How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It's Only Make Believe

This week has been the most profitable yet, as I have added 58 Number Ones to the collection, bringing the total to 178. This is thanks to two compilations which I discovered on Amazon with the cleverly constructed search term “Number Ones”.

The first to arrive was ‘Number Ones of Dance’, a selection of chart-toppers from the late 80s and early 90s. It’s questionable whether I Wanna Sex You Up by Color Me Badd deserves the ‘dance’ tag, but they all count, and although I already had a few of these tracks already, the album has provided a useful boost.

The pick of the bunch is the Black Box hit Ride On Time, probably most famous for its use of Loleatta Holloway’s sampled vocal. This caused much controversy at the time, but whatever the morals behind it this is a great record which sums up the period when commercial dance music started to rise to the upper reaches of the charts.

The second purchase is the double CD ‘Sixty Number Ones of the Sixties’, another giveaway title. It is slightly misleading, since some of these tracks were in fact only Number One hits in the US, but in the main they are bona fide UK chart-toppers, and I can now boast ownership of 89 of the 186 records that made it to the head of the list in the Sixties.

There are, as you will have experienced, many people who will tell you that the 1960s were the golden age of pop music. Most of them will claim that the hits of today can’t possibly compare with those of the past, probably adding something about having a good tune and how there wasn’t any of that rap rubbish, which is just talking anyway and doesn’t require any talent*.

This, of course, is nonsense. Yes, the 60s produced many great records, and was an incredibly important decade in terms of musical development (mainly due to technological advancements such as synthesis and multi-track recording), but I can assure you that even 40 years ago there was an incredible amount of drivel clogging up the charts, and you only need to look at the list of Sixties Number Ones to demonstrate this.

So while this particular compilation does include classic chart-toppers like the Walker Brothers’ The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore and Baby Now That I’ve Found You by the Foundations, we could probably do without Amen Corner’s (If Paradise Is) Half As Nice (a controversial choice, you may think, but have another listen to it – it’s rubbish) or Come Outside by Mike Sarne with Wendy Richard (which is mostly just talking anyway and didn’t require any talent).

Perhaps the worst offender, and certainly the worst on this album, is the 232nd Number One, Sandie Shaw’s Eurovision winner Puppet On A String. Next time someone tells about how much better the music of the Sixties was, ask them about Puppet On A String. They’ll probably come out with something about it at least having a proper tune, but it’s a simple matter to counter this argument by pointing out that this record is, in fact, total crap.

Thankfully Sandie has a couple of great Number Ones in Long Live Love and (There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me, but since I have yet to acquire either of these, she must remain a disgrace to the collection for the time being.

And don’t get me started on the Seventies.

* By the way, do you know what the first Number One with rapping was?


  • You've obviously done this just to get me going. 'Half as Nice' is a great record - wonderful vocal by Andy Fairweather Lowe (though it doesn't compare to his classic 'Wide Eyed and Legless'.)

    As for 'Come Outside' you have to appreciate the cultural references. This song perfectly evokes the old dance hall rituals of the late Fifties and early Sixties, the excitement of the weekend, furtive near-sexual encounters more boasted about than engaged in, the boy-girl relationship in transtion ... it's all there.

    Not much to say about 'Puppet on a String' except that Sandie looked very attractive in her short white skirt when she sang it. And she won, which is better than the 'null points' of the execrable duo whose name I can't remember.

    By Blogger David Williams, at 4/11/2005 10:24 pm  

  • It's a terrible vocal which is buried in the clumsy production anyway. And an awful song. With horrible 'Sha-la-la' bits. Rubbish.

    As for the cultural references, well that's kind of the point isn't it - the 60s bores I'm having a go at inevitably fail to recognise the cultural significance of, for example, punk, hip hop or even Mr Blobby.

    I'm not sure that winning Eurovision is really a point in Sandie's favour. Although I guess she's probably the only person to ever win without shoes, which is something I suppose.

    The 'execrable duo' you're referring to are Jemini who 'represented' the UK in 2003 with 'Cry Baby', and did indeed achieve a big fat zero. To be fair to them, they claimed that they couldn't hear the music properly because of on-stage monitoring problems. But they were awful. Thankfully the song only reached Number 15.

    Incidentally there was another similarly-named Eurovision act, Gemini, who sang for Denmark in 1978. They came 17th out of 20 with 5 points, so perhaps the real problem lies in the name.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 4/12/2005 1:53 pm  

  • Joe, I am compelled to balance the debate by stating, for the record, that the Black Box single, "Ride On Time" vies only with the three indistinguishable monstrosities released by the Venga Boys, as the worst piece of aural drivel ever committed to vinyl. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    By Anonymous Steven, at 4/13/2005 8:50 am  

  • nevermind Amen Corner, have you ever heard their singer Andy Fairweather Low's solo albums?
    The mystic

    By Anonymous Mr_Mystic, at 4/15/2005 2:43 pm  

  • I think my Dad has a couple of AFL albums so I must have heard at least a little of his solo stuff before, but I can't remember it

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 4/15/2005 6:12 pm  

  • And Steven, I've told you before and I'll tell you again - you're a fool. 'Ride on Time' is great. In fact I would even say it's one of my favourite Number Ones.

    Which is a lot more than I can say about any of the Vengaboys records. By the way only two of them made Number One.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 4/15/2005 6:15 pm  

  • You will be delighted to hear that I have just been out record hunting and came back with, among other things, the original CD single of 'Boom Boom Boom Boom' by the Vengaboys.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 4/16/2005 4:14 pm  

  • I challenge you to tell the difference, in a double blind taste test, between that single and the other abysmal #1 offering by the same band. Likewise I challenge anybody to differentiate between "Ride on Time" and a permanently looped 3 second sample of the same song. All this modern rubbish sounds the same to me, young people today have no respect for their elders and you don’t get snow in winter like you did when I was a kid.

    By Anonymous Steven, at 4/18/2005 3:58 am  

  • Ride on Tme is a great record. Italian Pianner House at its chart-topping finest.

    As for Jemini, it was obviously the dirty continentals sabotaging us plucky Brits for going to war in Eye-rack.

    By Blogger Baz, at 4/19/2005 10:39 pm  

  • And as for the Vengaboys, "Up and Down" is not offensive. Unlike all their other shite.

    By Blogger Baz, at 4/19/2005 10:41 pm  

  • I accept the blind taste test challenge. The one that goes 'Boom boom boom boom' is 'Boom Boom Boom Boom' and the one that goes 'Ohhh we're going to eat pizza' is 'We're Going To Ibiza'. Simple.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 4/20/2005 2:01 pm  

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