 #

    My pleasure, Anne. And thanks, Rosalind!

  49. 49
    wichita lineman on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Even ignoring the pitfalls of PC, this piece of Graham Gouldman social commentary doesn’t REALLY hold a candle to Look Through Any Window, Bus Stop, or No Milk Today.

  50. 50
    Waldo on 10 Aug 2008 #

    “Bus Stop” contains that charming line: ‘One day my name and hers are going to be the same’, which usually prompted Tracy to turn to her boyfriend and say: “I REALLY love you, Wayne, but I REALLY don’t want to be called Wayne!”

  51. 51
    Chris Brown on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Waldo, I appreciate what you’re saying here, but I think possibly it’s a generational thing. Which possibly won’t affect tomorrow’s kids. Also, though, I think it’s a lot easier to push that “offensive” button when the material is weak, which I think this is. See also Typically Tropical, obviously.

    I would quite like to hear ‘I Don’t Like Croquet’ though.

  52. 52
    LondonLee on 10 Aug 2008 #

    What Chris said, I understand what they’re trying to say with the song and don’t think it’s racist (or at least not intentionally) but it’s just done so cack-handedly that it doesn’t comes off. Instead of the social commentary they probably intended they sound like a bunch of smug rich white rock stars taking the piss out of Jamaicans and their culture.

  53. 53
    SteveM on 10 Aug 2008 #

    It’s never sounded like that to me. Like you say I think they believed thir intentions were good and fans of the song settle for that. Basically I overlook the uglier aspects of DH pretty much the same way I overlook sentiments I disagree with or feel uneasy about in some Jamaican dance music that I enjoy on the same casual level.

    But essentially the problem with Waldo’s argument is that it assumes a level playing field when we must all surely acknowledge that even in a crucial time when punks jumped up to meet dreads halfway this has never really been the case in this country to a lasting extent, even if the pop charts have occasionally suggested a greater balance of cultural understanding and harmony over the years. Hypothetical ‘but if Aswad did the equivalent’ counter is just silly because we KNOW it would never have happened and probably never will.

  54. 54
    Pete Baran on 10 Aug 2008 #

    And to be vaguely equivalent it would probably have to be done as finger-in-the-ear folk or perhaps a Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche (admittedly this hypothetical track is just getting better and better).

    As a kid I was never quite sure why it was called Dreadlock Holiday, there are no dreads mentioned directly in the song.

  55. 55
    Billy Smart on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Did the Clash ever write a song inspired by their experience of recording ‘Complete Control’ with Lee Scratch Perry in Jamaica? It was apparently an alarming experience for them.

  56. 56
    Pete on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Not that I know of, though arguably they did record their own version of Dreadlock Holiday in Rock The Casbah.

  57. 57
    will on 10 Aug 2008 #

    Isn’t Safe European Home about Strummer and Jones’s trip to Jamaica the previous year, when they apparently hardly left their hotel room?

  58. 58
    Lena on 10 Aug 2008 #

    I didn’t hear this at the time at all – if you’d asked me about 10cc I would have said “Oh they did “The Things We Do For Love” and I haven’t heard a thing since.” But I was in the US…where “Grease” and “Boogie Oogie Oogie” were the big hits, later in the summer, after The Commodores…

    …when I did finally hear this, it sounded kind of lightweight and pleasant, but my mind was being blown on an almost regular basis (this was around ’82) by other things, so it didn’t really stick out in any way – much like “Banana Republic” by the Boomtown Rats – I remember the music much better than the words.

  59. 59
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Those “Safe European Home” lyrics in full: http://londonsburning.org/lyr_give_em_enough_rope.html

    “Every white face is an invitation to robbery.”

    “I’d stay and be a tourist but I can’t take the gunplay.”

  60. 60
    Waldo on 11 Aug 2008 #

    I see with sadness that the Umpire has given Isaac Hayes the raised finger. I guess this means Isaac going into his local cemetery, pointing at a vacant plot and delivering the classic line:

    “Can you dig it?”

  61. 61
    Erithian on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Apparently this is about an incident when Graham Gouldman was on holiday with Justin Hayward out of the Moody Blues – but Hayward had been threatened, not mugged, and it was in Barbados, not Jamaica…

  62. 62
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Dammit, I was offered an interview with Justin Hayward last week but turned it down. I could have asked him!

  63. 63
    DJ Punctum on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Was this why he went off summer and wished it was “Forever Autumn”?

