328. ‘Get Down’, by Gilbert O’Sullivan

We last heard from Gilbert O’Sullivan on ‘Clair’, crooning about a little girl he babysat for. I didn’t think much of it. Not the worst chart-topper ever, but far from a classic. But this – his second and final #1 – this is more like it, Gilbert!

Get Down, by Gilbert O’ Sullivan (his 2nd and final #1)

2 weeks, from 1st – 15th April 1973

Straight from the off we are into a stomping, glam rock groove – imagine a T. rex ‘B’-side covered by early-ABBA – and my feet are tapping. I know this song, from somewhere I cannot quite place, and I’m enjoying it. Told you once before and I won’t tell you no more… Get down, get down, get down…

Like ‘Clair’, this is another song that isn’t about what you immediately think. Any song, released in the seventies, called ‘Get Down’, should be about dancing. About ‘getting on down’, as I believe they called it back then. But no, as the lyrics progress: You’re a bad dog baby, But I still want you around…

It can’t be, surely, you wonder… He can’t have followed up his hit single about childminding with a song about how much he dislikes his dog climbing on the furniture…? Except no, the plot thickens. There are layers upon layers. Keep your hands to yourself, I’m strictly out of bounds…

Now, dogs don’t have hands. Which leads me to deduce that his isn’t singing about a frisky dog, but an amorous lady! Gilbert is sorely tempted, and this has led him to feel like a cat on a hot tin roof. (Cats, now. Is this what’s called a mixed-metaphor…?) Whatever, this is a groovy little record that shimmys in and shimmys out, that makes the listener shake their hips and drop their shoulders. A perfect pop number one.

I’m not sure I love his schtick, though, this writing songs about things but making it sound like he’s singing about other things. I have a feeling that Gilbert O’ Sullivan thought he was being clever. (One of his greatest hits collections is titled ‘The Berry Vest of…’) Plus, we do have to ignore that he is comparing a woman – a woman that he likes, no less – to a dog. Which isn’t very gentlemanly.

Gilbert O’Sullivan enjoyed thirteen Top 20 hits in the UK during the seventies and very early eighties, which is not to be sniffed at. He still writes and records: in 2018 his 19th studio album reached #20 (I love the symmetry there). In 1972, believe it or not, he was the biggest selling male solo act of the year. Worldwide…! But I can’t help feeling he’s been pretty much forgotten, though, in the grand scheme of things. Can your average man in the street name either of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s chart-topping records? The fact that he’s still not consistently on platforms such as Spotify – again, ruining my #1s Blog playlist! – is either a cause, or a symptom, of this. ‘Get Down’, at least, is worth remembering and so, if you have never heard it before, you’ll have to enjoy it on YouTube for now. And look down there – a link! How’s about that. Enjoy.


8 thoughts on “328. ‘Get Down’, by Gilbert O’Sullivan

  1. Never been that fond of this one. There were about 20 better tracks in the top 30 while gilbert hogged the top spot 🙂 if he isnt on spotify its entirely due to him not wanting to be on Spotify as he has control over his back catalogue. A shame as his early stuff is great…

  2. I’ve always loved this one. After his earlier, more whimsical-verging-on-mawkish fare like an Irish Billy Joel long before we had heard of BJ, he suddenly changed direction with a catchy pop number everyone could behave foolishly to for once. BTW, I just looked on Spotify and there are about 20 G’O’S albums listed – including ‘The Berry Vest Of’ and ‘Essential’ greatest hits compilations.

  3. I remember this on the radio! I don’t think I’ve heard it since. It’s certainly not depressing like Alone Again, Naturally.

    I agree with popchartfreak, above. When music doesn’t get circulated, you can bet someone has it locked away.

  4. Pingback: 363. ‘Down Down’, by Status Quo – The UK Number Ones Blog

  5. I don’t even know how to describe the genre of this song. Is it early disco? Pop? Funk? It’s definitely not his usual brand of singer-songwriter soft rock. Great song. Of his two UK No. 1s, easily the best. Super fun and catchy. And it was a big hit in the US too, though it didn’t crack the Top 5.

  6. Rating: 4.5/5

    The track itself is a 5, but what docks a point for me is Gilbert O’Sullivan’s vocal performance. I don’t buy this type of song coming from him. It sounds calculated. His voice is not suited for this uptempo early 70s dance number. But, putting that side, this is a very fun song.

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