Music from Guardians of the Galaxy #4 -Silver and ‘Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang’

I have many categories on my sidebar that haven’t been added to for some time. I keep meaning to head over to Delaware to rejoin my American Odyssey in Song, or to revisit more songs from the Awesome Mixtape given to me by a friend eons ago, but of course those posts take a fair bit of research, so tend to get side-lined.

There is another very well-known awesome mixtape that has been revisited several times around here however, one that had a bit of a starring role in the film Guardians of the Galaxy. I’m not usually a fan of superhero movies, but when DD introduced us to it a few years back we thoroughly enjoyed it, and I found myself smitten by the soundtrack. It contained many lesser-known, soft rock songs from the 1970s, played over and over on an old Walkman by the lead character, as a link to his dead mother and home in Missouri.

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The success of the first movie meant there was a sequel a few years later, and of course there was a second awesome mixtape. I was reminded of one of the songs from it the other week, when it popped up as the answer to a clue on Rol’s excellent Saturday Snapshots feature. Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by the band Silver was never a hit in the UK, which is why I wouldn’t have recognised them in a picture, but of course once I heard the song, it was immediately familiar from the film.

Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang by Silver:

I do like my American country rock from the ’70s, and despite 1967 still wearing the crown as being my favourite year to revisit around here, 1976 is fast becoming a usurper. For the umpteenth time this year I seem to be writing about a song from that year. The band’s record company gave them the song as a single after deciding none of the other tracks on the album they had produced had single potential. Interestingly one of the members of Silver was Tom Leadon, brother of Bernie who was of course in the Eagles at that time (not that I can ever imagine the Eagles recording Wham Bam).

Before I go, I can’t ignore the fact that over here in Britain in the early ’70s we had another couple of hit songs that perhaps formed the inspiration for Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang, via their titles at any rate. Both bands below have been featured around here before, but not sure how well their songs stand the test of time. Sweet had started out as a bubblegum pop outfit but had just morphed into glam rockers for 1972’s Wig-Wam Bam, inspired by Henry Longfellow’s poem Hiawatha. Those tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh, the Bay City Rollers, were at their height when they released Shang-a-Lang in 1974.

Wig-Wam Bam by Sweet:

Shang-a-Lang by the Bay City Rollers:


I am being facetious of course, as neither song has anything to do with the Silver song, but nearly 50 years on it’s fun to revisit these old clips to remind ourselves what (some) music fans of my generation were buying in those days. As for the three songs, not sure if you have a favourite amongst them? I am inclined to think many visitors to this place might say, “None of the above”, in which case this offering from ten years later might be more your thing. Had forgotten how great they were right at the start of the Wham! years. I give you Wham Rap!

Wham Rap! by Wham!:


Until next time…

Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang Lyrics
(Song by Rick Giles)

Starry nights, sunny days
I always thought that love should be that way
Then comes a time that you’re ridden with doubt
You’ve loved all you can, now you’re all loved out

Ooh, ooh, baby, we’ve been a long, long way
And who’s to say where we’ll be tomorrow?
Well, my heart says no but my mind says it’s so
That we gotta love, is it a love to stay?

We got a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Looking at you, I wanted to say
I think a little emotion goes a long, long way
Careful, now, you don’t get caught in your dreams
Look out, baby, this is not what it seems

Ooh, ooh, baby, you’ve been so good to me
But please don’t make it what it’s not
Well, I thought we agreed on what we need
So, listen to me, I’ll tell you what we’ve got

We got a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

I think you’re seeing what I’ve been saying
Because I hear you singing to the tune I’m playing
Now that it’s said and we both understand
Let’s say our goodbyes before it gets out of hand

Bye bye, baby, I’d really like to stay
But we’ll remember the best time in our life

We had a wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing
Wham bam shang-a-lang
And a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

The Flat-Sharing Years, The Specials and Everything But The Girl

I was away from home last week which explains my blogging absence. We’ve been lying low this summer so as not to jeopardise any of our business ventures by having to self-isolate, but it was time to emerge from WIAA Towers to visit one of my oldest friends who has moved from London to ‘God’s Own Country’, Yorkshire. She has been mentioned around here often, whenever I’ve written about my flat-sharing years in Aberdeen. Between 1979 and 1987 we lived in a total of five different abodes (with up to four others depending on the size of the flat) before finally parting company and heading off in totally different directions, both figuratively and geographically.

Another very famous set of flatmates

We didn’t know each other very well when we moved into that first student flat in 1979 and we were studying very different subjects. As the years go by however, your flatmates become your ‘urban family’ and you form a very special bond that can only come from living in the same shared space for so long. (Oh yes, there were many, many dramas over exams, jobs and boyfriends.) It was lovely to be able to spend time with her last week, sampling the delights of the North Yorkshire Dales, nearly 42 years on from that first flat-sharing experience.

But this is a music blog so what song to share? Back in 1979 we didn’t have laptops, Netflix or Amazon Prime but we did have a black and white telly that sat on an alcove shelf to the right of the bulky gas fire (never serviced of course but thankfully we lived to tell the tale and didn’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning). My musical memories always lead me back to the show that aired on a Thursday night at 7.30pm, and despite the lack of colour, it was great living somewhere again with a telly. The year before we had been in halls, with no access to telly at all, so for a music lover like myself this was a step up in the world indeed.

As it turned out, only being able to view our favourite music show in black and white was not a problem in the autumn of 1979, as that was just when the 2 Tone phenomenon started to grip the nation – Pork pie hats were even spotted on the heads of Aberdonians. Suddenly ska and rocksteady, a genre we had been too young to appreciate first time around, really started to resonate with a new generation of young people. A tour was put together and in November 1979 I went along to a local nightspot with another music-loving friend to witness the stars of 2 Tone in action – Link to post about that night here. The Specials topped the bill and by then we knew all the songs from their eponymously named debut album. Too Much Too Young rattles along at a fair old speed, giving this late ’70s version of ska a whole new punk sensibility.

Too Much Too Young by the Specials:


But this post was supposed to be about the reunion with my old friend and I don’t remember her being a particular fan of ska in 1979. By the time we parted company in 1987 our musical allegiances were much more aligned and one of the albums I bought that year really did resonate with her. We gladly shared any new acquisition and took advantage of the flat ‘music centre’ to (very illegally) record a copy on cassette tape. Here is a song from the album Baby, the Stars Shine Bright by Everything But The Girl, one that apparently always brought a tear to her to eye whilst driving around the North of Scotland in the new company car she had just been given (which unbeknownst to her bosses became the Flatmobile). We had started flat life with steady boyfriends, but by 1987 they had long gone, and we were singletons again ready to start the next chapter.

