632. ‘Swing the Mood’, by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers

Welcome to the second half of 1989, the final few months of the decade. We have twenty-three weeks’ worth of chart-toppers left to go. Nine of those will be taken up by a cartoon rabbit, peddling medleys of golden-oldies…

Swing the Mood, by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers (their 1st of three #1s)

5 weeks, from 30th July – 3rd September 1989

First thing to establish is that, yes, this did indeed happen. I know April Fool’s is just around the corner but no – it’s real. I’m too young to remember it and I can’t recall the last time I heard Jive Bunny mentioned, in any context, so I imagine that those responsible for buying these records, and contributing to his short period of chart domination, regret it wholeheartedly.

‘Swing the Mood’ is a journey through rock ‘n’ roll history, bookended rather incongruously by Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood’, which predates rock ‘n’ roll by a good decade. Still, it’s catchy, a great hook, and has even already featured in a #1 single … Yes, in the fade-out to ‘All You Need Is Love’. Then we’re off, off on a breakneck journey past Bill Haley & The Comets, Elvis, Chubby Checker, Little Richard, The Everly Brothers, and Eddie Cochran.

Three former #1s appear – ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and ‘All Shook Up’ – which is not something happens very often (in fact, the only #1 I can think of that features an earlier chart-topper is, again, ‘All You Need Is Love’, which had a snippet from ‘She Loves You’). The whole shebang was the brainchild of a father and son duo from Rotherham, John and Andrew Pickles, though the original ‘Swing the Mood’ had been created by a Doncaster DJ named Les Hemstock. Either way, it’s a South Yorkshire creation, though I could find no information on who wore the (genuinely quite terrifying) rabbit head for promotional activity.

Listening to the various versions of ‘Swing the Mood’ available to us on Spotify and YouTube, it becomes clear that not every song in the medley features the original vocals. Danny and the Juniors sound legit; but that sure ain’t Elvis. This was a problem that plagued Jive Bunny from the start: even as the record was climbing the charts they had to put out a re-recorded version with impersonators singing the bits they didn’t have the rights for.

I mean, I guess it’s fun. I can’t hate it, because I like all the songs featured in it, and the good thing about medleys is that they jump around so fast that you could never call them boring. (Though, for a much better medley of rock ‘n roll tunes, check out Status Quo’s ‘Anniversary Waltz 1 and 2’, which perhaps rode the Jive Bunny wave to reach #2 a year later.) Some of ‘Swing the Mood’s transitions are very clunky, though; and what they do to The Everly Brothers as they segue into ‘Wake Up Little Susie’ is borderline sacrilege. Calling themselves ‘The Mastermixers’ seems a bit of a stretch…

At the same time, medleys had been a big thing throughout the 1980s, and we were probably overdue one at the top of the charts. ‘Stars on 45’, ‘Hooked on Classics’ and the like, had all been big hits. Once the floodgates opened – and boy did they open, with ‘Swing the Mood’ becoming the second highest-selling hit of the year – the #1 hits kept coming. There’ll be more from Jive Bunny very soon…


11 thoughts on “632. ‘Swing the Mood’, by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers

  1. I never heard this before but it is a good idea…kinda of going through the early rock stages like that. You are right…it’s hard to get boring when you are bouncing around so much. I actually like this…more than the SAW stuff for sure.

    • You’re right, it is a good idea – they clearly hit on something given how big the record was. It even made #11 in the US! As a one-off it would have been fine. Sadly it wasn’t…

      • That is why it surprises me that I don’t remember it!
        I mean…the Stars on 45 as a Beatles fan…it’s alright I guess BUT…don’t think I don’t appreciate that record because it put the Beatles back on the map with younger people at the time.

  2. I remember this one. I was DJing a lot when this came out. To a degree, I could see how it was “danceable,” however, I hated playing it. People still danced to In the Mood, Chubby Checker, and I would much rather play those.

    Part of what I hated was the pitching up of songs to make it fit. I worked at a station where they pitched up songs by 3-6 percent. That may not sound like much, but I could always tell. Their thought process was that by pitching all the songs, it made more room for song or commercials in each hour.

    For what it is worth, it was a hit and some people still play this at weddings and parties.

    • That’s very interesting – I never noticed the pitching up in this record (to be fair, most of the tracks used are re-recordings) and had no idea that radio stations do this too… According to Wikipedia, a station in Bloomington, Indiana play this record every Friday morning. Which must be fun for everyone listening…

  3. I suppose you can’t really knock Jive Bunny because the records were meant to be fun, and all of us who were doing discos at the time bought them and played them week after week. But like all novelties – and the Stars on 45 singles earlier in the decade – the law of diminishing returns soon set in, and we soon got bored with them. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Jive Bunny singles played as golden oldies since they dropped out of the charts. Was it really 33 years ago?

    • No, I was just too young to be aware of them at the time, and don’t think I’ve ever heard them played, or even referred to, since. Which would suggest everyone who got this and Jive Bunny’s subsequent releases to #1 are slightly ashamed of what they did…

  4. Wow, I can’t believe Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers had three #1 hits! Swing the Mood definitely brings me back to the 80s. It’s interesting how this kind of music was popular during that time. I wonder if there are any current artists creating similar mixes or if this was just a trend of the past?

  5. Pingback: 637. ‘Let’s Party’, by Jive Bunny & The Mastermixers | The UK Number Ones Blog

  6. Cheap, cheesy, and I have never liked knock-off replicas of classic oldies – I can see why it appealed to kids and older generations, and appreciate it introduced the originals to a new generation but I can live without hearing it ever again….

  7. Pingback: 640. ‘Tears on My Pillow’, by Kylie Minogue | The UK Number Ones Blog

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