How To Have 1000 Number Ones - The Easy Way

Monday, February 20, 2006

Baby Jane

I woke to find myself lying under my coat on a hard wooden floor. This was the accommodation provided by my friend Chris, in his Manchester flat, which I had gladly accepted the previous evening, in the knowledge that I would most likely be drunk enough not to care.

My journey across the Pennines had been primarily because of Steven, an Australia-based ex-pat who I had not seen for several years. I had initially planned to take a train to Manchester in the afternoon in time to do some record shopping, but this idea had fallen victim to disorganisation and the offer of a door-to-door taxi service courtesy of yet another old friend, Craig, so instead I had arrived in the evening and indulged in a good number of drinks while chatting to Steven about his life overseas and ignoring a series of bands, none of which are ever likely to have a Number One single.

As I lay on the floor considering the extent of my hangover, Craig appeared and suggested that I might like to consider leaving my makeshift bed, as he had to get home for a Sunday morning meeting with his architect. I was too tired to argue with such a ludicrous request, so I located my shoes and bade farewell to those not lucky enough to still be sleeping.

We demonstrated our ignorance of the local road network by taking a circuitous route out of the city, but eventually stumbled onto the M62. On the way home our conversation turned to Number One singles, and it emerged that Craig knew nothing of my quest. I explained, not for the first time, and got the usual response (comments in these situations typically include words such as ‘crazy’, ‘stupid’ and ‘cool’, which I think is a fair balance).

Some hours later I answered the telephone to an excited Craig. At first I assumed that his animated state was the result of an especially heated architectural discussion, but it emerged that I was personally responsible. He had relayed the details of my mission to his wife Jane*, and together they had explored her vinyl collection in search of Number One singles, ensuring accuracy by cross-referencing with They were calling to offer me the fruits of their search as a contribution to my collection.

Jane reeled off a list of their discoveries, and although I turned down a number of chart-toppers which I already owned, there were 13 records which I gladly agreed to take. We arranged to meet to perform the handover, and so it was that I joined them a few days later in the Fenton for a hearty meal and a couple of drinks. Craig handed me a carrier bag containing the records, and while I waited for my lasagne I looked through them.

The 60s were well represented, particularly by the Beatles, who had made five of the records in the bag. Two of these were She Loves You, and these were joined by the 200th Number One, Help!, and both of their chart-topping double A-sides, Day Tripper/We Can Work It Out’ and Eleanor Rigby/Yellow Submarine.

Help! was succeeded by Sonny & Cher’s I Got You Babe, also present. The oldest hit here was the 128th Number One, Walkin’ Back To Happiness by Helen Shapiro, which sat alongside the record which knocked it off the top spot, Elvis Presley’s Little Sister/(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame**.

The other end of the decade provided the brilliant Bad Moon Rising by the Creedence Clearwater Revival, but the 1970s didn’t get much of a look in. There was only Abba’s Dancing Queen, and this turned out to be the 1992 re-release, given away by the inclusion of ‘Lay All Your Love On Me’ as the B-side.

The music of the 1980s was seemingly of more interest to Jane, as the bag included a damaged but playable copy of Every Breath You Take by the Police and a trio of electro-pop gems. Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus and A-Ha’s The Sun Always Shines On TV represented Austria and Norway respectively, while Tainted Love by Soft Cell provided the local interest, being a product of Leeds by a pair who had probably visited the very pub we were in.

I rewarded the generosity of my friends by allowing Craig to buy me a pint, and spent a pleasant hour in their company.

* Fawlty Towers fans will be interested to note that Craig and Jane are two doctors.
** Just one of a dozen Number Ones with a family member in the title.


  • Mamma Mia and Son of my Father are 2. I think Poppa Piccolino and Sylvia's Mother narrowly missed the top spot.

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 2/20/2006 3:52 pm  

  • Mamma Mia and Son Of My Father are both right.

    'Poppa Piccolino' I've never heard of but turns out to have got to Number 2 for Diana Decker in 1953, and 'Sylvia's Mother' also got to 2 in '72.

    Top marks for speed as well Dan - within an hour of posting!

