233. ‘Silence Is Golden’, by The Tremeloes

It’s been over three and a half years since The Tremeloes scored their first number one hit, a raucous cover of ‘Do You Love Me’. Since then they’ve dropped Brian Poole – or, rather he’s left to pursue a solo career – and mellowed their sound right down.

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Silence Is Golden, by The Tremeloes (their 2nd and final #1)

3 weeks, from 18th May – 8th June 1967

I’m getting a Beach Boys, folky vibe as we start off. ‘Silence Is Golden’ is yet another song I know as being ‘part the swinging sixties canon’, without having ever listened to it properly. It’s a nice melody, the harmonising is nice… It’s a nice song. Oh don’t it hurt deep inside, To see someone do something to her… It’s the song of a watcher, one that either still has feelings for an ex, or that has an unrequited love. He wants to tell her that she’s being taken for a ride: Should I tell her, Or should I be cool…?

In the end he decides that silence is indeed golden, and that he should keep schtum. I like the idea that it’s actually the singer’s conscience singing to him, and that it at one point calls him ‘a fool’, but some time around the second chorus this song starts to get irritating.

It’s the forced falsetto voices, and the cheesy doo-wop backing vocals. It’s the ‘solo’, which is the band converging for a long oooweeeooowaaawaaawooowooow. By the end, when the final note swoops upwards like you’ve changed the speed setting, you’re glad it’s over. Like I said, it’s nice enough… But it’s a bit wishy-washy. It’s trying too hard. If this record were a schoolboy, he’d be getting his lunch money stolen.

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(Can we just take a moment to appreciate that this disc appears to have had an actual picture sleeve, which seems to have been very rare thing indeed in Britain in the ’60s! Maybe that’s why it made it to  #1!)

‘Silence Is Golden’ is actually a cover of a Four Season’s ‘B’-side from a few years earlier. I’ll link to it here, but have to admit that that version also leaves me a bit cold. I dunno. Sometimes songs just don’t connect. It is very impressive, though, that The Tremeloes’ chart-topping career spanned the very middle of the 1960s, a time when pop music was developing at lightning speed. Their contemporaries in 1963 were Gerry & The Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer, who were nowhere near the #1 spot in 1967. (And The Beatles who, to be fair, were still enjoying reasonable success…)

To conclude: file under so-so. The Tremeloes powered on, given a second wind by their second number one, and scored hits right through to the early seventies. They still tour on the oldies circuit, and reunited with Brian Poole for their 40th anniversary. And, since I’m struggling to write much more, I’ll end with a great bit of trivia. The Tremeloes contributed heavily to nineties pop, inadvertently, as the band members’ children included duo Alisha’s Attic and the one and only (gettit?) Chesney Hawkes!

158. ‘Do You Love Me’, by Brian Poole & The Tremeloes

Our next chart-topper is, perhaps, a bit of a come-down after we scaled such euphoric heights with ‘She Loves You’. I suppose that is a hard act to follow. But The Tremeloes’ debut at the top isn’t without its merits.

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Do You Love Me, by Brian Poole (his 1st and only #1) & The Tremeloes (their 1st of two #1s)

3 weeks, from 10th – 31st October 1963

For the second chart-topper in three we get an intro that builds… You broke my heart, ‘Cos I couldn’t dance, You didn’t even want me around… in a way that strongly signals that this is a song about to explode (imagine a huge sign saying ‘Up-tempo Pop Song Ahead – 10 seconds’)… But now I’m back, To let you know, That I can really shake ‘em down… It might, off the top of my head, be the very first ever spoken intro we’ve heard on this countdown.

Anyway, the singer clearly went off and had some dancing lessons, or at least a shot or two of tequila, and he’s returned to let his girl know that he can, indeed, cut some shapes. The rest of the song’s lyrics are pretty nonsensical – standard dance music catchphrases from the fifties and sixties: do the mashed potato, you can do the twist, shake it up, shake it down, a little bit of soul now, do you like it like this… And of course, the big question, over and over: Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? Now that I can dance….? (Watch me now!)

I used to work in the bar of a bowling alley (as you do), and every Saturday night we’d have a live DJ (hi, DJ Brian) and this was, without fail, one of the last songs he’d play every week. Because there is no better song for yelling along to at the top of your voice, when it’s just past midnight and you’re drunk in a bowling alley, than ‘Do You Love Me’. Take the ‘Now that I can dance’ line, and the layered, ascending ‘Daaaaannnnn Daaaannnnnn Dannnnnnccceeee!’ I will find it impossible to dislike any song that employs this device. They could shove it in the middle of ‘God Save the Queen’ (the national anthem that is; not the Sex Pistols one) and it would work.

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This was, as perhaps you know, originally a Motown record, released one year before by The Contours. It had been a US #1, but hadn’t charted in the UK. I’ve put a link in for comparing and contrasting purposes. For what it’s worth – as with ‘Sweets for my Sweet’ a few posts ago – I like the Motown original a shade better as a song (the tempo is slightly slower, and I think it’s a song that works more effectively with a vocal group rather than with an instrument-playing band). But… The Tremeloes’ version does have an irresistible madcap energy to it – the last chorus, where all the band members yelp and yell over and under one another, is possibly the rawest five seconds of any chart-topper thus far.

The Tremeloes, and Brian Poole, were the first Beat chart-toppers not to come from the North-West of England (they were from Dagenham, just outside London). This was their second hit, and they would go on to score hits – with or without their lead singer Brian Poole – throughout the sixties. We’ll be meeting them one more time, with a record that’s the polar opposite of this. Though, I do have to say, ‘Do You Love Me’ is a record that wins you over by the end. It would have won me over quicker, I suspect, if I’d had a few before writing this post. ‘Do You Love Me’, if you’ll allow me a moment of metaphor, is like a sloppy, untrainable puppy that’s just made a mess of a houseplant. You want to hate it, and maybe get rid of it, but one look at its loveable eyes and everything’s forgiven.