Oct 10


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#637, 16th December 1989

A Jive Bunny Christmas medley was at this point probably the most inevitable thing in the entire history of pop music, but that didn’t make its arrival any less painful. And honestly, little could have prepared you for how brazenly shoddy “Let’s Party” actually sounds.

Let’s start with the backing – Joe Loss’ “March Of The Mods” is a record with several fine qualities, all of which appear in the two minutes of it Jive Bunny doesn’t use. The Mastermixers lift the march-time and riff and in their hands it immediately becomes a grim press-gang, redolent of the very worst aspects of the “party season”: the heartless forced fun of Christmas. Listening to it is like being pressed against a wall by some wobbling, braying, sodden monster who excuses all offences with the sprig of mistletoe clutched in their clammy hand.

It’s an introvert’s nightmare, and we are all introverts compared to Jive Bunny. For the first time the record acknowledges his malign presence: the “March” sections are extended to make room for a satanic hypeman crying “JAAAAIVE BUNNEH!” every fifteen seconds. The producers also drop in the occasional sample – “What the hell is going on?” asks a voice, perhaps a tactic to make the record seem like a spontaneous explosion of zany hijinks to which only boring straights could possibly object. (We’ll see this kind of thing again: Noel Edmonds, for one, is taking notes)

And at last we get to the sampled records. Naturally, having a theme handed to them on a plate and two decades of festive hits to weave together, the Mastermixes use a massive three songs. This isn’t mixing so much as carving – chunks of Slade, Wizzard and Gary Glitter hacked into the track and bleeding at the edges: Frankenstein’s monster in a kiss-me-quick Santa hat. The Slade section sounds like they’re trying to get the right speed live; before the Gary bit (“TAKE IT AWAY GAZZA!”) the MC goes “Wind It Up! Wind It Up!” as the tempo lunges upwards.

These are good records, of course – well, two of them are: Glitter is showing his eager-to-please side, not his swaggering one. But I think – just maybe – you’d get to hear them in full around Christmas without the intervention of the Mastermixers and their floppy-eared chum. There may have been worse records than this at Number One, but surely none more unnecessary.



  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2010 #


  2. 2
    lockedintheattic on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Right now Jive Bunny have 3 of the bottom 10 reader-rated songs so far, which is quite an impressive (but entirely deserved) feat.

    Number 2 watch: The only Jason Donovan song I ever liked, the christmassy-sounding (thanks to the sleigh bells) When You Come Back To Me

  3. 3
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    As I said before I enjoyed the ‘March Of The Mods’ element so would have to relisten to hear quite the level of badness you’ve described – and I’d forgotten about the “what the hell is going on?” bit.

  4. 4
    Kat but logged out innit on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Bwahahahaha just listening to this now – even my dreadful mash-up attempts are better than this! The ‘clap your hands and stamp your feet’ bit at the end sounds weirdly like Zag of ‘Zig &’ fame.

  5. 5
    Rory on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Putting the “Christ” back into Christmas…

    I don’t know what’s more offensive, its usual mastermixeriness or the fact that they shamelessly cashed in on two of the biggest UK Christmas perennials. But why choose? It’s a guaranteed 1, especially as it’s the third JB track I haven’t been able to listen to all the way through on YouTube.

    Thank JC it’s all over.

  6. 6
    sonnypike on 13 Oct 2010 #

    “Interestingly” the version on the 2009 Jive Bunny comp on Spotify includes Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, presumably in place of the absent Glitter.

  7. 7
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #6 I hope they go “TAKE IT AWAY MAZZA!”

  8. 8
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The sound of waiting in a queue in Woolworths or WHSmith in December, condensed into 4 minutes, with some idiotic wailing over the top (oh, well, perhaps for added suburban English shopping-centre effect).

    An utterly pointless record. (Having made a point of tracking them down, all inspired by Popular: I have to say – still, less bad, in more than one case CONSIDERABLY less bad, than the remaining hit singles the Bunny went on to have. “Over To You John (Here We Go Again)” – which I think was to raise money for St John’s Ambulance probably being the worst of them. It sounds perceptibly amateurish and unfinished to a far greater degree than the others. I’m not recommending that anyone else tracks em down btw, but they are all on Youtube)

    Still, I fear another bunny’s ears will start wildly twitching if I mention bad records made for charidee, mate, too loudly this month….so I shall hush

  9. 9
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    A few years ago somebody commented that Jive Bunny were “the UK Steinski” which is a bit like saying that Roy Castle was the British Clifford Brown. Just because “Lessons 1-3” mastermixed those number one tunes doesn’t make Jive Bunny’s unfortunate chart-topping triptych their equivalent – the difference is to do with cynical showbiz against loving art, canned laughter versus natural humour, machines and humanity (and were Jive Bunny to have lived all nine of its alleged lives it could never have conceived something as starkly moving as “The Motorcade Sped On”).

    Even by their humble standards, Jive Bunny’s Christmas offering was an especially shoddy piece of work, not so much mastermixing as first year primary school mixing on turntables made of Playdoh, consisting as it does of huge, indigestible chunks of Slade’s “Merry Xmas Everybody,” Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday” and (ahem) Gary Glitter’s “Another Rock ‘N’ Roll Christmas” ineptly slotted into fragments of the ever faithful John Anderson and his team parping their way in various keys and tempos through the old Joe Loss relic “March Of The Mods,” a tune forever associated in my mind with primary school PE class workouts. Saddest of all perhaps are the newly-recorded contributions from Chubby Checker, Noddy Holder and Roy Wood, adding mock-mirthful voiceovers to the shameful melée and demeaning themselves in the process.

    Ah yes, process, processed…had it not been for the next entry, “Let’s Party” (with its handy B-side of Anderson’s mob performing “Auld Lang Syne”) would not only have made Jive Bunny the third, and by far the least, act to have their first three singles go to number one (and thereby opening the gates for the kind of subsequent warped thinking which would put Westlife on a near-equal footing with the Beatles or Presley), but would also have been the last number one of the eighties – a truly sorry end to any decade. But few seemed to care; the record was spun and energetically, drunkenly danced to at countless parties that season. Hundreds of thousands of people enjoyed and were entertained by Jive Bunny’s processed demolition of music. Hundreds of thousands of people derived enjoyment from living processed lives. And by the following Christmas, Jive Bunny couldn’t get arrested.

    But enough of Jive Bunny; a remedial word here about the far more important chart event of December 1989, namely the Manchester/Madchester trilogy which stormed the Top 20 within the space of a fortnight – there was a fourth record, Morrissey’s “Ouija Board, Ouija Board,” but that barely registered, and while not one of his indispensable records does merit a small round of applause simply for not being “Let’s Party” whose ghastly stench of quotation-marked happiness spoke far more of death (as one of its few distended samples aptly put it, “What in the hell is going on?”). Of these, “Fools Gold” (no apostrophe, and if you had the twelve-inch its actual title was “Fools Gold 9.53”) by the Stone Roses became the most famous. Their slow escalation to sainthood is not entirely baffling, but in 1989 they were not instantly greeted as saviours of anything; the debut album received indifferent reviews in the music press and sold steadily. “Fools Gold” with its post-23 Skidoo twin-bass neurofunk approach satisfactorily updated 1981 for then-current needs – and in an atmosphere of Jive Bunny, trash dance cash-ins and the Billboard Hot 100 a month out of date, “Fools Gold” sounded sufficiently different and fetching to stand out amidst the morass.

