Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas – 1974

April 26, 2018

Kung Fu FightingRiding on the crest of the kung fu movie craze of the early-mid 70’s, Carl Douglas scored a massive 1974 hit with Kung Fu Fighting.

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  • Carl Douglas was born in Jamaica in 1942 and began his music career in 1961.
  • Carl grew up in both Jamaica and California before moving to the UK to study sound engineering.
  • His first foray into performing came in 1964 when he formed the band Big Stampede. They released two singles with no chart impact.
  • By the early 1970s, Carl was a session musician with Pye Records.
  • In 1974, Indian-born music producer Biddu asked Carl to provide the vocals for a song, I Want to Give You My Everything. Biddu then gave Carl some music for lyrics Carl had written about Kung Fu.  It was a smash hit.  So much so that, Carl’s entire music career has been overshadowed by his 1974 hit, Kung Fu Fighting.
  • Carl was the first Jamaican to score a #1 hit in the USA.
  • The follow-up to Kung Fu Fighting—Dance the Kung Fu—bombed in the USA, but made it to #20 in the UK. Despite other minor successes, Carl is considered a one-hit wonder.
  • Carl now lives in Hamburg, Germany and owns a production company that supplies music for films and advertisements.

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  • The writing of Kung Fu Fighting is credited to Carl Douglas, who, it is said, recorded it in ten minutes.
  • It was released as a single in 1974 and rode the crest of the martial arts movie craze of that time.
  • Kung Fu Fighting hit #1 on the singles charts in the UK, US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and New Zealand. It made the top ten in a number of other countries.
  • The song eventually sold eleven million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling singles of all time.
  • Kung Fu Fighting was rated number 100 in VH1’s 100 Greatest one-hit wonders, and number 1 in the UK Channel 4’s Top 10 One Hit Wonders list in 2000.
  • In 1998, British dance act, Bus Stop released a Kung Fu Fighting remix which sampled the original vocals by Carl Douglas and included added rap verses. It peaked at #8 on the UK singles chart.
  • In 2008, American artist, CeeLo Green covered Kung-Fu Fighting. His version appeared on the soundtrack for the movie, Kung Fu Panda.
  • Kung Fu Fighting lyrics.

kung fu fighting – carl douglas – 1974 – video

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We Don’t Talk Anymore – Cliff Richard – 1979

December 28, 2017

We Don't Talk Anymore Cliff Richard 1979 coverLove him or not, no one can deny – when it comes to making hit records, Cliff Richard has been pretty successful. From 1979, We Don’t Talk Anymore was Cliff’s 10th #1 UK hit.

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  • 250 million records sold world-wide; the third-highest-selling artist in UK singles chart history; behind The Beatles and Elvis Presley; Harry Webb has done pretty good.
  • Born in India, Harry became interested in skiffle and formed his first band, The Quintones in 1957, he was 16.
  • Harry gave his vocals to a couple of local bands before being persuaded to change his name to Cliff Richard – “Cliff” because is sounded strong and “Richard” as a tribute to his musical hero, Little Richard.
  • Cliff had been singing with a band named, The Drifters; this became Cliff Richard and the Drifters. The band’s first single, Move It, was a hit in the UK – John Lennon called it the UK’s first rock ‘n’ roll song.  John also once said, “Before Cliff (Richard) and The Shadows, there had been nothing worth listening to in British music.”
  • Around 1959, The Drifters were forced to change their name due to legal challenges from the American band, the Drifters – The Shadows were born.
  • In the sixty years that have followed, Cliff has had more than 130 singles, albums and EPs make the UK Top 20, more than any other artist.
  • This includes, 67 UK Top Ten singles, the second highest total for an artist behind Elvis Presley – Elvis and Cliff are the only two acts to make the UK singles charts in all of its first six decades (1950s–2000s).
  • Cliff has had 14 UK #1 singles and is the only singer to have had a #1 UK single in five consecutive decades: the 1950s through to the 1990s.
  • It’s often said that Cliff has not been successful in the US. That’s not true.  It’s just that, compared to his phenomenal UK success, his US efforts seem rather meagre.  He has, however, achieved 8 US Top 40 singles, including the million-selling Devil Woman and We Don’t Talk Anymore.
  • Cliff Richard is now aged 77, having been born in 1940.

