As a supplement to the Revive 45 series on this site, here are ten British singles from the first half of 1975 that completely – and wrongly – failed to make the charts. Some of these I knew at the time (I voted for Son of a Gun as Best New Act in the Record Mirror readers’ poll), but others are more recent discoveries for me. I did one of these catch-up posts before, and like then, we’re mostly dipping into the world of junk-shop glam.
John Rossall, ‘You’ll Never Know’ (Bell)
John Rossall was the man who created the Glitter Band, but he fancied a solo career and in 1975 he went off on his own. The first single was ‘I’m Only Dreaming’, which was very good, but this follow-up was even better. It didn’t quite work out for Rossall, possibly because he didn’t look enough of a pop star; there was something a little menacing about his persona. Produced by the great Mike Leander and his old mucker, Eddie Seago.
Son of a Gun, ‘La Maison d’Amour’ (RCA)
How this wasn’t a hit, I genuinely have no idea. It’s a fantastic bit of late-glam pop, co-written and produced by Phil Wainman, with an arrangement by Pip Williams, and it was premiered on New Faces. Apart from the fact that it’s about prostitution, it’s a guaranteed smash.
Quill, ‘The Stripper’ (State)
From prostitution to stripping… Formed in Birmingham in 1972, Quill’s first single – according to the Tamworth Bands site – was ‘Spent the Rent’ (EMI) a few months later, but if it was released I’ve never heard it, and it doesn’t turn up on Discogs. This one I like a great deal; a bit like Engine Alley, twenty years before the fact. They’re still going, and these days Bev Bevan plays with them.
Paper Lace, ‘So What If I Am’ (Bus Stop)
Their chart career had started so well with ‘Billy Don’t Be a Hero’ and ‘The Night Chicago Died’, but they’d gone off the boil a bit. So Mitch Murray and Peter Callender gave them a yobbish kind of chant that doesn’t quite work because, I think, it doesn’t stomp hard enough, and the drums are too wet. But it’s almost right.
The Surprise Sisters, ‘Born to Move’ (Penny Farthing)
According to Discogs, Ellen, Linda, Patricia and Susan Sutcliffe were English-Australian, but at the time they were said to have come from Blackburn – I can’t find mention of Australia. (Though I do find mention of there being another seven siblings.) They went on to be successful when David Bowie introduced them to Tony Visconti, who produced their hit version of Andy Fairweather Lowe’s ‘La Booga Rooga’ (1976). But I prefer the first couple of singles that were produced by the great Larry Page (of Troggs fame): a version of Leo Sayer’s ‘Long Tall Glasses’ and this cover of one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s lesser songs.
Mr Big, ‘Lucky Man’ (Epic)
They’d been around under this name since 1972 and finally got a hit with ‘Romeo’ in 1977, but I think this was the first time I’d come across them, appearing on the Rollers’ ITV show Shang-a-Lang. Fronted by Dicken, who also wrote this song, they could’ve been a lot bigger than they were.
Ducks Deluxe, ‘I Fought the Law’ (RCA)
Bobby Fuller did the original, the Clash did the best known version, but Ducks Deluxe made a pretty fair fist of it as well.
Mike McGear, ‘Givin’ Grease a Ride’ (Warner Brothers)
Co-written with Paul McCartney, who also produced, it’s a little long, but really rather good. This was a double A-side with a cover of Roxy Music’s ‘Sea Breezes’, which is a noble effort that doesn’t quite come off. (Wings, the band that Roxy could’ve been.)
Mike Batt, ‘You Would Have Been a Rock ‘n’ Roller’ (Epic)
It’s a great little record, but without the Wombles name attached, it did nothing. This is our fault, not Mike’s.
Carl Wayne, ‘Way Back in the Fifties’ (Polydor)
You can see why a record company went for it. Carl Wayne used to sing with the Move, and Roy Wood of that parish had been doing good business with his 1950s pastiches. So too had Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington, writing and producing hits for the Rubettes. Put Carl in the capable hands of Bickerton & Waddington and you’ve got a sure-fire smash, no? Well, no, as it happens. It ended up sounding like Wizzard without the wit. Which is okay but not great.