How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Merry Christmas Everyone

I was back in Hexham for Christmas, and was doing some last minute shopping when I discovered the Relate shop, hidden away off the main drag where I had never noticed it before. I postponed my search for presents in order to investigate.

This was a good choice, as in a dusty corner I found two dusty boxes full of dusty 7” singles, at a mere 20p apiece. They were, in the main, in poor shape, many with visible scratches and few with any kind of sleeve, never mind one with a picture. Given the price it would have been churlish to complain, so I dug in gladly and unearthed a good-sized stash of Number Ones.

Among the singles that did have their original picture sleeves were Enya’s Orinoco Flow, one of the more surprising records ever to make it to the top, and the brilliant Stand By Me by Ben E. King, which was given a double boost in 1987 by featuring in both the film of the same name and a Levi’s ad. I was delighted too by the 507th Number One, Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger, until I later discovered it was yet another example of the wrong record creeping into a sleeve. In this case at least the impostor was a chart-topping disc, but I already had Duran Duran’s Is There Something I Should Know. On the plus side I now had a photograph of Mr T to go with it.

For Elvis Presley’s Way Down I seemingly had to thank the unfortunately named Linda Beavers, who had declared her ownership in biro on the sleeve. Her name appeared again on Crying by Don McLean. Linda must have been a big fan of Elvis and Don, and in both cases had taped a black and white picture of her respective idol, clipped from a newspaper, to the generic record company cover. No doubt the memories will come flooding back for Ms Beavers the next time she Googles her own name.

I wondered if Linda was in any way connected to Carole Cowen, who had similarly marked her territory on Dawn’s Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree, or the mysteriously surname-free Melanie, whose signature appeared on Brotherhood Of Man’s Figaro. Sadly neither of these records featured any additional decoration, Carole and Melanie apparently lacking in either dedication or creativity.

None of the records were in worse condition than Imagine, the second of three John Lennon records to reach the top following his murder (interrupted only by our old friends the St Winifred’s School Choir). It was virtually unplayable, as were When A Child Is Born by Johnny Mathis and I’m Still Waiting by Diana Ross, though it was still possible in the latter to hear the astonishing lyric “He could see I had no eyes”.

I Don’t Like Mondays* by the Boomtown Rats was less scratched but annoyingly skipped near the beginning. Fortunately their other chart-topper Rat Trap was intact. Rat Trap is sometimes claimed as the first punk Number One, despite the fact that it is no more a punk record than Bye Bye Baby by the Bay City Rollers, or the spoken word If by Telly Salavas, both of which I found in Relate’s box of delights.

The sixties were represented by Frank Ifield’s Lovesick Blues, The Carnival Is Over by the Seekers and Roger Miller’s fantastic King Of The Road. There was also a dreadful cover of a 60s song in It’s My Party by Dave Stewart with Barbara Gaskin, a 1981 record which I don’t remember hearing before. It’s possible that I have simply erased it from my memory, as it is teeth-gratingly bad, sounding like the efforts of a man who has just discovered a studio full of fancy new electronic equipment which he doesn’t know how to use and a woman who could use singing lessons.

Even the Wurzels Number One Combine Harvester (Brand New Key) is preferable to that, and was the last chart-topper I discovered here. I waited to pay at the cash desk for several minutes without success, but I abandoned my position when I noticed a small selection of CD singles, cleverly located as far as physically possible from the vinyl. Here I found Eiffel 65’s Blue (Da Ba Dee), which turned out to be nowhere near as good as I remembered it being, and Bob The Builder’s Can We Fix It? (in case you’re wondering, yes we can).

Eventually I succeeded in attracting attention to myself and paid up. Back outside in the cold December afternoon I wondered what my sister might like for Christmas.

* There are three other records with days of the week in their title, plus one which mentions every day in the lyrics and another which fits in all but Saturday.


  • As soon as you mentioned King of the Road, I thought of our Roger dancing round that corner flag. Oh the memories.

    By Blogger Baz, at 1/19/2006 9:18 am  

  • Blondie - Sunday Girl (one of the first records I ever bought) and the ever shite Whigfield - Saturday Night - lost on the 3rd though cos I don't believe that Elton John's Saturday Nights All Right for Fighting ever reached the top spot (in fact I believe that he had to wait for his duet with Kiki Dee to reach number one).

