Venus – Shocking Blue – 1970

February 23, 2012

Of all the one hit wonders, Shocking Blue’s Venus is one of my all-time favourites – one of the biggest hits of the 1970s, but only just.

one hit wonders

One hit wonder bands fascinate me. It’s easy to get the impression that this group of people got together, put out a song, hit #1 and then, just as quickly disbanded. It’s not usually like that at all.

Most one hit wonder bands have been around for years before finally peaking at #1 and spending the rest of their lives  trying to emulate it… …it must be a frustrating existence.

Imagine playing a show where you know the crowd is there to hear just one song; you go through your repertoire but you know, they are just marking time until you sing the big one.

As an aside, I went to a concert like that once. American alternative band, Jars of Clay had just one hit at that time – Flood. The concert was great but ruined by the people who chanted “Flood, Flood, Flood” all night!

shocking blue

The may have been one hit wonders but Shocking Blue were active for seven years. They formed in The Netherlands in 1967 and disbanded in 1974. In that time they released an amazing elven albums and 22 singles.

The band reformed in 1979.

robbie and mariska

Shocking Blue was formed by Dutch guitarist Robbie van Leeuwen who wanted to form the Dutch equivalent of Jefferson Airplane, an American band who, in Robbie van Leeuwen’s words, “combined a hard edged rock style with a powerful and attractive female vocalist.”  Now, that may seem rather far-fetched but, before you scoff, listen so some of Shocking Blue’s (or The Shocking Blue as they are rightfully named) other material.  Check out the video at the bottom of the page for Send Me a Postcard – she and Grace Slick would have gotten on pretty well, me thinks!

The attractive female vocalist was Mariska Veres. When Shocking Blue split Mariska continued in the music industry singing jazz. She died, a victim of cancer, in 2006

shocking blue trivia

Nirvana’s first single release in 1988 was a cover of a Shocking Blue song, Love Buzz. It appeared on Nirvana’s 1989 album, Bleach.

venus fax

  • Released on October 2, 1969, Venus was a 1970 #1 hit in the US and six other countries across Europe.
  • When Venus was recorded, Mariska Veres, the lead singer could not speak any English. She simply learned the words phonetically and sang them.
  • Venus was re-released in 1986 by UK girl band, Bananarama. It went to #1 in six more countries, all different from first time around, except for the USA. Interestingly both versions of Venus peaked at #1 in the USA and #8 in the UK.
  • Venus was produced by Jerry Ross, who also produced another Dutch group, Tee Set, who had a hit with a song called, Ma Belle Amie.
  • Venus (Shocking Blue’s version) has appeared in the movies: The Brady Bunch Movie, Grumpier Old Men, and Remember the Titans; and on the television programmes; EastEnders, Full House, and Prison Break.
  • On an episode of the cartoon Beavis And Butthead, Butthead makes up his own lyrics to Venus but gets frustrated when he can’t think of anything that rhymes with “Venus.”
  • Cover versions have been numerous, including; Bananarama, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Victoria Beckham (as her audition for Spice Girls), Popstars, Tom Jones, and Jennifer Lopez.
  • Venus lyrics.

Venus – Shocking Blue – 1970 – video

Send Me a Postcard – The Shocking Blue


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My Sweet Lord – George Harrison – 1970

February 16, 2012

The first song by an ex-Beatle to reach #1, George Harrison’s 1970 hit My Sweet Lord, was dogged by plagiarism claims – but it’s a fine song.

billy preston

When George wrote My Sweet Lord in Denmark in late 1969, he did so with keyboardist Billy Preston in mind. Billy had done a lot of work with The Beatles and had a pretty successful solo career. He did release this song and had a minor hit but nothing like George’s success.

the first solo beatle #1

My Sweet Lord was released in in the US in November 1970 but not in the UK because George didn’t want to detract from the album, All Things Must Pass.

