The Infinite Jukebox: The Archies’ ‘Sugar Sugar’


One of the things I love about pop is that from time to time and far more often than it ought to in a properly ordered Universe, the pursuit of pure commerce results in the creation of great art. Not High Art, save in exceptional circumstances, but of Art nevertheless.
Some of you, having already registered which song I’m writing about, will be looking at me in bewilderment, and a possibly larger fraction of you will have signs of disgust on your face. How can I possibly describe the ultimate bubblegum pop record, a song so light and fluffy that it’s singers and players were a bunch of animation cels, moving in a very limited fashion, as art of any kind, even with a small ‘a’?
But ‘Sugar Sugar’ is a gem, a pure pop gem, and for once one recognised more clearly in this country, where it was number 1 for eight weeks, than in its parent land, where it only topped the Billboard chart for four weeks.
Never forget that there is an art to pop, as well as a craft. The Archies existed because Don Kirshner got fed up dealing with the Monkees who, being human beings and musicians themselves in their respective fashions, had opinions of their own about the music they wanted to be represented by. Cartoons don’t refuse to record tracks, especially not the wholeseome Archies, smalltown boys and girls next door.
And The Archies’ records are perfect bubblegum, simple, expressive, bright and clear. They offer melodies, and tunes and choruses that insert themselves into your head and have you humming them, often unconsciously.
No-one realised just how good ‘Sugar Sugar’ was. It was tucked away on side two of an album, track four. But it’s bounce, its quasi-electronic pulse and its danceable rhythm made it the epitome of this simplistic, but tuneful strand of pop, and a herald for danceable music to come.
The lyrics are, like all true bubblegum, simple to the point of simplistic, even infantile. And why not? Love cannot only be expressed in subtle, carefully-composed lines. Lyrics are an important part of songs – without them, they become instrumentals, which are a whole different barrel of monkeys – but they’re not the whole thing and they rarely ought to be the most important thing. The best songs are a balance, or even an opposition between words and music, and there should be a place, and not a despised place, for that unlearned explosion of love, the one you don’t have the words for yet, but which still makes you want to sing about it. Sugar, ah honey honey, you are my Candy girl. And you got me wanting you.
Besides, this is the Sixties, that decade that mastered the simple surface beneath which are the things you might not wanna talk about in front of your mother. Just what is this Sugar that Ron Dante and his backing singers is going on about. Pour a little sugar on me honey, he’s asking. Pour a little sugar on it baby. And she promises she’s going to make his life so sweet.
Well, that’s up to you to decide. The music doesn’t push the issue either way. It’s straight down the middle cute and bouncy, it’s the girl in the centre of the dancefloor, bouncing up and down in her mini-skirt, aware that everyone is looking at her but not giving any indication that she’s noticed.
Weirdly, when this was slowly descending the Top 30, into January 1970, ‘Tracey’ by The Cufflinks, another piece of bubblegum, was heading for the Top 10. I was a musical simpleton, still learning everything, but at that time I actually recognised, without knowing, that Ron Dante was singing both. And even though ‘Tracey’ is pure bubblegum too, it’s words are more complex, more overt, it’s world is wider. It is, if you need to define such things, a better song. And just as bountiful and commercial.
But ‘Sugar Sugar’ is the more deeply felt music, precisely because of its shallowness. It’s one-molecule-thin, and it says everything we are capable of saying when we’re one-molecule-thin. Ah, honey honey. And we bounce up and down to that rhythm again, the rhythm we’re going to find out about one day soon. Not today. But soon, oh yes, soon.

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The Infinite Jukebox: Paloma Faith’s ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’


So these days and since I last had to drive back to Manchester through Sunday evening I don’t listen to the Top 40 and wouldn’t if you paid me frankly, but a 48 year habit makes me check the Top 100 soonish after it’s posted on-line. And for the past few weeks, even though it’s been on the chart for 28 weeks now, I’ve been noticing that Paloma Faith is there and around with a song called ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’. Which is a familiar title as you will recall from here.

No doubt it’s a new song. I mean, I know nothing about Paloma Faith except that she’s called Paloma Faith, and anything of hers that I’ve heard has been by accident and I wouldn’t have known, or cared, frankly. I say again, they’re not making this music for me, any more than the Rolling Stones recorded ‘Satisfaction’ for my Gran. Either of them.

