Jan 10

NICK BERRY – “Every Loser Wins”

FT + Popular102 comments • 9,550 views

#578, 18th October 1986, video

Here’s a thing: I have never watched an episode of Eastenders. Not all through. Too much shouting for me. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of this but it does mean I missed out on the astonishing storyline in which “Every Loser Wins” made its debut before it became the first soap star single to reach number one. I’m missing some critical context on “Wicksy” here, people, and I expect you to fully enlighten me in the comments box.

I’m not expecting it to change my view of the record, mind you, since free of its story context “Every Loser Wins” is beyond terrible. The work of ‘stenders theme composer Simon May it’s one of the faffiest, most disheartening songs to drift our way: every loser wins, but only when they’re dreaming, but it’s still a win, and this is for the losers, who are really winners, we nearly made it. For pity’s sake it features the lyric: “every loser knows / the light the tunnel shows”, whose contortion is only marginally worse than “In time you’ll see / Fate holds the key”.

As a performer, Nick Berry is a blow-dried void, a soft-focus nullity and certainly the best thing about the record. Though listening to it he’s easily overwhelmed by that high piano trill, cutting repeatedly through “Every Loser Wins” with all the heartbreaking sensitivity of the Intel chimes. The record also boasts perhaps the clumsiest drum drop-in of the whole decade, wellington-booted snares whomping down painfully into the AOR murk. There are no winners here.



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  1. 31
    Billy Smart on 14 Jan 2010 #

    No forgetting ‘It’s ‘Orrible Being In Love When You’re Eight & A Half’ by Claire & Friends!

    This was a golden year for BBC Records, if perhaps less so for pop-pickers…

  2. 32
    Alan on 14 Jan 2010 #

    pop fact #27 is that emma bunton (popular multiple-time bunny baiter) had the smallest bit part on EastEnders http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9IF2V0KaNE

    Then there’s Martine M… – bunny censor steps in. sorry

  3. 33
    Tom on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Even-handedness trumps: I have now given as many 1s as 10s

  4. 34
    TomLane on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Never even heard of this, and here in the U.S., no chart action for this. I’ve now heard this. And I think U.S. ears didn’t miss much.

  5. 35
    punctum on 15 Jan 2010 #

    #17: Which reminds me; Kate Robbins was on “The Chicken Song.”

    I’m glad someone else remembers “The Summer Of My Life,” a rather strange top tenner from late ’76, obviously done to hitch a ride on the “Bo Rap”/”Music” extended epic bandwagon with slow bits and speedy interludes and as milky as the Milk Shop, Milk Street, Milktown but really not that bad. Possibly even stranger was his 1977 mash-up of “We’ll Gather Lilacs” and “All My Loving” which got plenty of airplay on Fab 208 but failed to progress beyond #49.

  6. 36
    Pete Baran on 15 Jan 2010 #

    For people who do not know Eastenders, here is Faith No More performing the theme tune.

  7. 37
    Alan on 15 Jan 2010 #


    Harry Hill’s hornophone medley including smoke on the water and eastenders


  8. 38
    MichaelH on 15 Jan 2010 #

    I used to co-present a football phone-in on the radio with Tom Watt, who played Lofty. I once teased him by saying, on air, “Chelle, maybe you could fall in love with me …” He was furious. We got on well aside from that, though sadly he never passed on any Nick Berry related anecdotes.

  9. 39
    MikeMCSG on 15 Jan 2010 #

    #38 It has to be said that Tom’s murderous assault on “Subterranean Homesick Blues” trumps any other dire Eastenders artefact even this but thankfully the public ignored that one.

  10. 40
    Rory on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Hi again, everyone. I hadn’t expected we would still be in 1986 when I got back, but can see how some of these tracks would sap anyone’s will to review them. We never heard this in Australia either (unless we were EastEnders watchers, I suppose – the ABC picked up the series at the time). Until now I would have said that Renee and Renato were indisputably the worst UK number one act of the 1980s, but Berry has snatched that crown – even St Winifred’s School Choir can hold their heads high compared to this.

