266. ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’, by Amen Corner

A nice song, to keep 1969 ticking along, nicely. If paradise were half as nice as this song, then paradise would be a perfectly pleasant place to be…

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(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice, by Amen Corner (their 1st and only #1)

2 weeks, from 12th – 26th February 1969

Tell the truth, I’m finding it hard to get very excited about this record. I like it, it’s fine, it’s nice… I suppose life would be fairly exhausting if you got excited about every song you heard. Sometimes it’s OK just to think something’s… OK. If paradise is half as nice as, Heaven that you take me to, Who needs paradise, I’d rather have you… It’s cute – a song about being the simple act of falling head over heels in love.

I’ve heard this song before, of course – it’s a bit of a ‘Sixties Best Of’ staple (the copyrights must be cheap?) and a mish-mash of the usual late sixties sounds. There are horns, it’s a bit trippy, and the lead singer has a very soulful voice. That’s my favourite thing about this song, Andy Fairweather Low’s husky voice, and his oh-woah-woah-woahs and oh yes I’d rather have yous in the chorus.

It’s a chilled-out #1, one that floats along and then out on a fluffy cloud. And, if in doubt, always stick in a la-la-la refrain – nobody minds a gentle dose of lalalas. Like a surprising number of previous chart-toppers have been, ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’ was originally written and recorded in Italian. Not that it sounds particularly Italian compared to, say, Elvis’s pair of operatic hits ‘It’s Now or Never’ and ‘Surrender’, but still.

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Amen Corner were a Welsh band, named after a soul club-night in a Cardiff ballroom. ‘If Paradise…’ was their 3rd of four Top 10 hits before they split up at the very end of the decade. (That’s something worth noting – how many of the 1960s’ chart-topping acts didn’t make it into the seventies.) Amen Corner recorded the definitive version – in the UK at least – of ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’, which surprises me, as it has a very different vibe to their sole #1.

Amen Corner, then. A short post for a perfectly acceptable song. I like it, but can’t help feeling that it doesn’t give the listener much to get their teeth into. A background number one – helping us float that bit further along on our journey through the years…

Follow every #1 so far here:

8 thoughts on “266. ‘(If Paradise Is) Half As Nice’, by Amen Corner

  1. One I and a lot of pop fans loved at the time, and enough for it to chart all over again in 1976. Andy fairweather-low is a large part of it’s appeal yes, such a unique vocalist – I caught him a few years back still sounding good – but I think the appeal was the upbeat tempo, the optimistic passion, and the singalong nature of the chorus – it’s the first non-novelty upbeat pop track with passion since Mony Mony to top the charts, over 6 months back. 6 months is a long time when you’re 10 years old 🙂

    • It’s a nice song. And like I said in a previous reply, perhaps it just pales in comparison with some of the great, great songs it was around… a victim of circumstance!

  2. Pingback: Recap: #241 – #270 – The UK Number Ones Blog

  3. I’ve never liked this song, mostly because I cannot abide Andy Fairweather Low’s voice. I do wonder if it would be more listenable as a cover. And maybe speeded up! He’s a good guitarist, but best if he doesn’t open his mouth. He plays a lot with Eric Clapton, so I guess someone must see something in him…

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