Sunday, December 20, 2009

Novelty, Schmovelty

I have been OD'ing on seventies schmalz lately thanks to John, who has loaded up a bunch of old Top of the Pops episodes on my hard drive. Top of the Pops was the UK equivalent of American Bandstand, with the top acts of each week lip syncing their songs for a rhythmically-challenged audience of teenagers. The interesting thing about these TOTP eps is the high number of bizarre novelty songs frequently appearing on the British charts. Below are clips of some of the weirdest.

Joy Sarney
Naughty Naughty Naughty

Joy Sarney appeared on Top of the Pops in 1977 singing this song, which was (shockingly) her only hit. It's a love song about Punch from the Punch and Judy puppet show. At one point you can plainly see the puppeteer's arm poking out through the cheap set. This song made it to #26 on the UK chart. I have to ask, was everyone high in the seventies?

S-S-S-Single Bed

This is s-s-s-serious crap. Watch this one at your own risk; the sheer ugliness of the singer's outfit (hot pants, tank top, white cape) made my eyes burn and her migraine-inducing voice sounds like Britney Spears on helium. And the guy in the Kansas City jersey? Is so high it's not even funny.

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers
Egyptian Reggae

Jonathan Richman is a respected musician and (supposedly) a trail-blazer in the seventies punk movement. He is probably now best known for his role as the guitar-strumming Greek chorus in There's Something About Mary. It's a bit hard to swallow his alleged punk status--especially considering this song--an instrumental number that sounds neither Egyptian nor vaguely reggae-ish (and certainly not punk). That said, I do have a peculiar fondness for this video. I can watch it over and over and never get sick of it. I think it's the dancing camel. I am obsessed with the dancing camel.


Take a close look at the bloke on the mike, if you can make out his features behind all the groovy seventies hair. Look familiar? That's Paul Young, of Everytime You Go Away, Oh Girl, Come Back and Stay, Do They Know It's Christmas, and a bunch of other shite that only I remember because back in the day I owned No Parlez, The Secret of Association, and his Greatest Hits. Recorded with his first group, Streetband, Toast is a far cry from all the earnest blue-eyed soul stuff Young would become famous for in the later years. Looking at this video--I have to ask yet again--was everyone high in the seventies?

The Wombles

The Wombles was a kids' show in the UK, and (if their Wikipedia page is to be believed), the most successful band of 1974, with albums in the UK charts for more weeks than any other act. The freaky thing about this, uh, "band," is that they weren't one hit wonders, like most novelty acts. They appeared on Top of the Pops numerous times, continued to sell records throughout the seventies, and even had a hit as late as 1998 with the dance mix Remember You're A Womble, which peaked at #13 on the UK charts.

I'll leave you with that little bizarre bit of trivia, and the Wombles themselves with their hit Wombling Merry Christmas.

Happy Holidays!

1 comment:

Ms Sparrow said...

I really got a bang out of the dancing camel in Egyptian Reggae.
Have a nice Christmas, Andie.