Jul 13

ROBSON AND JEROME – “I Believe”/”Up On The Roof”

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#730, 11th November 1995

robson jeromeA bit of business I need to take care of, here. I owe Frankie Laine – and you – an apology. The review of Frankie’s “I Believe” is from the very early days of Popular – 2003 – and was based on a track which, while certainly Frankie Laine and certainly “I Believe”, is a different, slicker and sicklier recording to the slow-building eye-bulging studio-chewing intensity of Laine’s actual 18-week balladzilla.

I handed the track I had a 3; the actual recording should have got more, and anyway I’m now far fonder of early 50s studio belters than I was when I was reviewing them. Too late, alas! But not too late for you to go and give Frankie a listen. Especially if the alternative is this.

And with that out the way…

As a public pop figure, a TV impresario, Simon Cowell has made one major contribution to criticism: fixing and finessing the idea of “song choice” as part of a performer’s art. If – as has sometimes been reported – the kind of pop Cowell actually likes is the 40s and 50s Big Band era, then presumably one of the things he likes about it is the separation of performer and material: each bandleader and singer getting to select from a songbook the tunes they fancy, or that suit them best. Reality TV pop, as a project, is all about reintroducing this model into pop culture, by means of turning it into a game.

That’s all in the future. But it’s implicit in how Robson And Jerome escaped the one-hit wonder destiny their origins and talents seemed to point towards. “Song choice” in the Cowell sense always has a double meaning. Half of it is about picking songs that suit a particular singer. But the other half is tactical – selecting songs that fit a performer’s narrative, so each contestant on a reality TV show rolls along picking up significance like a light entertainment katamari.

For Robson and Jerome the question of “suiting the singer” is moot: I imagine whatever Cowell gave them he’d have got thin but serviceable karaoke performances back, no more and no less. So song choice is all tactical. The picks on their first single were obvious – “Unchained Melody” because they sang it on the TV show, and “White Cliffs Of Dover” because they were playing soldiers.

So why “I Believe”? There’s a tenuous military link – the song was written as a morale-booster during the Korean War – but I doubt that’s the driver. This single is a pure nostalgic play, a proof of concept for a pre-Beatles oldies market (later exploited by compilation series like Dreamboats And Petticoats), and if you’re going after that market, why not pick the biggest hit of the early 50s? But perhaps “I Believe” is a bit too-old timey – if so, here’s “Up On The Roof”, to show prospective punters that our boys are happy to cross the R&B borderlines.

It worked and then some – another million-selling single, and the biggest album of the year. Throughout the 70s we saw 50s music manifest repeatedly in the charts – sometimes as comforter, sometimes as challenge. But now the 50s is showing up only as finished business. What did they mean, in the end? Presents for grannies and money for Simon.

So what about the record? Surprise – It’s awful! Again it’s a double A-Side in name only: “Up On The Roof”, a brisk coshing of a once-beautiful song, was played far less. The Drifters’ sweet-voiced daydreams are to these fixed-grin strings and canned brass as a stolen afternoon on the roof is to a hurried sandwich at an office desk.

As for “I Believe”, it’s a similar story to “Unchained Melody”: Robson and Jerome take the mission on gamely, end up well out of their depth, and end up needing to call an almighty choral sample airstrike. Meanwhile, the arrangers take the most obvious build-the-track-up route and still fuck it up: who decided to stop the entire song so that one of our heroes can bellow “OR TOUCH A LEAF?”. The idea, of course, is that you can see proof of the divine everywhere you look in life, a theory this record does its level best to scotch.



  1. 1
    hardtogethits on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Straight in at number one. Some had to work hard at it, crafting and grafting until they had a record worthy of the occasion, even keeping an eye on others’ release schedules, and picking their moment precisely. As someone pointed out earlier, these two didn’t even have to complete the vocals on their recordings. I cannot believe a record so nondescript ever merited attention. I’d love for this to turn up on Popmaster without any leading clues, to see if anyone might be able to identify it – given its complete lack of distinguishing features, I doubt it.

  2. 2
    Billy Hicks on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Is it just coincidence that, just one week after this, some anonymous dance act called the Happy Clappers re-released an unrelated song they’d first got to #21 earlier in the year also called “I Believe”?

    This time it got to #7, and while it’s a fun dance track I can’t help thinking some of those sales were people buying it in error thinking it was the same song, or at least a remix of it.

  3. 3
    Steve Mannion on 28 Jul 2013 #

    #2 watch: ‘Wonderwall’ which despite always finding a dreary affair I’ve become somewhat fascinated with in terms of what inspired its intro. Namely the sequence of singles over the previous two years heavily influenced by Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Bonnie & Clyde’. MC Solaar’s ‘Nouveau Western’ sampled it directly in ’93 (loved this and its Gondry video so much I bought the 12″ but never actually bothered to try and translate his lyrics). The following year both Saint Etienne’s ‘Hug My Soul’ b-side ‘I Buy American Records’ and Renegade Soundwave’s eponymous single both seem to wittingly homage SG’s stirring string chords with an acoustic guitar equivalent. I strongly suspect Noel was familiar with all four songs and in the process made one far less interesting (they actually do go in descending order chronologically). But by that point it seemed different enough that Travis were subsequently accused of ripping off Oasis with ‘Writing To Reach You’ – absurd given NG’s own magpieyes.

    #2 ‘I Believe’ may be the most popular song title ever tho or at least of the 90s (around a dozen different songs with that title made the top 75 that decade).

  4. 4
    Tom on 28 Jul 2013 #

    I’d forgotten this blocked “Wonderwall”! No friend of Oasis, but that was a harsh outcome for what’s surely their best-remembered song (though, like Steve M, I don’t like it much – more about it in a future entry I expect).

  5. 5
    Billy Hicks on 28 Jul 2013 #

    True, and having a closer look it seems the same thing happened in March 1994 when both Marcella Detroit and Sounds of Blackness got top 20 hits in the space of a couple of weeks with two more unrelated ‘I Believe’ songs. Remarkable though that there’s none from 1964 (The Bachelors covering the Laine song) to 1991 (EMF’s unrelated one), then one almost every year up to 2000 when there hasn’t been any since.

    Wonderwall, for me, I simply have never got. Oasis have made much better songs in my book and I’ve forever failed to understand why this one track of theirs is hailed as a masterpiece above all else. At the age of 7 I much preferred the Mike Flowers Pops version, taking him as a real person making a genuine attempt at a better cover.

  6. 6
    Auntie Beryl on 28 Jul 2013 #

    I don’t see it referenced as often as the Shaddup You Face / Vienna incident, but this nonsense kept Wonderwall at number two. Suspect that may get a little more Popmaster recognition.

    EDIT: you have to be quick on the draw round here, don’t you?

  7. 7
    lonepilgrim on 28 Jul 2013 #

    the ‘I believe’ video looks like it was filmed by David Lynch with Robson Green reminding me of Dean Stockwell singing ‘In Dreams’ in Blue Velvet – musically the pair come nowhere near re-imagining the song and their version of ‘Up on the Roof’ would make me want to throw myself off

  8. 8
    Mark G on 28 Jul 2013 #

    I Believe (when I fall in love it will be forever)

    a collision of two song titles without being any/either of the Popular qualifiers.

