There are no two ways about it… Our next number one sounds like the soundtrack to a porno. And that’s before we get to any actual bell ringing…
Ring My Bell, by Anita Ward (her 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 10th – 24th June 1979
It’s all chucka-chucka guitars, and a distinctive pew pew sound that sounds like a futuristic arcade shooter (apparently it’s an electronic drum giving us this tight beat). They don’t sound much like bells, though. The chimes in the chorus do: You can ring my bell… Ding-dong-ding-dong…
I’m not sure… Should we be treating this as a novelty? It is very in your face in its attempts to be catchy. Plus, Anita Ward’s voice is an acquired taste. She sounds like she’s going for cute and innocent as she welcomes her man home after a day’s work: Well lay back and relax, While I put away the dishes… But it comes off a little nasal and grating, especially as she hits the chorus’s high notes.
‘Ring My Bell’ was originally a teenybopper song about kids calling one another on the phone. Once Anita got her hands on it, the words were, well, spiced up a bit. You can ring my bell, Anytime, Anywhere, Ring it, Ring it, Ring it ring it, Aaah! What smut! Actually, it’s one basic innuendo stretched out over four minutes, or eight (!) if you go for the 12” (though I do like the tribal drums that take over towards the end of that version).
I’ve seen this record featured in some ‘Worst Chart-Toppers’ lists. Which is harsh. It’s kind of fun, and, for better or worse, catchy as Covid. File under: fine in small doses. Such is the way pop music moves though, coming hot on the heels of Blondie and Ian Dury, the disco riffs in this one already sound very last year.
In the UK at least, Anita Ward is a bona-fide one-hit wonder (in the US she managed one other chart hit – a #87). She faded alongside disco, and suffered a serious car crash in the ’80s. She is still performing to this day, though, and seems to have carved out a niche for herself performing ‘Ring My Bell’ at New Years Countdown events. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do…
13 thoughts on “438. ‘Ring My Bell’, by Anita Ward”
This was one of those records that those of us who were DJs at the end of the 1970s couldn’t avoid – and one you probably hated until you actually spun it at a disco and suddenly developed a guilty liking for it. I received a copy of ‘Don’t Drop My Love’, the one that peaked at No. 87 later in 1979, which was also rather good and always got a full dance floor, but Radio 1 had evidently had enough of ‘Ring my Bell’, and its failure to get playlisted placed her firmly in the one-hit wonder category. So I just checked through my boxes of old 45s that I have kept through thick and thin, found I still have it, and on playing it for the first time in over 40 years find it still has what you might call a certain period charm.
Just giving ‘Don’t Drop My Love’ and it’s alright… maybe a better song than ‘Ring My Bell’ but without the novelty hook. Still can’t quite get my ears around Ward’s voice, though…
It’s a song that’s easy to get annoyed at with Anita Ward’s breathy high-pitched singing, how the chorus goes, and the admittedly cheap sounding production. While I get all that overall “Ring My Bell” is a fun little disco song to jam out to. I like the scratchy guitar playing and the interplay between Anita Ward and the backing vocalists. As Tom Breihan points out in his review, it’s really all about the groove as the lyrics don’t matter and points out how the song happened to be #1 around the whole Disco Demolition Night event, “But it still seems profoundly ridiculous that all that anti-disco sentiment happened to come to a boiling point when “Ring My Bell” was at #1. Because how could anyone get mad about “Ring My Bell”?”
Yeah it’s a bit of fluff, really, not worth getting riled about… Though by the time of the Disco Demolition and the associated douchebaggery, I doubt it had much to do with the actual music.
I was working in a Hosiery warehouse that summer so I could get cash to got to California on my first-ever holiday, and Radio One was on all-day for 6 or 8 weeks. Some records took a while to get fed up up of hearing, some got annoying after 2 or 2 weeks. The pinging still annoys me, and don;t choose to hear it these days, but it did indeed peak inside my personal top 10 for a week or two so I obviously liked it when it was fresh and new. I think you’re right though, a bit novelty, nice in small doses…
A hosiery warehouse…! Sounds like the setting for a Carry On film ; )
Hah! Mansfield only had 2 industries back in the day: Hosiery & Coal Mining. Carry On Packing could work – I could write it I’m sure 🙂
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I kinda liked this one. It’s not a masterpiece by any means but it is what it is…disposable disco…but ok disposable disco.
Sometimes you need a fancy meal, sometimes you just need a McDonalds… You can guess what this song is…
Oh, what a voice. I remember this playing on the radio on the way to the beach.
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