Come On Home by Everything But The Girl:


So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I seem to have mislaid a lot of local friends of late so was feeling a bit lonely. This pandemic has put paid to many of my regular routines and several of the friends I used to do things with are now finding themselves either busy with grandchildren, or are retiring, and moving away from the area. Thank goodness for old friends of 42 years standing. I had a lovely time last week and our 2021 ‘digs’, unlike our old flat, were most definitely 5 Star.

Until next time…

Come On Home Lyrics
(Song by Tracey Thorne/Ben Watt)

Baby come home, I miss the sound of the door
Your step on the stair’s not there to wake me no more

And every day’s like Christmas Day without you
It’s cold and there’s nothing to do

And it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home

Baby, what’s keeping you all this time
You’re wasting your days out there in the sunshine
And who can I turn to if you believe still
That England don’t love you and she never will

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
I don’t like drinking
or painting the town on my own
So please come on home

Baby come on home Please

For it’s mighty quiet here now that you’re gone
And I’ve been behaving myself for too long
‘Cause I don’t like sleeping
Or watching TV on my own
So please come on home

The Rolling Stones, ‘Fool To Cry’ and RIP Charlie Watts

As you may have noticed there hasn’t been much from the Rolling Stones shared around here. I can’t say I’ve ever been a big fan, but I can’t let the death of Charlie Watts go by without a mention. When the band formed back in the early ’60s, I doubt very much if anyone expected them to be still touring and recording new music almost 60 years later, but that’s exactly what’s happened. Doing the maths, it means the original – and even the unoriginal – band members are getting on in years. Charlie made it to the grand old age of 80 and by all accounts he was a very nice man, a jazz drummer who joined a blues band and quietly got on with the job, leaving the front of house stuff to the Glimmer Twins, and Ronnie. It seems chestnut hair-dye, gaudy silk shirts and pirate-esque garb was not for Charlie, and instead he developed a penchant for fine tailoring. A good move, and very smart he always looked too. He was married to wife Shirley for 57 years, almost unheard of in the rock world, so good for them. She will be bereft.

I’m not quite sure why the Rolling Stones haven’t featured more in the ‘tracks of my years’ but much of it down to the fact I was just too young for them back in the early days and by the time I understood more of what they were about, and the themes they covered in their song lyrics, my allegiances lay elsewhere.

I do like some of their ballads however and Wild Horses has been shared around here twice before, both by them and by the The Sundays (link here). Another favourite of mine is Fool To Cry from, yes you’ve guessed it, 1976. I did say I wasn’t going to return to that year for a while but it is a beautiful song and although not too much input from Charlie on that one, I’ve enjoyed listening to it again. I remember it being one of the songs played at our local youth club as it had reached No. 6 in the UK Singles Chart that year. The good friend I’ve often mentioned around here always had to leave the hall when it came on. Perhaps it was teenage hormones, or maybe she’d just had her heart broken, but at age 16 Fool to Cry always made her cry.

There will no doubt have been a fair few tears shed by the remaining Stones today, and understandably so. They’ve had the longest of journeys in an industry where longevity is a rarity. It won’t ever be quite the same again.

Fool To Cry by the Rolling Stones:

Until next time…, RIP Charlie Watts.

Fool To Cry Lyrics
(Song by Keith Richards/Mick Jagger)

When I come home baby
And I’ve been working all night long
I put my daughter on my knee, and she said
“Daddy what’s wrong?”
She whispered in my ear so sweet

You know what she said?
She said

“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

“Daddy, you’re a fool”

You know, I got a woman
(Daddy, you’re a fool)
And she live in the poor part of town
And I go see her sometimes
And we make love, so fine
I put my head on her shoulder
She said, “Tell me all your troubles.”
You know what she said? she said

“Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Oh, I love you so much baby
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry, yeah

She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

She said, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry
Daddy you’re a fool to cry”

Even my friends say to me sometimes
I make out like I don’t understand them

You know what they say?
They say, “Daddy you’re a fool to cry
You’re a fool to cry
And it makes me wonder why.”

I’m a fool baby
I’m a fool baby
I’m a certified fool
I want to tell ya
Gotta tell ya, baby

I’m a fool baby
I’m a fool baby
Come on
I’m a fool
I’m a fool
I’m a fool

Alyson’s Archive #8 – My Sporting Ineptitude and More Musical Memories from the Summer of ’76

Considering I go back to college in less than a month’s time, I really need to get back into the swing of putting pen to paper, or rather, typing words on a screen. It’s a very wordy course and this blog used to keep me limbered up so to speak. Going to hold my hands up and admit to being a bit off my game at the moment however, and although not for any one specific reason, a slew of minor anxieties all coming along at the same time can do that to a person. I’m sure I’ll get back on track soon, once we can re-emerge from WIAA Towers having avoided all contact with other humans for the last month in case we’re “pinged”. Both being self-employed it had to happen, but it does get a bit monotonous, especially as life returns to a semblance of normality for everyone else.

The Olympics did raise my spirits for a while but the live events often happened during the night due to the time difference and I’m coming round to the realisation (why has it taken so long?) that akin to football, where you end up on the medals table is down to how much money has been spent. As most of the funding comes via the National Lottery, I can’t help thinking some of it hasn’t given a great rate of return and could have been diverted to initiatives that help more of the people who buy those lottery tickets in the first place. Having said that, I am full of admiration for those who have worked hard in their chosen discipline and won medals, but by now we know it never turns us into a nation of superfit athletes. We’re great at sitting on our couches watching others swim, row, cycle, run and jump, but not so great at partaking ourselves.

A 100 years ago they trained by running along the beach. Mo performed in front of a home crowd in 2012 but this time, because of the pandemic, the stadiums were empty.

I’ve been reminiscing about the year 1976 a lot of late – First of all because of the Long Hot Summer mentioned around here last time, secondly because it was also an Olympic year (Montreal) but mainly because it was the last time I remember having absolutely no worries or anxieties. Sounds dramatic I know, and it doesn’t mean my life has been riddled with anguish since (I’ve had the odd year off!), but in 1976 when I was aged 16, life was indeed sweet.

Time for a family anecdote. My dad inevitably loved watching the 1976 Olympics as he had been quite an athlete in his youth and excelled at many different sports. I on the other hand was no athlete, and despite being encouraged by him to try lots of disciplines I could tell I was a bit of a disappointment when it came to my sporting prowess. Then he had an epiphany – Tennis. The village tennis courts where he had played as a youngster were in a state of disrepair and had long been out of use. He would rebuild the courts and perhaps, just perhaps, his daughter might become the next Wimbledon champion.

Not our courts, but similar

As was my dad’s way he simply went down to the courts every evening for a week sizing up the job to be done and taking measurements. People in the community gradually became interested and many of his friends started to join him. Materials were acquired to create a new clay court and the fences were repaired. The pavilion next to the courts was also refurbished and then painted, so the wives joined in too. For us teenagers it became a great place to hang out during that long hot summer. A coach was hired from the city to come and give us lessons, but yes, you guessed it, although I loved the social scene around the pavilion, tennis turned out not to be my thing either.

But what were we listening to in the summer of 1976? By good fortune I have just found my copy of Words magazine from the August of that year. This periodical has appeared around here before as I was a subscriber and as well as sharing song lyrics, the mag kept teens like myself up to date with all that was happening in the world of pop music. Here is the contents page from that issue along with the front and back covers. Lots of songs there that have really stood the test of time along with a surprising amount of reissues from the ’60s. Not sure if you can read from the picture, but how many of the artists would you identify from this list of songs without looking them up?

As for the cover star, it was Peter Frampton, who was becoming a bit of a big cheese in America around that time and had just released his Frampton Comes Alive! album. To be honest his previous role as frontman of the band Humble Pie had passed me by and I’m sure it was quite some time before I realised he was actually British, but there is no denying that 1976 was a good year for him.

The song Show Me the Way had reached No. 10 in the UK Singles Chart in the May of 1976 as the lead single from his new album. Peter was also one of the first artists to make extensive use of a talk box .

Show Me The Way by Peter Frampton:


But what else were we talking about whilst hanging out in our newly refurbed pavilion (rather than playing tennis). On the back page of the magazine was a picture of some of the characters from the new film Bugsy Malone. I have nothing but fond memories of this film – Great acting from its incredibly young cast, great songs and a lot of slapstick humour. I seem to remember I went to see it at our local cinema with a potential beau once the schools went back after the summer holidays. At the interval I dropped my ice-cream on the floor after falling over a single seat that had been left down in the row. Very much in tune with the slapstick nature of the film however, so thankfully the date was saved. Once DD came along she loved watching our video recording of the film on telly, but always called it Bugsy Alone (poor Bugsy).

Bugsy Malone – The final scene


So, a trip down memory lane for me and hopefully for some of you too. Out of interest here are some of the other bands that were written about in that particular edition of Words. Hard to imagine that some of them were just starting out, so the writers had no idea yet of what was to come.

The 16-year-old Angus Young
Ian Anderson who went on to become a successful fish farmer around these parts!

I’m going to end with another song featured in my magazine. Kiss and Say Goodbye was a massive worldwide hit in 1976 recorded by American R&B vocal group The Manhattans. I had another listen to it this week and it reminds me of so many other songs coming out of America at that time. It was written by Winfred Lovett, the bass singer, who also got the job of intoning the spoken work introduction. A love affair was coming to an end it seems for these reasons:

Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have

Well, if you both have obligations and ties that will happen, but at age 16 I always thought it was a very pragmatic and unlikely line to have included in such a beautiful but sad song – Shows what I knew about love triangles back then. I was still dropping my ice-cream on the cinema floor on my dates.

Kiss and Say Goodbye by The Manhattans:


I seem to have gone way over my usual wordcount which is good for me in terms of getting in some writing practice, but maybe not so good for you. Having said that I love revisiting these old magazines and reading the contemporary reviews, so hope you do too. Some turn out to be prophetic, but not all of them, as some music journalists got it horribly wrong.

As for me, I might look out my old tennis racquet – I’m going to have to spend more time on sport and less time sitting in front of a computer it seems if I’m to keep these old bones in tip top shape. I might have let my dad down back in 1976 by not becoming a Wimbledon champion, but to fair, I’m sure he always thought of it as a long shot. As it turned out, because of his efforts, the whole village had a thoroughly good summer down at our previously neglected tennis courts. Nice one Dad.

Until next time…

Kiss And Say Goodbye Lyrics
(Song by Winfred Lovett)

This has got to be the saddest day of my life
I called you here today for a bit of bad news
I won’t be able to see you anymore
Because of my obligations, and the ties that you have
We’ve been meeting here everyday
And since this is our last day together
I wanna hold you just one more time
When you turn and walk away, don’t look back
I wanna remember you just like this
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

I had to meet you here today
There’s just so many things to say
Please don’t stop me ’till I’m through
This is something I hate to do
We’ve been meeting here so long
I guess what we done, oh was wrong
Please darling, don’t you cry
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

Many months have passed us by
(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
I’ve got ties, and so do you
I just think this is the thing to do
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
Maybe you’ll meet, you’ll meet another guy
Understand me, won’t you try, try, try, try, try, try, try
Let’s just kiss and say goodbye

(I’m gonna miss you)
I’m gonna miss you, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)
It’s gonna hurt me, I can’t lie
(I’m gonna miss you)
Take my handkerchief, wipe your eyes

(I’m gonna miss you)
Maybe you’ll find, you’ll find another guy
(I’m gonna miss you)
Let’s kiss and say goodbye, pretty baby

(I’m gonna miss you)
Please, don’t you cry
(I’m gonna miss you)
Understand me, won’t you try
(I’m gonna miss you)

Let’s just kiss
And say goodbye

Heatwaves, Starbuck and ‘Moonlight Feels Right’

Having a heatwave over the summer used to be seen as a good thing, but of course nowadays it’s happening so regularly it’s seen as a rather worrying trend. Up here in the North of Scotland we’ve not yet had the really high temperatures that makes sleep impossible, but there are of course all sorts of other downsides. If you are a fair-skinned person like myself you know full well that sunbathing is a big no-no, but we never learn do we, and over the years I’ve had a fair few bad cases of sunburn. The damage caused comes home to roost however and I’m off to the skin clinic next week to be checked out.

If you are British, and of my demographic, the summer we always hark back to is The Long Hot Summer of 1976. There have been summers just as hot since but they didn’t happen when I was aged 16, just about the best age to enjoy a heatwave with friends. Once the sunburnt skin had peeled off we did start to turn a nice shade of golden brown, with the help of some cooking oil, or if you could afford it, some Ambre Solaire. As for SPFs, they didn’t exist yet. Dressed in our Brutus jeans, wedge sandals and skimpy cheesecloth shirts we thought we looked the bees knees.

But what were we listening to back in the summer of 1976? Well I’ve written such a post before (link here), so most of the really memorable pop hits by the likes of Elton & Kiki, The Real Thing and Candi Staton have already been covered. Time therefore to revisit another song, one I heard on the radio the other day, and one that seems to have lodged itself in my head as an earworm.

