Sep 03

AL MARTINO – “Here In My Heart”

Popular153 comments • 19,122 views

#1, 14th November 1952

Deep magic from the dawn of pop. Except it’s not really magical, and it wasn’t exactly the dawn, and nowadays this doesn’t even sound like pop. But you have to start somewhere, and the British singles charts started here: a device to sell newspapers that ended up conquering my world. I had never heard Al Martino’s record before I downloaded it on a whim yesterday. It was easy enough to find, easier than it was to listen to twice.

What I’ve often liked about the charts though is their seeming arbitrariness. You can make a good guess at what will be Number One each week but you can rarely get it entirely right – I was surprised (and delighted) that the Black Eyed Peas hit the top this week; I was resigned and appalled when Gareth Gates and the Kumars clung clammily on this spring. So it’s fitting that the first No.1 sounds so overdone and undistinguished – it crashes into life well enough on a surge of strings but Martino’s cornball opera style is baffling to me: this was pop? Um, OK, if you say so.

But the question always has to be – what’s the appeal? Someone (who? why? we can’t really guess) was buying it – what did they like? Martino’s voice is damn versatile – it slides from bellow to purr so slickly over the space of one line, but it never lets the orchestra outshine it. Maybe that was the hook. Maybe what I hear as too-much a 1952 me would have heard as just right. I expect though I’d have thought what I more or less think now – that ‘Here In My Heart’ is OK, just a curio today; just a hit yesterday. And OK seems an OK place to start.



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  1. 121
    wichita lineman on 3 Jan 2013 #

    Vienna’s a funny one. Would anyone put it in their all time Top 10? It feels like the oxygen given to Ultravox to air their disappointment is completely out of proportion with the perceived ‘injustice’.

    God Only Knows. Strawberry Fields/Penny Lane. Waterloo Sunset. All solidly up there as international Desert Island Discs. But Vienna?

    A few personal faves that trounce Vienna… Frankie Laine’s Blowin’ Wild. Excerpt From A Teenage Opera. The Casuals’ Jesamine. Barry Ryan’s Eloise. The Moody Blues’ Question. Groovin’ With Mr Bloe. Slade’s Gudbuy t’Jane. Ballroom Blitz. This Town Ain’t Big Enough. Sir Duke. Church Of The Poison Mind. What Have I Done To Deserve This. Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi. Raving I’m Raving. Set You Free. Milkshake.

    I wonder how Blur felt when their own self-conscious epic, Tender, was kept off the top by >>bunnied<<. I bet they whined like billy-o.

  2. 122
    Mark G on 3 Jan 2013 #

    Yes, they did wander round for at least seven minutes going “oh whyyyy, oh myyyyy”

  3. 123
    punctum on 4 Jan 2013 #

    Their loneliness must have been killing them…

    Inevitably, listened to most of the show – one entry from the ’50s (“Move It”) with no “Heartbreak Hotel” or “Hound Dog.” Suspect that James at #118 is right that most people didn’t bother scrolling through all the choices. Was temporarily wondering whether Queen might bag the top four, knowing what R2 listeners are like, but it didn’t work out that way.

    Agree with Rosie at #115 that The Public should just have been left/allowed to pick their own favourite #2.

  4. 124
    wichita lineman on 4 Jan 2013 #

    Re the demise of Chartstats – the OCC seem to now have all the Top 75 chart positions up, by artist. I’m not sure if this was the case before.

  5. 125
    Brendan on 4 Jan 2013 #

    Yes that was the case when I first visited OCC when chartstats was killed off. So if you were really determined you could use them to write up your own charts. Just don’t post them on the internet!

  6. 126
    punctum on 4 Jan 2013 #

    Website also has single and album charts from 12/3/60, but only up to the Top 40.

  7. 127
    Brendan F on 8 Jan 2013 #

    One last thought occurred re the Radio 2 number 2 chart – now that ‘Vienna’ has apparently been given ‘official number 1’ status will Tom have an entry for it?

  8. 128
    punctum on 8 Jan 2013 #

    It hasn’t been given “official number 1” status; it came top of a radio listeners’ poll. Otherwise you might just as well ask whether Tom will do an entry for David Cameron.

  9. 129
    Lazarus on 8 Jan 2013 #

    ‘Vienna’ was discussed at some length on the ‘Shaddup You Face’ thread, unsurprisingly. Radio 2 themselves styled it an ‘honorary’ number one.

  10. 130
    punctum on 8 Jan 2013 #

    Radio 2, like the BBC in general, are very keen on rewriting history.

  11. 131
    Tom on 8 Jan 2013 #

    Honorary number one my hairy arse. Not that it wouldn’t have been fun to write about.

  12. 132
    anto on 9 Jan 2013 #

    re:121 I think “My Sex” plus a lot of John Foxxs solo stuff wipe the floor with “Vienna”.
    Anyone would think it was an endangered species rather than a slightly silly 30-year old pop epic which has made Midge Ure lots of cash regardless of its chart position.

  13. 133
    wichita lineman on 9 Jan 2013 #

    How much does anyone really like it? Seriously? It never gets oldies airplay/ad usage like, say, Heaven 17’s #2 Temptation.

  14. 134
    Mark G on 9 Jan 2013 #

    Well, I have a certain affection for this song.

    Basically, my first band’s first public performance was at a Pontin’s holiday camp, we got to borrow the resident band’s equipment and did our number with amplification which we’d never had before. The tape sounds like the Buzzcocks, which was fine, this was 1978 after all.