    Happy Mondays, too, finally broke through – Vince Clarke’s “W.F.L.” remix should have done the trick earlier in the year, not to mention the divine “Lazyitis” re-recording with the slightly bemused pre-Beatles chart veteran Karl Denver – with the Madchester E.P., lead track “Hallelujah,” performed on TOTP the same week as “Fools Gold” with Kirsty MacColl on backing vocals, looking and sounding infinitely happier than she had done with the Pogues two Christmases earlier, a glorious stagger of post-everything rock-funk, and even if their masterpiece (Bummed) was already behind them, no one could demur at their thoroughly deserved success throughout 1990.

    That leaves “Pacific” by 808 State, and the parallel story of Manchester dance, rearing up from those pregnant early eighties days of ACR and Quango Quango, and ending up with something truly new – think also of erstwhile 808 Stater A Guy Called Gerald, whose revolutionary “Voodoo Ray” finally crossed over to the mainstream Top 20 in 1989 at the third time of asking, and obliquely World of Twist with their monumental “The Storm,” and in a parallel-to-Manchester sense the Orb’s “Huge Pulsating Brain…” with its devastatingly patient 20 or so minutes of peaceful, beatless beats and its central resuscitation of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” and I heard a new world. “Pacific State,” when originally heard on the Quadrastate mini-album, was gorgeous and expansive where the rest of pop and dance was becoming clenched up and stilted once again – with its encouraging, medium-range beats, its floating soprano saxophone (more John Surman than Kenny G), its air of a “Wonderful Land” for the courageously generous new world of the nineties which was surely to follow. Spruced up somewhat for its 45 status, but losing none of its original magic, “Pacific” the top ten hit single became the lead single from the wonderful Ninety album, with which we can properly close down this decade just as the first Pretenders album opened it, a beaming, radiant proclamation of a shinier, newer pop – and how right it should have appeared on the ZTT label. From this perspective, it looked as though New Pop might just have won. Looking forward to the future, Madchester succeeded in making pop sound as though it had only just begun. For all emotional intents and purposes, let’s freeze the frame here, and refrain from doing so on Jive Bunny’s never-more-forced bonhomie.

  10. 10
    MikeMCSG on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #2 That Jason Donovan song had appalling lyrics eg “So many people, smiles on their faces / Armfuls of presents, going to places”. It was like Mike Stock knew the game was up and was taking the mickey.

    This record is just dreadful – the worst chart-topper since Nick Berry. Although there are some brighter records in 1990, the last three number 1s of 1989 seem like the harbingers of doom.

  11. 11
    Sam Howells on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Jesus, 1989 was sh1te, wasn’t it?

  12. 12
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    So was 1967, if you look at it one way.

  13. 13
    Alex on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I remember this – I was nine years old. It was embarrassingly shit. This, by the way, is the True Sound of Thatcher – cheap, contemptuous prolefeed, like the front of the Sun.

  14. 14
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I recall that Dale played this on Pick Of The Pops just after Xmas 2008, including the double G sequence in full. I’m not quite sure what the reaction was, if indeed there was any.

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    Iain on 13 Oct 2010 #

    VH1 devoted a few hours to All the Number Ones of the 80s a couple of weeks ago, which included this in its full horror but (unless they put them in out of order) skipped both the other Jive Bunny numbers. And Doctorin’ the Tardis.

  16. 16
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The Fools Gold/Hallelujah/Pacific triumverate resulted in a particularly momentous Top Of The Pops in which all three songs were performed (and indeed mimed, with Graham Massey blowing the ‘Pacific’ hook somewhat unconvincingly into a Yamaha electronic clarinet). Also noteworthy for Jenny Powell’s affirmation that a new Stone Roses album would be released next year…

    Mercifully we did not get a bloke in a Jive Bunny suit dancing about in the TOTP studios and the pop pest was confined to video (where again, the ‘Rock & Roll Years’ inspired monochromatic montage still found approval). By contrast ‘Pacific’ had a dynamic future-focussed video showcasing some fancy computer graphics thus looking as well as sounding like nothing else in the charts, but a montage of moments from the previous ten years may not have been a bad fit for it either should there have been a desire to look back as well as forward at that point. I was captivated by it as a track and recorded the Chart Show (at this point in a bizarre late night slot) in order to watch the video in the morning before school.

    Still I would just about take ‘Let’s Party’ over ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers’ which had returned to the charts for some reason, altho the latter does appear to feature a cat playing bagpipes on its sleeve. Plenty of good stuff elsewhere tho, from ‘Street Tuff’ to ‘Getting Away With It’ to ‘Get A Life’ to another lovely PSBs/Dusty collab with ‘In Private’.

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The Jive Bunny single is so depressing that I can’t find much to say about it. ‘March of the Mods’ deserves to be remembered as so much more than the ‘Let’s Party’ source, though, so perhaps it would be more productive to write about why I like that so much.

    This is party music, but music for a party that I might even enjoy being at, if I could travel in time. I imagine it playing at a proper dance hall , circa 1964, the age when you could go to both dances and discotheques. Its a big formal event, a works dance or New Years’ Eve, and the men and women are particularly dressed up for the night, as more hangs upon having a good time this evening as would normally be the case, neat partings, new ties, colourful dresses.

    Crucially, this wouldn’t be a gathering of the kool kids of the day, but a collection of several generations and more unfashionable and uncertain revelers. The ‘Mod’ in the title is just a with-it period trapping. The only mod thing about the single is the groovy organ that adds a few jolly flourishes over the second half of the disc.

    What this record really is a stomp, a chance for the dancers to let their hair down and lose a few inhibitions through an unapologetically silly tune. It’s a great blaring brassy thing;


    The effect of this repetition is really quite locked-on and relentless, demanding an instantaneous and non-cerebral response from the listener, rather like a hard-rockin’ guitar riff does. Eventually other instruments join in and flirtatiously play off against this riff, a call and response, some of the flutey arrangements sounding like the instrumentation for a British comedy film of the fifties or sixties. If you were dancing to this, I would imagine that you and your partner would have worked out some mutual action with your feet during the riff, walking towards and away from each other, say. Then, when the new bits of instrumentation came in, you’d have to do something silly like throw your arms out together. It would also be a good tune for communal dancing like holding hands in a ring-a-roses or a conga line. It’s certainly just as well that it only goes on for two minutes, because you’d reel away exhausted to the chairs at the edge of the room once it had stopped, feeling in need of a drink… but you’d feel happier and less selfconscious.

    Like many pop phenomena, The March Of The Mods comes from an unlikely source, the letkajenka, a traditional Finnish linedance that revolves around bunnyhopping actions. In the early 1960s a mutant strain of this spread in Finland, incorporating steps from the Madison and the Conga. And then somehow it traveled to England, Joe Loss & His Orchestra and to provincial dancehalls and night outs such as I like to imagine.

    Further internet research validates my theory that this tune led to the creation of special dance routines. YouTube listeners reminisce;

    “Takes me back to my dancing days at the Pamela Chelmiah school of dancing in St.Ives near Huntingdon! Fantastic memories.”

    – and –

    “I’d forgotten all about this music. I can vaguely remember doing the dance that went with it. Everybody went round the dance floor in a big circle. There was one bit where you jumped forward with your feet together then jumped back again then took four steps forward. I hated doing it as a kid because I wanted to be a rocker and thought that all mods were poofs. I still do.”