  11. 41
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Adding words to themetunes is a mugg’s game though, unless it’s along the Emmerdale Farm principle (where the words “Emerdale Farm” are repeat-sung to the tune of Emmerdale Farm). It is very nearly impossible to apply this principle to Eastenders == who if Wicksy ad attempted it, this song would be a little bit better.

    The massive intrusive drum pattern actually works pretty well in context of the programme itself.

  12. 42
    lonepilgrim on 15 Jan 2010 #

    re 35 I heard another of those epic 70s tracks the other day: ‘Cloud suite’ by David Gates. I liked it enough to download it. Complete with the sound of a stiff breeze at the start it reminded me a bit of ‘Funeral for a friend/Love lies bleeding’.

    Oh, and while we’re on the subject of soap tunes I’d like to put a vote for the theme to ‘Home and Away’ which, regardless of the quality of the programme, i liked

    ..and didn’t McCartney cover the ‘Crossroads’ theme on an album? That’s ‘Crossroads’ by Tony Hatch not Robert Johnson BTW although a soap with a theme composed by the latter would be interesting

  13. 43
    Billy Smart on 15 Jan 2010 #

    The irritating joke that I always used to tell whenever I was watching the Home & Away credits in company; “Its good to see that Prefab Sprout are still getting work”

  14. 44
    Mark G on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Isn’t this the one case where a number one artist declines to do any further records?

  15. 45
    Billy Smart on 15 Jan 2010 #

    If only that had been the case! Nick Berry stormed back into the charts with his Number 2 smash cover version of Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat in 1992. At least it was a better song than Every Loser Wins.

  16. 46
    Erithian on 15 Jan 2010 #

    For a long while this held the record for the biggest jump within the chart, gng from 66 to 4 in a week.

    That Enders/chart interface in full (unless of course, in the words of Cyril Fletcher, you know better):

    Nick Berry – I note that when I compiled this list for a quiz a few years ago, I described this song as a kind of Unibond League George Michael.
    Emma Bunton – as mentioned above, played a member of a girl gang and then joined the Spicies. Little change there then.
    Michelle Collins (Cindy Beale) – reached No 28 in 1999 with the theme from the “Sunburn” series, and was also one of Mari Wilson’s Wilsations.
    Phil Daniels (Kevin Wicks) – related to Nick Berry’s character by some means or other, and was of course the star of Quadrophenia and the voice of “Parklife”.
    Letitia Dean and Paul Medford (Sharon Watts and Kelvin Carpenter) – No 12 in 1986 with “Something Outta Nothing”, as above.
    Anita Dobson (Angie Watts) – again as above, reached No 4 in 1986 with “Anyone Can Fall In Love” (to the tune of the EastEnders theme. The theme was also reworked as a hymn – “Glory be to God on high” – see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CsmLV6grWwI Not as funny as Faith No More but still odd.
    Michelle Gayle (Hattie Tavernier) – had several R’n’B hits in the early 90s, two of which reached the top 10 including “Sweetness”.
    Goldie (Angel) – drum’n’bass star, Albert Square gangster, Big Brother housemate, is there nothing he can’t do?
    Marlaine Gordon (Lydia) – picked up from James Masterton’s always-useful column that she played a minor Enders character and was in a band called E’voke who reached No 25 in 1996 with the trance hit “Arms of Loren”. No, me neither.
    Clare Grogan (Ros Thorne) – her out of Altered Images of course, played the private detective who pursued Cindy for Ian. She was fab in Gregory’s Girl too.
    Samantha Janus (Ronnie Mitchell) – was the UK entry in the 1991 Eurovision Song Contest, giving a pretty dire song a better performance than it deserved IMHO.
    Martin Kemp (Steve Owen) – I always listened out for Spandau Ballet on the Vic jukebox whenever he was in.
    Sophie Lawrence (Diane Butcher) – reached No 21 in 1991 with a cover of Donna Summer’s “Love’s Unkind”.
    Jon Lee (Josh Saunders) – played the boyfriend of Nigel Bates’ daughter Claire in the mid-90s and went on to global domination with S Club.
    Rula Lenska (Krystal) – Frank Butcher’s dodgy business partner in Spain, starred in Rock Follies in 1977 and reached No 10 with “OK?”
    Sean Maguire (Aidan Brosnan) – had a brief pop career after being invalided out of Walford Town FC, with five Top 20 hits between 1994-6.
    Martine McCutcheon (Tiffany Mitchell) – hoping the bunny won’t notice.
    Anthony Newley – played a dodgy car dealer who crossed swords with Frank, as mentioned above.
    Sid Owen (Ricky Butcher) – reached No 14 in 2000 with a cover of Sugar Minott’s “Good Thing Going”.
    Patsy Palmer (Bianca Butcher) – duetted with Rickaaayyy on “Better Believe It”, a Children in Need single which reached No 60 in 1995.
    Mike Reid (Frank Butcher) – took his version of “The Ugly Duckling” to No 10 in 1975.
    Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler) – was Number 1 in 1962 when she featured on Mike Sarne’s “Come Outside”.
    Shane Richie (Alfie Moon) – covered Wham’s “I’m Your Man” for Children in Need in 2003.
    David Walliams – a bit tenuous, played a mate of Alfie’s in 2003 and introduced the Proclaimers on a bunny-embargoed Children in Need single.
    Robbie Williams – apparently while doing TOTP, which was filmed in a studio near the Enders set, the fat dancer asked if he could have a cameo role – he could be seen on a phone in the background in the Vic!
    Barbara Windsor (Peggy Mitchell) – duetted with Mike Reid on “The More I See You”, which reached No 46 in 1999.