When it hit #1 on the US singles charts the demand for My Sweet Lord to be released in the UK was such that George gave in. Released on 15 January 1971, it went straight to #1 in the UK also.

Earlier in 1970-71 the other three Beatles also released solo albums – none of them released singles from those albums in the UK, however.

plagiarism?

The plagiarism suit between George and Bright Tunes Music is surely the most famous of all such cases. The case lasted over ten years with Bright Tune Music claiming the song was ripped off The Chiffons’ hit, He’s So Fine.

The short story is in 1976, a US court determined that George had copied He’s So Fine, albeit subconsciously. Then, in 1978, before the court made any decision on what damages should be paid, George’s ex-manager, Allen Klein, bought the copyright to He’s So Fine from Bright Tunes Music – rather a clever plan I thought!

In 1981, the court finally made a decision on what the level of damage should be – $1,599,987. However, it also ruled that, because of Allen Klein’s “duplicity” in the case, George should have to pay only $587,000 to Klein. That was the amount which Klein had paid for He’s So Fine.

Whether George copied it or not the fact is – they sound pretty similar but I don’t care, My Sweet Lord is one of the all-time great songs!

my sweet lord fax

  • My Sweet Lord was released in the US on 23 November 1970 and the UK on 15 January 1971.
  • My Sweet Lord reached #1 on both sides of the Atlantic. It spent four weeks at the top of the US chart and five weeks at the top of the UK chart.
  • After George’s death in 2002, My Sweet Lord was re-released in the UK and again hit #1. Proceeds from the 2002 single went to the Material World Charitable Foundation, which Harrison started in 1973 to support charities that work with children and the poor.
  • My Sweet Lord is a song of praise towards the Hindu god Krishna.
  • Rolling Stone Magazine ranked My Sweet Lord at #460 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • In the US My Sweet Lord was released as a double A-side with Isn’t It a Pity. In the UK it was also a double A-side with What is Life. It was released on the Beatles’ Apple Recording label.
  • My Sweet Lord has appeared on five of George’s albums: All Things Must Pass (1970), The Concert for Bangladesh (1971), The Best of George Harrison (1976), Live in Japan (1992), and Let It Roll: Songs by George Harrison (2009).
  • After the plagiarism suit, The Chiffons cashed in by releasing a version of My Sweet Lord. Other artists to perform or record My Sweet Lord include: Andy Williams, Edwin Starr, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone, Julio Iglesias, Boy George, Megadeth, Jose Feliciano, U2, and Dolly Parton.
  • Jonathan King released a version of He’s So Fine with the My Sweet Lord lyrics – or was it the other way around?
  • My Sweet Lord lyrics

My Sweet Lord – George Harrison – 1970 video

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Cum on Feel the Noize – Slade – 1973

February 9, 2012

Known for the rather eccentric dress sense of Dave Hill, the Tartan suit of Noddy Holder, and the deliberate misspelling of their song titles, Slade were one of the leaders in the UK Glam Rock era of the early to mid-1970s.

i remember meeting slade

So, my brother comes home with a new album. He does that often – he has a job, I’m a student, he has money, I don’t. And it’s always interesting what he brings home. One week it’ll be some early Elton John, soft rock album, the next week it’s Ozzie Osborne and Black Sabbath. On this particular day it’s Slade. I can’t even remember for sure what album it was – Sladest, I think, the compilation album from 1973.