Still, I start to notice it and I get curious. She won’t have covered the Mama Cass song. It’ll be something new, I’d probably hate it. The singers of today don’t cover Sixties songs any more, and not the obscure stuff from twice as long ago as they’ve actually been alive. And if, by some implausible reason, she has, she’ll have updated it and fucked it up good and proper.

So, finally, I decided to check. The official video starts badly, all black stiletto platform-soled walking across a thin surface of water, and voices offscreen, carping, criticising, niggling, putting down. She can’t sing. Well, we heard that all those years ago, and ever since, and lately it’s been the ones I am contemporary to that have been saying it. So she’ll riposte, she’ll blast them her own way. Then she abruptly sings this line, ‘Nobody can tell ya/there’s only one song worth singing’, and I am jerked out of my complacent assumptions because, damn, it is that old song, and damn, the girl’s doing it straight, and she might not have Mama Cass Elliot’s voice, she’s singing it like she means it.

Of course, robbed of it’s context, the song changes its focus. It’s about Paloma and it’s about music, nothing before. It’s about believing in herself and what she’s doing, and whoever it is that can’t get into that with her, who must be going, she understands, because this journey is for her.

You could say that cheapens the song, but Paloma’s conviction carries it through, and she’s modernised the arrangement but not changed it, the song is still entire, it’s chorus still comes for you and drags you into it, and she’s done what Mama Cass couldn’t and taken this into the chart, as high as no 6. And this is good.

The official video does the song no favours, starting and ending on Paloma’s first and last lines, melodramatically, cutting the intro and outro that give the song it’s structure, that are the most determinedly Sixties elements to it. which is why the Official video is not linked below.

Between this, and Rita Ora’s ‘Anywhere’, maybe The infinite Jukebox is going to have to open a non-vinyl wing…

The Infinite Jukebox: Shotgun Express’s ‘I Could Feel The Whole World Turn Round’


Until you get to the back end of the Sixties, and that vogue for lushly orchestrated pop that was ushered in by The Love Affair’s ‘Everlasting Love’, there wasn’t much need for strings on pop. They were usually too sweet, too soft. Dusty Springfield’s orchestrations stood out, as they had to do with a voice like hers to contend with, The Walker Brothers used them sagaciously, but you have to get to the middle Sixties before you start to see the use of strings as an instrument of power: strong, severe, demanding.
The obvious one is always Chris Farlowe’s classic blues shout over the strings that saw away from the start of ‘Out of Time’, or Motown’s use of them on ‘Reach out, I’ll Be There’, The Four Tops’ biggest hit over here. Both songs were number 1s and overwhelmingly deserving. This one wasn’t, but when you listen to it below, you’re going to wonder why the hell not? With an intro like that, with a returning theme, with a chorus that soars like that, any fair-minded person is going to boggle that this didn’t take off, isn’t every bit a Sixties landmark as Farlowe or the Tops.
And before you ask, yes, that is the voice of a young Rod Stewart in there, sharing some boisterous yet yearning vocals with that overlooked Scouse songstress, Beryl Marsden.
Shotgun Express were a blues band, with people like Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood in their ranks, so in that sense ‘I can feel the whole world turn round’ is an anomaly, with the string riffs adding a pop sensibility that would normally have been outside the band’s self-set remit. But listen carefully, and in between those bursts of that yearning, all-encompassing sweet severity, the verses showcase the band to its roots, a hustling rhythm, the organ bursting with energy, and then the strings sweep back in as the melody sweeps back, just one single breath of sound.
The strings underpin the lead-in to that chorus and the grand melody of it, high, sweet but steel-like in their majesty, a distant background as firm as the beat, underscoring the gorgeous ache of the words.
And I can feel the whole world turn round underneath me, exactly mirroring the aching, arching melody. I can feel the whole world turn round when you’re near me. Stewart and Marsden’s voices mesh as they rise through this and I can forgive Stewart a very large part of his career post-the bass line in ‘D’Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ just because I can listen to this.
Who do I complain to that I have only known this song for a few years and had to learn about it from Sounds of The Sixties and much-missed Brian Matthew? Who do I complain to that this was not the massive success it should have been, and influenced the people who should have heard it? Who do I complain to that this didn’t change the course of Rod Stewart’s career and maybe saved us from everything since 1980?
And can I listen to this again, please, because it captures that feeling of rapture that only comes from being with the one person. And the whole world does indeed turn around underneath you.