As it turns out Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck was never a hit in the UK, so although I know the song well it must be from hearing it on the radio over the years. It was however a big hit in the US, Canada and Australia, so wonder why it didn’t strike a cord over here. To me it just screams 1976 America (as we called it back then), and reminds me of another song from across the pond I also like from that era. Yes, one of the very first songs I ever wrote about around here was I’d Really Love To See You Tonight by England Dan & John Ford Coley. In Scotland, even during a heatwave, it is never warm after dark, so back in 1976 I just loved the idea of those “warm winds blowin’ the stars around”. Likewise, in Moonlight…, we are painted a picture of warm summer evenings by the coast, with the moon and stars shining brightly in the night sky. With foreign travel off the cards for most of us at the moment, I will have to content myself with song lyrics for the time being.

I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin’ bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
‘Cause southern belles are hell at night

Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck:


After hearing the song on the radio this week I realised I had never taken the time to pick up on the artist’s name, so had to google it. Inevitably when I found out it was a band called Starbuck I just pictured a coffee cup, such is the ubiquitous nature of that name nowadays – Back in 1974 when Starbuck formed, the large coffee chain had been trading in Seattle for just three years, purely as a wholesaler of beans. It’s now their 50th anniversary year and how things have changed.

Moonlight… was promoted as the first rock song ever to feature a marimba and if you fast forward to 1:50 on the video clip you will see a jumpsuited Bo Wagner performing his instrumental solo. As mentioned before in my post about the England Dan & John Ford Coley song, back in 1976 we had often no idea what the artist behind the song looked liked. Without being cruel, I think for 16-year-old girls, it was good that some songs remained a radio staple only.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – After writing 23 full moon related posts, I don’t know how I missed including this song, but as luck would have it July’s Buck Moon should appear in our skies tonight. For those of you whose sleep patterns are affected by the heatwave, you might be lucky enough to witness it. A tiny upside.

As for me, on top of the skin clinic visit I have a screening appointment (much delayed due to the pandemic), a dental visit (also much delayed) and as a result of my recent fractured ankle, a bone density scan, all in the next 10 days. Like buses, they all come at once but sadly goes with the whole process of getting older. Until I get the all-clear I am going to keep my time in the sun to a minimum which makes life difficult when you live with a dedicated sunseeker. To all my fellow fair-skinned followers out there, as Sergeant Phil in Hill Street Blues used to say, ‘Let’s be careful out there’.

Until next time…

Moonlight Feels Right Lyrics
(Song by Bruce Blackman)

The wind blew some luck in my direction
I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French connection
You winked and gave me your O.K.
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothing like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll lay back and observe the constellations
And watch the moon smilin’ bright
I’ll play the radio on southern stations
‘Cause southern belles are hell at night
You say you came to Baltimore from Ole Miss
Class of seven-four, gold ring
The eastern moon looks ready for a wet kiss
To make the tide rise again

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

We’ll see the sun come up on Sunday morning
And watch it fade the moon away
I guess you know I’m giving you a warning
‘Cause me and moon are itching to play
I’ll take you on a trip beside the ocean
And drop the top at Chesapeake Bay
Ain’t nothin’ like the sky to dose a potion
The moon’ll send you on your way

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

Moonlight feels right
Moonlight feels right

A Summer of Sport, Coin Collections and Songs from Simpler Times

Well, I don’t suppose I can write this week’s blog post without mentioning sport, as there’s an awful lot of it going on right now, and I’ve got caught up in all the excitement. Unlike many Scots I am always happy if any of our home nations does well in a big football tournament, as it extends the excitement that bit longer and you can experience it all vicariously via their fans. Although I am no longer a fan of club football, I do still love the big tournaments and there will be an awful lot of UK citizens tuning in on Sunday night for the final. Sadly DD and her boyfriend had chosen that one weekend to head off to a fancy-pants hotel for a bit of R & R. She is most definitely not a fan of football but her boyfriend certainly is. Their Sunday night “dining experience” will be cut short I fear.

An absolute dream for a fan of spreadsheets, lists and statistics – My ‘beflagged’, almost completed wallchart

But anyway, with tennis back at Wimbledon, the Tour de France in progress, our national football teams giving the country a much needed lift, and the Tokyo Olympics (sans spectators it seems) just round the corner, it feels like summers of old. Odd that everything is now out of sync in terms of the year though, UEFA Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics both being held in 2021. In the fullness of time, when we look back at those long lists of annual sporting achievements, the year 2020 will be erased from time, something that didn’t even happen during the two world wars. The pesky virus, invisible to the eye, has shut down international gatherings like never before in history.

There have been many football anthems over the years and I shared one from Scotland’s 1982 campaign a couple of weeks ago (link here). Time to focus on the home nation who will appear in Sunday’s final then. Over the years, England have had many songs recorded to accompany their football tournament journey, but only four have made it to the top spot on the UK Singles Chart. The first was this one, Back Home, from 1970, the year I first became invested in football and from the days when the actual team lined up for singing duties. (Bobby Charlton looking a bit sad there in the still, or is he embarrassed?).

I had been just too young to remember the 1966 campaign (down to a very early bedtime in those days I’ve now realised) but by the time I reached the age of 10, I could join my dad in watching the matches, and collecting those coins that were given out at petrol stations. I do still have some of the sticker books petrol stations gave away during the Olympics of that era, but sadly no longer have my coin collection. Fortunately I’ve found some sets online shared by people who have very sensibly held on to theirs. Some very familiar names there from the 1966 World Cup winning team, but sadly not many of them still with us. Bobby’s brother Jack Charlton died just last year, and so did Nobby Stiles. A great shame they didn’t live long enough to see their team reach another final.

So the song Back Home, written by top pop songwriters of the day Bill Martin and Phil Coulter, reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1970. It took another 20 years for an England campaign football song to reach to top spot and this time it was a very different animal. World in Motion was written/performed by New Order and Keith Allen with the football squad joining in for the chorus. Footballer John Barnes took the song to a whole new level by very ably adding a rap section, and unlike Back Home, I think it has stood the test of time.

I had just starting going out with Mr WIAA and I remember watching much of Italia ’90 with him. This time there were no coins to collect, but many of us did find ourselves warming to opera, after being serenaded by Luciano Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma every evening ahead of watching the television coverage.

Luciano Pavarotti

The third No. 1 football song was of course Three Lions which seems to have become the unofficial anthem for every England campaign since. It was written back in 1996 for the Euros held in England so it made sense for the songwriters to add the line, “It’s coming home”. It didn’t as it turned out, but 25 years on there is the chance for that to happen on Sunday night. This time the song was written by comedians David BaddielFrank Skinner, and the band Lightning Seeds. Don’t know about you but it doesn’t feel like 25 years since that tournament, but then again DD was just a baby back then, and now she’s off to expensive hotels with her boyfriend. How time flies.

Scotland found themselves in the same group as England at Euro 96 and I remember well sitting with a piece of paper on the night of the final group stage matches, working out the changing goal difference between teams each time the ball found itself at the back of the net. For a time it was looking as if Scotland would progress, but a last minute goal by The Netherlands put paid to that dream. As they were playing England many of us thought they possibly let that happen, but that would be casting aspersions wouldn’t it.

For the sake of completeness I feel I should add the fourth and final anthem to have reached the top spot, Shout for England, but I can’t say I even remember it. It was written for the South Africa 2010 World Cup tournament and samples Tears for Fears Shout as well as sections of rap by Dizzee Rascal. James Corden also seems to have played a part on that one. This tournament largely passed me by, because of intense work pressures around that time, but who could forget the dreaded vuvuzela.

And so we come to now, and very oddly a song from 1969 has captured the imagination of the fans on the terraces. It has worked its magic in stadiums throughout the US, but who would have thought Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline would hit that sweet spot just as we reach Sunday’s final. All apparently because of its very particular lyrics:

Good times never seemed so good (especially if you’ve just won a big match)

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you
(rises to a rousing crescendo, and a fine sentiment for fans who have been kept apart for so long)

I always knew the name Caroline in the song was inspired by JFK’s daughter, but only found out today that it was because his wife’s name, Marcia, just didn’t work phonetically. After reading a magazine article about Caroline, he worked out the syllables in her name fitted better, so changed it.

Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond:

So, “What’s It All About?” – I don’t think many music lovers who follow this blog are fans of football, so excuse me this little indulgence, but it’s been an exciting few weeks with three of our home nations doing really well in the Euros. I was sad when Scotland didn’t progress beyond the group stages, but we were all really proud of our team and can always say we held one of the tournament finalists (we don’t yet know who will win) to a draw. Many think we should have won that match.

As for the songs, just wanted to cover the ones that made it to the top spot in the singles chart but of course there are many, many more. If the England team do the business on Sunday night, and win their match against Italy, I’m sure 60,000 football fans will find their voices, and the sounds of Sweet Caroline will fill Wembley stadium.

Until next time…

Sweet Caroline Lyrics
(Song by Neil Diamond)

Where it began
I can’t begin to knowin’
But then I know it’s growin’ strong

Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, touchin’ hands
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined
To believe they never would

But now I…

…look at the night
And it don’t seem so lonely
We fill it up with only two

And when I hurt
Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when holdin’ you?

Warm, touchin’ warm
Reachin’ out, touchin’ me, touchin’ you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’ve been inclined

To believe they never would
Oh, no, no

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Sweet Caroline
I believed they never could

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good

Six Years of Birthday Blogging and the Phrase, ‘We All Now Know How That Turned Out’

I had a birthday this week, my sixth since starting this blog, and it occurred to me to look back at what I was writing about in each of those years at this time. It made for interesting reading, as although there is always a song around here, from the get-go it has also been my web-diary, and I’ve been pretty honest about all the ups and downs that life has very naturally thrown my way.

2016 – Back then I was still concentrating primarily on the music, and for my birthday post I decided to write about music from the year of my birth, music that certainly didn’t feature in my own musical memories, but it might have done for my parents had they not been quite so busy coping with a new baby in the house. My next post was all about that momentous decision we were about to make, which could possibly take us out of the EU. (Well, we all now know how that turned out and a right hullaballoo it’s still causing all these years later, this week regarding the humble British banger.) But getting back to the year of my birth, here’s a bit of Adam Faith for you.

What Do You Want by Adam Faith:

2017 – This was the summer of terrorist attacks and tragic fires. The Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks and then the horrors of Grenfell Tower. At the same time our new PM Theresa May decided to hold a snap election to consolidate her majority in The House of Commons ahead of Brexit negotiations. (Again, we all now know how that turned out.) On a more positive note, a very successful benefit concert called One Love was held in Manchester shortly after the atrocity at the arena, and we also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ seminal album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles:

2018 – By this time I was really getting into my blogging stride and in early June I wrote a couple of wedding posts, one a very royal affair (we all now know how that turned out – there’s a pattern forming here) and one for a girl from our neighbourhood. To challenge myself I also embarked on a whole week of blogging which culminated with me posting 7 in 7 (seven posts in seven days). I was very proud of myself but now realise whenever I set myself these kind of challenges I understandably lose followers along the way, as overkill really. It certainly does help flex the blogging muscles though. On a positive note, my Full Moon Calendar in Song series was really gathering pace and is still my favourite because of all I discovered, both about our only satellite, and about the many moon-related songs that were included. I thought Carly Simon’s version of Moonlight Serenade was just perfect for June’s Strawberry Moon.

Moonlight Serenade by the Glenn Miller Orchestra:


2019 – By the time my birthday came around two years ago I was already headlong into greeting guests at the holiday hideaway we had taken on earlier in the year, but having worked in an office for 35 years it turned out I wasn’t ‘match fit’, and my back, neck and shoulders were already giving me gyp. I wrote about the sleepless nights that ensued, compounded by the sheer number of troubling television dramas that filled our screens of an evening. One BBC drama called Years and Years portrayed a worrying picture of what life might be like in only five years time, with everyone working from home at their kitchen tables, communication all being done virtually via screens, and everything we consume being ordered online. (Well, well, well – Again, we all now know how that turned out and it didn’t take five years, just one.) On a really positive note however, I finally made it down to London that month to meet long time blogging buddy C from Sun Dried Sparrows. As we used mock-ups of our first albums to recognise each other this song by the Clash seems appropriate (for C anyway – my first album wasn’t quite as ‘cool’).

London Calling by the Clash:

2020 – This is the big one isn’t it. I had reached a milestone birthday but couldn’t celebrate it with anyone as we all had to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Not complaining of course, as there seemed little other choice at the time, but by June it was becoming apparent there would be no V-shaped bounce back to the economy and that restrictions could be in place for another few weeks yet (a year on, we all now know how that turned out). DD’s life in Glasgow was in disarray and there would be a complicated manoeuvre to get her home safely – It was going to be a Cruel Summer, I could tell. One positive thing from that time was that our country’s entertainers rallied round, and I enjoyed a fair few online concerts cobbled together via the wonders of modern-day technology. One was by Take That which aired just before my birthday. I had been a bit too old for the Take That phenomenon when they first appeared on the scene in the early ‘90s, but they are now a middle-aged man band as opposed to a boy band, with a great back catalogue of songs, so it was a real treat to watch them in action when everything was still looking very bleak. The song that always ends their shows is Never Forget, and I think we can all agree, unlike Y2K which came and went with very little drama, none of us will ever forget the year 2020.

Never Forget by Take That:


2021 – So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – It has become apparent from writing this post that life can throw us some pretty spectacular curve balls and from one year to the next we find it impossible to predict how things might turn out. I wasn’t able to celebrate my big birthday much last year, but the +1 version was a whole lot better – Afternoon tea at a posh hotel courtesy of DD. Very nice indeed. Who knows what next year’s birthday will throw up, but let’s hope it will be that life is a whole lot better for all of us.

