Billy Don’t Be A Hero – Paper Lace – 1974.

November 28, 2013

Paper Lace Billy Don't be a Hero 1974 single cover1974 was Paper Lace’s year with two UK hit singles; Billy Don’t be a Hero and The Night Chicago Died. Unfortunately, that was it; while the band continues to tour today, they never again made a significant dent in the charts.

paper lace fax

  • Paper Lace formed in Nottingham, England in 1967 and were originally named Music Box.
  • It took seven years before Paper Lace gained the break every band looks for. In 1974, they won Opportunity Knocks, a talent quest similar to today’s X Factor.
  • According to drummer and lead singer Phil Wright:

Opportunity Knocks was pretty much the 1970s version of The X-Factor. There was a huge audition week in 1970 at the Bridgford Hotel, which is now the Rushcliffe Borough Council building near the City Ground. And there were thousands of people queuing up. We turned up in our best suits, did a few numbers, and were told that they liked us but not to expect to go on straight away. When they finally got back Paper Lace 1to us in 1973, we thought; do we really need this now? But they were getting viewing figures of 7 million, so we went for it. And we won five weeks on the trot! There were two songwriters (Mitch Murray and Peter Callender) who got in touch with our management and offered us “Billy Don’t Be a Hero”, with the possibility of more songs if it took off. We went down, recorded it, and they said “Hey, this is a great song, it’s going to be a hit”. And the song proved to be stronger than the band, because everyone knows it, they just can’t remember who recorded it. Except in Nottingham, of course…

  • For a number of years Paper Lace had a guitarist with the familiar name, Carlo Santanna.

billy don’t be a hero fax

  • Billy Don’t Be a Hero was first released in the UK in 1974 from the album And Other Bits of Material.
  • Billy Don’t Be a Hero was written by Peter Callender and Mitch Murray.  They also wrote The Night Chicago Died and Vanity Fare’s hit Hitchin’ a Ride, and Georgie Fame’s UK chart-topper The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde.  They wanted to offer the song to a major act but, when Peter’s wife saw Paper Lace win Opportunity Knocks, she convinced the pair to offer it to them.
  • Billy Don’t Be a Hero is an anti-war song that refers to the American Civil War. The band would often wear Union uniforms when performing the song.
  • The song hit #1 on the UK singles chart on 16 March 1974. It hit #1 on the US singles chart a few months later but, alas, it wasn’t Paper Lace’s version. A band named Bo Donaldson & The Heywoods beat them to it. Paper Lace’s version stalled at #96. They did, however, achieve a US #1 with The Night Chicago Died.
  • The line, “Billy, don’t be a hero,” is often used in movies or television. For instance, in the very first episode of Friends, Ross is sad because it has been so long since he last picked up a woman. He asks his pals, “Do the words ‘Billy, Don’t Be a Hero’ mean anything to you?”
  • Massive Attack’s 1991 track Blue Lines features the lyrics “take a walk, Billy, don’t be a hero”.
  • The song features in the films, Reservoir Dogs, and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
  • Billy Don’t Be a Hero lyrics.

billy don’t be a hero – paper lace – 1974 video

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Be Mine Tonight – Th’ Dudes – 1979

November 21, 2013

The Dudes coverBe Mine Tonight, the debut single by Kiwi band, Th’ Dudes, is a classic down my end of the world.

The Dudes Bth’ time is right

It seems fitting to feature a song by Th’ Dudes this week seeing as how band member Dave Dobbyn was recently welcomed into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.

For those unaware of the New Zealand music scene, Dave Dobbyn is pop-royalty in these parts. He’s our Bob Dylan; a magnificent musical poet.

th’ dudes fax

  • Th’ Dudes began life at Sacred Heart College in Auckland, New Zealand – the same school Neil and Tim Finn (Crowded House) attended.
  • The band’s name was taken from a NME comic strip, The Lone Groover.
  • Originally a covers band, Th’ Dudes slowly increased their repertoire of originals and, in 1979, were named New Zealand Band of the Year.
  • The band claimed to be influenced by UK punk and new wave artists bands such as Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Roxy Music, The Stranglers and The Clash.
  • The band eventually disbanded in mid 1980.

bliss

Another of the band’s songs, Bliss, released in 1980, is regarded as one of the great Kiwi party songs (see video below).

what about dave?

