334. ‘Welcome Home’, by Peters and Lee

I know from the second I press play on our next number one that it is a song I’m going to enjoy. The intro alone is an example of such lavish, seventies, horns ‘n’ strings cheese that, despite knowing much, much better, I like it before the voices have even come in.

Welcome Home, by Peters & Lee (their 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 15th – 22nd July 1973

I’m so alone, My love, Without you… You’re part of everything I do… There’s a gentle, country and western twang in there too, adding to the sentimentality of it all. And then comes the chorus, and I’ve heard this song before. I know it, of course I do, because it’s the sort of chorus you’d know even if you’d never listened to music before. Welcome home, Wel-come… Come on in, And close the door…

‘Welcome Home’ makes the work of Tony Orlando – ‘Knock Three Times’, ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon…’ and all that – seem subtle and understated. It is that cheesy. Listening to it, I immediately picture Elvis giving it the glitzy, jump-suited Vegas treatment. (Though to be honest, I can’t find any evidence of him ever singing it. Shame…)

Peters and Lee were a duo, obviously, but hearing this single it sounds more like a singer and his backing vocalist. The woman’s voice is much softer, and much further back in the mix. Lennie Peters had been a pianist and singer, travelling round pubs for gigs throughout the sixties. He was blind, having lost sight in one eye in a car crash aged five, and in the other aged sixteen, when a brick was thrown at him! He met Dianne Lee on the same pubs and clubs circuit. She was nearly twenty years younger, and dreamt of being a ballet dancer…

And if you were expecting a seedy story of exploitation and creepy age-gaps… You’ll have to wait (at least until our next #1…) For it seems that Peters and Lee were two people who simply enjoyed singing with one another. They entered a TV talent show called ‘Opportunity Knocks’, and the rest, as they say, is history. Two people for whom life might not have turned out quite as they’d hoped, but who suddenly found themselves at number one on the pop charts. Yes it’s sentimental, yes its ridiculously uncool, but it’s kind of lovely. As your nan would have said: “They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!”

I’m not quite sure what’s just happened. I should have approached this song much more cynically, but the more I listen to it the more I sway along. I better stop before I start claiming this is some kind of all-time classic. Peters & Lee had a few more hits, and kept intermittently recording and touring through to Peter’s death in 1992.

They also spent a good chunk of their time, in the later years, recording crappy karaoke-backing-track versions of their biggest hit. These are the only versions of ‘Welcome Home’ on Spotify; you have to go to YouTube, or your nearest record store, if you want it in all its original, schmaltzy glory. 1973 has truly been the year to ruin my #1s Blog Spotify playlist, and the situation probably won’t be helped by our next chart-topper…

329. ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’, by Dawn ft. Tony Orlando

Two years after their first #1 single, Tony and his ‘tache are back on top!

Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree, by Dawn ft. Tony Orlando (their 2nd and final #1)

4 weeks, from 15th April – 13th May 1973

Back in ’71, he was asking his girl to ‘Knock Three Times’ if she felt like hooking up, now he’s asking her to ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’ if she still loves him. He is evidently a man who needs things spelled out for him.

It starts with a tune that can certainly be described as ‘jaunty’. Yep, the dreaded ‘J’ word. It’s a melody that must be from something else, some old German schlager hit, so familiar does it sound. It sounds as if it’s been playing in the back of your mind for years and years and, now that you’ve brought it to the forefront, it’ll be going round and round in there for years to come.

I’m comin’ home, I’ve done my time… Tony’s been in prison for crimes undefined… Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine… He’s written ahead, and given his girl instructions what to do if she’s still into him: Tie a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree, It’s been three long years, Do you still want me…? If he doesn’t see a ribbon, he’ll stay on the bus and make a new life wherever he winds up.

Yes, it is utter cheese. But it’s a cute concept, and the melody – that melody – is undeniable. There’s a simple reason why this was a huge worldwide smash: it’s pretty darn catchy. It gets a bit much in places – the harmonica solo, for example – but, as with ‘Knock Three Times’, Tony and co. just about get away with it.

