How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, June 05, 2005

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A search through the bargain bin of Crash Records in Leeds dug up Brian McFadden’s Real To Me and a reminder of how incomprehensible my quest is to the uninformed.

Joe: Hi, do you know if this is the one that got to Number One?
Crash: Don’t know. He’s had a few Number Ones hasn’t he?
J: No, just one, but I can’t remember if it was this one.
C: Oh. Don’t know.
J: I’m collecting Number Ones, you see.
C: Right.
J: So I don’t want to buy any crap records if I don’t have to.
C: But not all Number Ones are good records.
J: Yes, exactly. So I have to get a lot of shit. I just don’t want any more shit than I really need.
C: …
J: So I don’t want to buy this if it wasn’t Number One.
C: …
J: I’ll risk it.

I was right to risk it. Real To Me was the 990th chart-topper and has therefore become the most recent in my collection, discounting the Elvis re-releases.

I took advantage of a recent trip to Hexham, where I grew up and my family still live, to do some record-hunting outside of Leeds for the first time. Hexham is a small town, but has more than its fair share of charity shops, and in the space of an hour I was able to relieve them of 27 Number Ones.

One of the most notable was a 7” of the 416th chart-topper, Mull Of Kintyre/Girls’ School by Wings, surely one of the worst records I will need to buy. While I’m sure you will know the lead track all too well, you probably don’t remember the flipside, but I can assure you that, though certainly not as awful as its more famous sibling, Girls’ School is well worth missing out on.

A newspaper covermount entitled ‘Elvis And Friends’ looked promising. Aside from Elvis himself, the Number Ones of the 50s have proved largely elusive so far, so I was pleased to get my hands on (We’re Gonna) Rock Around The Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets. I was less impressed when I discovered that the version of Great Balls Of Fire included here was a live recording rather than the version with which Jerry Lee Lewis achieved the 66th Number One. The problem was repeated with Roy Orbison’s Only The Lonely (Know How I Feel) from 1960.

I had more success, as usual, with more recent hits, including two singles released by S Club 7 in aid of Children In Need, Never Had A Dream Come True and Have You Ever. I picked up another charity record in the form of the 818th Number One, Boyzone’s When The Going Gets Tough (oddly given a shorter title than the Billy Ocean original, When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going).

Another double whammy was achieved when I found, side-by-side in the Save The Children shop, both of the only two chart-toppers to include the word ‘Pure’ in their title*. Could this coincidence indicate that a higher power is taking an interest in my search? I doubt that Number Ones will inspire me to find God, but it’s heartening to think that there might just be someone out there who understands.

* Now there’s a little challenge for you.


  • all saints and hear'say

    By Blogger Baz, at 6/06/2005 12:50 pm  

  • Could be... I reckon I made it too easy this week ;-)

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 6/06/2005 4:06 pm  

  • >>One of the most notable was a 7” of the 416th chart-topper, Mull Of Kintyre/Girls’ School by Wings, surely one of the worst records I will need to buy

    Surely not - it may have been bad for its time, but Mr Blobby must take that title...

    By Anonymous polyhex, at 7/14/2005 9:37 am  

  • You might be right about that - I did say ONE of the worst ;-)

    There's a good few to choose from though. I'm looking forward to compiling a definitive list of worst ever Number Ones when I've got all the evidence together.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 7/14/2005 7:09 pm  

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