Dave Dobbyn went on to form his own band, DD Smash  (pretty hot from 1980 – 1986). In 1986, he went solo and has become one of our musical statesmen.

be mine tonight fax

  • Be Mine Tonight was Th’ Dudes debut single from their first album Right First Time. It is a classic song yet peaked at only #36 on the New Zealand single charts.
  • Be Mine Tonight won Single of the Year at the 1979 New Zealand Music Awards.
  • It was voted #27 on the list of best New Zealand Songs of the 20th Century.
  • Be Mine Tonight lyrics.

be mine tonight – th’ dudes – 1979 – video

bliss – th’ dudes – 1979 – video

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Love is the Drug – Roxy Music – 1975

November 14, 2013

Roxy+Music+-+Love+Is+The+Drug1975, and near the top of the UK charts is Love is the Drug by England’s best known art rock band, Roxy Music.

roxy music fax

  • Formed in 1971, by Bryan Ferry, who became the group’s lead vocalist and chief songwriter, and bassist Graham Simpson, Roxy Music went on to be ranked at #98 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The Immortals – The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
  • Other well-known band members have included: Phil Manzanera, Andy Mackay, Brian Eno, John Gustafson, and Paul Carrack.
  • In November 1970, Bryan Ferry was fired from his job teaching ceramics because he was caught holding impromptu record listening session. He decided to form a band and advertised for a keyboard player to collaborate with him and bass player Graham Simpson. Other band members joined Roxy Music as a result of those newspaper ads.
  • Earlier in 1970, Bryan had auditioned to fill the role of lead singer for the band, King Crimson. While his voice impressed the King Crimson band members, they felt it wasn’t the right sound for their band.
  • Artists to cite Roxy Music as an influence include: Madness, The Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cars, Grace Jones, Kate Bush, Adam Ant, The Human League, Duran Duran, Simple Minds, Spandau Ballet, Depeche Mode, Annie Lennox, and Morrissey.

writing the song

Saxophonist Andy Mackay recalled to The Mail on Sunday June 28, 2009,

Bryan (Ferry) used to work endlessly on lyrics and then deliver them as a live take in the studio, like a conjurer pulling rabbits out of a hat. The most thrilling of these was this song.

Speaking to Uncut magazine in a 2012 interview, Ferry recalled his songwriting process,

Traditionally, I’ve always written alone.  Then, in Roxy, Andy (Mackay) and Phil (Manzanera) started bringing ideas to the table, and I’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I can work with that.’ So that’s how I started collaborating. But I would write the tune and the words and the title and they would generally provide the basic chord sequence. Then I’d try and do what I could do to turn it into something that was unique. We did some good collaborations, especially with Andy, ‘Song Dor Europe’ ‘Love Is The Drug’ stand out.

love is the drug fax

  • Love Is the Drug was released in September 1975 and is taken from Roxy Music’s fifth studio album, Siren.
  • Love is the Drug peaked at #2 on the UK charts and #30 on the American singles charts; that makes it the band’s highest-charting single in the US. In the UK it was surpassed by the 1981 cover of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy.
  • Love is the Drug was kept from the UK #1 spot by a re-release of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.
  • Love is the Drug is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s, 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
  • The song began as an instrumental written by Andy MacKay. Bryan added the lyrics.
  • Grace Jones released the song as a single in 1980 but it wasn’t until 1981 that it achieved minor chart success.
  • Love is the Drug lyrics.

love is the drug – roxy music – 1975 – video

love is the drug – grace jones version – video

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I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) – Genesis – 1973

November 8, 2013

Genesis - I know what I LikeA product of the 70s psychedelic era, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was the first song of UK band Genesis to make the UK charts.

genesis fax

  • Formed in 1967.
  • Over the years band members have included: Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, and Steve Hackett.
  • Founding member Anthony Phillips left the band in 1970 after recording their second album. He suffered terribly from stage fright and a doctor recommended he leave the band for the sake of his mental health.
  • Genesis have sold over 150 million albums.
  • The band’s first top 40 single in the UK was I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe). In the US, it was Follow You Follow Me. Their only US #1 was Invisible Touch.
  • Genesis were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

genesis 2i know what i like (in your wardrobe) fax

  • I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was Genesis’ first single to make the charts – it peaked at #21 in the UK.
  • I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was released in August 1973.
  • I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) features on the album Selling England By the Pound.
  • The song is about a young fellow who is perfectly happy working as a groundsman – he especially likes mowing lawns.
  • Inspired by The Beatles, the song features an electric sitar riff and a low Mellotron note during the intro and ending which attempts to imitate the sound of a lawn mower.
  • I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) lyrics.

i know what i like (in your wardrobe) – genesis – 1973 – video


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