Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep! Why singalong 70s pop was edgier than you assume

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep! Why singalong 70s pop was edgier than you assume

From Clive Dunn’s Grandad in 1970 to the St Winifred’s College Choir’s There’s No One Fairly Like Grandma in 1980, the singalong pop of 70s Britain is usually dismissed as naff, sentimental, unstylish and simply plain unhealthy. Can these songs so firmly sewn into the material of British life actually be so terrible? Don’t they’ve one thing to say in regards to the period they got here from? That was the inspiration for my guide In Excellent Concord: a severe have a look at household favourites which were derided by the crucial minds of the day as, to make use of one embittered songwriter’s vibrant description, vomit.

Britain within the Nineteen Seventies was beset with ballooning inflation, nationwide strikes, offended debates on European integration and fears of an environmental apocalypse – a bit like 2020s Britain, the truth is. Amid all this, Slade’s Merry Xmas All people was the anthem of the 1974 three-day week, the Wombles responded to 1976’s punishing drought with the eco-disco hit Rainmaker and the Brotherhood of Man’s 1970 ballad United We Stand was the rallying cry for an rising homosexual rights motion. They had been socially important, in different phrases. Listed here are 10 extra socio-political singalong smashes.

1. Center of the Highway – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1970)

Center of the Highway: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – video

As package deal holidays opened up the continent to working-class households for the primary time, and Ted Heath lobbied for Britain’s entry into the frequent market, a former Scottish lodge lounge band discovered themselves in Italy, marooned and penniless. In desperation they recorded this cheerful story of parental neglect. It bought 10m copies. Why? “It reminded individuals of their holidays,” steered drummer Ken Andrew, of a transcendentally fluffy slice of nonsense that represented the British dream of European integration.

2. Millie Small – Enoch Energy (1970)

Whereas severe blues rocker Eric Clapton would drunkenly help anti-immigration firebrand Enoch Powell at a 1976 live performance, Jamaican teen-pop sensation Millie Small had made a comic book riposte to the Conservative MP’s racist doom-mongering six years beforehand. In opposition to a cheerful ska beat, Millie sings about leaving Jamaica to work in Powell’s Wolverhampton constituency whereas dreaming of a time when “all males will probably be brothers”, turning the scary Tory hardliner into an object of ridicule within the course of.

3. Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (The place My Rosemary Goes) (1970)

After songwriter Tony Macaulay realised the most important issues in rock had been the rockers who performed it, he got here up with Edison Lighthouse; a made-up band led by session singer Tony Burrows – who additionally fronted fellow made-up bands the Brotherhood of Man, Pipkins and White Plains. Macaulay and co had been pop’s equal of the aliens within the legendary commercial for Smash immediate mashed potato who fall about laughing as one in all their quantity describes the old style potato-preparations of idiotic earthlings. Pop, like meals, was turning into processed.

4. Lieutenant Pigeon – Mouldy Previous Dough (1972)

Bashed out by home-recording lovers Rob Woodward and Nigel Fletcher in Woodward’s dad and mom’ front room in Coventry – and that includes his 59-year-old mum Hilda on piano – this rattling pub singalong turned Lieutenant Pigeon into Britain’s first mother-and-son No 1 chart phenomenon. It additionally represented the closing of the era hole compelled open by the 60s counterculture in being cherished by children, mums and dads and grandparents alike. By the way, Lieutenant Pigeon is an anagram for real potential – one thing Mouldy Previous Dough had in spades.

5. Lynsey de Paul – Sugar Me (1973)

Lynsey de Paul: Sugar Me – video

North London’s de Paul was a glamorous determine who was so outraged by her former boyfriend Sean Connery saying it was OK to slap ladies that she did a kiss-and-tell on him and gave the cash to Erin Pizzey’s home violence charity Refuge. She and fellow mainstream songwriter Barry Inexperienced wrote this Forties Gypsy jazz-influenced slice of sensual, escapist pop for a easy cause. “The 70s had been bloody miserable,” mentioned Inexperienced. “So we had been doing main key songs that regarded on the previous by means of rose-coloured glasses: these had been the times, my good friend.”

6. Hector – Wired Up (1973)

Within the 70s, pop singles had been aimed predominantly at children for the primary time and Portsmouth’s Hector had been duly marketed because the world’s first naughty schoolboy rock sensation. It went horribly fallacious when, throughout a efficiency of junk store glam traditional Wired Up on ITV youngsters’s present Raise Off With Ayshea, singer Phil Brown’s dungarees cut up down the center. “I used to be praying the children at house couldn’t see my underpants,” he mentioned. “They had been purple with inexperienced spots.”

7. The Candy – Teenage Rampage (1974)

Ethical campaigner and inveterate self-publicist Mary Whitehouse had been trying to find a brand new campaign when this fell in her lap. Claiming {that a} raucous rocker about children all around the land gaining the higher hand would foment revolution at a unstable interval within the nation’s historical past, Whitehouse wrote to the BBC’s Lord Trethowan to demand its fast ban. He replied that Teenage Rampage was fully innocent on account of being “completely empty of actual content material – like all an excessive amount of pop music”.

8. Jonathan King/The George Baker Choice – Una Paloma Blanca (1975)

The George Baker Choice: Una Paloma Blanca – video

A package deal vacation perennial and a success for each one-man pop manufacturing unit King and Dutch MOR band the George Baker Choice, Una Paloma Blanca is a mirrored image on the worth of freedom dressed up as a innocent summer season favorite. It was taking part in on the radio when Gary Gilmore, an American double assassin who turned a trigger celebre after demanding his personal demise sentence, was pushed to be killed by firing squad in 1977. None of that stopped comedy bumpkins the Wurzels stealing the tune for his or her ode to West Nation life, I Am a Cider Drinker.

9. Tina Charles – I Like to Love (1976)

The latter half of the 70s noticed the rise of suburban disco – dance music for pressured adults needing respite from a local weather of nationwide strikes and financial hardship. An early instance was this large hit for east Londoner Charles, who two years later went on a promotional tour of intercourse romp The Stud, the final word suburban disco film, with its star Joan Collins. “It was two worlds,” she mentioned. “An IRA bomb went off outdoors Harrods within the very place I had parked my automobile, simply as Joan Collins was telling me: ‘All the time put on a hat within the solar, darling. It stops the pores and skin from ageing.’”

10. Greenback – Taking pictures Star (1978)

Greenback are proof that credibility relies on picture, not content material. After being booted out of cabaret band Guys’n’Dolls, Thereza Bazar and David Van Day reinvented themselves as a horny blond duo who regarded as if that they had simply stepped out of a salon. They had been critically derided, however on this dreamlike concoction Bazar layered her backing vocals as much as 50 instances, making a celestial haze of sound that set the template for 80s electro-pop. Bazar was creatively sensible however she would by no means be given her dues in the best way, say, Kate Bush was. Such is the lot of the singalong star.

In Excellent Concord: Singalong Pop in 70s Britain by Will Hodgkinson is out now on 9 Eight Books (£20). To help the Guardian and Observer order your copy at Supply fees might apply

What’s your favorite derided mass-market 70s hit? Tell us within the feedback.

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