Pick of the Pops (19.6.70)

1970 was a great year for chart pop. 

I was very young, but I knew the machinations of the charts and waited excitedly for the weekly chart run down and the excitement of a possible new number one.

Best of all, my older sister and brother bought lots of singles during this time and I experienced the trainspottery delight of arranging their collections according to the individual labels. The  unfussy black (with feint silver trim) of Tamla Motown was always the most numerous, but I loved Motown splitter Invictus's sky blue, the black and gold of Capitol and best of all the simple orange circle of RCA.

It's a good chart this week, but there are - as usual - some real horrors.

Status Quo - Down the Dustpipe: this is OK - it's a fairly innocuous 'British blues' effort, before the band morphs into the full-on 'Quo' that everyone (with any sensibility) knows and hates. 6/10

The Four Tops - It's All in the Game: I don't know why, but amongst aficionados at the time, there was definitely a 'Who's the Best?' Four Tops v Temptations rivalry. As I grew older, I much preferred The Temptations (especially their more political stuff) and found the FT's just a bit too 'tuneful' and poppy for my liking. I love this song, though, particularly the lush instrumentation and that brilliant bit where Levi kicks off with: "He'll kiss youuuurrr lips - AAA-AND CARESS YOUR WAITING FINGER TIPS!" Effing marvellous. 8/10

Arrival - I Will Survive: nothing to do with the Gloria Gaynor song (although one of Arrival's singers Dylan Burch went on to doing backing vocals for GG), this lovely Pentangle/Renaissance/Polyphonic Spree-style amalgam is by one of those Liverpool groups who seemed to have escaped the attentions of most Merseyside band anthologies. Best of all, it's so obvious they're from posh South Liverpool! A great song! 8/10

Cliff Richard - Goodbye Sam, Hello Samantha: you know when you're really small and yet you know a record is really shit? That.
This tedious God botherer's song about moving from diminutive nomenclature to the fully formed 'Christian name'* would have been much better - and truthfu -l if it were about moving from male heterosexuality to fully embracing the gay male lifestyle. But it isn't, and just as I thought (some fifty one years ago), shit. 
*I haven't bothered to look up if there is a Saint Samantha, but I'll bet there is. A lot of people from outside Liverpool struggle with the notion that not only is there a Saint Kevin and a Saint Julie, but there are big eff off schools within our city named in honour of the two scalliest saints this side of Saint Connor, Saint Wayne and Saint Donna-Marie. 0/10
The Jackson 5 - ABC: tremendous bubblegum pop with a staggering lead vocal from one so young. 7/10
The Supremes - Up the Ladder to the Roof: a brilliant, post-Diana Ross Supremes single. My favourite part of the record is the bit where Jean Terrell reaches the first chorus, and when you hear "Where we can see the heavens much better!" there's a guitar lick that sounds like a cat being frightened. I used to sit and wait for the song to come on radio One just to hear that sound. (We had no internet in those days, and what little pleasure we could eke out were simple and innocent and ... fucking pathetic). 9/10
The Moody Blues - Question: I quite like the mix of acoustic and electric guitars on this one. My daughter Sophie once sang some backing vocals for Justin Hayward and said he was the loveliest of fellows, so an extra point for the, er, 'Moodies'. 6/10
Marvin Gaye - Abraham, Marvin and John: it's such a bumper Motown week. I always thought this was a Marvin original, but it seems (Gambaccini being quite good this week) that there had been a few versions of Dick Holler's (please - just grow up, will you) original before Marvin laid down the definitive, untouchable version. Brilliant, educative and just beautiful. 9/10
Fleetwood Mac - The Green Manalishi: I can understand why people love this, but it's just not for me. 7/10
Ray Stevens - Everything is Beautiful: Stevens released two of the worst chart singles of the 1970s - the hideous The Streak (a contender or the worst number one of that decade), and the truly offensive, ammunition-for-bullies Bridget the Midget. A pity really, because his version of Misty is quite lovely, and here he channels his inner Elvis for this rousing and really rather nice pop song. 7/10
Gerry Monroe - Sally: before Stock Aitken and Waterman and then Simon Cowell and his gang destroyed the charts with their shitty up-and-down-the-vocal-scales, Poundland 'diva' pop, their bland boy bands and suet pudding male pop stars, there was 1970s talent show Opportunity Knocks doing the same thing, albeit on a much less destructive scale. Some really, really horrible acts (Glyn Poole, New World, Neil Reid) were foisted on the GBP, but few were as ghastly or so downright fucking terrible as Gerry Monroe. My partner (I don't use 'wife' - too much like 'chattel' for my liking), my auntie and my granny are/were all named 'Sally' and this beautiful name has been much desecrated in pop music since the began. I quite liked its use in Don't Look Back in Anger, but ever since Noel Gallagher (bizarrely my auntie was Sally Gallagher) became such a pernicious, retrograde, Lee Hurst style Tory gobshite, it's been wiped from my cultural radar. Gerry Monroe's version of Gracie Field's ALREADY FUCKING DREADFUL cor-blimey, know-your-place, cretin-fest is as bad as anything Pick of the Pops has ever had to offer, with the ex-Northern club cabaret turn sounding like a cross between a piles-suffering Frank Ifield and the worst alehouse singer you've ever heard. 0/10
Glen Campbell - Honey Come Back: long before it was acceptable and arch and ironic to like this sort of thing, someone in the hellhole that was my secondary school once accused me of being a 'girl's blouse' for liking such fare. I remember my response as if it were yesterday: "Fuck off." Gotta have the courage of your convictions (so long as they're kind or philanthropic or anti-bullying, of course - otherwise you're Noel Gallagher). 7/10
The Beach Boys - Cottonfields: I love The Beach Boys. End of. This is great. 8/10
Free - Alright Now: [Weeps] They used to call it 'Trog music' in most northwest England environs. It was probably a breath of (bluesy) fresh air when it was first released, but my God, it sounds like torture to these ears. 3/10
Mr Bloe - Groovin' With Mr Bloe: hard to explain why this is so brilliant - it just is. Stolen by David Bowie, GWMB makes me want to don a three star jumper, a giant pair of bottle green Birmo's and to dance (in slow motion) at some Northern Soul all-nighter with the rest of the wools. "Is that from a Milky Way advert?" asked a lady friend many years ago. After much deliberation, I said..."Yes." 10/10
Christie - Yellow River: Monty Python's 'Yangtse Kiang' sketch is the only mention of Everton in the entire Python 'canon'. 'Yellow River' is a bit repetitive and dumbass, but it's OK for a once in a decade listen. 4/10 
Mungo Jerry - In the Summertime: it took me an inordinate length of time to work out that Mungo Jerry was the name of the band and not the humungous-sidied Ray Dorset, and it took almost as long to extricate myself from a conversation where 'Mungojerrie' had been thrown into the mix by two fellow, but in-the-know Cambridge students, and  who were (inadvertently) T.S. Elioting my  not-in-the-know, sorry ass. In the Summertime is a jolly little pop song which dominated the summer of 1970, but - obviously - for the line "Have a drink, have a drive" you have to think: 'Ray 'Mungo Jerry' Dorset - what a c*nt.' 5/10
Gambaccini: I learned a couple of things this week (well done his researchers) - 7/10
Best Record: Mr Bloe
Worst: the Opportunity Knocks prick; Cliff
Programme as a whole: 9/10
And remember, kids: it's only pop music!
Click on the link to hear the song: