413. ‘Silver Lady’, by David Soul

Barely five seconds into David Soul’s second chart-topper of the year, I decide that I like it more than his first, ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’.

Silver Lady, by David Soul (his 2nd and final #1)

3 weeks, from 2nd – 23rd October 1977

To be honest, that’s more of a comment on the overbearing dullness of the earlier single than the brilliance of this, but still. It intros with a nice, Eagles-esque bassline and riff. It’s funky, and slightly sleazy. It sounds, believe it or not, like the theme-tune to a cop drama… Tired of drifting, Searching, Shifting, From town to town… The lyrics are much more interesting than their predecessor, too.

Then, midway through the first verse, something clicks and the song is suddenly tremendous fun. Suddenly we’re gearing up for an outrageous earworm of a chorus. It’s the horns. It’s always the horns. Come on silver lady, Take my word, I won’t run out on you again, Believe me… It’s schmaltzy, it’s cheesy… It’s stayed with me since I listened to this song for the first time a few days ago…

I love the barroom piano that joins us for verse two, as Soul paints a picture of the sorts of dives he’s been reduced to since getting himself chucked out. Seedy motels, And no-star hotels, Still I had to learn… Most importantly, compared to ‘Don’t Give Up…’, this song doesn’t take itself too seriously. The tongue remains firmly in cheek. It sounds exactly like the sort of song an off duty cop would attempt at a karaoke bar, after a beer or two… (I had to check that the lyrics weren’t: I’ve seen the light, It’s just one more pint without you…)

That was one of my main complaints about his previous #1. For the heartthrob star of an all-action police drama to debut with such an insipid puddle of crap was disappointing. ‘Silver Lady’ is more like it. I’m glad David Soul got this shot at redemption. And he got it just in time, for there were only two further chart hits left in his locker. Since then he’s tended to focus on his acting, though he is semi-retired these days. In 2004, he became a British citizen, perhaps as a way of thanking the nation for making him more than just a one-hit wonder, as he remains in his homeland.

This is one of those songs that, if you listen to it at the right time of day, with the right amount of alcohol in you, you may start to overestimate. I mean, I’m enjoying it; but I’d better move on before I start claiming it as an overlooked classic. Still, the charts need songs like this. Pure, unapologetic pop. More of which is coming up next…

399. ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’, by David Soul

And it is onwards into 1977. Officially the late seventies! Bring it on!

Don’t Give Up On Us, by David Soul (his 1st of two #1s)

4 weeks, from 9th January – 6th February 1977

Actually… I’m tempted to write the entire year off after thirty seconds of this next number one. It’s been creeping up on us, slowly but surely, with Demis Roussos, Chicago, Johnny Mathis… I fear the soft-rock years may officially be upon us.

In fact, I think this record has the exact same gloopy, doopy backing track from Johnny Mathis’s Christmas #1. They sure sound similar. Though David Soul’s voice has nowhere near the gravitas that Mathis had. Don’t give up on us baby, Don’t make the wrong, Seem right… It’s a decent voice, but a very soppy one.

I want to get a foothold on this song, a way in to appreciating it, but I can’t. It’s a puff of smoke. There’s nothing actually there. It’s a ‘check your watch’ kind of song, in that you start to wonder how long it’s going to go on for… Pulses are raised slightly come the middle-eight: I really lost my head last night… though you struggle to imagine the singer of this song being capable of any strong emotions… and then we get the blandest solo you could ever imagine, featuring a mish mash of guitars, strings and a French horn.

And then there’s a key change! Of course. Is there a more divisive trick in the songwriters’ handbook than the key change? Some make you punch the air and shout ‘YES!’; others make you wish the song would just end right there and then. No prizes for guessing which camp this record falls into…

Before coming to this record, I knew David Soul as being famous for his role in ‘Starsky and Hutch’, though I needed to check which one he was (Hutch). Soul’s record career came slap bang in the middle of the show’s four series run. So, he had the exposure and was perhaps always going to score a huge hit. But ‘Starsky and Hutch’ was a cop show, in which the two main characters used their wits and traded blows to catch the bad guys. They were cool, bad-ass. Yet, it is hard to think of another song that is as far away from being cool, or bad-ass, as ‘Don’t Give Up on Us’ is.

I just wish it had a bit more – a lot more! – life about it, is all. And glancing down the list of up and coming #1s for the year – including one more from Hutch – I worry that this might become a recurring wish. Not that there aren’t plenty of classics to come, though. So come on – think positive! I won’t give up on 1977 yet… (see what I did there?)