The Infinite Jukebox: The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’


Listen carefully: this is the Sound of the Apocalypse. Forget two riders, these are the winds that blow Four Horseman onwards.
The first piece of Jimi Hendrix music I ever heard was when ‘Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)’ was rushed out in the wake of James Marshall Hendrix’s death in October 1970, and briefly held the Number 1 slot before Dave Edmunds and ‘I Hear You Knocking’ improbably cleaned up the rest of the year. To a musical newbie such as myself, freshly fifteen and still not a year of listening to Radio 1, this was the sound of an alien life-form, not music that I could in any understand.
And the Seventies were not kind to me in terms of understanding Jimi Hendrix, when my prog-rock listening friends were into music with more keyboard wizardry than guitar heroics, when Radio 1’s propensity for oldies would only go near the singles and then but rarely, and when it would take until the turn of the Eighties into the Nineties for me to finally solicit a friend into lending me those three albums so that I could at last begin to understand for myself what people saw, and heard, in Jimi Hendrix.
But long before then, I had heard ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and found in it something that I could understand, that instincts as yet too nascent to stand for themselves responded to. This is the sound of the end of the world.
Those acoustic guitars that storm through the intro, the powerful, muscular drumming, the sense of space surrounding what sounds like more than three men. The guitar winding up into the first of several solos. Hendrix, more upfront, more strong than in the past, on songs he had written himself, echoes the sound of the music by singing ‘There must be some way out of here’, but the music has already stolen from us any idea that there will be.
The song comes from Bob Dylan, which enables it to be structured as a song, but Hendrix has taken it apart and put it back together again, in a way that Dylan himself has followed ever since, but the solos are Hendrix himself, riding on the wind. They are short, intense, fluid, punctuating those moments between the verses, as the sound of finality rises.
The hour is getting late: Hendrix cues off this to spiral away into the most expressive of his solos, uses all the sounds he can bend out of his guitar, including a brief backwards slide. The acoustics perpetuate the rhythm, Mitch Mitchell muscles up, Noel Redding holds the two together…
And All Along The Watchtower…
We are on the walls, the last walls, looking out over the devastation. Outside in the cold distance… two riders were approaching…
And Hendrix screams into the sound of the end of the worlds, his guitar howling into the void that is coming, all words gone, only the music to tell us what comes forward from the last horizon that you or I will ever see…
There is almost common consent that this is one of the greatest cover versions ever recorded. George R R Martin didn’t need to invent the Nazgul and the Armageddon Rag, he could have just popped this on the stereo and played it.
Yet in a way it was my gateway back into the rest of Hendrix’s short but bountiful career, the gateway inwards and the song was the gateway outwards. I took in his music, found a place and a meaning for it many years after the effect, added to my understanding after decades of listening to imitators and disciples.
And still I come back here, to stand on the edge, and know that when it all comes crashing down and the last fire and ice breaks upon us, I have heard the wind howl and seen those cold blank shapes moving their slow thighs, slouching towards us, not to be born but to wipe the universe clean. And Hendrix’s last solo will accompany their slow advance upon the Watchtower.

 

The Infinite Jukebox: Take That’s ‘Rule the World’


Some songs get a place on The Infinite Jukebox for reasons that are personal.

And sometimes those reasons are personal also to someone else, whose privacy deserves to be respected.

This is, however, also a gorgeous song, with a superb arrangement and brilliant singing, and comes from one of my favourite films of all time.

