Oct 06

FREDA PAYNE – “Band Of Gold”

FT + Popular54 comments • 9,381 views

#291, 19th September 1970

“Band Of Gold” isn’t a particular standout musically – a Motown beat that seems to have gone a bit stale on its journey over to the Invictus label, a string arrangement low in the mix and an enjoyably twangy guitar. It does a job but it’s down to Freda Payne to give the record its kick. And she does – a performance full of hurt, sorrow and indignant anger. Impotence is a rare pop topic, now as then: the lyric stresses the bride’s naivety, but the strongest impression I get is that Payne simply can’t believe the affrontery of what’s happened: whatever olive branches she’s prepared to hand out (“love me like you tried before”) pale beside her bubbling, disbelieving wrath – “but THAT NIGHT, on our HONEYMOON”. It’s withering stuff: a shame the band also couldn’t get it up a little more.



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  1. 31
    Tom on 30 Oct 2006 #

    Ah right, crossed wires – I misread Erithian as talking about two No.1 singles (T Rex’s first also coming up) (I am crossing my fingers that this week I’ll actually be able to write more than one entry)

  2. 32
    Erithian on 30 Oct 2006 #

    OK, point taken Marcello, and indeed I had a little whinge about people talking about unconsummated marriage songs before the “Band of Gold” entry had been posted! It was just that one or two of us were getting so worked up about Purple v Freda, and I noticed a pairing coming up that must have aroused Ultravox-esque rage among many at the time. I agree about the serendipity, so let’s leave it there. (and leave Ultravox alone for now as well…)

  3. 33

    “Ultravox-esque rage” is my phrase of the week so far — i shall be using (or doubtless misusing) it whenever i can

  4. 34
    Tom on 30 Oct 2006 #

    I have visions of pencil moustaches bristling with barely suppressed ire.

  5. 35
    Marcello Carlin on 30 Oct 2006 #

    The Unique Paradox of Midge Ure at Number One is indeed something I anticipate on Popular with much covert twirling of bars of handle.

  6. 36
    Dadaismus on 31 Oct 2006 #

    I look forward to an account of how “Shaddup Your Face” prevented “Vienna” from reaching No. 1 with unseemly relish

  7. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 31 Oct 2006 #

    I was thinking more of the records involving Midge which did get to number one; a curious array to be sure.

  8. 38
    Louie on 19 Nov 2006 #

    Speaking of Black Night by Deep Purple, it’s a rip of We Ain’t Got Nothing Yet by the Blues MacGoos. However, that riff was lifted directly from Ricky Nelson’s version of Summertime and the Living is Easy (can’t recall the correct name)—ain’t pop music history fun?

  9. 39
    Steve Owen on 24 Nov 2006 #

    My most fav track takes me back to my first girl friend. Shivers down my spine 10/10

  10. 40
    Waldo on 29 Sep 2009 #

    Freda Payne is Anne of Cleves.

  11. 41
    wichita lineman on 30 Sep 2009 #

    Also notable for having no verse or no chorus, depending how you see it. Ultimate failsafe floorfiller?

  12. 42
    Ken Shinn on 28 Mar 2012 #

    I swear that there’s a mid-70s version of this (artist unknown) which turns the whole thing into knowing sitcom – there’s a constant toot/whistle rhythm track reminiscent of Popeye cartoons, and I recall that the singer finally extends (albeit somewhat irritably) an olive branch to her other half – “WON’T YOU STOP THAT WHISTLING, STANLEY, AND COME IN HERE!!! – I ain’t gonna BITE ya…” Googling hasn’t helped with investigations, but I’m sure that it isn’t a rarebit dream of mine. Can any of you fine folks help?

  13. 43
    Lena on 1 May 2012 #

    Motown/Not Motown: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/you-cant-hurry-love-chairmen-of-board.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  14. 45
    Lena on 8 May 2012 #

    Man in dark seeks home: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/rock-and-roll-deep-purple-black-night.html Thanks for reading, everybody!

  15. 46
    JLR on 15 Apr 2014 #

    Maybe it’s been said already, but what you’ve heard as guitar, I’d swear to be sitar, Tom. Maybe I’m wrong? And it was only a couple years ago I figured out the song’s about what it is about, so melodically cheerful I’d thought it when I was a kid.

