100 not out! A little cricket reference for you there. And I’d wager that Mr. A. Newley – the singer involved in this particular milestone – was partial to a spot of the old leather-on-willow back in his prime. Cos he’s posh, you see. Or rather, he sounds posh – and that’s half the battle, really. Anyway… He would like to ask, if it isn’t terribly impertinent of him, another question. Fresh from asking ‘Why?’, he’s now wondering ‘Do You Mind?’
Do You Mind, by Anthony Newley (his 2nd of two #1s)
1 week, from 28th April – 5th May 1960
He loves a polite question, does our Anthony. The title of this latest chart-topping record could be anything but polite – it conjures up, in my mind at least, images of a fearsome old lady grabbing the boy who’s just tried to push ahead of her in a queue: ‘Young man! Do you mind!?’. And yet, when you listen to the words, you realise that this is a song about being nothing but a perfect gentleman.
It begins with some finger snappin’, and a natty little bass line. If I say I love you… Do you mind? Make an idol of you… Do you mind? If I shower you with kisses, If I tell you honey this is, How I picture heaven… Do you mind? ‘I say, dearest, would it be OK if I begin utterly adoring you? Are you sure? Thanks ever so…’ Works a charm every time. He’s a clever rogue is Anthony Newley. Last time I pictured him as a sort of dandy-ish Bertie Wooster, posing soppy questions to his girl – the answer to which was always ‘Why? Because I love you.’ Here I’m picturing him as a sort of proto-Hugh Grant, bumbling his way into women’s hearts with his achingly proper advances.
As with ‘Why’, this is a fluffy little record of very little consequence. But I like it more than its predecessor. It’s got someone snapping their fingers, for a start. Plus there’s a sort of jazzy, music hall swing to the lines: I wanna whisper, whisper sweet nothings in your ear… Then there’s the oh-so-1960, tinny rock ‘n’ roll guitar which begins with the odd jab between lines, before growing in confidence and adding some cool little licks along the way. And I love the ending. Click click.
I also like Newley’s voice here more than I did during his first chart-topper: it’s not quite as reedy or as camp. He’s trying to add a spot of swagger by dropping his aitches – note the ‘love ya’ and the ‘ba-by’ in the closing bridge – but he isn’t really fooling anyone. I did my usual research, as this is the last time we’ll be hearing from Mr. Newley, and it turns out that he was a big vocal inspiration for none other than… David Bowie. Which makes complete sense, and which means you will forever picture a young Ziggy Stardust whenever you next hear ‘Do You Mind.’
Which probably won’t be any time soon, though, as Anthony Newley and his hits seem to have been erased from the public conscience. He lived a full life nonetheless: four marriages (that loveable toff schtick must have worked!), one of which was to Joan Collins – a notch in anyone’s bedpost! He also – and this makes his disappearance from the rock and pop canon seem very strange – wrote Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ (!) and Shirley Bassey’s ‘Goldfinger’ (!!) As well as all that – and this belatedly gains him a place in my childhood heroes Hall of Fame – he also wrote the soundtrack to ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’, i.e. the one with Gene Wilder, i.e. the film I watched on VHS at least once a month between the ages of seven and nine.
Also of note here is the fact that this track is the latest in a growing list of quick-fire doubles at the top of the charts. In the past two years Connie Francis, Russ Conway, Bobby Darin, Adam Faith, Cliff Richard and now Anthony Newley have all hit the top spot twice with a gap of only two or three months in between. I’ve mentioned the concept of a shadow #1 before – a follow-up release that does well thanks to the resonant glow from an earlier hit – but it’s really been noticeable these past months. And quite often the ‘lesser’ hit has been better, to my ears, than the bigger one… Anyway, the next #1 is also a ‘sophomore’ number one, and – I don’t usually do previews but I’m indulging myself here – a complete and utter CLASSIC.