    *tumbling tumbleweeds, getting of coat, &c.*

  64. 64
    Waldo on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Mike – Why did you turn Justin down? Were you offered Frank Ifield instead?

  65. 65
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    No, I was actually offered the ALL NEW FOR 2008! version of The Drifters, none of whose members were in the group before this year. And some WWF dude whose name I have already forgotten. I went instead with a young man who won’t be troubling Popular for many years to come. (But not wishing to tweak any whiskers, I shall, um, exit this instant…)

  66. 66
    vinylscot on 11 Aug 2008 #

    I think I’d have gone for Justin!

  67. 67
    Billy Smart on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Thanks Will and Mike – I think that the Clash certainly win the ‘songs about being mugged in Jamaica’ battle!

  68. 68
    Lena on 11 Aug 2008 #

    “Summer Night City,” “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Hong Kong Garden” are all also on this chart – besides the big US songs they are practically the only ones I recognize! I looked up another song (anticipating its appearing on the charts in about three months’ time) only to find out it wasn’t a single in the UK at all, which I find baffling, as it was a US R&B #1! Same ocean, different shores, etc. etc…

  69. 69
    Mark G on 11 Aug 2008 #

    .. which means you have bunny clearance…

  70. 70
    DJ Punctum on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Re. Smiley Culture – I remember Simon Bates playing “Police Officer” on his show one morning, and a few minutes later reading out a message from a listener who told him to “stop playing this monkey music.” He didn’t comment. That was the kind of audience Radio 1 attracted in the Derek Chinnery days.

    Judge Dread? Big mate of Prince Buster, Lee Perry, Bob Marley and others; also pretty big in Jamaica. Went a bit Sid James in Dub Conference for my liking later on but “Big Six” and “Big Seven” still stand up pretty well.

  71. 71
    Lena on 11 Aug 2008 #

    HEE!

    “Got To Be Real” by Cheryl Lynn, which I was hoping to transcribe and then say Billy M heard it, but I don’t know if he ever did.

    The beginning of Smash Hits is just around the corner, as well.

  72. 72
    DJ Punctum on 11 Aug 2008 #

    First Billboard R&B number one of ’79 as it happens and looking at that year’s list it really IS the beginning of everything (as with everything else in that exceptional year but enough for now, let’s wait until we get there)…

  73. 73
    Erithian on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Lena #71 – and didn’t Smash Hits begin with a pretty unlikely cover star for a magazine which wanted to build an audience? – Plastic Bertrand, whose unforgettable one-and-only hit entered the chart in the same week as John and Livvy IIRC. Plastic was one of the two giants of Belgian chanson alongside Jacques Brel (as I used to say to a Belgian friend mainly to wind her up) and went on to be the producer of Belgian Idol.

  74. 74
    DJ Punctum on 11 Aug 2008 #

    They won in the end, though, didn’t they?

    Furthermore you’re being disingenuous – that issue was a test issue (I mean, a Sham 69 centre spread?) and the first issue proper had Blondie on the front.

  75. 75
    vinylscot on 11 Aug 2008 #

    The Cheryl Lynn track was/is brilliant – one of my favourite 12″s from around this time! I hadn’t realised it had missed the charts altogether.

    I see it did briefly visit the lower reaches twice in 1996, as one side of two double a-side singles which came out then. They reached the dizzying heights of #117 and #191. I’ve no idea if these were remixes, but unfortunately they probably were.

  76. 76
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Those very early issues of Smash Hits weren’t great, it has to be said (I was vaguely embarrassed about buying them) – but it didn’t take very long for the mag to hit its stride, either. (Ooh, I’m straining at the leash!)

  77. 77
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    #75 – it was a 12″ reissue of the original track, double A-sided with another classic whose name escapes me (but it might have been Nicole & Timmy Thomas “New York Eyes”). I shall root around in the attic this evening…

    Anyhow, it was part of a series of double A-sided classic 12″ re-issues, many of which I snapped up.

    EDIT: I am WRONG! The Old Gold reissues were 1991, but “New York Eyes” was teamed with Cheryl Lynn’s “Encore”. The 1996 version was indeed a remix package, including mixes from Todd Terry and dreary old workaday hacks Love To Infinity…

  78. 78
    Mark G on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Those early Smash hits were great, actually.