Until next time…

Never Forget Lyrics
(Song by Gary Barlow)

We’ve come a long way
But we’re not too sure where we’ve been
We’ve had success we’ve had good times
But remember this

Been on this path of life for so long
Feel I’ve walked a thousand miles
Sometimes strolled hand in hand with love
Everybody’s been there

With danger on my mind
I would stand on the line
Of hope and I knew I could make it

Once I knew the boundaries
I looked into the clouds
And saw my face in the moonlight

Just then I realised what a fool I could be
Just ’cause I look so high I don’t have to see me
Finding a paradise wasn’t easy but still
There’s a road going down the other side of this hill

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Safe from the arms of disappointment for so long
Feel each day we’ve come too far
Yet each day seems to make much more
Sure it’s good to be here

I understand the meaning
Of “I can’t explain this feeling”
Now that it feels so unreal

At night I see the hand
That reminds me of the stand
That I make the fact of reality

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

We’ve come so far and we’ve reached so high
And we’ve looked each day and night in the eye
And we’re still so young and we hope for more
But remember this

We’re not invincible, we’re not invincible, no
We’re only people, we’re only people
Hey we’re not invincible, we’re not invincible
So again I’ll tell you

Never forget where you’ve come here from
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Never
Never forget babe
Never pretend that it’s all real
Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream
This will be someone else’s dream

Friendships, Bob Dylan and ‘Baby, Stop Crying’

Last time I announced that Thursday was to be my new regular day for blogging, but last week’s Thursday came and went without anything new from me at all and unless I quickly get my act together, the same will happen again this week. I have the will, it’s just that with the easing of restrictions many of us feel the need to catch up with those friends who have been neglected over the last 15 months, and I am no exception. There have been many visits, lunch dates, film nights, and a sneaky wee Eurovision get-together (something so utterly uncool that it has almost become cool by default), so I have been somewhat time poor. Not complaining, of course, just offering up an explanation for my absence.

Last week Bob Dylan turned 80 and much was made of it on the various newsfeeds and on social media. Who would have thought back in 1961, when a young folk singer called Robert Zimmerman rolled up in Greenwich Village, New York, he would still be touring and making new music 60 years later. Many of his generation have sadly fallen by the wayside, but he is one of a small band of artists from that time who seem to have been able to just keep on going.

Two of Bob’s songs have appeared around here before, performed by other people for television soundtracks (here and here). His son Jakob has even appeared (link here), but so far no Bob. Time therefore to right that wrong. There are many songs I could feature but I’m going to pick Baby, Stop Crying from 1978 because it was on the album Street Legal owned by the girl who was my best friend back then. I’ve written about her here before because she features in so many of my musical memories. Between the ages of 17 and 20 we were joined at the hip and together we experienced the final years of school, first romances, holiday jobs, heading off to university, Interrailing, and so much more. When I hear this song I am transported to her mum and dad’s little back sitting room which housed the music centre and the sofa bed I often availed myself of after a night out. It was dated (the sofa bed) and had come from the front living room of the house they had recently moved from, but when you are 18, having such a space to hang out in with friends, is priceless.

Baby, Stop Crying by Bob Dylan:

I think it’s because I’ve been making a really big effort to catch up with people of late that I’ve been thinking of my old friend so much. I can no longer catch up with her because she died 20 years ago at the very young age of 41, which still makes me really sad. The shared memories of those formative years can never again be discussed, and laughed about, but for the time being at least I still have them, and hold them dear.

As for the song, I knew it had made it to the Top 20 of the UK Singles Chart, as back in 1978 that was how girls like us found out about new music. I can’t say I have ever been a fan of Bob’s voice, but my friend obviously had no problem with it, as I know she went on to buy more of his albums. As a student of English Literature she perhaps also admired his lyrics, him being a future recipient of that Nobel Prize for being clever with words.

At face value it seems to be a simple song about trying to get a woman to stop crying, but then a gun puts in an appearance, which adds a sinister dimension. Is the narrator the ‘bad man’ or is it someone else? Commenting on the content of this song, Bob once said, ‘The man in that song has his hand out and is not afraid of getting it bit.’ If anyone has ever worked out the meaning, please share your thoughts.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I don’t know about you but I know I have been overly cavalier about friendships in the past, casting them aside for new ones when life changes occur, not realising that some come along only once in a lifetime. That’s how I still feel about my old Bob Dylan-loving friend, and when she died I wrote to her parents telling them as much.

I have done a lot of catching up over the last few weeks, which has been nice, but having moved geographically half way through my life, and having changed jobs a fair few times before finally calling it a day, I no longer have really old friends in my everyday life, which is not the case for a lot of people I know. Mr WIAA is of course my very best friend but perhaps I take him for granted, living with him on a day-to-day basis. (Note to self: must remember not to do that.) Funnily enough, since starting this blog I seem to have made many new friends of the virtual nature, whom I’m in regular contact with via the comment boxes – A lovely little bonus from this hobby of ours. If I keep going, you may one day become some of my oldest friends. A nice thought to end on, and with the easing of restrictions, that long-awaited bloggers summit might finally become a reality.

Until next time…

Baby, Stop Crying Lyrics
(Song by Bob Dylan)

You been down to the bottom with a bad man, babe
But you’re back were you belong
Go get me my pistol, babe
Honey, I can’t tell right from wrong.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

Go down to the river, babe
Honey, I will meet you there
Go down to the river, babe
Honey, I will pay your fare.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

If you’re looking for assistance, babe
Or if you just want some company
Or if you just want a friend you can talk to
Honey, come and see about me.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

You been hurt so many times
And I know what you’re thinking of
Well, I don’t have to be no doctor, babe
To see that you’re madly in love.

Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying, stop crying, stop crying
Baby, please stop crying
You know, I know the sun will always shine
So baby, please stop crying ’cause it’s tearing up my mind.

The Eclectic Mix of Abba, S’Express and Fred Astaire

Well, things seem to be cautiously opening up again around here, as I imagine they are where you are. A lot of empty units in our local shopping centre though, what with Debenhams, Top Shop and a few other high street stalwarts having shut their doors for good, but still a reasonable vibe about the place. I was chuffed to see that our local HMV is still open for business, as I do love a good browse up and down their aisles. It seems half the store is now given way to vinyl, either classic albums reissued in those beautiful original sleeves, or new stuff by artists who were probably born a good decade after vinyl ceased being the primary vehicle for music consumption.

The inspiration for this post was a clear-out. Yes, Mr WIAA and I have restarted our efforts into clearing some space in our loft and cupboards, but it’s tough, as I get sentimental about keeping things. This morning when tidying out a drawer I found something that reminded me of 7-inch singles, or 45s as they were called. For music lovers this image will probably cause apoplexy, but a few years ago, after a visit to a craft fair, DD presented me with a gift. Someone had set up a stall selling plant pots and little dishes made from old vinyl records. I think we’ve all probably melted some of our vinyl by accident (for me it involved a cold 1970s night in rural Scotland and the close proximity to our stylish 2-bar electric fire), but now it feels like sacrilege to deliberately render a 45 unplayable. Of course I thanked DD very much for her gift at the time, which looked remarkably like an impractical ashtray (not that I’ve ever had need of one).

Take A Chance On Me by Abba:

The little dish/ashtray was made from an Abba single. The song on the A-side was Take A Chance On Me from 1978, one of their many top 10 hits. It occurred to me to check out the B-side and found it was a song called I’m A Marionette, not one I’d ever heard of so time to find out more.

Hmm…, not sure about that one but it seems it was a song from a mini-musical called The Girl With the Golden Hair performed as part of their 1977 concert tour along with Thank You for the Music and The Name of the Game. Now it makes sense.

I don’t have many 45s still in my possession, but the little dish/ashtray made me want to seek them out. What a mixed bag. Really old stuff belonging to my mum and dad, some soppy songs by my teen idols, a few singles given as presents (probably had deep meaning attached at the time), purchases from bargain bins and a few from the dying days of ‘the 45’ as a music format.

Somehow my copy of Queen’s Somebody To Love got accidentally “ironed” (see nick out of top left) when sitting on a table in our student flat, so the first minute was lost to us!

I’m sure many of you will recognise some of the names there, as pretty mainstream stuff, but each piece of vinyl has a story behind it and some of the songs have already put in an appearance around here. Something I had forgotten all about was the single in the middle of the picture called The Brits 1990 (Dance Medley). The medley went down really well on the night of the awards show that year and was released as a 7 inch single straight after. It made it to the No. 2 spot in the UK Singles Chart. I was a bit long in the tooth for such fodder by 1990, but as an avid dancer, who often invited everyone ‘back to mine’ after a night out, it was good to have it for the turntable. Bit of S’Express anyone? Yes please, along with some Double Trouble and the Rebel MC, A Guy Called Gerald, The Beatmasters, Jeff Wayne, 808 State, D Mob and The Cookie Crew. Hard to believe it’s from over 30 years ago now as the video clip (although a bit cringifying in places) doesn’t look as dated as something from 1960 would have looked in 1990. A very different kind of 30 years in terms of the evolution of music and dance (and of course in colour).

Theme From S’Express by S’Express:

All this talk of dancing has reminded me of another clip I have been meaning to share for a while but not got round to yet, going back much, much further in time. The video clip has been doing the rounds for some time but it has been excellently edited and really showcases the talents of some of Hollywood’s greatest dancers. Bruno Mars was just a toddler when Fred Astaire died at age 87, but somehow his 2014 rendition of Uptown Funk (a Mark Ronson song with Bruno on vocals) lends itself well to a medley of some of the best-choreographed dance sequences in film history, many of which inevitably involve Fred.

I think Fred Astaire was my first crush, as I spent so much time watching him in old black and white movies when I was a child. Yes he was balding, yes he wasn’t that strong a singer, but boy could he dance and he had a certain boyish charm. In the 1930s his films were adored by audiences who craved escapism. Maybe why I went on to have such a love for dance, and why I was always the one who took over the dancefloor should the occasion arise (much to the chagrin of my friends who always said I put boys off asking us to dance). But hey, it was my thing, and fortunately I found a willing partner in Mr WIAA when he came into my life.

A Fine Romance by Fred Astaire:

The thrill of dance has always stayed with me, until now of course. Pre-pandemic there were few opportunities left for us ladies of a certain age to exercise their love of dance, but the odd wedding or party sufficed. In the last 15 months there has been no dancing at all for me and as I still seem to be recovering from the broken ankle I suffered a few months ago, I fear George Michael’s lyrics may become a reality – I’m never gonna dance again… the way I danced with you. Let’s hope not, as I don’t think I’m quite ready to hang up my pumps yet.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – A bit of a strange ramble this one, so apologies for that, but I’m trying to be more disciplined about my blogging and Thursday seems to be my new regular day. This week the stream of consciousness flowed from old 45s, to dance medleys, to Fred Astaire. You just never know where it’s going to go, which is part of the fun of it.

Until next time…

A Fine Romance Lyrics
(Song by Dorothy Fields/Jerome Kern)

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We should be like a couple of hot tomatoes
But you’re as cold as yesterday’s mashed potatoes
A fine romance, you won’t nestle
A fine romance, you won’t wrestle
I might as well play bridge
With my old maid aunt
I haven’t got a chance
This is a fine romance

A fine romance, my good fellow
You take romance, I’ll take jello
You’re calmer than the seals
In the Arctic Ocean
At least they flap their fins
To express emotion
A fine romance with no quarrels
With no insults and all morals
I’ve never mussed the crease
In your blue serge pants
I never get the chance

This is a fine romance

A fine romance, with no kisses
A fine romance, my friend this is
We two should be like clams in a dish of chowder
But we just fizz like parts of a Seidlitz powder
A fine romance, with no clinches
A fine romance, with no pinches
You’re just as hard to land as the Ile de France!
I haven’t got a chance, this is a fine romance

RIP Les McKeown: Revisiting the Rollermania Archive

Another Bay City Roller left us this week. Despite getting very little airplay nowadays, the announcement of lead singer Les McKeown’s death made it onto the national news, a nod to the phenomenal success the boys had in the early 1970s.

It took me a long time to admit to having been a fan of the Rollers around here, but a few years ago I finally bit the bullet after having a rummage through my box of teenage memorabilia. As someone who became a teenager in 1973 I was the perfect demographic for these tartan teen sensations. They were Scottish, like me, so looked a lot like the boys we went to school with (a bit pasty and undernourished) but their catchy, feelgood pop songs kept on coming and they became for a time the biggest ‘boy band’ in the world.

RIP Les McKeown

Les was my favourite Roller – He was the lead singer with a great voice, and also had a swagger that belied his age, only 17 when they first found success. As I was very shallow back then, I also thought he was the best-looking of the band. Their success was short-lived, but for those of us who were fans we will never forget those days of Rollermania. I first shared the post below back in April 2018, only a few months before the death of Bay City Rollers founder member Alan Longmuir as it turned out, but in view of this week’s news, I think it deserves another outing.