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  • We Don’t Talk Anymore was written by British musician Alan Tarney who was a member of the Shadows between 1973 and 1977.
  • The song was recorded by Cliff Richard on May 29, 1979. Cliff took care of the vocals, Trevor Spencer played the drums, and Alan Tarney played all the other instruments.
  • We Don’t Talk Anymore sat at #1 on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks. It was Cliff’s tenth UK #1, but his first since Congratulations back in 1968.  It also topped the charts in ten other European countries and peaked at #7 on the US charts.
  • It was a timely hit for Cliff. We Don’t Talk Anymore reignited his flagging career.
  • The single sold over four million copies worldwide and was the sixth video aired on MTV on its launch on 1 August 1981.
  • We Don’t Talk Anymore lyrics.

we don’t talk anymore – cliff richard – 1979 – video

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Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – Middle of the Road – 1971

July 27, 2017

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep Middle of the Road 1971Before ABBA, the sound of Europop was Middle of the Road with million disc selling songs like Sacramento, Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, Soley Soley, and their biggest hit, 1971’s, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – which all just goes to prove; the 70s produced some rather bizarre hit records!

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  • From Glasgow, Scotland, Middle of the Road were popular throughout Europe and Latin America in the early 1970s. Before ABBA appeared on the charts, Middle of the Road were considered the leading sound of Europop scene.
  • The band had an interesting history – lead singer Sally Carr, drummer Ken Andrew, guitarist Ian McCredie and his bassist brother Eric McCredie, originally played as Part Four, before adopting a Latin American flavour and winning the UK TV talent show Opportunity Knocks under the name, Los Caracas.
  • Within a year of forming, and having found little success, the band moved to Italy where they met an Italian music producer – Giacomo Tosti, who gave the band their distinctive sound and gave them their international break.
  • Middle of the Road’s biggest hit single was their debut UK single, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep. Reaching #1 in the UK singles chart, it sold over ten million copies!  Over the next two years, another five hit singles followed, including four million sellers.
  • But that was nothing compared to their success in Germany where Middle of the Road had eleven Top 40 hits between 1971 and 1974.
  • In 1974, Bay City Rollers member Neil Henderson joined the band on guitar.

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  • Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep was written by Lally Scott, who wrote several songs for the Scottish band, Middle of the Road.
  • Middle of the Road recorded Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep in 1971, and released it the same year as the title track of their debut album.
  • Probably unheard of in the US, Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep hit #1 in the UK where it sat for four weeks.
  • Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep is one of only around forty singles to have ever sold in excess of 10 million physical copies worldwide.
  • Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep lyrics.

chirpy chirpy cheep cheep – middle of the road – 1971 – video

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Bye, Bye, Baby – Bay City Rollers – 1975

June 4, 2017

Bye Bye Baby Bay City Rollers 1975It had to happen – we had to feature the “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh” sometime! Remember, Rollermania!?  Apparently, it was huge in the mid-70s, maybe, like me, you missed it.  I do remember the boys coming to my part of the world sometime in the 70s and the outcry from fans and parents alike when they played for a mere 35 minutes.  Anyway, despite all that, they proved rather popular amongst some of you younger ladies with hits both sides of the Atlantic, including the 1975, UK #1, Bye, Bye, Baby.

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  • Beginning life as The Saxons in 1966 Edinburgh, The Bay City Rollers changed to The Bay City Rollers by throwing a dart at a map of the United States, which landed near Bay City, Michigan.
  • Within a few years they were being hailed as, “biggest group since the Beatles” – but then, so were a hundred and one other bands.
  • After three non-album singles, the boys released their first album, Rollin’. The 1974 album contained three hit singles.
  • 1975 saw the release of two albums, Once Upon a Star, and Wouldn’t You Like It?, and another four hit UK singles.
  • 1976 saw the US release of the single Saturday Night – failing to chart in the UK, it went to #1 in the US and the Bay City Rollers were labelled “international superstars.”
  • Move forward to today – the band, having had a number of hiatus’s and several changes of line-up continue to perform – though their last album was released in 1985 and the last single to even dent the charts was You Made Me Believe in Magic, back in 1977.
  • During the heyday of Rollermania, the line-up was, guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart John Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir.
  • In all, the band have sold 300 million records.

