How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Good Vibrations

It seems that the charity shops in the centre of Leeds are a different beast. Of the 20 7” singles I picked out in the RSPCA shop, 10 were Number One hits of the 1970s. In my near-total clearance of Headingley and Hexham, I had found just 6 45s from that decade.

Sadly time has taken its toll on many of these relics. Tellingly, the classic Kung Fu Fighting by Carl Douglas is now ruined by noise brought on by overuse. The grooves of December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)* by the Four Seasons have been worn so thin that the record is virtually unplayable. Lieutenant Pigeon’s Mouldy Old Dough (surely one of the strangest Number Ones) and Manhattan Transfer’s Chanson D’Amour (surely one of the blandest) remain relatively pristine.

The Manhattan Transfer record is another example of a Number One which I have just heard for the very first time. As I was less than two years old when it became the 402nd chart-topper, I am not especially surprised by this. As you may have deduced, I do not feel my life is in any way enriched by this belated experience. I was more inspired by hearing the 400th**.

Julie Covington’s original version of Don’t Cry For Me Argentina spent a single week at the top in February 1977. I have, of course, heard this record before, but not for many years, and it appears I have never before paid it enough attention to notice how much I liked it. It’s fantastic. The song is beautiful. The orchestration is fabulous, swinging from delicacy to power with no apparent effort. And Julie Covington’s performance is just great, emotional and intimate, but somehow suggesting weakness and strength in equal measure. If only Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s contributions to three further Number Ones*** had been a patch on this.

I was brought down to earth with two chart-toppers that spoilt 1984. This was in most respects a good year for Number Ones, but Lionel Richie’s Hello is undeniably awful, even if you can forget about the painful video, and I Just Called To Say I Love You is a travesty, surely Stevie Wonder’s worst ever record but the only one that got him to the top of the British charts as a solo artist****.

Bryan Adams pretty much ruined 1991 single-handedly. I won’t have to remind you about the 16 weeks (16 weeks!) that (Everything I Do) I Do It For You spent at the top of the pile. You may well have recurring nightmares of the weeks stretching into months and into a seeming eternity. At the very least, you surely have recurring nightmares about nostalgia shows reminding us, once again, that this single holds the record for the most continuous weeks spent at Number One. I now own it, in a delightful picture sleeve featuring a photograph of Kevin Costner as Robin Hood. You can’t imagine how delighted I am.

Honestly, I am. Truly delighted. Not particularly by Mr Costner’s picture, admittedly, but by the fact that I can tick another one off the list and get right back out there to hunt for more. I have collected 352 Number Ones. I’ve spent time, I’ve spent money, and I’ve listened to some awful records.

Julie Covington has made every second, every penny, every aural discomfort, well worth it.




* Two very famous records held the top spot over December 1963. Know what they were?
** The 401st, if you were wondering, is Leo Sayer’s When I Need You. I don’t have it yet.
*** I’m being very generous today, pop quiz fans.
**** He’s been involved in a few Number Ones, and there’s bound to be a question in there somewhere, but I’ve had enough questions this week so you’ll have to make one up yourself.

6 Comments:

  • * She Loves You/I Want To Hold Your Hand

    ** I Know Him So Well/Any Dream Will Do/No Matter What

    I've been collecting 1s for about 6 years now and have about 800 in original format and at least 50 on compilation CDs etc.

    An interesting and enjoyable blog!

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 7/09/2005 2:27 pm  

  • Hi Dan, glad you're enjoying the blog. Also good to know that I'm not the only person in the world silly enough to attempt this, though a bit worried that it's taken you 6 years to get 850, I was hoping it wouldn't take that long. Sounds like you are concentrating on original releases though, hopefully I can get all 1000 in any form quicker than that, though as I mentioned before I'm guessing all originals will take an awful long time. I'd be interested to know which ones you're missing and compare it with my own collection - you can e-mail me at joe@joewilliams.co.uk if you'd like to swap notes.

    I Want To Hold Your Hand is one of the December records, but not She Loves You, which was Number One in September-October 1963.

    For the Andrew Lloyd-Webber ones you've got 2 out of 3, but you fell into my trap with I Know Him So Well, which was from the musical 'Chess', not written by ALW but by Tim Rice and the guys from Abba. I must admit that without the benefit of reference material I would have made the same mistake.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 7/09/2005 3:08 pm  

  • I think She Loves You returned to No1 in late November and I Want To Hold Your Hand knocked it off, but I might be wrong.

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 7/23/2005 10:56 am  

  • You know what Dan, you're right. Down to poor research on my part - my answer was that the other record was 'You'll Never Walk Alone' by Gerry & The Pacemakers, but in fact, as you say, 'She Loves You' returned to Number One at the end of November.

    So your original answer was correct. You still haven't got the other Lloyd-Webber though ;-)

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 7/23/2005 4:13 pm  

  • Joe, haven't read this for ages but its raining and James is asleep on my back so I thought I'd catch up.

    Is ALW's other no1 Phantom of the Opera? Or is it Memory?

    Planning a blitz on my CD singles should the rain continue - expect a windfall of early Robbie Williams...

    By Anonymous Lindsay, at 8/22/2005 10:25 am  

  • Nope, 'Phantom...' got to Number 7 and 'Memory' was 6. Don't get carried away with the Robbie ones - he didn't have a Number One till Millennium.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 8/22/2005 12:03 pm  

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