Apr 06

THE TREMELOES – “Silence Is Golden”

Popular45 comments • 7,991 views

#233, 20th May 1967

A song about wimpiness and non-intervention, whose subject seems to infect its delivery: close harmony as a coccoon, a kind of pretty disengagement from the beastly world. It’s a cover version of a record that’s only three years old but it sounds further out of time than that. And ahead of time too – ear-squint and this is in the same bandstand as Westlife, maybe. A discussion flowered briefly on ILM yesterday about why male harmony singing fails to get the hip recognition the (generalised) ‘girl group sound’ does – perhaps this sense that the voices are covering up for one another is part of the reason?



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  1. 31
    Brooksie on 19 Feb 2010 #

    The record is about something; it’s about a guy who doesn’t know whether to tell a girl that her guy is cheating on her.

    Ok, it ain’t very deep, but still…

    As for girl v guy groups; in the last ten to fifteen years all the decent guy groups have pretty much vanished, they all have one demographic group they appeal to; young girls. Which pretty much means they have no nuts. Yes, they can do some heavy sounding dance, but it’s all producer built and lame. Ever since the New Kids on the Block guy groups have been either dance / ballad combos, or just ballad groups (Westlife). The girls groups’ ‘sass’ is just symptomatic of modern culture appealing to a sense of girlie injustice. But even then; they are usually performed by the kind of girls who cry when their nails get broken, and all the music is written and made by the producers anyway. Can anyone in the Sugababes actually play a guitar… or a piano? And that’s the real problem; at both ends of the spectrum, neither the girls or the boys are responsible for the music ‘they’ make – they just front it (a few lyrics don’t count as songwriting). Take The Spice Girls – “Girl Power” – they were auditioned to form the group and selected by a guy – they were nothing more than ‘The Monkees’ – only they couldn’t even play!

  2. 32
    Lena on 25 Oct 2011 #

    That is love, that it is: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/10/mamas-and-papas-dedicated-to-one-i-love.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  3. 33
    wichita lineman on 26 Oct 2011 #

    Much as I love the Four Seasons, I’m intrigued by the lack of any debate on the odd career of the Tremeloes here.

    They weren’t really a harmony act; Silence Is Golden was just a faithful cover of the flip of Rag Doll (and thus close to being a cover of a Popular b-side which would surely have been a first). It was atypical of the “Trems” sound. Here Comes My Baby was more their style – goodtime singalong stuff which (Cat aside) was frequently European in origin. In this way they are groundbreakers, anticipating the Sylvia/Shag/Demis R package holiday hits of the seventies. Also, it was a lot more fun than the cod-serious, E-numbered 60s Europe of This Is My Song or Where Do You Go To My Lovely – which admittedly ain’t saying much.

    Come 1969 they decided to switch tack, and came up with the belting Anglo country rocker (Call Me) Number One – which stalled at number two – then provided the soundtrack to an Oxford-set sex-murder-mystery movie called May Morning a year later. They were also very rude about their own run of Euro-poppy hits which seems to have killed their career stone dead after four straight years of Top 10 hits.

    Silence Is Golden meantime is VERY odd subject matter for a number one, and I’ve never been quite sure why it got so big.

  4. 34
    punctum on 26 Oct 2011 #

    See opening section of the TV adaptation The History Man where young Howard Kirk is moaning at the DJ about not playing Jefferson Airplane or the Doors. He puts on “Silence Is Golden” and the floor fills up with girl students, slow dances &c.

    The Tremeloes are shurely the missing link between Trini Lopez and the Sweet. And don’t get me started about their completely ignored (at least in the UK) 1972-5 glam era.

  5. 35
    Billy Smart on 26 Oct 2011 #

    No, DO start, Punctum! I’d like to hear about that.

  6. 36
    wichita lineman on 26 Oct 2011 #

    Glam Trems – no idea about this! Tell us more.

    Smoochy SIG is, and the harmonies are sweet, but such a cowardly lyric: are we meant to sympathise with the singer? Beggars Parade was another Four Seasons b-side with an unusual lyric – a right wing apologist protest song. Stop moaning and get to work!

    “Close harmony as a coccoon, a kind of pretty disengagement from the beastly world” is one of my favourite pop strands: The Free Design, Mamas & Papas et al. Usually there’s a humanist message in there rather than speak-no-evil non-intervention.