The bus draws close to his hometown. The tension is too much, he can’t look and begs the driver to check for him. It reminds me of Tom Jones’s ‘Green, Green Grass of Home’ in that it’s about a convict returning home to those he loves. Except, in that song it was all just a dream and he’s about to get shot at dawn. This one has a much happier ending…

For in verse three, we slow down, Tony drags it out: Now the whole damn bus is cheerin’, And I can’t believe I see… A hundred yellow ribbons round the old oak tree! A hundred! She must have really missed him (and forgiven whatever crimes he may or may not have committed.) Hurrah!

As before, Tony O’s backing singers don’t have very much to do, but they are two different singers from the band’s earlier #1. The ‘classic’ Dawn line-up of Tony, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson was in place by the time they released ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon…’ They had a few more hits to come on the Billboard chart, and around the world (seriously, this is a band with huge appeal in non-English speaking countries, with their traditional melodies and simple lyrics) but in the UK this was their last really big one.

And no, surprisingly, this wasn’t based on the melody of some old German hit… It was fresh off the press – written in 1973 – though the idea of a loved one wearing yellow for the return of as soldier (or a convict) had been around in American folklore since the 1800s. Apparently the track was offered to Ringo Starr, but – and I love this – an Apple Records Exec. told the writers that they ‘should be ashamed of their ridiculous song’. What wasn’t good enough for Ringo was good enough for Sinatra, Perry Como, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby… basically any crooner worth their salt has covered it. It has, more seriously, been used as a protest anthem in the Philippines and Hong Kong, in which yellow ribbons have been symbols. So there! Dismiss this as fluff at your peril… Take it away, Tony, one last time…

322. ‘Clair’, by Gilbert O’Sullivan

For the first time in three hundred and twenty-two #1 singles… I find one that is not on Spotify. At least not in my ‘region’. I realise that this may be of no interest to anyone but me, but damn it if it hasn’t ruined the #1s Blog Playlist I attach at the foot of every post!

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Clair, by Gilbert O’Sullivan (his 1st of two #1s)

2 weeks, from 5th – 19th November 1972

Actually, the fact that this isn’t on Spotify might be quite telling. Spotify might be on to something… Let me explain. First up, we have whistling. Whistling in pop records rarely leads to good things. (There are notable exceptions, I will admit, but still.) Clair, The moment I met you, I swear, I felt as if something somewhere, Had happened to me… The tune is jaunty but bittersweet, the production very soft-focus. It’s easy-listening – the softest of seventies soft-rock.

Who is Clair? Must be his girlfriend, right? A guy called Gilbert writes a song about a girl called Clair. Words mean so little, When you look up and smile… Yadda-yadda-yadda… I don’t care what people say to me, You’re more than a child… Wait a second. Plot twist. Why in spite of our age difference, Do I cry, Each time I leave you…

Ah… she’s his daughter. Which kind of excuses the cutesy shlock factor. He’s written a love song to his daughter. Aw… But no. The mystery of ‘Clair’ continues to unravel. Nothing means more to me than hearing you say, I’m going to marry you, Will you marry me Uncle Ray…? What now? Who’s Uncle Ray?? I give up, and resort to Wiki.

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Where I discover that ‘Clair’ was the child of O’Sullivan’s producer, and Ray is Gilbert. He would sometimes babysit his friend/producer’s daughter. He has written a chart-topping single about a child he sometimes babysat for. Process that over the horrible harmonica solo…

It’s clever, I guess. It’s like a murder-mystery novel that keeps you guessing till the end. And it ends with a flourish – I quite like the lines in the final verse in which he’s trying to put Clair to bed: Get back into bed, Can’t you see that it’s late, No you can’t have a drink… It’s quite modern, like today’s beanie-hat wearing singer-songwriters picking lyrics out of the mundane. If Tom Walker wrote a song about babysitting, it might sound a bit like ‘Clair’.