  9. 9
    Izzy on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Wonderwall’s a marvellous thing. Terrific, stark arrangement; great vocal; singalong up to here. Only the stupid title marks it down. I never got why Noel insisted on stealing from the Beatles, even when it was to no purpose. There are stupider examples, but to my mind this one’s actually a little harmful. (9)

  10. 10
    Cumbrian on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Bearing in mind, as I have said here repeatedly on other threads, that a good rule of thumb is that I know nothing, I was surprised to find myself listening to the Robson and Jerome “I Believe” and thinking to myself “there’s definitely a good song in there”. It’s just not the version that presents itself here. So I went and found the Frankie Laine version (I think it’s the right one – having never heard it before) and, yep, it’s quite good. That the song itself pokes out from behind Bronn and McNair’s vocals and the trademark Cowell ramping up of the production towards the climax was a surprise. I had been prepared to write this one off. I’d have even given the R&J version, 3 if that were it. Unfortunately, “Up On The Roof” has all the charm of a sucking chest wound – so 2 is probably right, averaging out the 3 and the (very low) 1 for the two songs.

    Re: Wonderwall – it seemed to hang around for ages in the charts and must have managed to tap some general nerve – I seem to remember that Oasis tended to land heavily and be gone after 3 or 4 weeks, so it was a rarity for them to stick around. Part of it might be that word of mouth/radio play got out on (what I have now found to be a bit over-rated) The Masterplan on the B-Side and it sucked in a few more people to buy it. On the other hand, Wonderwall is likely a lot friendlier than RWI and SMS, as the guitars are dialled back, so it might well just be that. Weird old video for that one too – in the very brief period where Scott Mcleod was the bassist, you start to see that Oasis have had more members than you’d perhaps expect. They had to get someone to fill in on guitar during the tour for their 4th album because Noel did one too (I think it was Matt Deighton from memory).

    Re: 3. Travis did rip it off Wonderwall though – they even mention Wonderwall in the lyrics of WTRY. Noel might have nicked it from elsewhere but it seems pretty plain where Fran Healy nicked it from himself. I don’t think there were accusations flying though – certainly not amongst my circle of friends. Turnabout seemed fair play (and memorably Noel himself would say just that when a future reality bunny seemed to lift one of “his” melodies).


    I leave with this from Bronn/Jerome. About his best bit of singing I think – best to save it for the taverns, I think.

  11. 11
    Scott M on 28 Jul 2013 #

    ‘I Believe’ is probably the most (only) enduring R&J waxing due to its long-time (and continued?) use in adverts for Ibuleve. That is literally all I can think of to say about this single.

  12. 12
    thefatgit on 28 Jul 2013 #

    “Wonderwall” was the last physical single I ever bought. And naturally, I was rooting for it to topple R&J. I was to be disappointed, of course. The last time I had a vested interest in the charts, coincided with the beginning of an 18 year (ongoing) stint in the same job with an insurance company. And I prefer to remember Oasis’ possibly finest moment as its marker than these two karaoke singers.

    The video is something else. Our 2 heroes are dying on-stage in their gold lame jackets and are close to shuffling off-stage, but then they break out “I Believe”. The miserable mall Santa and the barfly ignore their drinks and pause, transfixed as R&J belt out the song. From out of nowhere a gospel choir emerges to help elevate our boys to dizzying new heights. You could spread this schmaltz on crackers.

    But nothing can hide how terrible this performance is. Thankfully, the song clocks in the very right side of 3 minutes. We can all move on from this without further mention. The real perpetrator of this atrocity however still looms large, inescapable in our Popular future.

  13. 13
    Chelovek na lune on 28 Jul 2013 #

    I didn’t hear this at the time. Nor ever by chance following my return to the UK (and “by choice”?. Only in preparation for this.). I think it less objectionable than their slaughtering of Unchained Melody, but really, that is not saying very much, and, still, it’s pretty horrible.

    “Wonderwall”, on the other hand, despite encouraging my students at the time to ask me (a) what the word meant and (b) how to translate it into Russian (perhaps less bad than a shot at a vodka-fuelled Old New Year’s Party in the outskirts of Odessa attempting to translate “Nails In My Feel” by Crowded House, line by line: “Circle round in a strange hypnotic state” and so on), was more as less as good as Oasis got. I recall the Bank of Scotland, I think north of the border only, using the word subsequently, in adverts as a synonym for what they had previously only called Autotellers. But there is an obvious future occasion to discuss this.

  14. 14
    wichitalineman on 28 Jul 2013 #

    There was a Liverpool goalkeeper in the early seventies called Frankie Lane. His real name. Only two appearances. On his debut he caught a cross, then stepped backwards over the goal line, poor soul.

    As for the matter in hand… the waxy skin, the cold, dead eyes, the leaf-touching… nothing much to add. Piss-weak.

    The Bachelors 1964 hit version put the “touch a leaf” emphasis on the next line – “or see the sky” – which doesn’t really suit the bombast underneath their yowling vocals. It’s overblown, teary emerald isle tat. Yes, the Bachelors version is arguably worse than Robson & Jerome’s.

  15. 15
    Billy Hicks on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Now I’m imagining a sort of super-version of the song with Laine’s delivery, R&J’s “Touch a leaf” followed immediately by The Bachelors “Or SEE! THE! SKY!”, and ending with R&J’s choir. It would either be the greatest or worst version ever made.

  16. 16
    AMZ1981 on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Following up on the number 2 watch, in a parrallel universe where all else stayed the same except no I Believe, Wonderwall would have entered at number one for a solitary week before Coolio returned for a further three week run.

    The other record trending big around this time was Missing by Everything But The Girl which wound up the biggest selling record of the year not to get to number one. I always found it pretty dreary myself.

  17. 17
    Izzy on 28 Jul 2013 #

    Ha! For all the budding heartbreak about Wonderwall being another Vienna, it’s amusing to think of it as just a blip in Coolio’s reign.

  18. 18
    Ed on 28 Jul 2013 #

    @13 That’s a great fact about the BoS ad!

    Q: “What is a Wonderwall?”

    A: “Well, it’s a cashpoint, isn’t it?”

  19. 19
    Will on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Wonderwall was the point where Oasis crossed over decisively to the UK public as a whole. Everyone I know loved it, from dance fans who wouldn’t have normally touched an ‘indie’ record with a bargepole to older friends who had lost touch with the charts. And yeah even I bought it too.

  20. 20
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2013 #

    @3, Steve Mannion. Thanks for all those apparent anticipations of much of Wonderwall’s main pattern. But when did NG write (most of) Wonderwall? I’m pretty sure Alan McGee’s said it was in Noel’s original cache of material that made him sign Oasis, so maybe only the Gainsbourg can be a direct antecedent. (Sarah Cracknell is rather fetching in St Et’s Hug My Soul vid.. Blimey. For a b-side? That’s pop-star service for you.) Will return later for Bronn Season 3. He and the Hound – Yarp! – should grab one of the young Game of Thrones lovelies and mount a concerted attack on the charts next year (get in there Cowell).