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 13 Oct 2010 #

    ‘Until You Come Back To Me’ is also the poppermost, says I. That is Kylie on backing, isn’t it? If so, then in marketing terms, I think that a trick was missed in not billing the single as Kylie & Jason again – Kylie is all over the backing vocals of this, sometimes taking lines where Jason remains mute, her invisible presence making her a more spectral loved other than in Christmas 1988. This song is actually a bit harsher than Especially for You, not having a pay-off of a reunion in the last verse. Its also explicitly set at Christmas in England;

    So many people
    Smile on their faces
    Armfuls of presents
    Going to places
    There’s a chill in the air
    as I walk through the night
    How I wish I could walk
    through the windows of time
    Would I see happiness there?
    see your face everywhere
    But the lights all go down
    over London…

    The tempo of the song then steps up a gear, leading to several minutes of various protestations of Donovan knowing that she will come back and that when she does the fire will glow, etc. Sometimes this can sound ecstatic to me, sometimes hollow – I only realised a couple of years ago after 19 years of listening to this song that what I’ve always heard as “pain in my heart” is actually “a flame in my heart”. This double edge of joyous conviction, but a conviction based on little but faith with no indication of reciprocal feelings from the loved other makes ‘When You Come Back To Me’ a pretty accurate representation of what the feeling of hope is actually like, and makes this song amongst the very best of Christmas hits

  19. 19
    lonepilgrim on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Billy @ 17 – I think that piece of research may be the only good thing to have come out of this record

  20. 20
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    A note on the unexpected resurrection of “Donald, Where’s Yer Troosers?”: Simon Mayo was in charge of the Radio 1 breakfast show at this time and was inclined to do an annual “let’s get an unlikely novelty record back into the charts” campaign (a bit like Chris Moyles/John Barrowman but obviously without the internet), so Andy came back, as did “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” a year later and “Kinky Boots” still another year later (“came back” is a notional option, however, since neither of the latter made the charts on their original release).

  21. 21
    weej on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Oh god, this is way beyond terrible. Surely this must be the most “that’ll do” number one of all time.

  22. 22
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #18: More likely stalwarts Miriam Stockley and Mae McKenna than Kylie, I fear, but it’s a nice idea.

  23. 23

    “revolves around bunnyhopping actions” <--- !!! Ambushed by unexpected mastermixy arcane scholarship...

  24. 24
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #21: Also in the running for worst video ever made; thankfully Tom has not provided a link. It really looks as though it were made for 5p.

  25. 25
    punctum on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Personally my kneejerk response to “March Of The Mods” is to do The Max Wall – a) ask your dad/grandad; b) see also Diana Ross’ 1982 top tenner “Work Your Body.”

  26. 26
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #24 Yeah I’m not sure I even had the will to look. There seem to be some later versions of JB videos which are even cheaper looking than the originals and see the Mastermixers (Visual Department) experimenting with the high tech power of Microsoft WordArt.

  27. 27
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I can agree that “When You Come Back To Me” (ANOTHER SAW single – after two of Sonia’s naff 1989 efforts) where the title is almost, but not quite, sung in the lyrics, is one of Jason’s finer efforts. (Hardly high praise, that).

    That he doesn’t sing in the chorus helps immeasurably. Which makes me think what a fine career he could have had as a singer had he adopted the Milli Vanilli approach. And if Big Fun had done that…

    This is surely as good a place as any to mention one of the nearly-great lost SAW-linked acts, just to check that I am not th only one to recall them: viz Morgan McVey. “Looking Good Diving”, anyone? (1986 I think).

    If we have to make a connection, the Morgan of the act went on (in Jan 1990 or thereabouts) to have a top 30 hit with a rather crap speeded-up cover version of “Walk On The Wild Side”. And Jason didn’t sing on the chorus of that one either. I vaguely seem to recall that there might have been some kind of Neneh Cherry connection too (and she was hovering around the lower part of the top 40 with “Inner City mama” roundabout now, IIRC.)

  28. 28
    Erithian on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Ah, Christmas, time of goodwill to all men, cheery parties in the bleak midwinter and lots of Yuletide fun. Like I’ve said before, I feel well disposed to a lot of Christmas songs that just warm the cockles of my heart and, despite what critics above may say – [sound effect of needle being taken off record] –

    Nope, sorry, even more loathsome than previously considered. Especially since these hugely unlovable people had “achieved” a chart feat only previously done by Gerry and the Pacemakers and Frankie Goes To Hollywood – first three releases at number one. The idea that this lot could do it just suggested the chart was properly going to the dogs.

  29. 29
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The three number ones thing produced a sense of dread for sure – there was definitely anxiety in March over whether they could break the Gerry/Frankie record. (Not spoiling too much to say they didn’t – “That Sounds Good To Me” was an affront too far and stalled at 4. Chart decline or no decline, at least when the record was eventually broken it was by a genuinely massive and important pop group.)

  30. 30
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Chelovek the connection would be the McVey (Cameron), Neneh’s husband. I remember that cover of ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ mainly because it was competing with another cover of the same song released at the same time by Beatsystem.

  31. 31
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Ah, that’s what it was! Thanks, Steve. Faint memories from reading Record Mirror….

  32. 32
    MikeMCSG on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #12 These things of course are subjective but in terms of number 1’s I count 5 duds from 14 number ones in 1967 and 10 from 17 in 1989 (and that’s omitting the very average offerings from Kylie and Lisa).

  33. 33
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    ‘Looking Good Diving’ also being the main reference point for ‘Buffalo Stance’ right?

  34. 34
    Tommy Mack on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Never hear this, despite my shameful fandom at the time. Listening to it right now. Good lord it’s bad. Makes Swing The Mood sound like 2manyDJs jamming with Steve Reich. Well maybe not. But bugger me it’s lazy as hell.

  35. 35
    lockedintheattic on 13 Oct 2010 #

    re #33 – I never knew that Buffalo Stance started out as an SAW record. Yet another reason to love the Popular comments boxes

  36. 36
    ciaran10 on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Good god I had to open the windows after hearing that to drive away the stench.what a desperate record.-1 would be a score I would settle for.Thank god I was too young to remember this.Even Im happy that Glitter is involved because it ensures it is banished for all enternity.

    The most disappointing thing about this is that in Ireland which was old fashioned even in 1989 Jive Bunny may have brought about a revival in 1950s music.Our own TV version of comic relief used the chorus of “C’Mon Everybody” for many years as a theme during the early 90s and I cant help but think that the big eared rabbit was to blame for it.

    This wasnt number one in Ireland but the other 2 were.Swing the Mood knocked Bros “Too Much” off the top(Never heard it before but being Bros it must be terrible) and was replaced by folk singer Dolores Keanes “Lion In a Cage”(havent heard it before which maybe just as well)

    TWIL replaced Wet Wet Wets “Sweet Surrender” (Pass the sick bucket this way please) and was replaced by “Never Too Late” by Kylie (Not one i heard again but that bucket just mentioned might be needed again I assume)

    If I ever got round to doing an irish popular I suspect the latter half of 1989 would be full of 1-3 scores.I reckon we had it as bad as ye lot for crappiest number ones during that period.

    Maybe the Freaky Triggerati should compile our own xmas medley.Mariah Carey, The Pogues, Cl….(Bunny closing in here in a Jaws like style), The Darkness.We’re spoiled for choice since 89.

  37. 37
    MichaelH on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I saw a five-CD box set of Jive Bunny on sale at the counter of the filling station at Peterborough Services on Saturday. Five CDs. Imagine. 400 minutes of Jive Bunny.