  17. 47
    MikeMCSG on 15 Jan 2010 #

    #44 Well he did make other records so no it isn’t. I’m not sure Telly Savalas or Baz Luhrmann made another record.

  18. 48
    MichaelH on 15 Jan 2010 #

    #46 Nigel from Easties (Paul Bradley) also had his own kind-of-world-music act HKipper. Attending some Nicaragua benefit or something at the George Robey in the early 90s, with some of the usual underground/anarcho suspects on the bill, we were surprised that the first band on the bill featured said Nigel from Easties.

  19. 49
    LondonLee on 15 Jan 2010 #

    #42 Yes, Wings did the Crossroads theme on their ‘Venus and Mars’ album. If memory serves I think it was occasionally used in the actual show too.

  20. 50
    wichita lineman on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Re 41: The Motors added words to the Grandstand theme and called it Forget About You (no.13, 1978). Though it also works if you sing “do you like sport?” to the tune, which is more apt.

    I knew Punctum would mention Simon May’s We’ll Gather Lilacs before me. Much as I’m fond of the rather ’68-ish Eloise/Macarthur Park strings/structure of Summer Of My Life, We’ll Gather Lilacs is desperate and made for one of the all-time wettest TOTP performance. Barely reaching the high notes, his piano coated in flowers, a white acrylic suit with a red rose in the buttonhole… it made me laugh out loud at the time. In fact the whole family was laughing at the milksop May. Does the performance still exist?

    Twinkle (of Terry legend) used to work as a jingle writer at ATV, and said that once she opened the door of her cubicle to find Simon May crouched down, listening through the keyhole. I’ll bet he pinched the Channel 4 sig tune off her.

    Re 47: Telly S had a minor follow up hit with You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling, and I’m pretty sure there was an album.

    Re 44: there’s an instance of a real-life group who scored a no.1 hit with their first record then declined to release another. But it’ll be a good 4 or 5 years before we get there.

  21. 51
    Billy Smart on 15 Jan 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Simon May performed ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ on the edition of 12 May 1977. Also in the studio that week were; Honky, Blue, Trinidad Oil Company, The Martin Ford Orchestra, Mud, Billy Paul and Dr Feelgood, plus Legs & Co’s Interpretations of Ma Na Ma Na and Got To Give It Up. Jimmy Saville OBE was the host. This edition survives in the archives, and – with that line-up – sounds particularly intriguing.

  22. 52
    Pete Baran on 15 Jan 2010 #

    I was briefly in Eastenders as a child – 1988 – in a pre-Christmas episode Christmas Carolling bit outside the Queen Vic. I was hoping my shortarse status would get me down the front, but yet again my height confounded the director and I was placed firmly off middle and almost completely obscured by a candle (little kids got front row duty). Such is the peril of growing up in Borehamwood where the studios are.