But the final verse can’t redeem the song as a whole. It’s pretty terrible (and crucially, if you miss the bit about babysitting, it sounds super, super creepy…) And just to rubber-stamp this song’s terribleness, the real-life Clair giggles on the final note, like a doll in a horror movie. Oh Clair…

Gilbert (Raymond) O’Sullivan – I assume that he was going for a pun on ‘Gilbert & Sullivan’ with his stage name? – is an Irish singer-songwriter who had been scoring hits since a couple of years before his first #1. ‘Alone Again (Naturally)’ had been his biggest hit earlier in the year: a #3 in the UK and huge #1 on the Billboard 100. He’ll have one more chart-topper in early ’73, with a song I already know and that I can confirm is much better than this.

One final note: ‘Clair’ was at #1 for the twentieth anniversary of the UK Singles Chart. We have covered two decades’ worth of chart-topping singles, plus a diversion or two, in just over two and a half years, since my first post on Al Martino’s ‘Here in My Heart’! Well done to everyone who has been keeping up!

Listen to every other UK #1, here

320. ‘How Can I Be Sure’, by David Cassidy

Unluckily for David Cassidy, I arrive at his first UK chart-topper – ‘How Can I Be Sure’ – and instantly think of Dusty Springfield’s version of the same song. It’s a version that I’ve known for years, and it puts young Cassidy at a bit of a disadvantage…

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How Can I Be Sure, by David Cassidy (his 1st of two #1s)

2 weeks, from 24th September – 8th October 1972

…for which singer would want to be compared against Dusty? But hey. I’ll try to keep an open mind. This version opens a little gently: echoing guitars backed by an annoying ting – like a typewriter reaching the end of a line – before settling into a French accordion’s sway. Whenever I, Whenever I am away from you… I wanna die, Because you know I wanna stay with you…

Dramatic, right? Except this record never quite reaches the levels needed to sell the lyrics. How can I be sure? I really, really, really, really wanna know… He loves someone, but is overcome with self-doubt. Do they really love him back? How can he ever know? And that’s before you add in the ‘alibi’, who’s going around spreading nasty rumours about him… It’s just a shame that he sings it, for the most part, in a crooning style, never really letting loose. He sings it nicely, and enunciates his words wonderfully, but I’m not sold.

At least it’s not too sickly saccharine. I still have the aftertaste of ‘Puppy Love’ in the back of my throat… In my mind (and remember this all came a decade before I was born), Cassidy was the main rival of Donny Osmond, with the two pre-eminent teen-idols of the day competing to see who had the whitest smile and the most perfectly set hair. Both came from a showbiz family too, though Cassidy’s was the made-for-TV ‘Partridge Family’. In reality, Cassidy was a decade older than Osmond, so they would surely have been competing for different audiences, and by 1972 he had been photographed nude on the cover of ‘Rolling Stone’ by Annie Liebovitz and had been reported to have taken – shock horror – recreational drugs.

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So, David 1 Donny 0, if indeed it was a competition at all. You would, after all, have to go to some lengths to make a worse record than ‘Puppy Love’. At the same time, I’m struggling to have a strong opinion on this song. It’s fine. It’s nice enough. It’s no Dusty. It’s the perfect proof of a truly great singer, when they can take lyrics that sound a little trite in the voice of another, and give them meaning… But I do like the ending here, as the lines How can I, How can I, How can I… tumble and cascade over one another, like a wonky soundtrack in a circus big-top.