In Search of a Lost Band


In a lifetime of loving music that has stretched to nearly fifty years now, my pleasures and tastes have changed quite frequently, as music has changed, as I’ve changed, as the world has changed. Some things remain the same: I will never fall out of love with an uptempo song, laden with jangly guitar and a kicking three-part harmony chorus. But at the same time, within that field whose primary point is ‘pop’ of some kind, my tastes are pretty eclectic. Not all the time, and sometimes within pretty circumscribed limits. But it is difficult to name a form or genre of music in which I can find nothing to perk up my ears.
And like everyone I have and had have favourites at different times. I remember them well.
1970: Jimmy Ruffin
1971 – early 1974: Lindisfarne
early 1974 – 1976: 10cc
1977: Fleetwood Mac
1978: The Buzzcocks
1979 – 1983: The Undertones
1984 – 2011: R.E.M.
2011 to date: Shawn Colvin
Looking at that list, what strikes me first is that the R.E.M. era alone is still longer than all the others put together, that The Undertones’ ascendency is still the only case where I still loved my previous favourites to bits but the ‘Tones were even better, and that whatever the reason for moving on from old favourites, I still retain an affection for the music of those times even if, in the case of Fleetwood Mac, it’s only for the limited period of their dominance (I vastly prefer the Peter Green version of the band to the Lyndsey Buckingham era, nowadays and for a couple of decades since).
Yet, looking at that list, there’s a glaring absence. There’s a band missing, dates 1973 to 1975, that I distinctly remember being my favourites for a time. Absolute favourites. First band I ever saw live, coincidentally in their last English gig with their classic line-up.
But I fell for Lindisfarne on listening to a very hazy Radio Luxembourg broadcast of ‘Clear White Light’ in a December 1970 power-cut and, despite the drabness of the ‘Dingley Dell’ album in 1973, hewed faithfully to them until the original line-up split in two in early 1974, which was when 10cc were waiting to ensnare me with ‘The Wall Street Shuffle’ as a precursor to their best album, Sheet Music.
So where the hell do I place The Moody Blues?
It was all down to the reissue of ‘Nights in White Satin’ at the back-end of 1972. I’d heard the song often enough as a Radio 1 Golden Oldie, though I didn’t discover it had only reached no. 19 until I got the first of Simon Frith’s Rock Files books the following year. I’d heard ‘Go Now’ often enough, and ‘Question’ had become their second biggest hit single just at the point when I was starting to seriously follow the top 30 every week.
But hearing ‘Nights in White Satin’ in regular rotation caused me to fall in love with it and want to hear more. Over the next eighteen months, I avidly collected the band’s seven albums (their debut album, The Magnificent Moodies, was by the old Denny Laine-led band and didn’t interest me, besides which it was not then commercially available), starting with the most recent, 1971’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and then going back to the beginning with Days of Future Passed and working my way forward conscientiously until I finally collected 1973’s Seventh Sojourn, which had been released after I’d started my personal odyssey.
Boy, did I love that music! There were plenty of times when, on a quiet afternoon in my teenage bedroom, I would cue up an album and lie myself down on my bed, on my back, arms by my side, willing my body into total inertia so that the only stimulus I was receiving was the music, and I would really listen. And often, when it rained, long and hard (this in Manchester so it wasn’t a rare occurrence), I would sit at my bedroom window and stare out into the back garden, watching the hedges, the grass the trees soak it up in various shades of green, watching pools form and grow, and whether this is a real memory, or merely one that I am retro-fitting, it was usually to a soundtrack of the Moodies: how appropriate.
But that September 1973 gig at the Free Trade Hall, which I loved at the time but it didn’t take that many more concerts to realise that the band didn’t have much live presence going for them, was followed by a long hiatus. The Moodies didn’t break up, not really, but for five years they did nothing and when they did return in 1978, it was without Mike Pinder and without me because what music meant to me had drastically changed.
Even before punk first reared its ugly, explosive and overwhelming head, I’d gone off the Moodies and, indeed, I’d sold all the albums. The rot started with the Blue Jays in 1975, Justin Hayward and John Lodge, the first ‘solo’ album by the Moodies (each of whom would go on to produce one). I went into Manchester one sunny Summer Vacation day, bought it at the original Virgin Records shop, walked across the road to the 95/96 bus stop, climbed to the top deck and lovingly unfolded the ornate gatefold sleeve to read the lyrics.
As I read each verse, I could hear the sound each song would have when I got home thirty minutes later and played it. Worryingly, I was exactly right on all counts. Much as I loved the Moody Blues, if I was able to predict the melody of ten brand new songs just from reading the sleeve, that couldn’t possibly be good. It meant that they were… predictable. That’s not what music’s about. It’s about creativity, freshness, the ability to make those eight or twelve notes and the instruments on which you play them into something you’ve never heard before, not that way. Predictability belongs to what you know and have heard and love: there are magical moments in songs I have listened to for nearly fifty years that never fail to thrill me: I offer you ‘Clear White Light’ in evidence.
I was and, to a lesser extent still am, stubborn and resistant to change. The Blue Jays album was the canker that ate away at me slowly. I loved the ‘Blue Guitar’ single, credited to Hayward and Lodge even though it was actually Hayward and 10cc (a-ha!) but I never bought any of the other solo albums. And a year later, I sold the albums at Law College.