  38. 38
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #33 a reference point for sure…. My memory is a bit faded (and I am not currently in possession of a record player, and all my vinyl is 20 miles away, also with no record player nearby…), and I could be remembering this all completely wrong or mixed up..but anyway.

    I seem to recall that…part of the rap on Buffalo Stance originated, not from the poppy A-side version of “Looking Good Diving”, but from a remix…OR possibly from another track, an ur-Looking Good Diving, if you will (or if you must a sub-ur-Buffalo Stance) that was put out, originally without any SAW involvement, by the Wild Bunch or Smith and Mighty – the whole Bristol trip-hop scene that brought forth much goodness. I’m sure I heard something that tied into both of the later tracks on a secondary or tertiary track on a 12″ single of either The WB or S&M, but my memory is extremely vague as to which or what….

    Quite apart from the obvious path from Bristol mid-to-late-80s trip-hop to the likes of Massive Attack, Tricky or Portishead, there is another, slightly more indirect SAW connection to mention: which is Smith & Mighty’s rather fine cover of “Walk On By”, retitled (for some reason) “Walk On…” – which essentially pre-empted and produced the model/stencil for countless (frequently less credible or commendable) other restrained house cover versions of pop standards (I make no comment whatsoever about Jamtronix’s take on Phil Collins’ “Another Day In Paradise”, other than to say IIRC it wasn’t the worst cover of that track). By late ’89 this sort of thing was getting in the charts – Fresh 4’s take on “Wishing On A Star” being an examplar. The connection with SAW (or, rather, PWL) comes through Sybil, whose (overly commercial) take on “Walk On By” was troubling the upper end of the top 40 by early in 1990; not a patch on the Smith & Mighty version it must be said (not a patch on her take on “You Make Me Over”, from the summer of 89, either)..

    So it’s all interconnected, innit… and more evident than ever that SAW had kind of burned out by, when, hmm, 88 and the start of Kyliemania I guess.

  39. 39
    Andrew F on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Certainly the main connection with the Looking Good Diving that I’ve just YouTubed is the rising harpsichordy section.

  40. 40
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    All the answers are on the internet, aren’t they? Last time I looked for Morgan McVey they were nowhere to be found online…

    Here’s the version on the B-side of “Looking Good Diving”, which I think does have SAW involvement…


    (You can find a video of “Looking Good Diving” itself easily enough now. It seems super wet in a Fotherington-Tomas kind of way…)

  41. 41
    Andrew F on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Though it’s possible that we shouldn’t ignore LGD’s B-side “Looking Good Diving With The Wild Bunch”, sung by Neneh Cherry, produced by SAW and It Was Donald*

    *these last four words are an obscure in-joke for Tom’s benefit; the rest however is true.

    Edit: Bah, too slow.

  42. 42
    thefatgit on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The maniacal laughter at the end is more than a little disturbing. The whole record is dreadful. Imagine the Mastermixers cooking your Christmas dinner with your bird stuffed with brandy butter and your Christmas pudding slathered with gravy and bread sauce.

    The enduring memory of Christmas ’89 for me was playing loads of tapes from the closing decade on a brand new JVC ghettoblaster equipped with a crude, but effective sub-woofer.

  43. 43
    23 Daves on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Since this is the last time we’re likely to discuss JB, I think it’s worth talking about their thwarted follow-up singles. I remember reading an interview with the Mastermixers in a national newspaper where they swore that there was an ‘industry conspiracy’ against them. This involved:

    * Woolworths refusing to stock “Over To You John” because, according to a store spokesperson, “We believe their time is over”
    * Radio One refusing to playlist them
    * Er… that’s it.

    They seemed convinced that this was all because they were an independent concern and had achieved everything on their own terms. They made themselves sound like rebellious outsiders, and I almost felt sorry for them – until I promptly remembered how absolutely bloody dreadful everything from “Let’s Party” onwards was. Some people aren’t very good at admitting to their own idle mistakes.

  44. 44
    Dan Worsley on 13 Oct 2010 #

    As a habitual digger of crates at car boot sales and charity shops, I’ve seen more countless copies of ‘Push’ by Bros and other fads like the soundtrack to ‘The Kids from Fame’, but I can’t honestly ever remember seeing JB and the Mastermixers. Which makes me wonder if it were some fiendish plot by the ailing Thatcher regime to create a sense of nostalgic bonhomie in the nation and no one ever bought the bloody thing.

  45. 45
    Paytes on 13 Oct 2010 #

    I think the reason you never see JB& MMs at bootsales is because the vast majority of albums were bought on tape for kisd, subsequently discarded by said kids and have been languishing in landfill for at least a decade.

    My wife (who was 8 at the time) cannot recall what happened to her copy bought in Xmas ’89 for her …

  46. 46
    flahr on 13 Oct 2010 #

    The charity shop just down the road from my current residence currently has not one but two Jive Bunny albums, right at the front of the vinyl rack. None of their singles, alas (?).

    (The two records at the back of the rack are Actually and Please. Funny old world.)

  47. 47
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Thanks for posting the LGD remix Chelovek – quite an eye-opener! I see Nick Kamen also covered the song.

  48. 48
    swanstep on 13 Oct 2010 #

    This is dreadful. Does anyone think that perhaps there was some perverse, punk pleasure – ‘I wanna see paul morley’s head explode’ – being taken at lofting something to #1 for a third time that almost literally drove some people insane?

    I’ve mentioned this before, but Crazy Frog got 3 #1s in 2005 in New Zealand with the final one being the inevitable Xmas record. It was just so appalling that it did have its funny side.

    Looking forward to the run of #1s beginning in Feb ’90. Hang in there Tom!

  49. 49
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    IIRC at the time the reaction wasn’t even horror any more, just a sullen admission of defeat – and crossness that they’d timed the release to get a #1 since they must have known they wouldn’t beat the next one (which is saying something) – in fact maybe a need to get the product in the shops before it explains the extreme cheapness? (Did it have much of a climb up the charts?)

  50. 50
    23 Daves on 13 Oct 2010 #

    According to ChartStats, it entered at number one, then fell the following week. (http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=17125)

    What disturbs me the most is the fact that enough people were buying it at the beginning of February 1990 for it to rechart at number 80. What possible relevance did it have by then?

  51. 51
    Chelovek na lune on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Straight in at #1, and a fairly quick descent therefrom (for the time) too: 1-2-2-4-19-50-OUT

    By far the worst of them, but not the only megamix of questionable quality and questionable motive in the charts the week it was #1

    #18 Latino Rave – Deep Heat ’89 (really a condensed version of, and advertisement for, a multi-artist album: although it did include a good mix-up of Black Box, Jomanda & the 28th Street Crew)

    #20 Alexander O’Neal – Hit Mix (Official Bootleg Megamix)

    #36 Duran Duran – Burning The Ground (same concept as Latino Rave, except that all the tracks are by the same artist: an odd, desperate and not terribly successful attempt to promote a greatest hits album)

    #38 Jive Bunny – That’s What I Like

    and for good measure!
    #98 Royal Philharmonic Orchestra – Mixed Up Classics

    (and seeing at #19 Simple Minds’ “Amsterdam EP” – their dreadful, pompous, sententious, awful cvoer of Prince’s “Sign O’ The Times”…words fail me)

    @43 When did Woolworths stop stocking (theoretically, but often so in practice) the entire top 75 7” singles? I used to pick up loads of obscure non-hits from their stores in the late 80s, but I remember later on (1991? 1992?) that they switched to their own top 50, which was mostly predictable, commercial, major-label stuff.