‘How Can I Be Sure’ had been around for a few years by the time David Cassidy recorded his version. It was originally a hit for The Young Rascals in 1967 – their version is meh – before Dusty in 1970 and David two years after that. And we’ll hold off on a full Cassidy bio, as he has another #1 to come in a year or so. Though, I have to admit that, until a few seconds ago, I had no idea that he passed away a few years ago…

316. ‘Puppy Love’, by Donny Osmond

Oh man. It seems that for every great song we get at the moment, there’s a bloody awful one coming right up behind. ‘Metal Guru’ – transcendent, ‘Vincent’ – beautiful, ‘Take Me Back ‘Ome’ – gritty… ‘Puppy Love’… Oh…

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Puppy Love, by Donny Osmond (his 1st of three #1s)

5 weeks, from 2nd July – 6th August 1972

Well, we all know how this one goes, don’t we? I’m not sure how, because it’s not a song you will ever hear on the radio these days, but ‘Puppy Love’ has still somehow seeped into our collective conscience. And it’s a record that sets its stall out from the start – from the opening seconds you are left with no doubt that this song will be as saccharine and cloying as the title suggested.

The intro soars and pirouettes, like they used to in the fifties, before wee Donny goes for it: And they called it, Puppy love, Oh I guess they’ll never know, How a young heart really feels, And why I love her so… His voice doesn’t sound real. I don’t mean that it’s touched up with autotune, or any other kind of modern-day trickery. I mean that it’s impossible to imagine an actual human being sounding this soppy.

And they called it, Puppy love, Just because we’re in our teens… The song’s premise being that ‘puppy love’ is what you call the sort of chaste, pecks-on-the-cheeks-and-notes-passed-in-class crush you get in Year 6. While Donny is quite adamant that his love is for real, that he and his girl should be taken seriously: How can I, Oh how can I tell them, This is not a puppy love…? Which means, you realise with a shudder, that lil’ Donny – just look at those eyes up there! – is actually a randy little horn-dog.

I am clearly not the target of this song. I am not a thirteen year old girl from the early 1970s, for a start. But it is terrible. If you wanted to write a cheesy pastiche of a fifties pop hit, you’d write a song that sounds a lot like ‘Puppy Love’. The bit where the music drops off and Donny pleads: Someone, Help me, Help me please… is simultaneously one of the most annoying moments in a #1 single, and yet quite funny. If you don’t think too much, it is just about possible to get swept away by the stupid melodrama of this record.

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This is actually quite a significant moment at the top of the charts, I’d say. Of course, Donny Osmond is not the first teen-idol to trouble the hit parade, or the #1 spot. And ‘Puppy Love’ is not the first piece of schmaltz to catch the public’s imagination. But having the two thrown together so shamelessly? It feels very post-sixties. Very glam, in a way. A complete triumph of looks over substance. Though ‘Puppy Love’ was a much older song (almost older than Osmond himself) having been recorded by Paul Anka in 1960, making #33. Having listened to Anka’s version, it’s actually a relief to return to this cover…

Donny Osmond was fourteen when this hit top spot, making him the joint-youngest chart-topper, tied with Helen Shapiro. But for God’s sake, listen to Shapiro’s ‘You Don’t Know’ and compare it with this drivel. They do say girls mature quicker than boys… Would tweenage girls still fall for someone like Osmond in 2020? Probably, if their version of ‘Puppy Love’ was Tik-Tok friendly. I remember being at high school (so not that long ago) when the legendary S Club Juniors took a version of it back into the Top 10. And actually, my first thought when I saw the picture of Osmond above was that he looked just like a 2010 Justin Bieber. Which goes to show: a cute white boy with a bowl-cut always has, and always will, sell…

308. ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)’, by The New Seekers

I knew the chorus of this song, as everyone does, what with it having firmly imbedded itself in our popular culture. And so, I was fully expecting a cheesy, sing-along record…

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I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony), by The New Seekers (their 1st of two #1s)

4 weeks, from 2nd – 30th January 1972

…but was not prepared for just how sickly saccharine this song truly is. Do not play this record on a full stomach! The melody is jaunty, the vocals are twee: I’d like to build the world a home, And furnish it with love… Grow apple trees, And honey bees, And snow-white turtle doves… I mean, eeesh. (*Insert vomiting emoji*)

The singers, with their gentle acoustic guitars, sound like earnest church youth-camp leaders around a campfire. Or the bouncy volunteers that confront you on the street, asking for your signature in some worthy cause. I’d like to teach the world to sing, In perfect harmony, And I’d like to hold it in my arms, And keep it company… They sound utterly insufferable – in case I wasn’t making that clear – though I wouldn’t bet against at least two of them having a crippling drug addiction, because nobody is naturally this perky. I do like the bass-line, though.