  21. 21
    Kinitawowi on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Pretty sure this is about where my peculiar addiction to VH-1 started to take hold; I went through a three-year period of watching virtually nothing but. They were strange times, but perhaps the strangest thing is that Up On The Roof seemed to get more vidspace than I Believe.

    They were both shite.

    Never got Wonderwall to be honest, although I still find the Mike Flowers version hilarious (its time as second best will come) and we can’t forget Girls Aloud’s brazen robbery of it for Life Got Cold. As for the Writing To Reach You / Wonderwall mishmash… a couple of my uni mates were always more amused by their comparisons between Driftwood and Blur’s The Universal. Equal opportunity Britpop theft for the post-Britpop miseryfest, I guess.

  22. 22
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2013 #

    So, ‘I Believe’: the Laine original doesn’t do much for me. The underlying song’s just not quite good enough to warrant all the bluster is the problem I think. And while the track shrewdly doesn’t overstay its welcome and ends before it has a chance to get truly irritating, there’s something wrong/unbalanced mildly hilarious with getting to a big bellowing crescendo so quickly and then just ending.

    Anyhow, the cover’s perfunctory/functional – Tom’s made about the best possible effort to anatomize its arrangement; I’m finding it hard to find the will to add to that analysis. Has anyone opined in either of the previous Robson and Jerome entries that the (re-)discovery of the pre-Beatles nostalgia market is probably connected with the 50th anniv. of D-day/mid-’90s ‘Greatest Generation’ palaver that ran from 1994 through to the release of Saving Private Ryan in 1998? ‘I believe’ may not have much actual martial meaning, but it’s got ‘reconnecting with greatest grandad’ written all over it.

    As for Wonderwall: #1 in both NZ and Australia, a big hit in the US (apparently got to #8 but it felt bigger and led directly to this Rolling Stone cover image early in ’96), and I guess in my view it’s easily Oasis’s best record. The supple drumming makes it – lovely jazzy fills, similar to those that had pushed Smashing Pumpkins over the top in 1993, make all the loudness and attitude lighter than air for a change (Oasis ditched their original drummer to find someone who could do justice to this song is the basic story, right? Too bad that they never seemed to let Alan White off the leash again after this), and the general top tune means even the lyrics charm this time. I didn’t buy the single but, like millions of others, I picked up the album pretty darned soon – within 48 hours – after hearing this one.

  23. 23
    hardtogethits on 29 Jul 2013 #

    And with this record R and J set and broke new chart records …
    They became the first act to
    They were the last act to
    They remain the only act to

  24. 24
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2013 #

    The Wonderwall (1968) film to which George Harrison provided the s/track is up on youtube (in ten 7 minute bits) starting here. Jerome Flynn as awesome Bronn here.

  25. 25
    Tom on 29 Jul 2013 #

    I remember the first time I heard “Wonderwall” quite strongly, listening to the radio while playing Civilization on my Dad’s PC (rock n roll!), thinking immediately how good the verses were – the song exploits dynamics in a way Oasis often didn’t bother with (their early stuff just crackles throughout, the later ones often just go from big to bigger, or are sludgey all through). There’s a tension and threat in “Wonderwall” that’s quite un-Oasislike – for all that they were perceived (see the SMS thread) as thugs etc that sense of menace very rarely seeped into the music, Noel isn’t a nasty songwriter*, he’s too into affirmation and communal vibes.

    Anyway “Wonderwall” stays good – the “And maybe…” but is the redemptive payoff the verses are looking for, switching the song back into standard Oasis uplifting territory – and then the “After all, you’re my wonderwall” blows it for me. It’s not even the w-word, which is clunky before you know the reference and clunky and annoying after, but don’t spoil the idea – it’s the way the chorus seems to just flatten out and end on a shrug. (“After all”, that weirdly chummy qualifier, doesn’t help, especially as it’s just in there to service a rhyme) I don’t know if anyone else feels that way about it – obviously it’s a well-loved song, but the way the chorus ends has always annoyed me.

    *The Problem With Britpop/Britrock in a nutshell: it’s a version of the 60s without the Stones! In fact, have either of the Gallaghers ever talked much about the Rolling Stones?

  26. 26
    James BC on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #23 I can guess at what those records are. I do know that I, as a 13-year-old fan of the Guinness Book of Hit Singles, rather resented Robson and Jerome breaking or matching certain records with their totally unearned success. They weren’t the last case of this either – a couple of Irish acts from a few years later spring to mind.

  27. 27
    Ed on 29 Jul 2013 #

    “A version of the 60s without the Stones!”

    There’s a bit of ‘Mother’s Little Helper’ / ’19th Nervous Breakdown’ era Stones in Blur. ‘The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man’, too.

    Many Pulp songs feel like ‘Live With Me’ relocated to suburban Sheffield.

    And there’s Primal Scream….

    So yes, I guess you’re right.

  28. 28
    anto on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Excellent review. If nothing else let’s just be grateful they didn’t turn ‘I Believe’ into a spoken word piece. They are thespians after all. I agree the original ‘Up On The Roof’ is rather special. Actually The Drifters are one of those groups who rarely receive as much kudos as they deserve. Being covered by Robson & Jerome is hardly high praise.

  29. 29
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Is there a worse version of “I Believe” ?


    I would say, the version that the Osmonds did, where they would medley-mix “Are you up there” (an excellent song of their own) into the “every time I hear a new born baby cry” and back again, as some sort of ‘complete’ suite.. is horrendous and stomps over subtlety…

  30. 30
    Rory on 29 Jul 2013 #

    After this second encounter with Robson & Jerome I’m starting to think of these as double B-sides. “Up On the Roof” is every bit as awful as Cumbrian suggests. “I Believe” is just… pointless. A 2 overall, for sure.

    “Wonderwall” was number one for a week in Australia (in February 1996) – their only number one single there. As part of Morning Glory I loved it, but listening to it now I’m finding Liam’s vocals more grating than I remember. Uh-oh.

  31. 31
    Steve Mannion on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #25 iirc The Charlatans ‘Just When You’re Thinking Things Over’ picked up a lot of Stones comparisons, but then they started sounding more like Oasis (‘How High’).

  32. 32
    wichitalineman on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Re 25: The Charlatans wanted to be the Faces, who wanted to be the Stones.

    Primal Scream, as has been said.

    Most significantly a bunnied act who sampled the Stones so heavily they had to give up 100% of their royalties.

    And if it’s just an absence of nastiness you’re referring to, Blur had it by the spiteful truckload! Pulp were generally insular and non-communal – even Common People is, essentially, one long dig at a hapless cultural tourist. Elastica had the Stones aloofness (which worked extremely well for them).

    Wonderwall’s “…and maybe” is one of those moments where a melody, or chord, stays static when you expect it to move. It’s a very powerful songwriting trick if you can pull it off, one that can almost physically tug your heart. Plus there’s the cello, and the supple drumming. None of these ingredients turn up on any other Oasis song as far as I’m aware.

  33. 33
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2013 #

    mmm, maybe “Whatever” has some of that suttle drumming, Tony McCarroll, gawdbless’im

  34. 34
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2013 #

    The great mash-up of Wonderwall and We’ve Only Just Begun only keeps Ww’s verses. In general, re-listening to the whole Carpenters tune, written by Paul Williams I believe, puts Noel Gallagher’s (and Albarn’s and….) melodic gifts in pretty harsh perspective.