  52. 52
    Billy Smart on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Of course, the most collectable version of number 2 smash ‘Jive Bunny – The Album’, must be the highly desirable picture disc.

  53. 53
    Billy Smart on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Re 50. Jive Bunny would have re-entered the charts because parsimonious music lovers would have been able to buy it at knock-down prices in bargain bins the previous week when it had dropped out of the charts.

  54. 54
    Steve Mannion on 13 Oct 2010 #

    Haven’t noticed ‘Let’s Party’ re-chart on downloads approaching Xmas, unlike Slade, Mariah and Fairybloodytaleofnewyork. Such is the badness.

  55. 55
    Tom on 13 Oct 2010 #

    #51 I remember feeling a bit embarassed for Duran Duran when “Burning The Ground” came out (especially when it stiffed so obviously). They were at great pains to disassociate themselves from the idea that it was a megamix IIRC.

    “Official Bootleg” – arf.

  56. 56
    George on 14 Oct 2010 #

    The 5-CD Jive Bunny collection doesn’t bear thinking about but can anybody on here explain the near omnipresence of the greatest hits of the Farm at motorway service stations up and down the land?

  57. 57
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Oct 2010 #

    #56 It’s so that lorry drivers buying porn have something more embarrassing with which to distract the checkout girl’s attention

  58. 58
    Billy Smart on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re 16. In the studio for the Top of the Pops broadcast on November 23 1989 were; Big Fun, Fine Young Cannibals, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. Jakki Brambles & Jenni Powell were the hosts.

    In the studio for the Top of the Pops broadcast on November 30 1989 were; Kaoma, 808 State, Jimmy Somerville & June Miles Kingston, Rob & Raz & Leila K and Tina Turner. Gary Davies was the host.

  59. 59
    punctum on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re. charity shops etc.: the CD of Jive Bunny – The Album turns up used pretty regularly down here. Happily it peaked at #2 so I don’t have to write about it.

  60. 60
    MikeMCSG on 14 Oct 2010 #

    # 51 I think they got wise to the likes of us around the turn of the decade Chelovek, otherwise they’d have gone out of business a lot sooner !
    I remember they pretty much killed off Gary Barlow’s solo career by refusing to stock his LP in the late-90s.

  61. 61
    Alex on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re 50. Jive Bunny would have re-entered the charts because parsimonious music lovers would have been able to buy it at knock-down prices in bargain bins the previous week when it had dropped out of the charts.

    You see what I mean? This is an example of music for people who don’t really like music, probably largely bought by them for others. Music for people who don’t like music is always a really awful idea – you wait ’til we get to Robson & Jerome.

  62. 62
    punctum on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Music for people who don’t like music is always a really awful idea

    This is meaningless. Nobody makes music for people who don’t like music.

  63. 63
    Billy Smart on 14 Oct 2010 #

    The phenomena of remaindered singles re-entering the charts the week after they fell out of them applied equally to records of any quality or genre. As a 1980s teenager of limited funds *most* of the singles that I bought came from bargain bins!

  64. 64
    will on 14 Oct 2010 #

    This is a landmark record for me, because having followed the charts since the summer of 1976 this is the first Number One that I can’t honestly remember. I think I must have just blocked it out mentally, turned it down when it came on the Top 40 and missed TOTP the week it went straight in at Number One.

    Having heard it again I now know why I took that course of action. It’s quite unspeakably horrible, isn’t it? The sound of the bottom of the barrel being scraped. Utterly ghastly.

  65. 65
    George on 14 Oct 2010 #

    But after singles were thrown in the bargain bin weren’t any subsequent sales void in terms of determining chart positions because they were most likely below the BPI minimum price threshold?

  66. 66
    Billy Smart on 14 Oct 2010 #

    My guess is that the minimum price was lower, or the same, as the initial price that singles were reduced to. I do remember bargain bin singles and new releases that record companies were keen to promote both costing 99p around this time.

  67. 67
    Chelovek na lune on 14 Oct 2010 #

    @65 Almost certainly, yes.

    The other point to note at this time (and until fairly recently) is that the chart positions from 76 downwards weren’t genuine rankings, as they excluded records the sales of which were falling in the week concerned. So a record that fell out of the top 75 (certainly from any “height”) would usually not appear the following week in a lower chart position.

    As “Let’s Party” had only fallen out of the top 75 two weeks before its “re-entry” in the top 100, it’s quite possible that it was only included in the listings again because its sales had increased marginally in that week (and that it would have qualified, on a strict ranking based only on sales, for inclusion in the top 100 in the “missing” previous week), rather than there being any particular surge in interest for this dross. Though I too am a bit mystified as to who would buy a really really crap Christmas record at the end of January/early February.

  68. 68
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re 63: Same here, Billy. I’m sure I’m not the only person who went into Woolworths every monday to get the New Order/Scritti Politti/Our Daughters Wedding 45 whose chart stats were so predictable I knew it would be in the half-price box. I ended up with all manner of oddities just because they were cheap – Illuminations by Swansway! Fedora (I’ll Be Your Dawg) by Caramba! Feeding Time by The Look (actually, even I passed on that). None re-charted.

    Re 64: Snap. I had no recollection of this at all.

    Re 65: Not sure when they changed the rules, but this was certainly the case up to the mid 80s. Maybe when all those pesky anarcho punks stopped selling records in quantity the BPI thought it was ok to abandon the minimum price.

    Joe Loss’s March Of The Mods, for the record, entered the chart on the fifth of November 1964 and reached 35, then re-entered in Christmas week which suggests that my mum might have been tentatively dancing to it before she was rushed off to the maternity ward.

  69. 69
    DietMondrian on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Having managed – somehow – to listen to it all the way through on YouTube, I was struck by how poor Glitter’s voice is. (Not his worst crime, admittedly. Or the worst thing about the record.)

  70. 70
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Glitter’s hit was one of the better Xmas 80s singles, there was a dreadful lack of them after the peaks of the seventies. It felt like a future perennial in ’89. Understandable that you don’t hear it so much anymore, same with Let’s Party (on purely aesthetic grounds). But, going down the path of neglected Xmas hits, I wish Dickie Valentine’s Christmas Island would get re-assessed. It’s a treat – funny, non-irritating, catchy as hell, and way better than his second Popular entry.

  71. 71
    punctum on 14 Oct 2010 #

    “You’ll never guess what you’ve got from me” – no, Gal, and I don’t want to guess it either. Appears on Now – The Christmas Album so I have to write about it.

  72. 72
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

    On a worldwide scale, there are probably worse 80s xmas hits.

  73. 73
    Gavin Wright on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re: #37, I shudder at the thought of listening to it but I am kind of curious as to a) what would actually be on a 5CD Jive Bunny boxed set and b) how much they were charging for it…

  74. 74
    George on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Well, I never knew ”Another Rock n’ Roll Christmas” only came out in 84, I thought it was much earlier. If I had to chose one Glitter song to escape the understandable embargo which as been placed upon his music over the last decade it would most likely be that one. I always quite liked it.
    The presenter of the obligatory ‘Sounds Of The Seventies’ show on the local BBC radio station up here in Sheffield quite recently asked the listeners for their opinion on whether it was suitable to start playing Glitter on media outlets again. I think he was looking for a moral debate as much as a green light of approval from the public.