    The very idea that all this punk and new wave could actually be sold to the teenypop audience, was what kept one end of it alive! It all moved from that to the bright fluffy 80s pop we all remember on those TV shows if we’re famous enough, as a direct result of pic sleeves, which begat pop videos and an outpouring of creativity in many directions.

    The words to The Fall’s “New Face in Hell” in the alternative page, for blummin sake!

  79. 79
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    #78: Mark, I’m talking about the first three or four issues only, which I think were still monthly at that stage. The cool specialist alternative coverage hadn’t started yet, and the mag was more like a glossied-up Disco 45.

  80. 80
    DJ Punctum on 11 Aug 2008 #

    “Got To Be Real” unfortunately was also the musical inspiration for Modern Romance’s 1982 #37 smash “Queen Of The Rapping Scene (Nothing Ever Goes The Way You Plan)” though I much preferred its use on “Dibidibidize (How We Gonna Make The Black Nation Rise?)” the same year by oh God what was their name again? Brother D and the Collective Effort, or similar…

  81. 81
    Mark G on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Yep to you both.

    Although, the pre-rap part of the song was one of the few ModRo songs I thought was OK. Perhaps because it was short.

  82. 82
    o sobek! on 11 Aug 2008 #

    “unfortunately”?????????????

  83. 83
    mike on 11 Aug 2008 #

    Brother D and the Collective Effort, yes! Thank you for unlocking that memory, as I’ve been trying to remember who sampled “Got To Be Real” for the past couple of hours or so, and the closest I could get was the original 1986 Source/Candi Staton version of “You Got The Love”, which didn’t.

    “Um the quinn, um the quinn, um the quinn of the reppin sin” was sort of great, really!

  84. 84
    Malice Cooper on 11 Aug 2008 #

    This even got a release in Jamaica and sold well so I don’t think they found it racist or offensive. It isn’t like anybody got shot in the song.

  85. 85
    wichita lineman on 11 Aug 2008 #

    I remember everyone straining at the leash to write about 1978 a few entries back… now look at us, thinking about the early Smash Hits heyday when they’d print the lyrics to New Face In Hell… what ’78 were people looking forward to? I am kurious.

    Malice, surely 10CC’s reputation was shot? No hits for Stewart or Gouldman after this apart from Bridge To Your Heart some years later. Even though Sunburn deserved better.

  86. 86
    Waldo on 12 Aug 2008 #

    # 70 – Dread (Alex Hughes) had also been a minder/roadie to the Stones before his own career took off. He was indeed huge in Jamaica, in fact the first white artist to score a major hit there. He was simply enormous in my area where he was feted in the rasta community as practically one of their own. He cultivated close friendships with many of reggae’s great names and left this world (albeit far too early) as he surely would have wanted to, keeling over from a dodgy strawb having just walked off stage at the end of a show.

    I think I recall the “monkey music” incident but wouldn’t have remembered it was Simon Bates, who, let’s face it, had the personality of a roll of wall-paper. The listener must have conveyed this despicable comment over the phone. It’s not even worthy of comment and if Bates’ silence was deliberate, I feel that that was far better than going into one about how ignorant this bastard clearly was.

  87. 87
    Snif on 12 Aug 2008 #

    And Judge Dread’s name appears (in slightly different guise) to this day in every weekly issue of 2000AD, which had only just recently started at this stage…?

  88. 88
    DJ Punctum on 12 Aug 2008 #

    “Big Seven” also sampled on “Ludi” by the Dream Warriors.

  89. 89
    Waldo on 12 Aug 2008 #

    “The Winkle Man” was blinding. You can see where Dread’s going with this without even having to hear the record, which you certainly would not have done on Radio One.

  90. 90
    DJ Punctum on 12 Aug 2008 #

    I always loved it when Jimmy Savile came across a Judge Dread disc on his Old Record Club: “and this guy geezer decided to be very rude and so it was banned and I SEE-NO-REEEEEEA-SONNNNN why we should play it and howzabout that then?”

    Dignified Don: “skrlrlgrglmrglkrnklskrlkmmngskrl Jim.”

  91. 91
    Tom on 12 Aug 2008 #

    #87 – 2000AD was well over a year old by this point – started in February 1977.

  92. 92
    Tim on 12 Aug 2008 #

    [Judge Dread was] the first white artist to score a major hit [in Jamaica]? Really? I’m amazed!