Before doing so, I sifted the tracks, recorded onto tape a handful of songs, one at least each from every album. Things like ‘Nights in White Satin’ and ‘Tuesday Afternoon’, ‘The Actor’, ‘Gypsy’, ‘The Story in your Eyes’: pretty much all Justin Hayward songs.
I’m still puzzling how to fit the years of fanaticism into the years of Lindisfarne and 10cc.
What’s set all of this off is YouTube, and Arthur Lee’s Love.
I’ll be writing about Love, and Forever Changes before long. For now, suffice to say I’ve been indulging myself with the album as a YouTube track. The sidebar throws up ‘similar’ examples. Among these have been complete Moody Blues albums.
On a whim, I clicked on Days of Future Passed. That was the first of the ‘classic’ albums, the seminal seven, the Hayward, Lodge, Thomas, Pinder, Edge period. It was originally commissioned as a ‘rock’ version of Dvorak’s ‘New World’ Symphony, but the Moodies managed to persuade the producers to let them record a suite of songs, basically covering a day in someone’s very ordinary life.
Alright, already the concept is coming over as a bit patronising. Practically every effort at concept albums on this theme are patronising because musicians just don’t have any bloody idea. This one’s a bit woolly, so it’s less offensive, and the band are not yet as sophisticated musically as they were going to become. Still, this is the one with ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ (technically ‘Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)’: it was the Sixties, man, you had to be there), and ‘Nights in White Satin’
It was a bemusing experience, mainly along the lines of ‘what did I ever hear in this?’, which prompted me to listen to each of the others.
Against my usual practice, I next selected 1971’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. That was an experience: it was awful, absolutely awful, with the exception of the one, short, Justin Hayward track, ‘The Story in your Eyes’. 1969’s To Our Children’s Children’s Children was better, mainly for having a greater musical texture and dominated by Hayward’s distinctive fuzz/melodic guitar tone. After that, I reverted to type and filled in the other four albums in chronological order.
I’m not going to comment on each album individually: that would require me to listen to them again, and you can sod that for a game of soldiers. The familiar songs, the one’s I saved, still had their own distinctiveness, and these I could enjoy. As for the rest, what struck me most was just how unfamiliar they are. Old bands, old favourites that, for whatever reason, I discarded as my tastes changed, still retain a familiarity, spur a certain degree of affection, if only for the memories they evoke of the times they were the soundtrack to my life.
But those Moody Blues albums, that I had played over and over again in those early to mid Seventies years, were completely unfamiliar. And mostly unlistenable, but let’s park that thought for now. You may remember me posting about an interesting sounding track in a season 4 episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I had never heard before and which turned out to be a Moodies song from On the Threshold of a Dream.
With the exception of a couple of lines from the more orthodox and commercial tracks, it was like that writ large. I have no memory of the vast majority of these songs, and I don’t understand why. You could take, say, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, or the ‘White Album’, which are barely newer and which I haven’t listened to except in a couple of favoured songs in decades, and I will remember most if not all of the tracks. Old Lindisfarne songs, even from Dingley Dell, are instantly familiar, even the ones I don’t like.
But the mass of the Moody Blues repertoire that I’ve listened to over the last week to ten days I might never have heard before, let alone constantly played, for all the recollection they rouse in me.
What’s worse, they are also awful. Back then, I passionately defended the Moodies from their critics, of which there were many in the Rock Press. I remember one particularly extended takedown from, I think, Melody Maker, excoriating the band for being middle class and thus incapable of any deep investment in their supposedly progressive musical agenda. I resented and denied every word, but now I can’t think of any better description. The band’s investment in the lyrics that they produce is skin deep to my ears now.
All five members contributed songs, usually but not exclusively written alone. Drummer Graeme Edge produced poems, usually intoned by Mike Pender, keyboardist and mellotron specialist. Frankly, most sixth forms could produce better and more thoughtful lines: they are embarrassing. The power of 10 billion butterfly sneezes, anyone? You had to be there and I’m glad I’m not.
The best songs tend to come from Hayward, who has an ear for a good melody and, mostly, the sense not to drape too much production over it. He also tends to have the best, or rather least Sixth Form Profound lyrics, especially in his love songs. In contrast, flautist Ray Thomas’s songs are mostly musically banal and cartoonish whilst his song-song lyrics are monotonous and silly.
Pinder’s portentous, Lodge specialises in the harder edged rock (this is a description comparative to the rest of the band’s output) and overall everybody is pretentious and pompous to one degree or another.
It’s ironic that I can occasionally use YouTube to test out Seventies Prog/Underground albums and find them sometimes not as bad as memory and prejudice makes them, but the only music of that ilk which I worshipped at the time is now profoundly dull at its very best.
The Moody Blues used to arouse passionate enthusiasm in me. Not only has every vestige of that gone, so too has the very memory of the music. That’s what’s truly significant.