    The Christmas top 10 of 1984 includes Band Aid, Last Christmas, FGTH (Power of Love), The Frog Chorus and er.. Nellie The Elephant along with ”Another Rock… It feels like the last iconic year of the ”golden age of the British Christmas pop single”.

    The fag-end of 89 is just dire.

  75. 75
    Billy Smart on 14 Oct 2010 #

    ‘100 Jive Bunny Hits’ is yours for a trifling £6 on Amazon. With 100 “swinging party” classics to get through, you could have a very l-o-n-g party with this album. The prospect of hearing their interpretation of ‘Dancing Queen’ is a tantalising one

  76. 76
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re 74: Band Aid and Wham! were both such instant classics they re-entered the Top 10 in December ’85. As well as G Glitter, another Glam star attempted to recreate’73 in ’84 – Alvin Stardust with So Near To Christmas. Stalled at no.29. Anyone remember it? I don’t.

  77. 77
    punctum on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Yes, it was a ballad but unfortunately got cancelled out by Alvin himself with his concurrent top ten hit and peculiar prequel to “Papa Don’t Preach,” “I Won’t Run Away” (“the baby’s mine too”).

    But why should the world take notice of one more Christmas song that’s failed?

  78. 78
    pink champale on 14 Oct 2010 #

    72, 77 you’re not suggesting…? that’s MILES better than “let’s party”!

  79. 79
    Billy Smart on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Christmas TOTPWatch: Appearing in the studio on the Top of the Pops transmitted on December 25 1989 were; Erasure, Mike & The Mechanics, Marc Almond & Gene Pitney, Jason Donovan, Bros, The London Boys, The Beautiful South, Sonia, Black Box and Lisa Stansfield. Jakki Brambles, Bruno Brooks & Gary Davies were the hosts.

  80. 80
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re 78: Mike Batt’s songs of this period often had a weirdly clunky pay-off line. A Winter’s Tale (“on a worldwide scale, it’s just another winter’s tale”), Batt’s own Lady Of The Dawn (“I like you for your body, but I love ’cause you’re wise, my lady of the dawn”) and, my favourite, Art Garfunkel’s Sometimes When I’m Dreaming:

    “It’s only when I’m dreaming
    That I fall in love for real
    But I wake up screaming
    Sometimes when I’m dreaming”

    Screaming?? You can see why Agnetha covered it.

  81. 81
    punctum on 14 Oct 2010 #

    I should point out that the lyric to “A Winter’s Tale” was penned by Tim Rice.

    I rather like it myself (and on the #2 blog it’s Lena’s only chance to write about the great cheeky chappie DE) but agree that lyrically it clunks along a bit.

  82. 82
    Steve Mannion on 14 Oct 2010 #

    #58 ah me annoyingly misremembering AGAIN…but I did rewatch the Fools Gold/Hallelujah TOTP about 8 years ago (i’d worked in the BBC archive so could get copies of them on VHS and a friend/big Roses fan asked me for this one) and I’m sure Pacific was definitely featured in the same programme – maybe just as a Top 40 breaker.

  83. 83
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Re 81: Crumbs, I didn’t realised that. Now I know how Paul McCartney felt when he got up to say Some People Never Know.

    Of course I quite like A Winter’s Tale too, I was just being devil’s advocaat.

  84. 84
    Tom on 14 Oct 2010 #

    A bit of Popular bonus material, done as its own post so as not to clog the main timeline.

  85. 85
    Mike Atkinson on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Aaargh, “March of the Mods”! When working at Hamleys on Regent Street during the first half of 1980, I was usually in earshot of the Pelhams puppets demonstration booth, which was staffed by the formidable Avril: a former singer with Jack Parnell’s big band. To assist her demonstrations, Avril had equipped her booth with a little turntable, on which she played – over and over and over again – a budget album of jolly instrumental tracks: the Star Wars theme, that Conga tune that ended up advertising disposable nappies… and March of the Bleedin’ Mods. It drove us all nuts!

    Listening to the way that “Let’s Party” crudely slaps its martial beat all over the shop, I am reminded that just six years later, Andy Pickles – the junior half of the father-and-son team who devised Jive Bunny – founded the hard house label Tidy Trax, which deployed similarly crude, almost martial drum patterns, to marginally less gruesome effect.

    This really is the ultimate in (dread word!) “disposable” pop: something for mobile DJs to slap on at office parties for two or three weeks, at the stage of the evening when people are so pissed up that they’ll dance to any old crap, so long as it’s familiar. Was there ever a more joyless, loveless, cynically cold-eyed Number One?

  86. 86
    Tom on 14 Oct 2010 #

    #85 The reader’s poll has now pushed this down to only the second-worst #1 ever, behind the nightmare of St Win’s.

  87. 87
    MikeMCSG on 14 Oct 2010 #

    # 68 Looks like we came into the world at the same time WL, and only a few months after DJP. What a golden year !

    Actually I must stick up for “Feeding Time”. Despite that horrible sledgehammer drum sound it had an appealing melancholy chorus that well-conveyed that intimation of mortality that can creeps up on you during a happy occasion (in Johnny Whetsone’s case a date at the zoo).

  88. 88
    ciaran 10 on 14 Oct 2010 #

    #84 Why not wait till the 80s ended here before writing it.

    #86 Jive Bunny could be plugging that hole with their 3 entries for some time yet.can you not just abandon the project after the next number one.

    even as a child of the 90s the thought of some number ones are making me shudder.

  89. 89
    Tom on 14 Oct 2010 #

    There are LOADS of good 90s number ones. And many godawful ones too. It will be a bumpy ride and after 1989 one I’m very much looking forward to!

  90. 90
    ciaran 10 on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Best put that seat belt in place so.

    If the 80s was a golden age the 90s and beyond I fear could be musics equivalent of the great recession.We’ll wait and see.

    Dont know if there as loads as you say but Ill try and stick it out.

  91. 91
    weej on 14 Oct 2010 #

    Nothing to fear from the 1990s, especially the first half of 1990. The latter halves of 88 and 89 look worse than any other period until, say 1999.

  92. 92
    anto on 14 Oct 2010 #

    It’s odd beccause I can probably remember every episode of TOTP from 1989 except the one with the Stone Roses/Happy Mondays.

    As for this 1 out of 10 monstrosity. My nomination for worst number one ever.

  93. 93
    George on 14 Oct 2010 #

    The late 90’s were comfortably the dullest period in pop that I can recall. However, the debate over that periods all round insipidness is for another day…and decade.

  94. 94
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    I love how this track’s awfulness is retrospectively dragging down the scores of the earlier JB songs in the Reader’s Bottom 100 (they were both at or above 2.0 the other day, but now one is on 1.95 and the other on 2.0). Personally I would say this is even worse than St Win’s: at least the performers in that track were honest, even if the record company impresarios behind it weren’t, whereas this is insufferably cynical all round.

    JB have three of the eight lowest-rated tracks in the Reader’s Bottom 100 out of a field of 637. What an achievement!

  95. 95
    punctum on 15 Oct 2010 #

    at least the performers in that track were honest, even if the record company impresarios behind it weren’t

    See, again, what does that mean? “Honest” about what? The record company wanted to put out a record about Grandma for kids to buy – what was dishonest about that?

  96. 96
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Fair enough. The record company were honestly interested in exploiting the “what do we buy Grandma for Christmas” gap in the market for the purposes of making money, which in turn serves a greater good that justifies unleashing another seven inches of schmaltz on the world.