  35. 35
    wichitalineman on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Re 33: …and cellos, you’re right. I’m a twit.

    Re 34: Paul Williams is a fucking genius! I was so glad he was beatified by Daft Punk. His first solo album, Someday Man, is like a humanist guide on how to live.

  36. 36
    James BC on 29 Jul 2013 #

    If you want nastiness, Luke Haines might have been your man although he got a bit left behind when Britpop took off.

    I don’t know if the nastiness is key, though. To me what the Stones had that the Beatles didn’t was groove – a sound-led approach contrasting with the Beatles’ song-led one. On that basis, if all Oasis’s songs had been like Roll With It then they would have been in the Stones role with Blur as the Beatles. But they weren’t.

    I suppose by 1995 people had dance music for dancing and looked to bands for something else. With baggy all but forgotten.

  37. 37
    wichitalineman on 29 Jul 2013 #

    The Charlatans were an interesting, and now overlooked, link here. One of the earliest significant Chemical Brothers remixes was their Nine Acre Dust (at least I think it was called that).

    They were a big deal at the Heavenly Social, and had their very own venn diagram segment – baggy, indie, Britrock, big beat.

  38. 38
    Steve Mannion on 29 Jul 2013 #

    I was gonna say The Charlatans were probably first on the big beat bandwagon thanks to the Chemical Brothers connection (including the ‘One To Another’ intro). Primal Scream too despite the throwback of GOBDGU.

    By contrast Oasis and their similarly conservative peers avoided remixes even tho they surely would’ve benefitted from them (I think there was a DJ edit of ‘Wonderwall’ at the time with the break from NWA’s ‘Express Yourself’ stuck under it).

  39. 39
    glue_factory on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Re: 37, you’re correct about the name (the one that went “Naaaa/Naa, naa, naa”…)

  40. 40
    Izzy on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #36: groove, yes; and also using blues as their foundation.

    Britpop doesn’t have much of either – see eg Shaker Maker, which has a 12-bar structure, but is about as ungroovy as music gets. Instead its jumping-off point is straight pop, in a lineage stretching back to music hall in one direction and folk in another, with nods to particular kinds of classics like Bacharach or Tom Jones. Some bands started out looser – Suede, Mansun, Oasis themselves – but my feeling is that generally the form got more restricted as time went by.

    I’d nominate Supergrass and The Verve as exceptions, which I suspect is largely down to the quality of those two rhythm sections above all.

    (which raises the thought: is the Stone Roses’ second generally considered britpop? Because it doesn’t have much in common with any of what I’ve tried to trace out.)

  41. 41
    mapman132 on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Wonderwall is a 10 from me – maybe not for everyone, but Oasis’ best work in my mind. As was stated by a previous poster, it was far and away their biggest US hit (#8 Hot 100, and #1 for a then-record 10 weeks on the Modern Rock chart). Oasis was never nearly as big in the US and in the UK, but Wonderwall is the one Oasis track every American knows.

    Apparently, there’s a mass delusion that two actors that sing as about as well as I do recorded extremely weak versions of a song I don’t particularly care for (I Believe), and a song I actually like when recorded properly (Up On The Roof) that somehow outsold Wonderwall and prevented it from reaching #1. As this notion is totally ridiculous, I’m going to reject this reality and replace it with my own.

  42. 42
    Cumbrian on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #38: If Oasis had used remixes on their B-Sides, they would have stockpiled more of their songs – but I think people were probably going to get tired of them anyway. It would have just been continuing to give people the same stuff as before (and dependent on when it was recorded, with worse production).

    That said, they did have a mighty remix on their last single – Amorphous Androgynous did a 20 odd minute remix of Falling Down, which takes Oasis into a bit of a different space. I think Noel is probably a bit worried about that track right now actually – letting on that the same guys produced his “other album” had people thinking that it would finally be the record where he took himself out of his musical comfort zone. He has been busy trying to row back from those expectations and it’s interesting that, if it is finished, it hasn’t been released yet.

  43. 43
    Cumbrian on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #40: The Verve definitely had groove. But were they Britpop? I think Richard Ashcroft had pretensions to something like it, but the band sounded pretty shoegazey to me.

  44. 44
    wichitalineman on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Tom’s term Britrock covers Second Coming/The V***e neatly. Their success seeme like a consequence of Britpop, or at least Britain’s fresh appreciation of guitar acts.

  45. 45
    Tom on 29 Jul 2013 #

    The vogue for Britrock remixes (such as it was) was partly a response to formatting trends – if your standard single release involves 2 separate CD singles, then you either need twice the number of B-sides (a stretch even for the most fecund of bandS) or you need to do something else with CD2. Live tracks are one option, but remixes open up your single to potentially different fans entirely – I definitely bought a few singles I’d otherwise have skipped because of particular remixers.

  46. 46
    wichitalineman on 29 Jul 2013 #

    That was certainly Creation’s logic at the time, Oasis aside.

  47. 47
    Tom on 29 Jul 2013 #

    A lot of the remixes, even by name dudes, were pretty ropey though. A bunnied Welsh band issued some particularly iffy mixes (tho their B-Sides were above-par, to balance it.)

    As well as the Britpop Nuggets (WEEJ I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN THIS SO SORRY!) you could do an 90s Remixes Bonus Disc. “Jailbird (Chemical Brothers Remix)”, the Motiv8 “Common People”… what else?

  48. 48
    James BC on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #42 That Amorphous Androgynous remix of Falling Down is really quite something. I bought the 12″ on a whim and have no regrets.

    Noel always had at least a minor interest in dance music. He had a handful of guest appearances with big beat-type acts (and didn’t Liam do a song with Death in Vegas?) but they kept Oasis well away from all that.

    I think Noel said of What A Life from his High Flying Birds album that as much as he loved the Hacienda, it had taken him until that song to make a track that could have been played there. But I believe the AA full album collaboration has been put to one side or wandered away from, so he won’t be going full dance any time soon.

  49. 49
    James BC on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #47 Kenickie – I Would Fix You – Mint Royale mix.

  50. 50

    Has anyone ever seen the film Wonderwall is named for?

    (I have the Harrison s/t on er, well, I came across it somewhere: mostly tablas and sitars, certainly not Beatley in the Gallaghoid sense… I like it, but I’ve always been a sucker for Harrison’s sitar stuff.)

  51. 51
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2013 #

    I think “Bunnied Welsh Band” have been mentioned so often, I’m beginning to think that’s their real name!

    #50, I have, the way it was described it would seem like a pretty lousy film. Actually, I quite enjoyed it. From the soundtrack, “Party Seacombe” is very like “Flying” from MMT…

  52. 52
    tm on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Wonderwall is a textbook lesson in the importance of key: it’s played in F#m with a capo on the guitar’s second fret: play it without the capo in Em and you end up thinking ‘what’s all the fuss about’, dig the capo out and play it in the proper key and it sounds like a hit. With the capo any further up the neck, it starts sounding like jingly jangly nu folk.

  53. 53
    lockedintheattic on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #47 Blur – Girls & Boys – Pet Shop Boys mix

  54. 54
    tm on 29 Jul 2013 #

    What’s the big beat remix of Blur’s On Your Own from The Beach soundtrack?