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  • Bye, Bye, Baby, aka Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby Goodbye) was written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio (from The Four Seasons).
  • First realised by The Four Seasons in 1965, it peaked at #12 on the US charts.
  • In 1967, a cover version was released by British band The Symbols – it reached #44 on the UK singles chart.
  • The Bay City Rollers released a version – it hit #1 in the UK in March 1975, and sat there for six weeks. It was the top selling single in the UK for 1975.
  • The song features in the movie, Love Actually.
  • Bye, Bye, Baby lyrics.

bye, bye, baby – bay city rollers – 1975 – video

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The Ballad of Lucy Jordan – Marianne Faithfull – 1979

May 28, 2017

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan Marianne Faithful 1979One of the most enduring (and interesting) of all musical artists over the past six decades – Marianne Faithfull began her singing career in 1964 and, at 70 years of age, is still performing. Her best song, IMHO, is her 1979 cover of The Ballad of Lucy Jordan – though Broken English must follow closely behind…

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  • Born in 1946, in Hampstead, London, Marianne Faithfull began singing in local coffeehouses when just a teenager.
  • In early 1964, Marianne attended a Rolling Stones party where she was discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham, then manager of the Rolling Stones.
  • Her first single, As Tears Go By, written by Oldham, Jagger and Richards, was released in 1964 and became her first hit, peaking at #9 in the UK and #2 in the US. The Rolling Stones later had a hit with the same song.
  • Marianne’s debut album Marianne Faithfull (1965) (released simultaneously with her album Come My Way) was a success also, peaking at #15 in the UK and #12 in the US.
  • From 1966 to 1970, Marianne was involved in a romantic relationship with Mick Jagger. Mick later said that many of his songs of that era were somehow inspired by Marianne.  Sympathy for the Devil, was partially inspired by The Master and Margarita, written by Mikhail Bulgakov, a book to which Marianne introduced Mick. You Can’t Always Get What You Want, was apparently about Marianne and Wild Horses and I Got the Blues, inspired by her. Marianne co-wrote Sister Morphine.
  • Graham Nash said his song Carrie Anne, performed by the Hollies, is about Marianne.
  • Marianne’s popularity was further enhanced by various film roles including, I’ll Never Forget What’s’isname (1967), The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968), and Hamlet (1969). In all Marianne has appeared in 24 movies or television series and 11 stage shows.
  • By the early 70s, however, Marianne was struggling with heroin addiction, alcoholism, and anorexia. For two years she lived on the streets of Soho.  It is said that her drug addiction affected her voice giving that croaky feel to her lower register.
  • In 1979, Marianne made a musical comeback with her critically acclaimed album Broken English which included the fabulous Ballad of Lucy Jordan.
  • Broken English earned Faithfull a nomination for Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. A series of albums followed.  In all, Marianne has released 21 albums – the latest in 2014 and a live album in 2016.
  • In 2009, Marianne received a World Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women’s World Awards and was also awarded the Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

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  • The Ballad of Lucy Jordan was written in 1974 by American poet and songwriter Shel Silverstein who also wrote A Boy Named Sue (Johnny Cash), The Unicorn (The Irish Rovers), The Cover of the Rolling Stone and Sylvia’s Mother (Dr Hook).
  • The Ballad of Lucy Jordan was first recorded in 1974 by Dr Hook & the Medicine Show. They spelled it “Jordon”.  This version failed to chart anywhere.
  • In 1979, the song was recorded by the Marianne Faithfull and, although not a huge hit – it peaked at #48 in the UK and failed to make the US charts – it continues to be immensely popular on classic hits stations around the world today.
  • Marianne’s version is featured on the movie soundtracks to Montenegro, Tarnation and Thelma & Louise.
  • The song describes the disillusionment and mental deterioration of a suburban housewife.
  • Other artists to cover the song include: Belinda Carlisle, Bobby Bare and Lucinda Williams.
  • The Ballad of Lucy Jordan lyrics.