The message is one of peace and love, obviously, which is nice and all. But the lyrics never get above ‘primary school assembly’ level. We’d all like everyone to get along better and love another, obviously, but the Summer of Love has been and gone – with far better music than this – while a couple of years ago it was all doom and gloom at the top of the charts: ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘In the Year 2525’. This record is the sound of people giving up on the hippy dream and/or a cynical counter-culture, and settling for meaningless crap. And listening to this today, given the absolute shitshow that 2020 has been so far, well it’s almost unbearable.

Plus. Plus, plus, plus. The one other thing that everyone knows about ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’, other than the sugary chorus, is that it originated from a jingle in a Coca-Cola advert. I’d like to buy the world a coke… etc. etc. For this ‘anthem’ of world-peace to have stemmed from one of the world’s mega-corporations, a company that floods every corner of the globe with its spectacularly unhealthy soft drinks and subsequent litter, is the piece de resistance. It’s actually quite funny.

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I’ll get down from my high-horse now. This record wasn’t meant to be taken so seriously. It’s just a cute little pop song aimed at the kids. But, at the same time – back on the high horse for a second – I can’t help feeling that, for people in 1972, spending a few pounds on this shite was the same as people nowadays changing their Facebook profile to reflect whatever the week’s worthy cause is. Making the doer feel better about their privilege, while making no difference whatsoever to the world’s problems.

In fact, I’ve grown to detest this record so much in the past half an hour that I’m going to make a bold, bold claim. That it is worse than ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep’. Yes. ‘CCCC’ was inane and annoying. ‘ILTTTWTS(IPH)’ – that’s one hell of an abbreviation – is inane, annoying, and has ideas way above its station.

Finally, one question needs answering. What relation did The New Seekers have to The (old) Seekers, the Australian folk-pop act who scored two #1s in 1965 with the average ‘I’ll Never Find Another You’ and the dirgey ‘The Carnival Is Over’. Well, both bands share one member: Keith Potger, guitarist, who founded The New Seekers in 1969. They had scored a #2 the year before with ‘Never Ending Song of Love’ and will, I’m sure you’ll be thrilled to discover, top the charts one more time before leaving us in peace forever. Till then…

Follow along through the first (almost) 20 years of the charts, with this playlist:

300. ‘Knock Three Times’, by Dawn

Three hundred number ones not out! Just… lots and lots more to go…! But oh, if only we had a better record to mark this milestone.

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Knock Three Times, by Dawn (their 1st of two #1s)

5 weeks, from 9th May – 13th June 1971

I have been trying to pinpoint the moment when the seventies would come into its own, when it would stop simply being the morning after the sixties. And the last couple of number ones have been such confident statements of intent, sounding very fresh and new, that I thought that moment had come…

But actually, this is the moment. Because has there ever been a more early-seventies sounding song than ‘Knock Three Times’? It sweeps in on horns and a soul-lite sway, and you can’t help picture tinted sunglasses, thick velvet, platform shoes and flared jeans aplenty. And the cheese. Cheese is oozing from the walls.