    Don’t know how many readers you get from the U.S., but I’m one who discovered you a few years ago via The Singles Jukebox blog and have enjoyed your insights no matter a profound philosophical difference or two (am a politically conservative capitalist Christian, but I’d like to think I know good music criticism when I read it, too).

  16. 47
    Tom on 15 Apr 2014 #

    Hi JLR – as I’ve learned to my sorrow, nothing could be likelier than me misidentifying an instrument! So you’re almost certainly right. (And thanks for reading!)

  17. 48
    hectorthebat on 14 Jun 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 9
    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1970s (2001) 81
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 391
    Stylus (USA) – Seconds: One Song Essay Every Week
    2FM (Ireland) – Top 100 Singles of All Time (2003) 82
    Mojo (UK) – The Ultimate Jukebox: 100 Singles You Must Own (2003) 14
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 150 Singles of All Time (1987) 54
    Paul Roland (UK) – CD Guide to Pop & Rock, 100 Essential Singles (2001)
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – The Ultimate Music Collection (2005)
    Zig Zag (UK) – Gillett & Frith’s Hot 100 Singles (1975)
    STM Entertainment (Australia) – The 50 Best Songs Ever (2007) 49
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  18. 49
    Lazarus on 4 Apr 2016 #

    I have this on a compilation, ‘This is Northern Soul 2’ but was it a hit on the Northern scene, or was it rather too mainstream? (I note that NS was discussed on the Tams thread, and maybe under ‘Tainted Love’ too, but not here, which suggests not). And going back to the lyrics, even if the story was that he couldn’t rather than she wouldn’t, that should have been cause for sympathy and support, surely, rather than anger on Freda’s part. It makes me think of an early Lily Allen hit – not, I think, a bunny – in which her fella was suffering a different form of dysfunction and all she can respond with is ‘It’s not fair.’ Yeah, like he’s doing it on purpose.

  19. 50
    enitharmon on 4 Apr 2016 #

    Lazarus @ 49: it was, as I recall, one of the initial releases of Holland-Dozier-Holland’s shiny new Invictus Records and as such got a lot of publicity and airtime from the start. So no, not a NS kind of thing. But I may be a meringue.

  20. 51
    Phil on 5 Apr 2016 #

    Apparently Freda Payne didn’t want to take the song because she didn’t think it would sound credible coming from her – specifically, she didn’t think that she could carry off the ‘virgin so freaked out by the prospect of sex that her new husband leaves on the spot’ demanded by the full lyrics (see Marcello @11).

    But, of course, thanks to the ‘single edit’ (which as I understand it was only intended to shorten the song), that’s not the song we heard. So we’ve got a man who walks out on his wedding night and a woman who’s absolutely furious about it. Why’s she angry about impotence? I didn’t think very deeply about this at the time, only being ten years old, but one reading is that she’s angry because he knew, or should have known, that he’d have trouble going through with it, with her or any other woman. Supposedly it was a hit in gay discos for just this reason – Freda’s anguish projected onto the poor guy who’d got himself into that situation.

  21. 52
    lonepilgrim on 19 Jun 2018 #

    In the early episodes of Mad Men, at the start of the 1960s, Betty Draper and her suburban friends were aghast to discover that their new neighbour was a divorcee and treated her as a potential vector of infection. By the end of the series, and the decade, half or more of the marriages – including Betty’s – had ended. Divorce was becoming the norm. I wonder whether this song touched a nerve and/or reflected the times. The vagueness of the lyrics over what exactly has happened may have helped listeners to match it to their own experience – whether lived or anticipated. Had the full lyrics been included then I think there would have been a tension between Freda’s fierce accusatory tone and words that put the blamed herself.

  22. 53
    wichitalineman on 19 Jun 2018 #

    Re 53: First piece of music ever played in Mad Men – theme tune aside – was Don Cherry’s Band Of Gold. Not the jazzer Don Cherry, and not this Band Of Gold, it was instead a brassy croon, a New York equivalent to Finger Of Suspicion maybe… but the coincidence was too neat to pass by.

  23. 54
    Gareth Parker on 23 May 2021 #

    Top performance from Freda of a great song. 8/10 in my opinion.

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