100. ‘Do You Mind’, by Anthony Newley

100 not out! A little cricket reference for you there. And I’d wager that Mr. A. Newley – the singer involved in this particular milestone – was partial to a spot of the old leather-on-willow back in his prime. Cos he’s posh, you see. Or rather, he sounds posh – and that’s half the battle, really. Anyway… He would like to ask, if it isn’t terribly impertinent of him, another question. Fresh from asking ‘Why?’, he’s now wondering ‘Do You Mind?’

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Do You Mind, by Anthony Newley (his 2nd of two #1s)

1 week, from 28th April – 5th May 1960

He loves a polite question, does our Anthony. The title of this latest chart-topping record could be anything but polite – it conjures up, in my mind at least, images of a fearsome old lady grabbing the boy who’s just tried to push ahead of her in a queue: ‘Young man! Do you mind!?’. And yet, when you listen to the words, you realise that this is a song about being nothing but a perfect gentleman.

It begins with some finger snappin’, and a natty little bass line. If I say I love you… Do you mind? Make an idol of you… Do you mind? If I shower you with kisses, If I tell you honey this is, How I picture heaven… Do you mind? ‘I say, dearest, would it be OK if I begin utterly adoring you? Are you sure? Thanks ever so…’ Works a charm every time. He’s a clever rogue is Anthony Newley. Last time I pictured him as a sort of dandy-ish Bertie Wooster, posing soppy questions to his girl – the answer to which was always ‘Why? Because I love you.’ Here I’m picturing him as a sort of proto-Hugh Grant, bumbling his way into women’s hearts with his achingly proper advances.

As with ‘Why’, this is a fluffy little record of very little consequence. But I like it more than its predecessor. It’s got someone snapping their fingers, for a start. Plus there’s a sort of jazzy, music hall swing to the lines: I wanna whisper, whisper sweet nothings in your ear… Then there’s the oh-so-1960, tinny rock ‘n’ roll guitar which begins with the odd jab between lines, before growing in confidence and adding some cool little licks along the way. And I love the ending. Click click.

I also like Newley’s voice here more than I did during his first chart-topper: it’s not quite as reedy or as camp. He’s trying to add a spot of swagger by dropping his aitches – note the ‘love ya’ and the ‘ba-by’ in the closing bridge – but he isn’t really fooling anyone. I did my usual research, as this is the last time we’ll be hearing from Mr. Newley, and it turns out that he was a big vocal inspiration for none other than… David Bowie. Which makes complete sense, and which means you will forever picture a young Ziggy Stardust whenever you next hear ‘Do You Mind.’

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Which probably won’t be any time soon, though, as Anthony Newley and his hits seem to have been erased from the public conscience. He lived a full life nonetheless: four marriages (that loveable toff schtick must have worked!), one of which was to Joan Collins – a notch in anyone’s bedpost! He also – and this makes his disappearance from the rock and pop canon seem very strange – wrote Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ (!) and Shirley Bassey’s ‘Goldfinger’ (!!) As well as all that – and this belatedly gains him a place in my childhood heroes Hall of Fame – he also wrote the soundtrack to ‘Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory’, i.e. the one with Gene Wilder, i.e. the film I watched on VHS at least once a month between the ages of seven and nine.

Also of note here is the fact that this track is the latest in a growing list of quick-fire doubles at the top of the charts. In the past two years Connie Francis, Russ Conway, Bobby Darin, Adam Faith, Cliff Richard and now Anthony Newley have all hit the top spot twice with a gap of only two or three months in between. I’ve mentioned the concept of a shadow #1 before – a follow-up release that does well thanks to the resonant glow from an earlier hit – but it’s really been noticeable these past months. And quite often the ‘lesser’ hit has been better, to my ears, than the bigger one… Anyway, the next #1 is also a ‘sophomore’ number one, and – I don’t usually do previews but I’m indulging myself here – a complete and utter CLASSIC.

96. ‘Why’, by Anthony Newley

We’ve only just started with 1960, yet suddenly it’s March! Time flies! And it seems that if the early sixties is going to have an on-running theme at the top of the charts, then said theme will be ‘Whimsical’.

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Why, by Anthony Newley (his 1st of two #1s)

4 weeks, from 5th February – 4th March 1960

Because this is another gossamer light record, as ethereal and floaty as its predecessor: ‘Starry Eyed’. Here the chimes come from a xylophone, or maybe a glockenspiel, or any other instrument with bars that you might strike with a little furry ball on a stick. I’ll never let you go, Why? Because I love you… I’ll always love you so, Why? Because you love me… There are a lot of questions in this record, lots of ‘Why?’s, and the answer to every single one is that Newley loves his girl, or that she loves him. It’s a lovey-dovey song; a song to make you gag.

The lyrics to this #1 are, quite frankly, a cheesefest. And super simple. I think you’re awfully sweet, Why? Because I love you… You say I’m your special treat, Why? Because you love me… Anthony Newley’s voice is reedy, and clipped. Slightly camp. I’m picturing him as a bit of a dandy, nice mustard chinos and a tartan jacket, something eye-catching in the buttonhole, serenading his objet au desire from the lamppost outside her bedroom window. Yet somehow he just manages to keep the song from tipping over into silly territory. He is very earnest, with buckets of boyish innocence to spare, and this just about carries the day.

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A couple of moments do threaten to ruin things completely. When the backing singers launch into their couple of lines like a tipsy Broadway chorus you can really picture, and are almost blinded by, the shine coming off their manic grins. And Newley’s final lines are particularly cloying: I love you, And you love me, We’ll love each other dear, Forever… You can imagine twelve-year-olds up and down the land theatrically retching, fingers in mouths, when their older sisters dropped this 7” on the gramophone. It’s amazing to think that three months back – just five chart-toppers ago – Bobby Darin was singing about a mass-murderer. And now this. Who says there’s no variety at the top of the pop charts, eh?

At best this #1 could be described as ‘cute’; and at worst as ‘positively vomit-inducing’. But I’m willing to give Newley the benefit of the doubt as he is so very earnest, so utterly proper throughout, that he simply must mean what he says. The pictures thrown up by a quick image search don’t really show him as a foppish man-about-town, more as a bank clerk with hair slightly longer than his manager might think appropriate. He did, though, manage four marriages, one of them to no less a glamazonian as Joan Collins, and so who knows? Maybe this simple little love-ditty helped in that regard. He’ll be back at the top before long, so we’ll save any further bio for then.

One final thing of note… I just noticed that we are in the middle of another long run of male-led number one hits. Shirley Bassey was the last woman to top the charts, a year ago now (though there was a female member of The Platters after that), and we’re going to have to wait another year to hear the next female voice on this countdown! 1960 will join 1957 as a lady-less year at the top of the UK Singles charts. An interesting quirk? Or a sign of a crushing patriarchy? If today’s ‘Guardian’ had been around in 1960 there would have been opinion pieces, that’s for sure…