  93. 93
    mike on 12 Aug 2008 #

    So, it would seem that “Dreadlock Holiday”, Boney M’s “Rivers Of Babylon” and Judge Dread were all Big In Jamaica. Where’s the JA version of Everyhit when you need it?

  94. 94
    Mark G on 12 Aug 2008 #

    92, I somehow doubt this, this’d mean that no Elvis/rock and roll/Beatles etc had any kind of inroad into Jamaica.

  95. 95
    Waldo on 12 Aug 2008 #

    Yes, correction. Dread was the first white artist to have a major REGGAE hit in Jamaica.

    Sorry.

  96. 96
    wichita lineman on 12 Aug 2008 #

    Ob La Di Ob La Da was big in Jamaica. I’d say it’s the Beatles’ most common Jamaican pressing, having never seen another Jamaican Beatles single.

    It’s worth picking up because the b-side is Sexy Sadie, a unique and intreeeging pairing.

    Of course the question is… is it reggae?

  97. 97
    Conrad on 12 Aug 2008 #

    79, Smash Hits initially presented itself as primarily a place where you could read all the songwords to the latest hits. So, as a songwords mag, there wasn’t a great deal of editorial to begin with.

    And it was also monthly to start with – both these things changed quickly.

  98. 98
    Billy Smart on 17 Aug 2008 #

    Incidentally, the date for this entry is still wrong, I note pedantically.

  99. 99
    Mark Wadsworth on 30 Aug 2008 #

    May I point out that this song has a ‘truck driver’s gear change’ half-way through, i.e. it shifts up a key totally unnecessarily at the end of the middle eight?

  100. 100
    Damon on 14 May 2009 #

    I’ve recently discovered that this song was by 10cc which suprised me as I am more familiar with stuff like “I’m not in love” (all a bit before my time sorry!). Intriguing song – certainly different to all the safe, generic pap that’s released these days. Came across this article while trying to find out about the song after arguing with my partner about which band it was (I didn’t believe it was 10cc at first).

  101. 101
    inakamono on 15 Sep 2009 #

    As someone who’s only recently discovered Popular, and getting to this a long time after the discussion ended…

    but my take on this song has always been fixed in my mind by a moment in a pub in Oxford late that year, when this was followed on the jukebox by probably the best of the pre-No.1 singles by a band that will be commented on Popular a couple of years down the timeline, when the public gets what the public wants.

    While the ‘boring old farts’ were wimping off about a stolen necklace and running home to the safety of a hotel swimming pool and a prostitute — in real life it smelt of pubs and Wormwood Scrubs, with his life swimming around him and drowning.

    A cheap holiday — do it today…

    It’s a moment that stands out really clearly in my mind: how utterly distant the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ had become. And the difference in their reactions — the one running away and seeking pleasure, the other consumed by anger and an urgent, infectious refusal to accept.

    It’s a moment that stands in my memory close to the first time I heard “Anarchy” a few months after it came out, something I can only describe as a Taoist moment of understanding. It wasn’t about different types of music; it was about a different way of living.

  102. 102
    richard thompson on 13 Aug 2011 #

    I always thought it was something hotter not something harder

  103. 103
    Mark G on 13 Aug 2011 #

    It only occurred to me recently, the girl in the last verse is not a prostitute but a ganja dealer. “My harvest is the best” and all that, c’mon!

  104. 104
    Brendan on 24 Sep 2012 #

    I always imagined that this song was racist (though it’s one of the number 1s from the time when I was listening to pop music that I don’t actually remember hearing at the time), but I had never seen it ‘outed’ as such by anyone until now. Whether it is or not I never much cared for it anyway and, indeed, I never really ‘got’ 10cc at all (mostly before my time and I had no urge to retroactively discover them) though I did like a couple of Godley and Creme’s hits from a few years later. I can see all the clever-clever things they did with their music but it doesn’t really have much to say to me, and obviously if the majority here are correct, it isn’t something I would want to hear from this record anyway. Still, it’s about average to me so I’ll give it 5.

  105. 105
    Ed on 30 Oct 2012 #

    @90 That Jimmy Savile and his notoriously high moral standards.

  106. 106
    punctum on 30 Oct 2012 #

    Judge Dread was apparently at it as well. Talk about projection!