  55. 55
    Rory on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Re 90s Remixes Bonus Disc: you need this.

  56. 56
    Cumbrian on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #48: Well, we’re going to get to Noel goes Big Beat eventually. The Liam/DiV track (Scorpio Rising) sounds like late 60s trad-rock though – as indeed does the cover of “So You Say You Lost Your Baby” that they did with Paul Weller on the same album.

    Using my lunch time productively, I found a link to HuffPo claiming that Noel may well scrap the AA album as he is not happy with the mixes. A shame if true. He doesn’t strike me as someone who gives a damn if he gets a load of brickbats for an experiment gone wrong but I fear he may have lost his nerve (or maybe it really isn’t that different from what has gone before).

  57. 57
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2013 #

    @50, Mark. Yes, I just watched the Wonderwall (1968) film on youtube (at the link I provided above). It’s pretty tedious really: a straight-laced professor-type has his mind blown when he finds he can peep through the wall in on the wild life led by the fashion model next door (Jane Birkin); gradually he drills out lots of holes, pulls out bricks, and so on, and it becomes clear that the wall’s principally a metaphor… Vague druginess and psychedlia ensues. If you like the soundtrack album, well, apparently that’s less than half of the music that’s in the film. Anyhow, worth seeing as a 1967/1968 artifact (I’m sort of glad to have seen it) but it’s no Blow Out or even Girl On A Motorcycle that’s for sure. Wonderwall (1968) did slightly remind me of Koralnik’s Anna (1967) and also of Gondry’s Science of Sleep (200?) but both of the latter are a lot more fun, so keep your expectations very low.

  58. 58
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 29 Jul 2013 #

    mea culpa SW — of course I didn’t click through that link :(

  59. 59
    swanstep on 29 Jul 2013 #

    @57, whoops that should be Blow Up (the Antonioni one), not Blow Out (the very fun De Palma one).

  60. 60
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #55 I got the cassette edition of that. Massively disappointed in that the cassette inside looked nothing like the cassette on the front (usual ink-printed thing)

  61. 61
    glue_factory on 29 Jul 2013 #

    I guess it’s appropriate that this kept Wonderwall off the top, as both singles came from albums that sold above-and-beyond the usual “lots” by appealing to people who don’t often buy music (I imagine Stars by Simply Red, may also fit into this category). Is this the beginning of CDs for sales in supermarkets, or had that been going for a while at this point?

  62. 62
    mintness on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Tempting though it is to lump them all into the same “1” territory without further thought (and they may indeed all merit it), for me this deserves to be singled out as the worst of their chart-toppers. The others are cack-handed and utterly unnecessary, of course, but there’s something here (particularly on the A-side) that feels downright malevolent, like those involved are trying to see just how far they can push it and still keep the public on-side and buying the thing in their droves.

    Still, at least it’s short.

  63. 63
    23 Daves on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Awful record, this.

    The only thing I can actually say in Robson and Jerome’s favour is that they never released their unbelievably weak version of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” as a single, but there again Cowell did have the nerve to get them to record it in the first place. A friend of mine actually borrowed his mother’s R&J CD just so he could play it to me and watch my horrified reaction. At least good old Uncle Simon didn’t get them to cover any Jacques Brel tunes, I suppose, though “Next” would at least have been close to the “Soldier Soldier” concept.

  64. 64
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2013 #

    I can hear them singing “Seasons in the Sun” right now.

    Make it stop!

  65. 65
    fivelongdays on 29 Jul 2013 #


    Then, to be fair, they did us all a favour when, with this poptastic hit, they stopped what has become one of the most loathsome songs of the last 20 years topping the charts.

    Wonderwall is vile. Oasis’ early vigour slurred into a drone. Surrealism turned into duller platitudes that even Livin’ Joy* could manage. Sparkle, shimmering rock beaten down into quasi-acoustic mush. Soul and joy destroyed by the most awful bit of drumming ever, courtesy of Alan ‘I can play just like Ringo’ White. Bowing down before the shrine of The Beatles, repenting for the sin of liking bands other than the Fab Four, this is where Oasis started to lose me. Probably.

    The lyrics – fuck me, it’s a celebration of being thick. It’s everything that’s wrong. It’s the sort of thing that left me feeling disenfranchised from football. And all the people who thought Shakermaker, and Some Might Say, and Cigarettes And Alcohol et al were fucking rock shite were loving it. There was no swing, no groove, no swirling, only a load of leaden, lumpy, wank. Jizzing over the mouldering corpse of John fucking Lennon, and having nothing to say.

    And the constant bloody overplaying of it! Over the last 18 years (18 years!), I have never been in a position where I thought ‘Hmm, you know what? I haven’t heard Wonderwall in far too long.’ I have this shit – this shit that was directly responsible for the nesh mewlings of Travis, Badly Drawn Boy, Coldplay et al – rammed down my throat as a bit of chinstroking ‘rock’ (HA HA BLOODY HA) genius for 18 years (18 fucking years!) now. The sound of flowers from a late-night garage bought after you’ve just beaten up your wife.

    Of course, 13-year-old me (who was a nascent Rocker-with-a-capital-R) rather liked this shite (having bought WTSMG the day it came out), and thought Oasis (and Blur, and Pulp, and Suede, and…ooh, loads of ‘em) were the nuts. However, the bit of me that listened to Metallica, and Slayer, and Therapy?, and AC/DC, and Green Day (but not yet The Wildhearts) had yet to realise that something was rotten…but perhaps I’d better save that. Suffice to say, I was on the lookout (although I didn’t realise it) for a band who would merge loud guitars and intelligence…and wouldn’t it be great if they sang something about, I dunno, how they laughed when Lennon got shot or summat? One would come along…and so will The Bunny if I say anything further!

    I had to listen to the fucking thing twice so I could get this right. But at least R&J did the right thing, so Tom doesn’t have to listen to it at all, ever. Lucky bugger.

    So, yeah, For Services To Stopping Shit Getting To Number One (plus – hey! It’s Up On The Roof!), this gets a four.

    *I dislike Dreamer, and what it stands for, but I loathe Wonderwall, and what it stands for.

  66. 66
    Auntie Beryl on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #61 I think supermarket CD sales are later than 1995; a 2006 Daily Mail article I’m not going to link to claims grocery shares of the albums market were negligible ten years earlier.

    I think we have the bunnied girlband and, a little later, the rise of DVD/death of VHS to thank for supermarkets aggressively entering the entertainment market.

  67. 67
    Tom on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #66 you’re right about timing but my guess is you have the tail wagging the dog, i.e. it’s down to supermarket trends influencing pop not the other way round. My theory: as supermarkets moved out of the high street/shopping centres and into out-of-town retail parks they started filling up space with stuff other than food – so clothes, entertainment, white goods etc all became more important.

  68. 68
    Patrick Mexico on 29 Jul 2013 #

    A strong contender for the most pointless number 1 of all time. I don’t find it painful to listen to like Mr Blobby et al, and future horror children’s novelty records, I just find it an incredibly tedious recording of a spit-and-sawdust pub’s karaoke machine. Unlike the (contrived but understandable) VE-day crossover of the White Cliffs of Dover, there also doesn’t seem any discernible link between Soldier Soldier or whatever else these schmucks starred in whatsoever. 2.