    Any road up, the first bloke on was a cross between Brian Glover and Bill Maynard, and he introduced himself as a ‘pub singer’, a long time before the association that Vic Reeves exploited. Anyway, he chatted a little before producing an acapella performance of this song.

    I never heard this original version until a recent BBC documentary that Tony Blackburn hosted. Have to say, it’s good but the bloke was better…

  15. 135
    hardtogethits on 10 Jan 2013 #

    Amusing to read #134 and think that, like #133, it’s about Vienna.

    Amusing to read # 133 and think that, like #134, it’s about Here In My Heart.

  16. 136
    admin on 9 Sep 2013 #

    Slightly premature bump for this post published 16th September 2003

  17. 137
    Erithian on 9 Sep 2013 #

    Very premature Admin – so what are we doing next week to celebrate?

  18. 138
    Tom on 9 Sep 2013 #

    Nothing big, I’ll have a 10th birthday post up I guess!

  19. 139
    ciaran on 9 Sep 2013 #

    Could there be a record worthy of a ’10′ coming up the same day!

  20. 140
    Lazarus on 13 Sep 2013 #

    Purchase of today’s Times is recommended guys – some chap called Bob Stanley has written about the 1952 chart in Times 2.

  21. 141
    Jimmy the Swede on 13 Sep 2013 #

    Bloody Bob Stanley. He’s like friggin Stephen Fry. He’s everywhere. But who is this geezer?!

  22. 142
    Cumbrian on 13 Sep 2013 #

    Is he a lineman for the county?

  23. 143
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Oct 2013 #

    Out of loyalty to the Godfather, and because sounding so autumnal’s oddly a nice contrast with the starting gun of, :cough: a marathon, not a sprint, I instinctively give this a 6.

  24. 144
    CriticSez on 1 Oct 2015 #

    I’m new to the community. Before I get started, I’d like to explain my own, much more expressive rating system. I grade songs from 0-10, in five areas:

    Presentation (pace fitting mood, how well the song is delivered)
    Instrumentation (how well instruments (if any) are played)
    Vocals (how well it is sung, if lyrics are relevant to theme etc. (not instrumentals))
    Originality (how similar it is to other songs at the time, and if it came from songwriters’ minds or was blatantly copied from others)
    Lasting appeal (if the song makes the listener want to hear it again, many times.

    The above areas are as follows:

    0/0.5 (Catastrophic)
    1/1.5 (Abysmal)
    2/2.5 (Terrible)
    3/3.5 (Rubbish)
    4/4.5 (Poor)
    5/5.5 (Average)
    6/6.5 (Satisfactory)
    7/7.5 (Decent)
    8/8.5 (Worthwhile)
    9/9.5 (Excellent)
    10 (Outstanding)

    They are also in .5 increments, and are averaged to give the overall:

    0-0.9 (“Disaster”)
    1-1.9 (“Unbearable”)
    2-2.9 (“Painful”)
    3-3.9 (“Awful”)
    4-4.9 (“Bad”)
    5-5.9 (“Mediocre”)
    6-6.9 (“OK”)
    7-7.9 (“Good”)
    8-8.9 (“Great”)
    9-9.9 (“Amazing”)
    10 (“Masterpiece”)

    Some songs that get 8 or more have the “Editor’s Choice” label, meaning they can be considered classics of their time or in their field, so you know you’re listening to what I consider the very best in audio entertainment.

    In this case, the song is as follows:

    Presentation: 9.5
    Instrumentation: 10
    Vocals: 10
    Originality: 9.5
    Lasting appeal: 9.5

    Overall: 9.7

    I personally disagree with many people here, since this is a highly meaningful, well-written song from a time when the UK was still struggling to rebuild after WW2.

  25. 145
    Mark G on 1 Oct 2015 #

    Do “Baby Jump” next.

  26. 146
    wichitalineman on 4 Oct 2015 #

    Boom boom!

  27. 147
    CriticSez on 10 Jan 2016 #

    #145: When you mean “do ‘Baby Jump’ next”, do you mean the Mungo Jerry song from 1971, or the “baby jump” in the Populist for 2000?

  28. 148
    Mark G on 10 Jan 2016 #

    The 1971 one, the other is just a page index.

  29. 149
    Stephen M on 10 Jan 2016 #

    Not a style of music I usually gravitate towards, and definitely agree with Tom that it’s overdone. Something about it, however, just works for me – While not a style I gravitate towards, it’s also not a style I actually dislike, and it’s overdone in a way that gives it a nice bit of oomph, which is something I always appreciate, and a way that while I think wrong for the song really seems to suit Al Martino’s voice. I’d give it a 6.

  30. 150
    Mark G on 10 Jan 2016 #

    Just re-read the whole comments section. Happy times…

  31. 151
    Lazarus on 10 Jan 2016 #

    Indeed. I wonder how Victoria at #58 got on? I’m not sure we ever heard from her again.

  32. 152
    slideyfoot on 16 May 2020 #

    Now this looks like an excellent way to spend some lockdown reading/listening! Though it doesn’t look like future posts are quite as comment heavy so far as this first one (had to relisten to Al quite a few times to keep it going all the way to the bottom of the comments ;D)

    Naturally I’ll make myself a Spotify playlist. Should be easy to find if the below link doesn’t work – I just called it ‘Populist (Tom Ewing on Freaky Trigger). I’m assuming that has been done already at some point over the years. But meh, I’ll find that out in later comments, we’ll see. :)


  33. 153
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    A decent 1st UK #1. A fair place to start. Al gets a 6/10 from me.

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