    At the time Easties, Grange Hill (three extras appearances there) and Top Of The Pops were all being film in Borehamwood which gave the place a certain fame. Now it just hosts Eastenders (anbd of course Big Brother for Ch4) and is better known as the burning people alive capital of Britain.

  23. 53
    glue_factory on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Re: 50 – there’s a number one coming up in 1987 where the named act didn’t release anything else (although at least one of the groups that made up the act, did)

  24. 54
    vinylscot on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Re #46

    The recently deceased Edward Woodward had a small hit in the early 70s, and a small part in EE last year.

    Scottish blues singer Tam White also had one hit in the 70s, and a recent-ish stint in EE.

    Will Mellor also did a stretch, as did Ruby Turner, I believe.

  25. 55
    MikeMCSG on 15 Jan 2010 #

    #50 Thanks for the correction re Telly. was his version on a par with Paul Shane’s ?

    But I have a correction for you. It was May’s contemporary (Lord) David Dundas who did the Channel 4 jingle.

    Wasn’t it more likely May was crouching to get a look at Twinkle’s winkle ? Sorry couldn’t resist that onne !

  26. 56
    CarsmileSteve on 15 Jan 2010 #

    @22 Sally Lindsay has, of course, already featured in popular as a member of St Winifrids School Choir!

  27. 57
    AndyPandy on 15 Jan 2010 #

    @46 I had E’voke “Arms of Loren” of tape for a bit Judge Jules used to play it a lot on his Kiss FM show at the time – don’t ever remember hearing it being played out though. Quite a classy bit of pop-trance if I remember correctly possibly a bit too pop for the club play the mix they played on the radio anyway.Think I’ll have to download it and hear it again now.

  28. 58
    AndyPandy on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Billy at 51: I don’t know what the site is called but a few weeks/months ago I came across a site that seemed to be flying in the face of all the accepted wisdom re wiped TOTP performances. If the site’s true (and the people on it ie real tv archive buffs gave credence to this)it seems that somewhere in Germany they seem to have countless hitherto thought wiped TOTP performances from the early 70s (possibly all or a very high proportion of c1970-75 complete shows).
    Do you know anything about this?

    And then there’s the 1000s of hours of Bob Monkhouses video (he owned one of the UKs first ever videorecorders nearly 15 years before they became freely available) archives from 1966 onwards – which he obviously recorded mostly for comedy but considering there’s supposed to be literally 1000s of hours of tape in existence and there were only 3 channels back then its possible he must have sometimes just left them on whilst he went out and been recording everything). So surely amongst that lot there may well be the absolute holy grail of TOTP from the 1960s.
    What’s the score on that?

  29. 59
    AndyPandy on 15 Jan 2010 #

    Heard ‘Arms of Loren’ for first time in about 13 years and yeah not bad at all – also downloaded Simon May ‘Summer of My Life’ while I was at it that must be the first time I’d heard that since 1976.I actually seem to actually remember hearing it on “Crossroads” a programme which I used to hate back then as when I was round my auntie and uncle’s house my (10 years older than me) cousin would go all boring and grown up and make me shut up and be quiet whenever ‘Crossroads’ came on!

  30. 60
    Billy Smart on 15 Jan 2010 #

    I think that quite a lot of 1970s TOTP performances were reproduced and syndicated and might survive unarchived in Europe. I would imagine that they are more likely to exist as dribs and drabs than complete shows, but we can but hope. Certainly, missing clips do seem to turn up on YouTube fairly often.

    Also on the archive front, there’s been some good news; three missing 1976 editions have been recovered from the private collection of dave ‘Diddy’ Hamilton, one 1969 edition from the private holdings of Lulu, and 40 minutes of poor quality recordings from 1967 have been found in an editing suite – including an anarchic appearance by the Turtles and Pink Floyd performing ‘See Emily Play’!

    Hm. Kaleidoscope have just published a book listing the Monkhouse holdings, so I imagine that means that they’ve gone through them. Even if you were a top entertainer, tapes for those 1960s Shilbanden video recorders cost hundreds of pounds, so I imagine that Monkhouse concentrated upon keeping a record of his own appearances, rather than helpfully taping Hendrix and The Beatles on TOTP, Alan Bennett’s sketch series, ‘Evil Of The Daleks’, etc…

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