A man lies in his bed at night, listening to his neighbour dancing in the flat below. Hey girl, watcha doin’ down there? Dancing alone every night while I live right above you… He can’t sleep, but not because of the noise. One floor below me, You don’t even know me, I love you…

So he writes a note, and dangles it on a piece of string in front of her window below, with a proposition. Knock three times on the ceiling if you want me… Wo-oh, twice on the pipe, If the answer is no… Hmmm. It’s a cute concept, on paper, but the more you think about it, and the more you imagine yourself in the woman’s place, the creepier it seems. But hey, maybe this is just what people had to do before the Tinder. And there are sound effects, of course there are sound effects. Twice on the pipe… (Ting, ting)…

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I don’t hate it. It’s catchy. Corny, but catchy. One to enjoy in a cabaret bar with a Cinzano and lemonade. I will, despite myself, be humming it for the rest of the day. But five weeks at number one! Really? Can’t say I can see it as being that popular.

Dawn were basically lead singer Tony Orlando (Isn’t that just the perfect stage name for the singer of this nonsense?) plus a few backing singers. The two singers that he is most associated with, Telma Hopkins and Joyce Wilson, hadn’t joined yet – they were yet to knock. They will have by the time the band scores its second #1, with Orlando’s name front and centre… and for some reason they feature in the video below.

So, a bit of a damp squib on which to celebrate the big three zero zero. Back when I hit the double-century we celebrated with The Beatles’ ‘Help!’. Now it’s ‘Knock Three Times’… Bad luck? Or a symptom of the early-seventies slump? To be fair, we’ve had a great run recently: ‘My Sweet Lord’, ‘Baby Jump’, ‘Hot Love’, ‘Double Barrel’…. then this. Up next, though, a recap.

 

Catch up on all 300 #1s with my Spotify playlist.

289. ‘The Wonder of You’, by Elvis Presley

Well, look who’s back! Over five years on from his last #1, Elvis is back in the building. What version of Elvis are we on now? We’ve had the ‘Sun’ Records Elvis, Elvis the Pelvis, Army Elvis, Post-Army-Chart-Dominator Elvis, Terrible Movie Soundtrack Elvis…

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The Wonder of You, by Elvis Presley (his 16th of twenty-one #1s)

6 weeks, from 26th July – 6th September 1970

’68 Comeback Special Elvis has been and gone – he didn’t make the top of the charts, though ‘Suspicious Minds’, ‘In the Ghetto’ and ‘If I Can Dream’ were all decent-sized hits. Now we’ve arrived at Vegas Elvis. The jumpsuits, the rhinestones… It’s one of his most distinctive looks, the favoured outfit of the modern Elvis impersonator.

‘The Wonder of You’ sweeps in, the instruments sounding brassy and confident, as if the very fact that they are being played on an Elvis record is giving them an extra decibel. And the man himself can’t wait to get singing, joining in with the intro: Woah-woah-woah-woah… His voice sounds deeper, thicker than when we last heard him, crooning on ‘Crying In the Chapel’.

When no-one else can understand me, When everything I do is wrong… I’m not going to lie, this record is a big bucket of schmaltz… You give me hope and consolation, You give me strength to carry on… But I love it. I especially love giving it a good old belt out in the shower. Elvis has plenty of excellent shower-songs, but this is the ultimate. I guess I’ll never know, The reason why, You love me as you do… That’s the wonder, The wonder of you… Who is the ‘you’ in the title? Priscilla? God? The listener? It works, because any old schmuck can sing it to their loved-one and come away looking cute.

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Completing the ‘Elvis at the MGM’ feel are the crowd noises. Yes, we have our first ‘live’ number one since, I think, Lonnie Donegan a decade ago. They applaud at the start, when The King begins to sing, and they cheer at the end when the song rises to its finale. He never actually recorded ‘The Wonder of You’ in a studio, amazingly. At the very end, as the final note appears over the horizon, Elvis’s voice is faded right back into the mix. It’s a disappointingly muted end, a sign perhaps that his voice was beginning to fade. Of course, the next Elvis (Elvis MK VIII?) will be prescription drugs ‘n’ burgers Elvis.