  69. 69
    Patrick Mexico on 29 Jul 2013 #

    By the way, time has not been particularly kind to Wonderwall – Liam’s voice is a little grating and the chorus somewhat underwhelms after those jaunty, twangy, moody little hooks – but man, I feel like listening to that at least, er, four times more than R&J. It’s one of theirs that got the pop charm/winning brutality balance right – you could indeed call it a “charm offensive”. In spirit and execution, in many ways it’s the ultimate Oasis song, and the ultimate pop song. I wouldn’t feel motivated to ever hear it again though. 8.

  70. 70
    Patrick Mexico on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Re 65: I don’t agree that much – Oasis might have been unoriginal and trampling more intelligent or vital British music underfoot, but the post-Oasis bands you mention arguably did far more damage than them by refusing to break with the past and diluting their (controversially blunt) messages (if they even had a constant unifying ‘message’) into ever-decreasing circles of mediocrity for the masses. The Constantly Mentioned Welsh Bunnied Band should have stepped up to that plate, but in the late nineties it was their most accessible, least nihilistic phase..

    Quite brilliant review, mind. To be honest, the obsessive rhyming and melody being shoved down your throat (as well as being overplayed) makes it the “when Oasis woz good” song I’m not really that keen on. I’ll give it a 6. For genuine effort to create the “best song ever”, unlike the song actually called that. But sometimes in pop, people try far too hard.

  71. 71
    Pink champale on 29 Jul 2013 #

    Re Oasis and the Stones, Noel G chose We Love You on Tracks of my Years or similar. His (I think not bad) argument being that everyone says Satanic Magesties is shit, but it’s actually great, whereas everyone says Exile on Main Street is great, but it’s actually shit.

  72. 72
    Another Pete on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #54 Crouch End Broadway mix

  73. 73
    hardtogethits on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #61, #66, #67. The answer to the supermarket question must be out there somewhere (at the very least, by examining copies of the BPI Statistical Yearbook / Handbook). I recall CDs being sold in supermarkets when CDs were still quite new-fangled, and I was surprised to learn that supermarkets only accounted for 2% of CD album sales by 1988 – and still more surprised that by 1994 the supermarkets still hadn’t grabbed a major stake (methodologies and sources compete, but all say <5%). By 2005, however, the big 4 supermarkets were responsible for more than 25% of CD album sales.

    So – in the absence of someone researching the answer properly – yes, maybe this was roughly the time the supermarkets started to wield their influence. Don't be totally misled though, they had been present in the marketplace for a few years before then.

    NB: ISTR also that when Now 29, in late 1994, ditched the fatbox (eh? – ed) it did so because supermarkets were keen to sell it, and the non-fat-box helped drive down the price (for all) and get more copies on supermarket shelves. Result? Best selling Now! Album up to that point. Some bits of that are definitely, wholly true; some may be falsely remembered.

    Hope this helps.

  74. 74
    Mark G on 29 Jul 2013 #

    #71, I’ve said the same myself

  75. 75
    weej on 30 Jul 2013 #

    #73 I remember Tesco having CDs in the mid 90s, but they always seemed to be at full price, like in service stations, or in the bargain bin of shame with re-recorded greatest hits compilations. That’s why the audio-visual department was always the most lucrative section to go for on Supermarket Sweep.

  76. 76
    James BC on 30 Jul 2013 #

    #65 Which Beatles song or songs do you think Wonderwall sounds like, or is copying?

  77. 77
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    And now supermarkets seem to be pretty well out of the CD business, like everyone else.

    Up until quite recently, our local mega-Tesco used to have a whole aisle of CDs, near the entrance to the store. Now there’s only a couple of racks, tucked away in literally the most remote corner, upstairs.

  78. 78
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2013 #

    #65, you know, Therapy? would have got to number one, if eight other acts hadn’t released singles in that time period…

  79. 79
    Auntie Beryl sans login on 30 Jul 2013 #

    #77 That might be the perception, but 44% of CDs sold last week in the UK were through supermarkets, even in a world where Amazon has such dominance/market penetration. I suppose HMV’s decline – if not fall – has played a part in that.

    Even when you factor in iTunes, the total market (physical & digital) albums share for supermarkets was 28%.

    (Can’t link to numbers unfortunately, but ’tis true.)

  80. 80
    Chelovek na lune on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Of course this all ties in not only with the (rather later) coming of mammoth-sized Tesco Extras et al, but the ceasing of other high street stores to sell singles (Even before the much later collapse of various chain record stores).

    Woolworths of course held on to much later, but at the cost of (circa 1992) severely reducing the range that they stocked (to be more banally commercial: perhaps preempting the supermarkets, in fact), but WHSmith and Boots opted out at some point (very early 90s?) too….

    There was still a relatively healthy independent record shop market, certainly in the early 90s (certainly in even far-flung suburbs & exurbs of London). When exactly did that cease to exist….

  81. 81
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    @25, @32 etc – Back to the Stones. I had forgotten about the Bunnied act with their sample – and wholesale melody lift, in fact – but I think you’d want more from “the Rolling Stones of the 90s” than simple homage / appropriation. The same way Primal Scream don’t get to qualify just by trying to write songs that sound like ‘Brown Sugar’.

    James BC @36 is right, I think: groove is the key, and as has been discussed already, that was a quality in short supply in Britpop, and Britrock.

    The most convincing contenders, I think, are an act that had groove, and nastiness, aplenty. But I am pleased to say they are also heavily Bunnied, and we will come to them soon enough.

  82. 82
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    @79, @80 Thanks for that. A ton of anecdote is worth less than an ounce of data. It seems somehow unimaginable now that Boots – Boots! – sold records as recently as two decades ago.

  83. 83
    Izzy on 30 Jul 2013 #

    81: Come on, it’s not the act that’s bunnied, it’s discussion of the song in question. I don’t actually know who you’re referring to there, which rather kills this discussion.

  84. 84
    fivelongdays on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Of course, it depends on what you mean by ‘Britrock’. For me, Britrock is Therapy?, Wildhearts, Terrorvision, Skunk Anansie, Bunnied Welsh Band, Symposium et al, rather than Second Coming Era Stone Roses/OCS/Bignosed Northern Bunnies, which is merely the ‘rockier’ (IF YOU’VE NEVER ACTUALLY HEARD A ROCK RECORD) side of Britpop, aka Noelrock.

    The powers of a great subgenre name and no agreed definition, eh?

    (#78 Even now, the idea that T? managed to get into the Top Ten is something that makes me need to have a sit down and a cup of tea. Or a cup of T?)

  85. 85
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 30 Jul 2013 #

    In the mid-70s, Boots was actually a pretty good bet. iirc I used to trek round three places in Shrewsbury — except now (as great age falls) I can only remember two of them: Boots and Durrants, the non-chain purposed-for-records shop at the top of Wyle Cop. Can’t now recall if any of the purposed-for-records chains ever landed in the western marches — Our Price or whatever. I got a lot of my records second-hand by mail order, from Cob in Porthmadog (which does still exist).

