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.



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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.)

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 72
    wichita lineman on 14 Oct 2010 #

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

  13. 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…

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. 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?

  18. 78
    pink champale on 14 Oct 2010 #

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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.

  27. 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).

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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.

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