And, sadly, the next Elvis we’ll meet on this countdown will be The Late Elvis. Yep, this is the last UK chart-topper of his lifetime. ‘The Wonder of You’ had been around for a while, though. It was written in 1959 by one Ray Peterson, and recorded by Ronnie Hilton (remember him, from way back in 1956?) and The Platters. Their versions are fine, though a lot stiffer than this one. Apparently Elvis had asked Peterson’s permission to record the song, and Peterson had replied with an ‘Um, you don’t really need to ask, cause you’re, you know, Elvis…’

Very few acts who scored number ones in the sixties managed to keep their runs going in the sixties. There was a sudden and sharp cut off: The Beatles (to be fair, they split up in 1970), The Stones, The Beach Boys, all the Beat bands… The door slammed down on New Year’s Eve 1969. Except, obviously, these rules didn’t apply to The King. In fact, with his 16th #1 he creates a whole new club: artists who have scored chart-toppers in three different decades. Even now it’s a select club, reserved for big names: Madonna, Michael Jackson (if you count The Jacksons), Eminem, Kylie… and Cliff Richard, who has hit #1 in an outrageous five different decades. Yep, plenty more Cliff to look forward to, coming up right here…

Follow along with the UK #1s Blog Spotify playlist here.

286. ‘Back Home’, by The England World Cup Squad ’70

On paper, I should love this next #1. It combines my two great passions-since-childhood: the pop charts and the World Cup. Except… Music isn’t something you enjoy on paper. It has to go in between your ears. Which is where the problems start with this song.

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Back Home, by The England World Cup Squad ‘70 (their 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, from 10th – 31st May 1970

First, some history. England had hosted and won their first, and so far only, football World Cup in 1966, beating West Germany 4-2 in the final. Four years on they were off to Mexico to defend their title. This record, then, was an au revoir to the fans. And it gets going with hand claps and that beat that goes with any sporting occasion – you know: da da dadada dadadada da da. Does it even have a name? Then it’s a marching band and some rousing lyrics.

Back home, They’ll be thinking about us, When we are far away… Back home, They’ll be really behind us, In every game we play… The players put their all into it, singing it like they’re down the pub, rolling out the barrel. We’ll give all we’ve got to give, For the folks… back… home… Interestingly, there’s no explicit mention of them winning the cup, which I suppose is quite modest and sensible.

I have to admit that I’m not a neutral party here. I’m Scottish. Scotland have a fairly terrible football team, and have done for a long time. They last qualified for a major tournament when I was twelve. So for me and most of my fellow countrymen and women – and I’m not proud to admit this but here we are – much of our enjoyment during a World Cup comes from England getting beaten. I hold my hands up. I am biased when it comes to this record.

Then again, even the most ardent England fan would struggle to argue that ‘Back Home’ has much merit beyond nostalgia for a time when they were the world champions. Midway through we get a trumpet solo and some piped-in crowd noises. I half expect Kenneth Wolstenholme’s ‘They think it’s all over…’ commentary, but no.

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It reminds me of a song from the trenches (unfortunately not the last time that the English will equate football with the World Wars.) There’s the simple music hall melody for a start. And the lyrics are all about the folks ‘back home’, as if the team is homesick before they’ve even left, as if they’re missing their sweethearts, as if they don’t really want to go…

And with good reason, perhaps. Their campaign in Mexico was fairly disastrous. Captain Bobby Moore was falsely arrested for stealing a bracelet, keeper Gordon Banks was knocked out by food poisoning (some have since suggested foul-play) and West Germany exacted their revenge by beating them 3-2 in the quarter-finals. Brazil went on to win an iconic final against Italy – Pele, Carlos Alberto and all that.

I accept that there would have been a lot of hype surrounding the defence of their title – they released this record a full two months before the World Cup started – and that this song is fairly inoffensive in the grand scheme of things. At least it’s short, wrapped up in exactly two minutes. But I’d happily never listen to it again. The players clearly enjoyed their experience in the recording studio though, as they went and made a whole album! Ever wondered what ‘Congratulations’, ‘Lily the Pink’ and ‘Sugar Sugar’ sound like when sung by footballers? Wonder no more – the whole album’s on Spotify.