  107. 107
    Erithian on 30 Oct 2012 #

    Yes, I mentioned the other day elsewhere on here about Judge Dread’s quote in a Record Mirror interview circa ’75 that there were “a few 14-year-olds I wouldn’t mind giving one to”. The kind of thing you could say back then, presumably. I wondered in a chat with the Swede whether Paul Gambaccini maybe thought at the time that his own sexual preferences were more of a career threat than Savile’s, being the Radio 1 new boy and all that, otherwise he might have taken it further. So many ifs…

  108. 108
    Mark G on 30 Oct 2012 #

    I heard “Up with the Cock” the other day, at the end of some US whorehouse ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. Unlikely, I thought. It sounded like Jasper Carrott, which Bigs Six and Seven didn’t…

  109. 109
    Auntie Beryl on 24 Mar 2013 #

    Just revisited this upon the YouTube. “I heard a dark voice beside me” is an awful lyric, one repeated, and I’m quite surprised it isn’t referenced in the above discussion.

    Either way, this stinks.

  110. 110
    weej on 2 Nov 2013 #

    Erithian @ #107 – I was going to make a joke here, but it would probably be unwise. I’ll give it another few years.

  111. 111
    Larry on 17 Nov 2014 #

    This song and ‘Safe European Home’ can both be seen as correctives to white reggae fans’ romanticizing Jamaica as a Disneyland with reggae and pot. Together they must have cost Jamaica a lot of tourism.

  112. 112
    enitharmon on 10 Apr 2015 #

    Struggling to find somewhere suitable to pay my respects to the late Richie Benaud, caught at deep midwicket for 84. This will have to do but I was hoping for more of a little conundrum involving some prime Stax soul. Alas, it seems that Stax Records has not graced the top of the British charts. This seems a great shame and an incomplete picture of popular music of the 1960s. Others may mourn but Booker T Jones must be grinning all the way to the bank today.

  113. 113
    Lazarus on 10 Apr 2015 #

    ‘Mambo Number 5’ would have sufficed as well as the great man also appeared on Channel 4 until 2005.

  114. 114
    Kinitawowi on 10 Apr 2015 #

    You guys had better ideas than I did – the nearest I could think of was surely at least a reference in Rory Bremner’s parody of Paul Hardcastle’s 19 (N-N-Nineteen Not Out).

  115. 115
    Rory on 10 Apr 2015 #

    See, if this were an Australian Number One Albums blog, you’d have a much easier time of it.

    Although for mine, the classic Benaud parody on vinyl was on Doug Mulray’s Rude Album, where he’s reading from an autocue, “This is Richie Be-nude… Be-nude? Benaud, it’s Benaud. I think I ought to know how to say my own name.”

    RIP, RB.

  116. 116
    Jimmy the Swede on 11 Apr 2015 #

    Yes, a great loss. Cricket is in my blood. My brother played for London Schools and was without doubt County level but decided against following that path. He was good but not outstanding and would probably have only lasted a couple of seasons with Essex, his preferred choice or with anyone else for that matter. I think he knew this. As for me, I’ve been a member of Surrey CCC pretty much continuously from 1974. I am thus no stranger to Oval Tests over the ages and have seen some of the great Aussie sides as well as the Windies. I was present when Tony Greig had to call in his grovel, as the packed ranks of Windies supporters on the East terrace sung their hosannas, whilst clattering their beer cans.

    Richie was at the centrepoint of all of this and was the perfect foil in his early days in the BBC commentary box for the very dour Jim Laker, who despite being a Surrey hero, had the personality of a parsnip. Benaud loved a punt – horses mainly and was often spotted in the Ladbrokes tent when anchor man Peter West allowed him the chance to get away. He was delighted to chat with everyone, even kids who shouldn’t have really been in the tent in the first place.

    I exchanged letters with him on a couple of occasions – he always replied, and he also made sure that he personally signed every copy of his autobiography when he was finally persuaded to do one.

    Richie’s passing is a great loss to the larger sporting world, although in non-cricketing quarters, his name would mean nothing. They are talking about a State funeral in Australia. Whether this happens is not important. What surely counts is what he achieved as well as how he was perceived. A man with no enemies, respected and indeed beloved by everyone.

    RIP.

  117. 117
    enitharmon on 5 Jan 2020 #

    Wondering in retrospect what the populistas make of these two middle-aged heterosexual white men taking on the music of the Caribbean:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td9FajFt9a8

  118. 118
    Andrew Farrell on 5 Jan 2020 #

    History’s forgetting of that would seem a kindness.

  119. 119
    Gareth Parker on 5 May 2021 #

    I still think this is appealing enough melodically. 6/10 for me.

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