Anyway, it’s magic. Noddy Holder’s voice just grabs me and still, after all these years, I think he has one of the great rock ‘n’ roll voices.

slade / slayed / sladest

It would be easy to dismiss Slade as less than serious because of their title misspellings and their out-there dress sense. However, they were fantastically successful. Check this out, Slade;

  • were the first group to have three singles enter the UK singles charts at #1.
  • in just four years, between 1971 and 1974, had 12 singles that reached the top five on the UK singles charts.
  • released over 30 albums – three reached #1 in the UK album charts.
  • in the early 1970s, out-performed all other glam-rock artists including David Bowie, Sweet, Wizzard, Gary Glitter, T. Rex, Suzi Quatro, Mud, and Roxy Music.
  • in all, spent 531 weeks in the UK charts and had 23 hits in the top 30 of the UK singles charts – and, they’re still going although not likely to add to that tally.
  • of all UK recording artists, have come the closest to equalling The Beatles’ record of 22 Top Ten hits in a single decade. The Beatles did it in the 1960s.

causing upset

It’s ironic when you think about it… these days English teachers often bemoan the loss of English skills amongst teens citing texting as the activity that is robbing our youth of their ability to spell and string entire sentences together. Back in the 1970s Slade came under attack.

Teachers throughout Britain were upset at the rising popularity of a group who deliberately spelt their song titles phonetically rather than in the proper Queen’s English. One teacher said the band spelt, “the way people write on toilet walls.”

Noddy Holder responds in Cum on Feel the Noize, singing;

So you think my singing’s out of time,

Well it makes me money…

cum on feel the noize fax

  • Like most their hits, Cum on Feel the Noize was written by band members Jim Lea and Noddy Holder.
  • Cum On Feel the Noize was Slade’s fourth #1 UK single and the first to enter the charts at #1.
  • Taken from their album Slade, Cum on Feel the Noize was a follow-up to the wonderful, Gudbuy T’ Jane.
  • Cum on Feel the Noize sold 500,000 copies in its first three weeks after release – a lot of records in those days… that’s almost 24,000 a day!
  • Cum on Feel the Noize was the inspiration for Kiss’ hit single, Rock and Roll All Nite.
  • Cum on Feel the Noize was originally called, Cum on Hear the Noize but Noddy changed it saying;

I had felt the sound of the crowd pounding in my chest

  • The words baby baby baby in the song’s introduction were actually a microphone test but, having been included on the single, the words were added to the song, even when played live.
  • Cum on Feel the Noize lyrics.

cum on feel the noise – slade – 1973 video

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Computer Games – Mi-Sex – 1979

February 2, 2012

Hailing from New Zealand and living in Australia, Mi-Sex rode the crest of down-under New Wave. Their career peaked with the hits Computer Games (1979) and People (1980).

never really liked mi-sex

It’s true, while my brother and others seemed to get down to the music of Mi-Sex, they never really grabbed me. However, I still know good music when I hear it (though some may disagree) and these guys could sing.

What I also know is, tempus fugit!! I heard this song on January 6. The reason it was played on the radio was to commemorate the death of, and honour, Mi-Sex lead singer Steve Gilpin… it was twenty years ago! Can’t believe it.

mi-sex

Steve Gilpin began as a pop singer/songwriter on New Zealand television – then UK New Wave hit Kiwi-land and he underwent a radical style-enhancement. Grabbing the name from the Ultravox song, My Sex, Steve’s band became Mi-Sex. Within a year they’d moved to Aussie and found stardom.

steve r i p

The band were active until 1984. Once they’d split, Steve continued to work in Australia with a number of bands until January 6 1992. Returning home after a gig, Steve had an accident in his car. Seriously injured, he lapsed into a coma and subsequently died.

computer games fax

  • Computer Games is lifted from Mi-Sex’s first album, Graffiti Crimes. The album was re-released in 1980 under the name, Computer Games.
  • Computer Games was the second single off the Graffiti Crimes album – the first was But You Don’t Care.
  • Computer Games was released as a single in 1979 in Australia and New Zealand and in 1981 across Europe.
  • Peaking at #1 in Australia, #5 in New Zealand and # 2 in Canada, Computer Games won the Best Australian Single award at the 1979 TV Week/Countdown Music Awards.
  • In 1983, Computer Games was re-recorded as the final track for Mi-Sex’s final album Where Do They Go?
  • Computer Games lyrics

computer games – mi-sex – 1979

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