RIP Les McKeown

Alyson’s Archive – “Rollermania” and Me

“It’s a teenage dream, to be seventeen”, sang Les McKeown back in 1975. But no, I beg to differ Les. Back in 1975 it was a teenage dream to be fourteen, and have pictures of you and the rest of the boys staring down at me from my bedroom wall. Had I been a year or two older, or a year or two younger, it just wouldn’t have happened but I was the perfect demographic for these “tartan teen sensations from Edinburgh”. My generation had missed out on Beatlemania, and Osmondmania was on the wane, it was time for something new and luckily for me the band that inspired this latest mania came from Scotland.

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The humble author’s teenage collection of Bay City Roller pinups!

(I have shared a display like this once before, of David Cassidy pinups. I would just like to reiterate that I honestly don’t spend my evenings pouring over such teen-dream fodder, because that truly would be weird, it’s just that if you’ve ever had to clear out your parents loft when they downsize, it kind of becomes redistributed to your own loft, which fortunately for this blog is where it remains today.)

Anyway, getting back to the Rollers, the band’s founder members were brothers Alan and Derek Longmuir but after a few changes along the way, in late 1973 the classic line-up fell into place, consisting of guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart “Woody” Wood, singer Les McKeown, bassist Alan and drummer DerekTam Paton, their (highly controlling) manager was the man in charge, they got a record deal with Bell, and they came up with a unique “look” which consisted of cropped trousers, skimpy V-neck sweaters and plenty of tartan – What could go wrong?

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That’s me on the left in brown corduroy!

All through the year 1974 they were never far from the UK Singles Chart and when we heard the band were coming to the Capitol Theatre in Aberdeen, of course my friends and I (aged only 13) went to see them. This tour was to promote the album “Rollin’” where most of the songs were written by those champions of the short and catchy pop song, Phil Coulter and Bill Martin. First of all we had Remember (Sha-La-La-La), then we had Shang-A-LangSummerlove Sensation and finally All Of Me Loves All Of You. The album went to No. 1 in the Album Chart – The boys were adored by hordes of teeny-bopper fans and were well and truly on their way.

And here are a few personal memories of that time. I don’t know about elsewhere in the country but here in Scotland, back in the 1970s, many young lads left school at 16 after (half-heartedly for many of them) sitting their “O” Grades. They all had apprenticeships lined up and work was plentiful, so why not? There was however the technicality that if you turned 16 later on in the calendar year, you couldn’t leave school until Christmas. As a group they were called “The Christmas Leavers”. They didn’t want to be there and the concept of abiding by strict school uniform rules went out the window. One by one, in 1974, they started to adopt Bay City Roller style clothing wearing trousers with tartan down the side, the cropped jumpers and the short-sleeved shirts. They had Les, Eric and Woody style haircuts and of course had similar accents – For girls like us in the lower grades they became our big crushes. We all had our favourite Roller (mine was Les, quite the showman back in the day) and there were definitely boys in our school who started to look like him – Unlike the clean-cut Osmonds, who kind of came from an alien planet as far as we were concerned, the Rollers were the “boys next door”.

By 1975, Rollermania had really taken hold, and after putting together their second album “Once Upon A Star”, another tour was announced. Again my friends and I persuaded one of the mums to take us into Aberdeen to see them. Their cover of the old Four Seasons song Bye Bye Baby was at No. 1 in the Singles Chart and ended up being the biggest selling record of the year.

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The Rollin’ Tour programme and Once Upon A Star, complete with pull-out pics

Unlike the previous year when we went to see them, this was a far more hysterical concert with girls screaming constantly throughout – I probably went hoarse myself, shouting LES at the top of my voice every time he came near the front of the stage. But strangely, my most vivid memory of that night is of a particular member of security staff, who for one night only had been given free rein to manhandle young girls. This is not a #MeToo confession but I did come home with a whiplash that night, as suddenly, out of nowhere, a pair of hands had grabbed my shoulders and firmly shoved me back down into my seat. Everyone in the entire theatre was standing, but for some reason this one “bouncer” had decided he would go up and down all the rows forcing us back into our seats – I took some time out to watch him, and even at that young age, could tell he was enjoying hurting us. Of course I didn’t tell my parents, as we didn’t in those days, but this was a new concept for me and one I have obviously never forgotten.

But back to the Rollers – In 1976 they were kind of lost to us as they secured a record deal with Arista and were heavily promoted in America. They appeared on Saturday Night Live and ended up at the top of the Billboard Chart with a song that had been a flop in the UK but obviously hit the spot in the US. Saturday Night started off with a chant that also struck a cord with New York band the Ramones – It is no coincidence that their record Blitskrieg Bop starts in the same way. They had watched the Rollers on telly and decided to copy their winning formula of a catchy three minute song, a “uniform” and a football-style chant. Hard to believe I know, but part of rock and pop folklore.

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Most of us by this time had moved on to “real boys”, so we were happy to forget about the Rollers and leave them to their success in other parts of the world such as North America, and strangely enough Japan, where they still have a following today. I have never had any inclination to see them perform as part of a reunion tour, as for me, they were very much of their time. I do however feel very sorry for them sometimes, as it is well known that despite their global success they ended up with none of the money – 300 million albums sold worldwide (in an era where the revenue came from such sales) and no spondulicks. Tam Paton was of course blamed, and he went to his grave taking the secret of where the money went with him. The Rollers were not highly educated and they came from families that were ill-equipped to deal with their fame, so became one of the many financial casualties of that era.

Give A Little Love by the Bay City Rollers:


I am going to end this post with some extracts from what has turned out to be the most interesting part of rifling through old teenage memorabilia – The words that were on the back of the pinups. Prior to being in a band, Alan used to get the horses ready for the local dairy’s milk round (yes really). Eric and Derek (has a nice ring to it) were apprentice joiners and Woody and Les were only 16 when they found fame – Not the best backgrounds from which to go on and “take care of business”. Despite it all falling apart in the late ’70s, it sounds as if the Rollers still have happy memories of their heyday, their time in the sun. The Beatles had a mania, and so did these five boys from Edinburgh – Who would have ever thought it possible?

Lesley's bio from the Rollin' tour programme
Leslie’s stats – Some shockers there!
Magazine feature on the Rollers
Hanging out with the band
The Rollers’ Story Part 1
The Rollers’ Story Part 2

Until next time….

Give A Little Love Lyrics
(Song by Phil Wainman/John Goodison)

It’s a teenage dream to be seventeen
And to find you’re all wrapped up in lo-o-ove
And I found that you made a dream come true
Now I do believe in what they say-ay-at

You’ve got to give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do

When I walk with you there is just we two
And the world goes by and I just don’t care-are
And I know one day I will find a way
To be safe and sound within your hear-eart

So until I do, gonna give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do-oo

Give a little love, take a little love
Be prepared to forsake a little love
And when the sun comes shining through
We’ll know what to do