    But I expect the kids themselves honestly thought they were making nice music, rather than something “hard to listen to and an immediate switch-off”, to quote the Marks Out of 10 guidelines.

    JB&MM may have honestly thought that their first single was a good effort, and possibly even the second. But stringing together a few chunks of the most obvious UK Christmas hits to create a “new” Christmas single smacks of a slap-dash attitude. They surely can’t have believed they had created something of quality here. They did want to make money, though.

  97. 97
    wichita lineman on 15 Oct 2010 #

    If JB were truly “cynical” they’d have made a better record which could be wheeled our for Xmases to come, and also written a chunk of it to rake in the PRS. It’s awfulness is down to sloth rather than cynicism.

    If it wasn’t for the March Of The Mods part this would rank below St Win’s for me. But I do love that Finnish martial beat.

    Re 87: 1964 Dragons! Oh yeah!

  98. 98

    It may have been with “let’s see how far we can take this!” — which is not sloth or cynicism or dishonesty

  99. 99
    wichita lineman on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Re 98: in which direction do you think JB were taking this? Surely they weren’t deliberately trying to make the worst record ever (which Let’s Party is bordering on).

  100. 100
    Steve Mannion on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Technically JB is bashing a square peg into a round hole more than usual because these Xmas songs have been selected by theme rather than because they fit as relatively as well as Swing The Mood does with Rock Around The Clock…so inevitably Let’s Party segues sound clunkier than the previous two. I’m not sure it’s the case that someone could’ve done that better, it’s just that the concept is fundamentally flawed and they probably acknowledged this but made the best stab they could at getting it to hold together.

    The continental megamix king at this point was Ben Liebrand whose end of year Grandmixes were the Radio Soulwax mixes of their time. Again not always seamless because they involved tape editing but Liebrand crammed dozens of songs into 60 minutes by logging the BPM of each one and going from the slowest to the fastest. Liebrand’s ‘Eve Of The War’ remixes probably made some Xmas party playlists this year – tis the season.

  101. 101
    wichita lineman on 15 Oct 2010 #

    I’m intrigued by Over To You, John (Here We Go Again), the last Jive Bunny hit.

    From the artwork it would appear the Mastermixers are making the fatal error of trying to revive the JB formula by adding another character, a dog called John, who is doomed to follow in the ignoble footsteps of Scrappy Doo and Poochie.

    ‘Jive Bunny’ is a rather catchier name than ‘John’, though. I wonder if he made any solo records?

  102. 102
    punctum on 15 Oct 2010 #

    #96: Well, I thought they made rather a nice sound. Record companies were (note the presumptive past tense) only ever there to make money. I have no problem with that, nor indeed with making money per se provided it doesn’t result in the death, injury or misfortune of others.

  103. 103
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    @98, @95: Cynical, I argue, because it is “based on or reflecting a belief that human conduct is motivated primarily by self-interest: ‘a cynical ploy to cheat customers'” [merriam-webster.com]. I see this single as just such a ploy, motivated by the self-interest of JB and their record company: to make money, to get a third number one in a row, to see how far they could take it. What I can’t believe is that they thought this was genuinely good, something their customers (let alone the world at large) needed in their lives, because it’s just a splicing together of music that was already very much in everyone’s lives. It doesn’t offer anything new; even the mixmaster gimmick was no longer new, because it had already gone to number one twice.

    As for “honest” (re the St Winifred’s kids), I meant it in the sense of marked by integrity, having honourable motives, that sort of thing. They were kids, they were in a choir, they were given the chance to make a record, they were excited and flattered, they did their best – and they had no idea it would get to number one. But does the record company’s desire to make oodles of cash by foisting it on the grandmothers of Britain as Christmas gifts from their grandchildren – not by selling it to people who actually want it for themselves – count as an honourable motive?

  104. 104
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    @102 Do you mean St Win’s made a nice sound, or JB? I find St Win’s single far more listenable than this.

  105. 105
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    @102 In terms of making money per se, it rather depends what “misfortune” involves, doesn’t it. Tom had a nice line in his St Win’s review about grandmothers being cheated out of choccies because their grandkids bought them that single instead. So that’s grandmothers, chocolate manufacturers and the general listening public nil, record company one.

  106. 106
    punctum on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Well, no, that’s just someone’s imagination running rampant rather than anything that quantifiably happened. It’s not really on a par with bankers taking bets on whether nations will starve.

    I can’t read the minds of the Mastermixers or the author(s) of “Grandma,” nor do I know them, and therefore I have no direct idea of their motivation, but, as I said above, nobody makes music for people who don’t like music. I have a higher opinion of humanity than that. Hence I’d say it was a fair guess that they acted with fair intent rather than deliberately screwing punters out of their money – which is more than you could say about, for instance, the post-Lydon Sex Pistols.

    Record companies made money because that’s what they were set up to do. Even Rough Trade. Their motives arise from the ultimate goal of profit for themselves and their shareholders. That’s the way of the world. EMI was never going to be the People’s Trotskyite Music Collective. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t listen to the Beatles again.

  107. 107

    What I meant by “how far can we take this?” was “how much can we relax what we supposed to be the norms of correct painstaking attention and still see our records tumble happily off the shelves?”

    This is an attitude of open avant-garde enquiry, if anything!

  108. 108
    punctum on 15 Oct 2010 #

    E.G.: what’s that Christian Marclay got that Jive Bunny haven’t?

  109. 109

    I was thinking of the Portsmouth Sinfonia’s mixmastered classics, but CM works just as well.

  110. 110
    Chelovek na lune on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Hmm, I suppose “Let’s Party” IS vaguely reminscient of Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, probably after it has been used. Ready-made, for one thing…

  111. 111
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    @106 I have no direct idea either; I’m speculating on the basis of the work itself and the circumstances surrounding it. Another point in favour of St Win’s record company is that they had no idea “Grandma” would go to number one, they were just putting it out there. JB and their company knew by late 1989 that whatever they rushed onto the market had a good chance of selling well. That’s often when people produce inferior work (assuming they considered “Swing the Mood” to be good work, which I’m perfectly happen to accept that they did). Did they themselves consider it inferior? I don’t know, but plenty of actors and musicians have admitted years afterwards that they thought certain of their works were crap all along. So I’m not going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I’ll give them the doubt.

    You say “nobody makes music for people who don’t like music” – I wasn’t the one who suggested they do, and in general I wouldn’t. But I can see one case where that rule breaks down, as it does for all sorts of products: when things are made to be bought as gifts for others rather than bought by people for themselves. That’s when the idea of the market as indicator of people’s desires for the products themselves breaks down. In bookstores at Christmas we see all sorts of rubbishy “comedy” books that are produced as stocking-fillers; they sell at a price that people would never pay if they were buying them for themselves, because they’re throwaway items. So while I wouldn’t argue that people make books for people who don’t like books, people do sometimes make books for people who don’t like this book, but think that it makes a passable present for someone else (who probably won’t like it either, as it turns out).

    There are records like that, too. This is possibly one of them (although I can conceive that there are JB fans in the world who bought it on its merits), but “Grandma” is a more likely example. The present-purchasing effect has boosted the sales of many a good Christmas record, too; it skews our regular buying patterns, and so it skews companies’ marketing efforts. I don’t really blame them for that, but I wish it didn’t result in so much crap being manufactured for December only to end up in charity shops or landfill the following January.