  86. 86
    Auntie Beryl sans login on 30 Jul 2013 #

    #80 WH Smiths were definitely still selling CDs as recently as five years ago – albeit in small quantities. Around this time Woolworths falling over, and taking Zavvi with it via the disappearance of its distribution arm, shook the music retail landscape up a great deal and I think Smiths just gave up at this point.

    As for the indie sector, huge changes took place from the late 90s onwards. Firstly the supermarkets got involved and changed the general price perception of a CD down from £15 (remember that?) nearer to £10. Amazon/Play/CDWow/Ebay started offering online alternatives. Then a little later iTunes happened along, a legal alternative to the LimeWire/Napster/AudioGalaxy naughty options that had been available for a few years by that point.

    All of the above made life very difficult for most indie stores, mine no exception. I left at the end of 2001 convinced the end was nigh for music retail and I should get a job doing something else.
    The store itself closed a couple of years later.

  87. 87
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Oh yeah, “Audio Boots”, fond memories of this in Reading.

    And then they had a closing down fire-sale (first one I’d ever seen), and I got “Sandinista” cassette set for £1.50. OK, so I’d already (just) bought the 3LP version when it came out, but hey. And now I have all formats! (inc the Minidisc)

  88. 88
    James BC on 30 Jul 2013 #

    In around 1995-96, the writers of Channel 4 teletext (which was brilliant and where I got almost all my music coverage) insisted that the term “britrock” was a silly categorisation that applied to Radiohead and no other bands.

    I don’t think I agreed but I couldn’t suggest who it did apply to. The Wildhearts and Terrorvision were just rock, not “Britrock”.

  89. 89
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    I remember havering over a rack full of marked-down copies of ”The Name of This Band is Talking Heads’ in Boots on Epsom High Street. The downtown scene still a bit edgy for suburban Surrey in those days.

  90. 90
    Izzy on 30 Jul 2013 #

    81: okay I’ve looked through the rest of the 90s and I still don’t know who you mean, unless it’s Jamiroquai. But I’m guessing it won’t be, as: i) they’re not a very nasty band; and ii) they never get enough praise.

  91. 91
    fivelongdays on 30 Jul 2013 #

    88-I believe Kerrang! used the term (because there was a distinctive scene, as opposed to ‘They’re British and they Rock BUT’) intermittently in 1996. It works for me, because I still have a lot of love for those bands.

  92. 92
    thefatgit on 30 Jul 2013 #

    81. I think I know who you might mean (2 #1’s off the same album) but stretching the Britrock description to breaking point, IMO.

  93. 93
    Tom on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Ed’s not describing them as Britrock, he’s saying they were the Stonesiest thing in the charts. Probably true at that.

    Assuming, that is, I’ve cracked his pitch up(thread).

  94. 94
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Well, I’ve told you once…

  95. 95
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    @92 You got it!

    @90. Sorry to be annoying, but I am looking forward to the discussion of this lot coming up in six entries’ time.

  96. 96
    Chelovek na lune on 30 Jul 2013 #

    @95 etc

    I’d not made that connection before, but, up to a point, at least, it does make sense. (Way more convincing than Primal Scream anyway). Not sure whether it requires a prodigious imagination to make the connection or not.

  97. 97
    Andrew Farrell on 30 Jul 2013 #

    83: It’s Carter USM, obviously.

    (okay, it’s the stunningly ill-named Verve)

  98. 98
    enitharmon on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Tom @ 93

    My eyebrows raised at the suggestion of the Stones being ‘brit[anything]’. My experience is that back in the day (and I’m old enough to think that Exile on Main Steet was the album too far) the Stones were less concerned than others – Beatles, Kinks, Small Faces – with creating a distinctively British rock’n’roll by inflecting American R&B with elements of music hall and urban (if I may reclaim the word for the moment) street culture. Instead they stuck with the raw American product and ran with it. Ad geriatricam, I’d suggest!

  99. 99
    Tom on 30 Jul 2013 #

    If sticking with American R&B is the qualifier we’ll be getting to that even sooner than Ed’s suggestion!

  100. 100
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    @71 – It totally makes sense that ‘Satanic Majesties’ would be Noel Gallagher’s favourite Rolling Stones record: the Stones album for people who don’t really like the Stones.

    @98 – That’s a great observation about the Stones’ (lack of) Britishness. The standard line is that what was brilliant about the British Invasion wave of the 60s was that it was a “creative misreading” of American R&B. I guess you could say of the Stones they were not a misreading, and not creative. Not entirely sure I agree, but it’s an intriguing idea.

  101. 101
    Izzy on 30 Jul 2013 #

    95 & c.: ha, I get it now – here was me thinking we were talking about groove though.

    I can’t buy the Stones unBritishness I’m afraid, for reason that I once made the same proposition to some Americans and was laughed out of town. Take away the staginess and I still thought there was something in it.

  102. 102
    Ed on 30 Jul 2013 #

    @99 – With a similar record of bad-boy antics, too!

  103. 103
    Mark M on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Re 98 (etc): Hang on… There seem to be two things going on here:

    1) Do the Stones’ attempts at American genres (blues, rock’n’roll, country and the various hybrids and mutations of these) read as English (in the way that Manfred Mann’s, say, did?) Up for debate – I’d say not as much as some other British bands, but still yes.


    2) did the Stones ever make avowedly English records the way The Kinks and The Small Faces did? Blatantly yes, in the mid-into-late 1960s Behind The Buttons/Aftermath era with songs like Lady Jane and Ruby Tuesday.

  104. 104
    Mark G on 30 Jul 2013 #

    I’d play you “Something happened to me yesterday” from “Between the Buttons”, and “On with the show good health to yough” from “Satanic”, as evidence of the stones’ Music-Hall leanings.

    Oh, and if “Back Street Girl” has anything to do with the US musics, um, well, yeah, that one.

    There may be others…

  105. 105
    Rory on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Why stop at “Welsh Bunnied Band” and “Bignosed Northern Bunnies”? Surely any band which is still a going concern but hasn’t yet had a number one single should be bunnied on the grounds that they could someday have one. Bunnies all round!

    (Cue collapse of Popular discussions under massed weight of bunnies.)

  106. 106
    enitharmon on 30 Jul 2013 #

    Ed @ 100 I’d always thought of it as less of a misreading as a new interpretation. The American black music came in to Liverpool as ballast on the ships – the mainly agricultural goods coming east weighed less than the manufactured goods going west – mainly because on the US east coast at least the docks were the preserve of the white man and barring an enlightened minority the white folks just didn’t listen to black music (and vice versa no doubt). Those discarded records were much sought after on Merseyside and found their way into the repertoire of all those scratch post-skiffle bands earning their beer money in the Cavern and other dank places in surplus warehouse space (and pissing it away in the Grapes across the road of course). What the so-called “British Invasion” did was to play back to white audiences in the US the black music they scorned, but in a way that was palatable to them.

    Mark @ 103 I’d agree that the Stones did make steps in that direction with Aftermath/Satanic Majesties, and I’m inclined to think those are terrific albums, but they seem to have abandoned that track quickly to concentrate on what they did best (which I’d disagree with because I think they did that suburban cynicism very well indeed) or more likely what went down best with their core audiences, who wanted Jumping Jack Flash.

