How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Just Walking In The Rain

After my stroll in the sun, my next shopping trip coincided with an unexpected downpour. I was only a minute or so from my destination when it began, but the rain was so heavy that by the time I arrived I was soaked to the skin.

Fortunately the destination in question was Oxfam Music, so I knew there were enough records for me to shelter inside for some time if necessary, in the hope that the rain would pass by and allow me a dry return. My intention was to take my first leap into the 7” singles, and I had great hopes of unearthing a good selection of chart-toppers. I was so confident of success that I had planned to investigate only a small portion of the shop, continuing my methodical exploration, so I picked an appropriate area and began.

I was not disappointed. Not by the quantity, at least, though the quality was patchy. There were a handful of great records, but in the main they were a poor crop. Worst of all was Whitney Houston’s appalling version of I Will Always Love You, Number One for 10 long weeks in 1992 following its appearance in the film ‘The Bodyguard’, starring Miss Houston herself. It’s difficult to say which of the two performances was more painful, but I’m not obliged to buy the film, so I’ll have to choose the single. The sleeve bears the note "Vocal Arrangement by Whitney Houston", and since there are no harmony parts the justification for this credit can only be the pointless and irritating warbling she adds to virtually every line. Clearly she was proud of these embellishments, but the subtlely of Dolly Parton’s original performance is a thousand times more effective.

There were no such problems for Sonia, who barely managed to sing in tune on You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You, her only Number One. It’s a low point among the many chart-toppers from the Stock, Aitken & Waterman production team, which is a highly competitive category. By far their best Number One was their first, from 1985, Dead Or Alive’s You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), which I also managed to lay my hands on*.

There was one other truly great record here, the 409th Number One from 1977, Donna Summer’s disco classic I Feel Love**. For some reason, as I discovered later, there were actually two copies of the record within the sleeve, so I suppose I can consider this some kind of insurance policy. It was a generic transparent sleeve anyway, rather than the original picture sleeve, so I hope to buy this record for a third time at some point in the future.

I also picked up the first (and best) of the three versions of Spirit In The Sky I will need, this one being the 1986 version by Doctor & The Medics, and the first of the four EPs, Erasure’s Abba-esque. Another good find was Reach Out I’ll Be There by the Four Tops, an addition to the small but growing collection of original 60s vinyl.

By the time I had exhausted my designated area, both I and the weather had gone from wet to dry. I paid for my new-found treasure and made a mental note of the dusty corners of the shop yet to be explored, before heading for home.

* It was another two years before Stock, Aitken & Waterman reached the top again, when they had two Number Ones in a row. What could they have been?
** Donna Summer later worked with Stock, Aitken & Waterman. I don’t just throw this stuff together, you know, it takes hours of dedicated research.


  • Keep up the good work! I have all but about a dozen of the Number One singles from 1990 onwards on CD single, although I've never really thought about going back and buying all the old vinyl ones.

    Dave in Lancs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/03/2005 7:37 pm  

  • Hi Dave, good to hear from another collector. Which ones are you missing?

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 8/03/2005 7:46 pm  

  • Apart from very recent ones, which I will probably pick up at some point, I still need the following:

    648 Partners In Kryme (Turtle Power) [although this wasn't released on CD single in the UK]
    656 Iron Maiden (Bring Your Daughter...To The Slaughter)
    942 Christina Aguilera featuring Redman (Dirrty)
    956 Beyonce (Crazy In Love)
    958 Blu Cantrell featuring Sean Paul (Breathe)
    965 Westlife (Mandy)

    I have all the others on CD from the start of 1990 onwards (639 New Kids On The Block - Hangin' Tough)

    Dave in Lancs

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/05/2005 10:59 pm  

  • Oh, and the answer to the Stock/Aitken/Waterman poser (a particular specialist subject of mine!) is 'Respectable' by Mel & Kim and 'Let It Be' by Ferry Aid.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/09/2005 11:48 pm  

  • Dave in Lancs (again!) (re: above)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8/09/2005 11:48 pm  

  • Ah, blog-spam, my favourite pressed meat variety. So inventive - who would suspect that an innocuous comment from a ceiling fan aficionado was, in fact, a piece of malicious garbage?

    By Anonymous Steven, at 8/10/2005 1:11 am  

  • Spam deleted, and now your comment doesn't make any sense. I didn't check out the link so I'm not sure if 'ceiling fans' referred to things whirling round to cool you down, or people who really love ceilings.

    Correct on the SAW question, Dave. I've got Turtle Power on 7" and just recently picked up Dirrty on CD and Breathe on 12", don't think I have the other 3 yet.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 8/14/2005 4:26 pm  

  • A friend just showed me your blog. Impressive, actually. We did something similar starting in 1998, by doing all of the American #1's (we are from there). When we caught up, we laid off for a while, but then about a year ago, we set to work on the British ones as well. Now, we only started in 1955 (to coincide with what we Americans consider the beginning of the Rock era), but it can be hell, I assure you. Our collection is now complete up until about 2002.

    Because of the difficulty in finding some of the music, not all of which was available over here, we do sometimes have multiple, useless copies of some of these number ones. If there are any you simply have a pain finding, please let us know, and we would be happy to help you out in any way, should we have extra copies.

    So, again congratulations on your undertaking, and good luck. Should you need any help, please let me know.

    John and JM, Wisconsin, USA

    By Anonymous John Sams, at 8/17/2005 5:59 pm  

  • Yet another collector crawls out from the woodwork! That's pretty hardcore doing US and UK Number Ones, I don't think there's all that much crossover between the two is there?

    Thanks for the fantastic offer to help out, that's very much appreciated! You can mail me off-list at if you want to give me your details so I can get in touch.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 8/17/2005 7:25 pm  

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