  7. 37
    Mark G on 26 Oct 2011 #

    “Here comes my baby” is an oddity inasmuch as the version I had as a kid had a fairly ranshackle intro with clapping, whooping, and a big “1-2-3-4” start. It was a promotional single for Pepsi, with Simon and Garfunkel’s “59th street bridge song feeling groovy” on the other side.

    I eventually got a copy of the normal CBS single, and found it started immediately after the “1-2-3-4” intro, which seemed a shame.

    A bit like when playing “Eloise” Barry Ryan around a mates house and finding that his copy didn’t fade at the ‘screaming’ bit but carried on for another minute or so.

  8. 38
    punctum on 26 Oct 2011 #

    The nice thing about having the album version of “Eloise” is that it starts with an extra orchestral flourish and Barry cackling madly away for no good reason (happy birthday by the way Barry – turned 63 two days ago. Amazing how you go to his website and it’s all about his photography; you’d never know he’d been a musician).

  9. 39
    vinylscot on 26 Oct 2011 #

    Some of the “glam” Trems was OK, although even in their “glam” period they drifted between light pop, 50s updates, Mungo Jerry-type party music, and Blackfoot-Sue-lite “rockers”.

    I quite enjoyed “Right Wheel, Left Hammer, Sham”, without even trying to understand what it was about, but I could happily do without hearing “One Of The Boys” or “Blue Suede Tie” again. From memory, they kept cropping up on “Lift Off!” way after the hits stopped.

  10. 40
    wichita lineman on 26 Oct 2011 #

    “Mmmmm, Blackfoot Sue-lite…” Think I need to investigate. Tentatively.

    Anyone else here fond of Call Me Number One? I’m not sure what they were trying to do – presumably cram every recent pop noise (from Canned Heat to Don Partridge via CSN) into 3 mins. Never worked out what the lyric is all about either. It shouldn’t work, but I love it. Always group it alongside Fleetwood Mac’s Oh Well in my head, a similarly weirdly structured late ’69 hit.

    Plus thee’s Instant Whip, a pretty decent, if rambling, instrumental groover, on the b-side.

  11. 41
    Lena on 31 Oct 2011 #

    And what should have been #1, according to the Tremeloes: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/10/across-bridge-kinks-waterloo-sunset.html

    Thanks for reading everyone!

  12. 42
    Jimmy the Swede on 31 Oct 2011 #

    #33- So poor old Peter Sarstedt takes yet another undeserved toeing, does he? Well, I still say it’s a brilliant record, even if he does sound like the cartoon Inspector mooning over some impossible target of a bird, whilst fingering himself tragically, as he sits by himself in a tiny bistro in Dieppe with only a ever-filling jug of Ricard for company, apart from the bistro-keeper, who looks like a fat aging Peter Bowles and a flatulent, flea-ridden, crippled old cat and the smell of fish wafting in from the harbour. Fuck me, can’t you fools understand that you just can’t buy quality like that?!

    I liked “Call Me Number One” and “Oh Well” too, though.

  13. 43
    Billy Smart on 5 Dec 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: The Tremeloes performed Silence Is Golden on Top Of The Pops on four occasions;

    20 April 1967. Also in the studio that week were; David & Jonathan, Manfred Mann, PP Arnold, Sandie Shaw and The Move. Pete Murray was the host.

    18 May 1967. Also in the studio that week were; Englebert Humperdink, Jeff Beck, The Troggs and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Jimmy Savile was the host.

    25 May 1967. Also in the studio that week were; Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Titch, Dusty Springfield and Procul Harum. Alan Freeman was the host.

    25 December 1967. Also in the studio that Christmas were; Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, The Foundations, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Tom Jones. Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman and Pete Murray were the hosts.

    None of these editions survive.

  14. 44
    lonepilgrim on 18 Apr 2016 #

    this is another song that I remember hearing as a kid. I used to find it unsettling, possibly because the harmonies don’t blend but sound slightly dissonant reinforcing the disquiet of the lyrics. I usually find Frankie Valli’s falsetto a bit like fingernails down a blackboard but the equivalent here sounds more subdued, more diffident. Now whenever this is announced on the radio I hear the word golden in the title and am always surprised at how gloomy it sounds.

  15. 45
    Gareth Parker on 27 May 2021 #

    Even though I would have liked to see the Kinks at #1, I still think this is a good record. 7/10.

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