  107. 107
    wichita lineman on 31 Jul 2013 #

    It’s Andrew Oldham, isn’t it? Take him away and the Stones revert to being a (very good) band from Kent trying to sound American. Which, as Rosie says, is what the majority audience wanted, rather than the unique otherness of Paint It Black.

    The Drifters was a picture clue answer in the pop quiz I went to tonight, the picture being a couple of chocolate covered wafer biscuits. Matter in hand, and all that.

    As for I Believe, this Frankie Laine 45 trumps any version soundly. It sounds like David Lynch and Ed Wood got together with the Star Trek lady to create the ultimate Frankie Laine record… behold, Swamp Girl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCEI-IY86zA

    Apologies if I posted it elsewhere on Popular a while ago. I’m getting very old and forgetful.

  108. 108
    swanstep on 31 Jul 2013 #

    @ wichita, 107. But but but, that post-Oldham ‘return to the blues’ period for the Stones in 1968-1971 feels so qualitatively different from the Stones’ early blues recordings – I mean it’s absurdly better – that it doesn’t seem quite right to say that the Stones were just giving people what they knew they wanted in that period. Nobody knew that Richards had Gimme Shelter’s guitar inside him ready to pour out, or that Jagger would take to playing the Devil quite as well as he did, or that Mick Taylor would click and that Moonlight Mile would result, or that any of that any of it would really find an audience. I guess what I’m saying is that while one could possibly have thought that the Stones were stripping things ‘back to basics’ in that late ’60s period, by some sort of miracle of maturation/transfiguration they weren’t and *really* headed out into all sorts of fresh territory (blues remained an important inspiration for them, but crucially the Stones no longer sounded like avid, schoolboy Chess records collectors). Perhaps Rosie can confirm, but my sense is that it came as shock to people at the time just how good and interesting the Stones got in 1968-1971.

    Not sure I’m in the right headspace to appreciate Swamp Girl! (I’m currently in more of a Scouse Girl mood.)

  109. 109
    flahr on 31 Jul 2013 #

    I have no clue who Bignosed Northern Bunnies refers to but it sounds like a band name already.

  110. 110
    Mark G on 31 Jul 2013 #

    Well, the Stones had now been through that phase, and could not unlearn it..

  111. 111
    weej on 31 Jul 2013 #

    I believe lyrics this have to be performed as a breathless mystical revelation or not at all.
    I believe that the music video demonstrates contempt for the record-buying public.

    I believe that “and after all….” is the moment I realised I now actually hated Oasis.
    I believe that Mike Flowers version of this line is one of the one of most on-the-nose piss-takes of all time.

  112. 112
    Rory on 31 Jul 2013 #

    @109, meet @97.

  113. 113
    enitharmon on 31 Jul 2013 #

    swanstep @ 108 – what I recall is Jumping Jack Flash coming right out of left field, sorry, blistering in from deep midwicket, after a lull in their output, and it was mind-blowing. But it was still American R&B again.

  114. 114
    Elmtree on 6 Aug 2013 #

    I’d completely missed this fun detail: apparently they had help. Stock hired other singers to patch their vocals. Reputedly neither Cowell nor R&J realised this until it hit the papers.


  115. 115
    hardtogethits on 6 Aug 2013 #

    re #114. Spookily it was at entry #114 of R&J’s last number one that Scott M linked to that article. I thought I was experiencing deja vu. This whole “they had help” issue is what I was (too subtly?) referring to in #1 upthread. Take away the characterless vocal, and what’s left?

    I once had to give a lecture on the extent to which consumer behaviour is determined by the perceptible, intrinsic characteristics of a(ny) product – and the extent of other influences (the imperceptible and extrinsic). Nothing new there (although it’s not a topic that continues to fascinate).

    I’d LOVE to know what anybody likes about this record ‘intrinsically’, and ‘perceptibly’. It’s not that it’s the worst number one – although, for me, it actually is very close indeed; no, it’s the idea that even the worse ones (say, the 11 ranked below it by FT readers) all have obvious qualities in the groove that make us (ie FT readers voting as a population) dislike them intensely, but which at the time of the records’ release must have appealed to many.

    Does anyone recall a friend/acquaintance/colleague saying about IB/UOTR “I like it because of the way he sings the first line”, or anything remotely like that?

  116. 116
    roof Schingels on 25 Nov 2013 #

    If you are in Roofing you may already know that there is a large amount of recourses which might be complete junk, luckily your site is not one of these websites, i enjoy your articles very much, continue the good work

  117. 117
    Cumbrian on 25 Nov 2013 #

    This might be the greatest spambot comment on FT. If only Robson and Jerome had gone into Roofing.

  118. 118
    lonepilgrim on 25 Nov 2013 #

    wasn’t Ralf ‘roof’ Schingels briefly in Einstürzende Neubauten?

  119. 119
    Mark G on 25 Nov 2013 #

    Briefly *on* Einstürzende Neubauten…

    (bit of german humour for you there.,..)

  120. 120
    Erithian on 28 Mar 2014 #

    Belated reply to HTGH #115 – I suppose what got it to number one was the popularity of the programme they were starring in, and the fact that not even R&J can totally balls up two such massive songs – having Goffin and King at number one can’t be a bad thing. At the time of course you couldn’t turn to Spotify or YouTube for the original versions.

  121. 121
    sbahnhof on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #23 – We still need to know what records R&J broke. I can’t live with the suspense anymore.

  122. 122
    Phil on 13 Apr 2015 #

    #3 – never heard Bonnie & Clyde, or really got the point of Serge Gainsbourg. Both omissions now rectified – that’s extraordinary. (And the intro was already a tape loop, although presumably not a sample from anything else (in 1968!).) Hard to imagine either Saint Etienne or Tindersticks would have existed without that single – let alone “Wonderwall”. It’s also worth mentioning the promo, featuring Brigitte Bardot holding a sub-machine gun.

    But Robson & Jerome were shit.

  123. 123
    Lazarus on 23 Aug 2015 #

    It’s funny, I’ve always thought of ‘for free’ as a modern aberration, like ‘train station.’ Something should be done, if there’s no charge, either ‘free’ or ‘for nothing.’ But I just heard the original ‘Up on the Roof’ and there it is, of course – “at night the stars put on a show for free.” So what do I know?

    I blame the Americans though.

  124. 124
    Ed on 30 Aug 2015 #

    @123 Why is “train station” an aberration? You have radio stations, bus stations, kitchen stations, the stations of the Cross….

  125. 125
    Lee Saunders on 13 Oct 2018 #

    It was while this was at #1 that Gallagher-squabbles recording “Wibbling Rivalry” by OAS*S reached number 52. Which brings me onto my question (as I didn’t know where else to ask but I thought Popular was the best place for it)…

    Besides the aforesaid interview single, have any other spoken word, non-musical releases ever entered the singles chart?

    I’m rather curious if there was anything in the early days of the chart, as in the US there was a stand-up comedy record that reached #1 in 1952 (all 6 minutes of Johnny Standley’s It’s in the Book).

  126. 126
    Gareth Parker on 31 May 2021 #

    2/10 and an extra point for keeping Wonderwall at #2! Er, 3/10 then.

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