Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep! Why singalong 70s pop was edgier than you suppose

From Clive Dunn’s Grandad in 1970 to the St Winifred’s College Choir’s There’s No One Fairly Like Grandma in 1980, the singalong pop of 70s Britain is mostly dismissed as naff, sentimental, unstylish and simply plain unhealthy. Can these songs so firmly sewn into the material of British life actually be so terrible? Don’t they’ve one thing to say concerning the period they got here from? That was the inspiration for my e-book In Excellent Concord: a critical take a look at household favourites which were derided by the essential minds of the day as, to make use of one embittered songwriter’s vibrant description, vomit.

Britain within the Seventies was beset with ballooning inflation, nationwide strikes, offended debates on European integration and fears of an environmental apocalypse – a bit like 2020s Britain, in truth. Amid all this, Slade’s Merry Xmas All people was the anthem of the 1974 three-day week, the Wombles responded to 1976’s punishing drought with the eco-disco hit Rainmaker and the Brotherhood of Man’s 1970 ballad United We Stand was the rallying cry for an rising homosexual rights motion. They have been socially important, in different phrases. Listed below are 10 extra socio-political singalong smashes.

1. Center of the Highway – Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep (1970)

Center of the Highway: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – video

As bundle holidays opened up the continent to working-class households for the primary time, and Ted Heath lobbied for Britain’s entry into the widespread market, a former Scottish lodge lounge band discovered themselves in Italy, marooned and penniless. In desperation they recorded this cheerful story of parental neglect. It offered 10m copies. Why? “It reminded folks of their holidays,” recommended drummer Ken Andrew, of a transcendentally fluffy slice of nonsense that represented the British dream of European integration.

2. Millie Small – Enoch Energy (1970)

Whereas critical blues rocker Eric Clapton would drunkenly assist anti-immigration firebrand Enoch Powell at a 1976 live performance, Jamaican teen-pop sensation Millie Small had made a comic book riposte to the Conservative MP’s racist doom-mongering six years beforehand. Towards a cheerful ska beat, Millie sings about leaving Jamaica to work in Powell’s Wolverhampton constituency whereas dreaming of a time when “all males will likely be brothers”, turning the dreaded Tory hardliner into an object of ridicule within the course of.

3. Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows (The place My Rosemary Goes) (1970)

After songwriter Tony Macaulay realised the most important issues in rock have been the rockers who performed it, he got here up with Edison Lighthouse; a made-up band led by session singer Tony Burrows – who additionally fronted fellow made-up bands the Brotherhood of Man, Pipkins and White Plains. Macaulay and co have been pop’s equal of the aliens within the legendary commercial for Smash prompt mashed potato who fall about laughing as one among their quantity describes the old school potato-preparations of idiotic earthlings. Pop, like meals, was turning into processed.

4. Lieutenant Pigeon – Mouldy Outdated Dough (1972)

Bashed out by home-recording fans Rob Woodward and Nigel Fletcher in Woodward’s mother and father’ lounge in Coventry – and that includes his 59-year-old mum Hilda on piano – this rattling pub singalong turned Lieutenant Pigeon into Britain’s first mother-and-son No 1 chart phenomenon. It additionally represented the closing of the technology hole pressured open by the 60s counterculture in being liked by children, mums and dads and grandparents alike. By the way, Lieutenant Pigeon is an anagram for real potential – one thing Mouldy Outdated Dough had in spades.

5. Lynsey de Paul – Sugar Me (1973)

Lynsey de Paul: Sugar Me – video

North London’s de Paul was a glamorous determine who was so outraged by her former boyfriend Sean Connery saying it was OK to slap girls that she did a kiss-and-tell on him and gave the cash to Erin Pizzey’s home violence charity Refuge. She and fellow mainstream songwriter Barry Inexperienced wrote this Forties Gypsy jazz-influenced slice of sensual, escapist pop for a easy motive. “The 70s have been bloody miserable,” stated Inexperienced. “So we have been doing main key songs that regarded on the previous by means of rose-coloured glasses: these have been the times, my good friend.”

6. Hector – Wired Up (1973)

Within the 70s, pop singles have been aimed predominantly at children for the primary time and Portsmouth’s Hector have been duly marketed because the world’s first naughty schoolboy rock sensation. It went horribly improper when, throughout a efficiency of junk store glam basic Wired Up on ITV kids’s present Elevate Off With Ayshea, singer Phil Brown’s dungarees cut up down the center. “I used to be praying the children at residence couldn’t see my underpants,” he stated. “They have been purple with inexperienced spots.”

7. The Candy – Teenage Rampage (1974)

Ethical campaigner and inveterate self-publicist Mary Whitehouse had been looking for a brand new campaign when this fell in her lap. Claiming {that a} raucous rocker about children all around the land gaining the higher hand would foment revolution at a risky interval within the nation’s historical past, Whitehouse wrote to the BBC’s Lord Trethowan to demand its speedy ban. He replied that Teenage Rampage was utterly innocent on account of being “completely empty of actual content material – like all an excessive amount of pop music”.

8. Jonathan King/The George Baker Choice – Una Paloma Blanca (1975)

The George Baker Choice: Una Paloma Blanca – video

A bundle vacation perennial and a success for each one-man pop manufacturing unit King and Dutch MOR band the George Baker Choice, Una Paloma Blanca is a mirrored image on the worth of freedom dressed up as a innocent summer season favorite. It was taking part in on the radio when Gary Gilmore, an American double assassin who turned a trigger celebre after demanding his personal demise sentence, was pushed to be killed by firing squad in 1977. None of that stopped comedy bumpkins the Wurzels stealing the tune for his or her ode to West Nation life, I Am a Cider Drinker.

9. Tina Charles – I Like to Love (1976)

The latter half of the 70s noticed the rise of suburban disco – dance music for harassed adults needing respite from a local weather of nationwide strikes and financial hardship. An early instance was this large hit for east Londoner Charles, who two years later went on a promotional tour of intercourse romp The Stud, the final word suburban disco film, with its star Joan Collins. “It was two worlds,” she stated. “An IRA bomb went off outdoors Harrods within the very place I had parked my automotive, simply as Joan Collins was telling me: ‘All the time put on a hat within the solar, darling. It stops the pores and skin from ageing.’”

10. Greenback – Taking pictures Star (1978)

Greenback are proof that credibility is predicated on picture, not content material. After being booted out of cabaret band Guys’n’Dolls, Thereza Bazar and David Van Day reinvented themselves as an attractive blond duo who regarded as if they’d simply stepped out of a salon. They have been critically derided, however on this dreamlike concoction Bazar layered her backing vocals as much as 50 occasions, making a celestial haze of sound that set the template for 80s electro-pop. Bazar was creatively good however she would by no means be given her dues in the way in which, say, Kate Bush was. Such is the lot of the singalong star.

In Excellent Concord: Singalong Pop in 70s Britain by Will Hodgkinson is out now on 9 Eight Books (£20). To assist the Guardian and Observer order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Supply costs might apply

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