    On another note, Pavlov would shake his head in despair at you Joe - surely by now it has occurred to you to pull the vinyl out of the sleeve and check that you are buying the record you think you are?

    By Anonymous Nik, at 1/19/2006 11:20 am  

  • Sunday Girl and Saturday Night are both right. "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" only got to 7.

    Remember how Kate Moss wouldn't get out of bed for less than £1000? I won't take a record out of its sleeve if it costs 20p.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 1/19/2006 5:49 pm  

  • Nice analogy, but it was Linda Evangelista and it was $10,000.

    By Anonymous David, at 1/23/2006 1:59 pm  

  • Close enough ;-)

    That's quite steep. She must have spent a lot of time in bed.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 1/23/2006 2:06 pm  

  • Was Craig Dayyyyvids 7 Days a number 1? If so that has all the days of the week in the lyrics.

    Not sure of the others, Ruby Tuesday wasn't was it?

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 1/28/2006 11:06 am  

  • Yeah, 7 Days is the one.

    'Ruby Tuesday' never made it to Number 1 though.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 1/28/2006 3:24 pm  

  • The last day is Saturday Night At The Movies by Robson and Groan.

    As for the one with all but Saturday in, I had a vague recollection of a song that went "Sunday Monday feeling blue Tuesday bad and Wednesday too Thursday I don't care about you it's Friday I'm in love" but after a sleepless night and a search on the internet it turns out to be "It's Friday I'm in love" by the Cure which definately wasn't a number one so I'm stumped.

    Can we have bonus points if we find Everday, Someday, Anyday etc?

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 2/02/2006 11:55 am  

  • Saturday Night at the Movies is correct for the last day.

    A few people have mentioned 'Friday I'm In Love' to me - it does mention all of the days of the week but only got to number 6.

    Nothing for every day, someday, tomorrow, today or yesterday! But feel free to let us know what you find just out of interest.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/02/2006 12:36 pm  

  • Having spent ages looking at loads of song lyrics I've discovered the answer to the all the days except Saturday one. It's 'Paperback Writer' by the Beatles.
    Am I the only one who doesn't actually know the record?
    (Have to admit that i know very little about the Beatles stuff after 63/4, except Hey Jude)

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 2/18/2006 4:29 pm  

  • Bit of confusion somewhere I think Dan.

    Paperback Writer is one of the best Beatles singles, and if you don't know it you should. But it isn't the answer - it doesn't have any days of the week in the lyrics.

    The answer you're looking for is a Beatles song though, so there's obviously been some kind of mix-up in your research!

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/18/2006 4:40 pm  

  • I told you I didn't know the Beatles songs! Should've said Lady Madonna which I don't know either!
    The trouble with the later Beatles stuff is that it sold less so is rarer and therefore you can't find in the second hand shops so much. Also if the Beatles are featured on TV these days it's either early She Loves You type stuff or it's Hey Jude!
    What we need is a series of reissues as with the Elvis ones.

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 2/20/2006 4:16 pm  

  • I'm always surprised when anyone doesn't know Beatles stuff (especially the singles but a lot of the album tracks too). Probably because I grew up with them. The Beatles were played a lot in my house when I was young, so it all seems so familiar to me that I find it difficult to understand how any of it could have eluded others.

    The Beatles albums are reissued and repackaged now and then, and have always been easily available, but always at maximum price. I've only ever seen a Beatles album at a lower price or in a sale once - that was 'Revolver' and I bought it, and it's still the only Beatles CD I own (though I have most of the other albums on vinyl).

    I don't know of any recent reissue of the singles though. There were the 'new' singles from the Anthology around '95/6 and a BBC session version of 'Baby It's You' before that, but otherwise they haven't been in the charts since a few reissues around '82/3.

    I expect that, assuming the major labels don't get the copyright laws changed as they want to, we will see a rush of Beatles releases starting around 2012 as this is when the recordings will start to become public domain.

    Lady Madonna, by the way, is indeed the right answer.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/20/2006 4:34 pm  

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