The Infinite Jukebox: The Tams’ ‘Hey Girl, Don’t Bother Me’


A discussion at work, behind my back, mentioned TAMS, which means certain equipment in a Telephone Exchange. It also meant an old memory for me of when The Tams got to no. 1 in the UK in 1971.
Almost fifty years later, I still can’t understand it. ‘Hey Girl, Don’t Bother Me’ was a Sixties obscurity, and if The Tams were known for anything, they were known for the song ‘Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy’. That had a bit of swing to it, you could imagine people dancing to it, and if that had charted, I’d have put it down to Wigan Casino, Northern Soul and all that stuff I didn’t understand until many years later.
But not ‘Hey Girl, Don’t Bother Me’. It’s a slow, repetitive, song, to a shuffling beat, about not wanting to get involved with a girl notorious for taking up and dumping young men, who’s now looking at the singer. It’s style lay somewhere between doo-wop and non-Motown soul, without leaning far enough in either direction.
What drove it’s sales, I have no idea, then or now. It slowly climbed the top 30, eventually reaching number 1, for three weeks, after which The Tams themselves arrived in Britain to promote their unexpected success, and were given the unique accolade of a Top of the Pops performance, after the record had slipped down from no. 1.
That’s what’s showing below. You may wish to take note that the group was a five-piece, lead singer and four backing singers, one of whom looks not quite all with it, and who disappears from the stage halfway through the song, to everybody’s puzzlement.
I hated it at the time, and I don’t say I like it now, outside the purely nostalgic aspect. For some reason, there is an incredible range of mostly unsuccessful 1971 music that appeals to me, as anyone following my Lost 70s posts will already know.
But what qualifies this strange song for a slot on The Infinite Jukebox is a history that only I may remember.
In those far-off days, the Manchester Evening News used to publish a Top 10 singles every week. Though I read it each week, I thought little or nothing of it because it was usually nothing more than a mirror of the BBC Top 10, the chart everyone used to rely on. But it must have been based on local sales because, one week in the summer of 1971, I was shocked to see two new entries that were not only not even in the BBC Top 30, but of which I’d never even heard.
The first of these, in at no. 3, was Curtis Mayfield, with ‘Move on Up’, which would chart several weeks later, and eventually peak at no. 12. The other was The Tams, and this shot in at no. 1!
I don’t think they stayed more than another week each and then normal service was resumed but I was intrigued by the presence of these two songs, so against the run of the mill. But you couldn’t just whistle up songs when you wanted them in 1971, you had to wait for Radio 1 to play them (in the evenings, I would try to get Radio Luxembourg, after Radio 1 shut down at 6.00pm, whilst my mate Steve C swore by Radio North Sea International, which I could never raise a signal from).
And these two songs started to get airplay, they hit the National Chart, and the Tams laboured but got to no. 1, displacing Diana Ross, and then being overtaken by Rod Stewart.
Some years later, I was told a story that I have no means of checking, but with the evidence of that MEN Top 10 I have no reason to doubt. Each year, a travelling fair came to Cringle Fields in Levenshulme. These were parkland and playing fields adjoining Errwood Road, diagonally opposite Levenshulme Girl’s School, the opposite number to Burnage High School for Boys, where I attended. We’d drive past the Fair, in Mam’s car, or on the bus, though I never went to it, and if I wanted to travel there, it was about five minutes on the bus. I met my old friend Linda for the first time in five years opposite Cringle Fields, in August 1971,to which I owe a couple of lifelong friendships.
But the 1971 Fair had been and gone by then. The guy who chose the records to blare out had picked an obscure Sixties track to play, over and over again. People started to ask what it was and where they could get it. It shot to the top of the Manchester charts. The action persuaded the record company to re-issue it. Sales picked up nationally. The result we know.
That’s the story as I know it, and I have the memories of the facts that underline it. Not a million miles from where I lived, on a road I travelled incessantly. I suppose it could only have happened in 1971.