If anybody out there actually enjoyed this latest chart-topper – and who am I to judge? – then you’ll be happy to hear that this is the first of four World Cup themed #1s (plus a European Championship themed #1 for good measure.) They will all be about England – boo! But most of them will be better than ‘Back Home’ – yay! And, just to show that I may be biased but not that biased, here’s a link to the Scotland World Cup Squad’s highest charting single: ‘We Have a Dream’, which reached #5 in 1982. (Spoiler Alert: It’s just as bad, if not worse, than ‘Back Home’.)

284. ‘All Kinds of Everything’, by Dana

We are only four #1 singles into the 1970s, and we already have a contender for the worst chart-topper of the decade. Prepare yourselves…

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All Kinds of Everything, by Dana (her 1st and only #1)

2 weeks, from 12th – 26th April 1970

The intro comes in like the theme-tune to an educational show, aimed at nursery school kids. You brace for something bad, but nothing can quite prepare you for just how bad it’s going to be. Snowdrops and daffodils, Butterflies and bees, Sailboats and fishermen, Things of the sea… The entire song is a list. A list of the things that remind the singer of her special someone. Seagulls, And aeroplanes, Things of the sky… (Seagulls? Who sees a seagull and thinks of their beloved? Maybe he saved her from one that was trying to steal her chips?) All kinds of everything, Remind me of you…

Literally everything reminds her of him. Insects, the wind, wishing wells, morning dew, neon lights, postcards, grey skies or blue… Everything. It just doesn’t work. These are lyrics that could have been written by a ten-year-old (though, actually, I teach ten-year-olds, and it’s insulting of me to think they couldn’t write something better than this.) The only way this song works is if the singer is a wide-eyed child, no older than thirteen.

And, to be fair, Dana does have a very innocent, childlike voice. She sells the drivel that she’s singing, in her lilting Irish accent, and sounds like she believes in it… (*Edit* She was eighteen when ‘All Kinds of Everything’ was released. Far too old.) Things take a slightly creepy turn when she starts to sing of dances, romances, things of the night… And you think, be careful Dana, I know what happens to young Irish girls that find themselves ‘in trouble’. I’ve seen ‘Philomena’…

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This was a hit thanks to the Eurovision Song Contest – an evening famous for terrible music. But not this type of terrible. Eurovision is over the top, camp, cheesy glitz. We’ve had one winner hit #1 so far – Sandie Shaw’s ‘Puppet on a String’ – as well as Cliff’s ‘Congratulations’, which took the runners-up position. Neither of those records were very credible, but they were fun. This, though, isn’t interesting terrible or fun terrible… It’s just terrible terrible. And yet… it won. The rest of Europe heard ‘All Kinds of Everything’ and though, yeah, go on then.

Dana Rosemary Scallon is from Derry, in Northern Ireland, and grew up in London. She represented Ireland at Eurovision, though, and got them their first ever win. In return, she received death threats from the IRA, incensed by the fact a British girl was representing the Republic. (Or maybe they just really didn’t like the song either…)

‘All Kinds of Everything’ was Dana’s first big hit, though she had been releasing music since 1967. She would have hits in Ireland, and in Europe, throughout the seventies, but her star slowly waned. By the eighties she had turned to more traditional, Christian music before she was elected as a member of the European Parliament for Connacht-Ulster in 1999. She still records music (in 2007 she released an album called ‘Good Morning Jesus!’, no less.)

Well then. It’s been a scattergun start to the seventies. Like I said, we’re only on the 4th number one and we’ve already had some catchy, no-nonsense pop, a grizzled actor and a genuine classic at the top. And now this… The charts come and go in peaks and troughs. We’re definitely hitting a bit of a trough through the tail-end of ‘69 and into the seventies. But then, the golden days of the swinging sixties couldn’t last forever, could they? We will wait with bated breath for the 1970s to spring fully into life…