the ballad of lucy jordan – marianne faithfull – 1979 – video

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Blinded by the Light – Manfred Mann’s Earth Band – 1976

May 18, 2017

manfred-manns-earth-band-blinded-by-the-light-cover 1976From a track on Bruce Springsteen’s 1973 debut album, to a 1976 #1 hit for English Band, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Blinded by the Light must be one of the great tracks of the 70s.

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  • Manfred Mann is 76 years old now – born in South Africa, he began working as a jazz pianist and recording music when he was just 19 years old. His first band was The Vikings, rumoured to be South Africa’s first rock ‘n’ roll band.
  • Unable to stomach the apartheid of his homeland, Manfred moved to the UK in 1961, where he joined forces with keyboard player Mike Hugg to form a large blues-jazz band called, The Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers. They signed to EMI who suggested a name change to Manfred Mann.  From 1964 – 1969, the band had a number of hits including: Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Pretty Flamingo and Mighty Quinn.
  • Manfred Mann split in 1969 and Mike and Manfred formed a new band; Manfred Mann Chapter Three. Two albums later they split also.
  • In 1971, Manfred had another go, forming Manfred Mann’s Earth Band which still records and performs to this day.

blinded by the light fax

  • Blinded by the Light is a song written and recorded by Bruce Springsteen. It first appeared on his 1973 debut album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
  • Bruce wrote Blinded by the Light because his record company president, Clive Davis, felt the album lacked a potential single. Blinded by the Light and Spirit in the Night were written in response.
  • Blinded by the Light was Bruce’s first single – it did not appear on the charts anywhere!
  • Manfred Mann’s Earth Band covered the song in 1976. It hit #1 in the US and #6 in the UK.
  • Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s version of Blinded by the Light changes the lyrics. The most prominent change is in the chorus, where Bruce’s “cut loose like a deuce” is replaced with “revved up like a deuce.”
  • Blinded by the Light is used in the movies, Blow and Running with Scissors.
  • Blinded by the Light lyrics.

blinded by the light – manfred mann’s earth band – 1976 – video

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Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel – 1973

March 9, 2017

Stuck in the Middle with You - Stealers Wheel - 1973I can’t believe we haven’t visited this tune before now… from the One Hit Wonder files, Stealers Wheel’s fabulous 1973 hit, Stuck in the Middle with You.

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  • Stealers Wheel was formed by school mates Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan in Scotland back in 1972.
  • Having released three albums and five singles, the band broke up in 1975. They reformed in 2008 without Gerry or Joe who had long since gone onto finer things.
  • Gerry’s musical career is well-known and includes the wonderful Baker Street (cue for saxophone solo). In 2011, Gerry died of liver failure having thrashed it over the years – his alcoholism has been widely documented.  Gerry’s first band, before Stealers Wheel, was the Humblebums which included comedian Billy Connolly.  Billy and Gerry were close friends right until Gerry’s death.
  • Stealers Wheel’s self-titled first album was released in 1972. It was produced by Leiber and Stroller and reached #50 on the US album charts.  Their hit Stuck in the Middle with You was lifted from this album.  By the time of release, Gerry had already left the band.

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  • Stuck in the Middle with You was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, recorded by their band Stealers Wheel, and released as a single on 27 April 1973. It was produced by renowned American producers, Leiber and Stroller.
  • The song peaked at #6 on the US singles chart and #8 on the UK chart. It sold over one million copies.
  • Stuck in the Middle with You is famously used in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 debut film Reservoir Dogs. Quentin once said of the song:

That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle with You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle with You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’

stuck in the middle with you – stealers wheel – 1973 – video

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