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/20/2006 4:03 pm  

  • Here goes, typed by Craig - named by Jane

    Grandad - Clive Dunn
    Who do you think you are / Mamma - Spice Girls
    Theres no-one quite like Grandma - St Winifreds school choir
    Little Sister / his latest flame - Elvis
    He ain't heavy, he's my brother - The Hollies
    Papa don't preach - Madonna

    and of course the son always shines on tv!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/20/2006 8:31 pm  

  • Yes to all of those, though if being very harsh I would pick you up on your spelling of Mama.

    And an awful pun too - excellent work.

    Still 4 to go, people.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/20/2006 8:56 pm  

  • wasnt there a record called bring your daughter to the slaughter by iron maiden. it also mentions a type of tree and a river in the title

    By Anonymous ant, at 2/21/2006 10:34 am  

  • Yes! Brilliant.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/21/2006 11:38 am  

  • Darn you Antony - I was about to mention the very same record by Iron Maiden.

    Didn't Boyzone's version of Cat Stevens' "Father and Son" also hit the top spot back in the '90s?

    By Blogger Rish, at 2/21/2006 4:37 pm  

  • No it didn't - Number 2 in 1995 and then Number 2 again in 2004 for Ronan Keating & Yusufm (Yusuf being Yusuf Islam, ie Cat Stevens).

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/21/2006 5:59 pm  

  • I've had a look through the list and made 37! 15 of which contain 'Baby' which is probably a borderline case but that still leaves 22! Also are you counting child/ren?
    Does 'My Old Man's a dustman' count?
    My speed for the first message was just sheer fluke!

    By Anonymous Dan Webb, at 2/22/2006 8:34 pm  

  • I reckon you must be thinking a bit too laterally there, Dan. I'm not allowing 'Baby' or 'Child' or variations - they aren't family members, they are states of being.

    What else did you find? I don't think I'll allow them, if only because I'm determined that this question will avoid any controversy ;-)

    I'll give you a bonus for My Old Man's A Dustman though, it wasn't one of my 12 but it's a good answer.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/22/2006 11:29 pm  

  • Mama we're all crazy now - slade

    By Anonymous Nik, at 2/24/2006 5:59 am  

  • Yes, though just to prove how crazy they were, they spelt it Mama Weer All Crazee Now.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/24/2006 1:25 pm  

  • I can't think of any quiz answers.

    Strictly speaking Joe, you weren't under your coat, you were in a sleeping bag. Your coat was at the other side of the room, underneath your misplaced glasses, my half eaten donner and the artwork that Mike had dislodged from the rafters. Good to see you all, even though I was ill all Sunday.

    By Anonymous Steven, at 2/27/2006 4:30 am  

  • I don't think that the spelling proves that they are that crazee - rather that they are just a bunch of yam yams (refer to Christian for yam yams explanation)

    By Anonymous Nik, at 2/27/2006 11:33 am  

  • Thanks for the reminders. My memory isn't what it used to be, probably due to exactly this kind of irresponsible binge drinking.

    Good point Nik.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/27/2006 12:50 pm  

  • Jo Ward

    What about 'Father Figure' by George Michael?
    I am amazed that not one but two tabloids thought the pun(?) 'Careless Spliffer' was so good that it deserved to be their headline yesterday. As if popstar found in possession of class c drug is news anyway.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/28/2006 10:35 am  

  • 'Father Figure' only got to Number 11.

    I have been desperately trying to think of a better pun than 'Careless Spliffer' for, oh, at least two minutes, but I can't. There's got to be one though, 'cos that's rubbish.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/28/2006 11:12 am  

  • Innit.
    Son of my father, Chicory Tip.
    Would that be double points?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/28/2006 12:27 pm  

  • My son, my son, Vera Lynn with Frank Weir and his saxophone!

    Yes, I am bored on maternity leave.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/28/2006 12:34 pm  

  • Yes Jo. I am impressed you remembered that one, especially with the saxophone credit.

    Just one left.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/28/2006 12:39 pm  

  • Jo Ward
    Oh Mein Papa - Eddie Calvert.
    Do I win anything?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/28/2006 12:55 pm  

  • Yes, you win £100. Nik will give you it.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/28/2006 1:11 pm  

  • And no, Son Of My Father isn't double points, partly because it's only one record, but mostly because Dan got that one in the first comment over a week ago.

    By Blogger Joe Williams, at 2/28/2006 2:22 pm  

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