    Or on Popular twenty-one years later.

  112. 112
    Steve Mannion on 15 Oct 2010 #

    what about “music BY people who don’t like music”. fight the real enemy…

  113. 113
    punctum on 15 Oct 2010 #

    What’s wrong with buying gifts for others – and who’s to say that the recipients wouldn’t like them? Granted, I wouldn’t buy any of the stuff you mention, either for myself or for anyone else, but that’s an aesthetic judgement on my part. And unless you can provide me with quantifiable proof of the aesthetic and marketing intent of “Grandma,” then I have to say you’re making too many lazy assumptions about what some newspapers still call “plain people.”

  114. 114
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    @110: “You’re making too many lazy assumptions about what some newspapers still call “plain people.””

    Eh? Quite the opposite. I assume that Grandmas (like Grandpas and Mums and Dads and Aunts and Uncles) are all sorts of people, not “plain people”, with a great variety of tastes and musical preferences. Some of them will even have liked “Grandma” and been happy to get it as a gift. But a great many wouldn’t have cared for the song at all, just as many of us don’t, because it’s twee and sentimental and stereotypical and all that. All they would have cared about is that it was a gift from their grandchild, and that’s fine – that’s why it would have stayed in their record collections to the end, just as my Mum still has some embarrassing records I bought her when I was a boy. But that doesn’t make it a record with universal appeal.

    “Buying gifts for others” (a good thing) isn’t the same as “an annual gift-buying season in which you are expected to buy gifts for everyone in your family on a modest child-scale budget and with an under-developed sense of what those people might like, especially relatives you see only occasionally”.

  115. 115
    punctum on 15 Oct 2010 #

    “I assume”; “twee” and “sentimental” as pejoratives. Who said it was a record with universal appeal – haven’t we just demonstrated the opposite? And why does a record have to have universal appeal?

    “expected to buy gifts for everyone in your family” – ah, but who does the expecting and who set it in stone? Wider questions there about relationships to and distances from families which probably fall outside Popular‘s scope.

  116. 116
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Re the aesthetic and marketing intent of “Grandma”: according to Wikipedia, its writer apparently wrote it in honour of the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday (30 March 1980). He later said: “Having initially turned it down, the managing director [of EMI] rang me and said he decided to put it out because he said he couldn’t get grandma, we love you out of his mind: ‘If it’s caught in my mind chances are that it will with the public, and we’ll put it out for Christmas.'”

    So a song written about a specific person was repackaged for generic grandmas and marketed at the one time of year when it might be bought as presents for them en masse. Nothing calculated about that, then…

  117. 117
    wichita lineman on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Let’s Party’s success is akin to Portsmouth Sinfonia reaching number one. Thanks Mark, now I have finally made my peace with the Bunny.

  118. 118
    rosie on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Rory, the QM’s birthday was 4 August not 30 March. I mention this because, being just two days after mine, it tended to steal my thunder.

    I contrived to be in Dublin in 2002, while The Nation Mourned. I’ve never really understood what The Nation really means in this kind of context (and in the context of “The Nation’s Favourite this-that-and-the-other”) because The Nation never seems to include me. Perhaps I’m a changeling and should really have been French.

  119. 119
    Rory on 15 Oct 2010 #

    Whoops, yes, I was switching it with the 2002 date, which I should have noticed. 4 August 1980 was her 80th, then.

  120. 120
    Mark G on 18 Oct 2010 #

    I remember the tune forever, but was suitably shocked when confronted with a 7″ (original) copy to find it was called “March of the Mods”, I mean, how?

    It’s a vaguely ska beat, but even then, what’s ‘mod’ about it?

  121. 121
    Mark G on 18 Oct 2010 #

    Re the TOTP edition: I hooked up the radio broadcast to the video recorder for the Mondays/Roses episode, so am possibly one of the few with a stereo video recording of this. I’d crash-edited the prog to have only those two, but would be sad if I’d missed out 808State being on the same show.

    Say it wasn’t so, someone.

  122. 122
    Steve Mannion on 18 Oct 2010 #

    Billy already did. I now realise I must’ve just had two episodes on the same tape and mixed them up.

  123. 123
    Old Fart!!!!!!! on 18 Oct 2010 #

    I’m sure I’m not the only one that thought the coda, featuring an interminable bout of giggling followed by a final “YEAH!”, to be not unlike the long drawn out death gurgles of a superannuated Jive Bunny after falling off his zimmer frame!!!!!!

  124. 124
    hardtogethits on 3 Nov 2010 #

    The only Christmas song ever to reach number 1 but be displaced before Christmas. I am amazed that there seems to be an acknowledgement that Let’s Party helped highlight March Of The Mods’ genuine charms in a very direct way, but that Let’s Party itself is still despised outright. A monstrous carbuncle on the face of an elegant stranger, it accidentally reminds us to broaden our horizons, and not to be too stuffy about it. Daft pop has always been with us, and some of it should be celebrated. Of course Let’s Party is pretty horrible, but I and others have it to thank for pointing us in the direction of the March Of The Mods. There are dozens of number ones that could turn me away from the charts as a source of new listening material – or, to be more hysterical, could put me off pop music. This is not one. 4.

  125. 125
    Billy Smart on 27 Dec 2010 #

    MMWatch: Everett True, 16 December 1989;

    “Read my lips: f*** off and die, vacuous sheep-felchers.

    Jive Bunny once caused a near fracas down the Stamford one night between our inestimable Production Chief, Steve Fletcher, and myself. He claimed that the lowest form of excreta known to man (viz: a f***ing rabbit) made better records than Black Box. I, not unnaturally, pushed him, and his chair over. But perhaps, you the readers, should decide.

    Was I wrong to do this? Was I then wrong to buy him a double scotch on the rocks by way of compensation? Should we have been in the pub at all when there’s so much exciting new music out there, just *itching* to be discovered? Can anyone read Q without an instant greying of the hair? Is Christmas a load of f***ing bollocks? All these questions and more will be answered in next week’s issue of Melody Maker. Melody Maker is recorded in front of a live audience.”

    True awarded single of the week to ‘Wood Goblins’ by Tad. Also reviewed that week were;

    Madonna – Dear Jessie
    Alvin Stardust – Christmas
    Olivia Newton John – When You Wish Upon A Star
    The Christians – Words
    Frank Sidebottom – Christmas Is Fantastic EP

  126. 126
    Auntie Beryl on 18 Jan 2013 #

    The Jive Bunny Christmas album sells thousands of copies every December, so this single – fully deserving its place at the foot of the Popular rankings – is still generating income for somebody.

    Slade documentaries don’t tend to mention Noddy Holder’s involvement in this, do they?

  127. 127
    Chelovek na lune on 18 Jan 2013 #

    @126, nor Gary Glitter ones…

  128. 128
    Patrick Mexico on 9 Apr 2013 #

    If Stock, Aitken and Waterman were the Cowell, Walsh and er, Waterman of their day, Jive Bunny were the Autotune.

    It can be destroyed. It is only one “person.” It is the only cure for the country at the moment.. whoops.

  129. 129
    Philip Arlington on 25 Aug 2014 #

    I was a seventeen year old extreme introvert at the time, and I’m pleased to say that I have no memory of this whatsoever.

  130. 130
    Gareth Parker on 1 Jun 2021 #

    #9 Jive Bunny = still more entertaining than your pointless posts! 2/10 for Let’s Party imho.

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