4th November 1969
Bobbie’s 5th and final week on top, as Nilsson’s brilliant Midnight Cowboy song goes top 5, and The Beatles are the sole new entry courtesy of a George Harrison ballad at 6. Something quickly became a standard, but as a Beatles song in the UK it was a shock (relative) failure peaking at 4, the first Beatles record to fail to hit the top 2 bar their first single. It was an odd choice of double A side as Come Together got no airplay at all in Singapore, in fact it took me 5 years to get to hear it, and even then I wasn’t that bothered about it. Something, great as it was, seemed a bit too MOR for the Fabs, so pretty much my least fave Beatles single. Little did we know that it was actually the last Beatles single ever, chronologically-recording-wise, until the 2 Anthology John Lennon songs finished by the other three Beatles.
OK, so back at home in Bedokville, Singapore new suburbia, one evening mum and dad went out to some do on camp, and left me and brother Mark alone (but under the eye of the neighbours Irving & Mary, who popped their head over the fence occasionally). We had chit-chat’s tut-tutting up and about the walls while we watched TV, they just got into any handy crevice in houses and grabbed insects, which for me is a blessing, mozzies being my mortal enemy and all. This night something quite big started walking jerkily and slowly across the living room floor – I recognised it from TV shows as a Preying Mantis, though I’d never seen one in real life, and neither had Mark. We shouted for Irving and Mary, eventually, after chucking cushions at it from a distance, trying to persuade it to go out the door. Didn’t work, and nobody came round, so we really just waited feet up on the bamboo chair/sofa till mum and dad came home. By then, a chit-chat had apparently had a bit of a do with it – and won. I say apparently, as there wasn’t much left in the way of evidence. Not as scary as the huge spiders though, or the supersized hornets buzzing round flowers in the day, or the snakeskins one occasionally found shed in bedrooms, and on the plus side, not as revolting as mosquitos and cockroaches that were a daily nuisance. We lifted up a garden grate, and it was LITERALLY teaming with roaches of all sizes scuttling away like mad. I think the worst thing, though, was finding insects in your food – half a bug, especially, as you never got to be sure if you’d eaten the other half. Cereals imported from the USA were fun (I loved the cardboard Archies records on the back of the packet, with a coating of plastic for the grooves, you could cut out and play on a record player) but the boll weevils inside (or whatever they were) were offputting. So were local biscuits cooked with ants firmly inside them. Exotic fruits though, like oddly-prickly-looking red-coloured rambutan’s, a Malayan peninsula fruit on sale on market-stalls everywhere, were eye-openers – who woulda known there were so many fruits you had never seen, never mind tasted….!
1 ( 1 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
2 ( 3 ) SUGAR SUGAR The Archies
3 ( 4 ) IT’S GETTING BETTER Mama Cass
4 ( 2 ) GOOD MORNING STARSHINE Oliver
5 ( 7 ) EVERYBODY’S TALKING Nilsson
6 ( NEW ) SOMETHING The Beatles
7 ( 5 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
8 ( 9 ) OH ME OH MY (I’M A FOOL FOR YOU) Lulu
9 ( 6 ) LAY LADY LAY Bob Dylan
10 ( 8 ) DON’T FORGET TO REMEMBER The Bee Gees
11th November 1969
First week on top for Sugar Sugar, The Archies EP also containing Feelin So Good, which re-enters at 5. I still love Sugar Sugar, simple and perfect sugar confection bubblegum pop, which is why it’s sold a million and still trickle sells. It had a whopping 8 week run at 1 in the UK charts, I think, so let’s see if it can match that in mine! The chart gets some action, as Tremeloes re-enter, and 3 new tracks pop in: Nobody’s Child is a very MOR ballad, and I’ll be honest the Traveling Wilburys did a better version 20 years later. George Harrison of course involved in that one, and also at 4 with Something. Lou Christie had one of those “oh that’s who he is” moments whenever the fantastic Lightning Strikes grabbed an occasional radio play back in the day. The Lou falsetto is immense on Lightning, but not much in evidence on this bubblegum pop delight at 9, I’m Gonna Make You Mine. At 10, it’s Kenny Rogers debuting, the start of a long country career, and by far his best record, the amazing Ruby Don’t Take Your Love To Town, a song about a veteran back from the Vietnam war, paralysed and unable to please his wife in that way any more, and her forays into town to find someone who can. Oddly touching.
Singapore times? How about swimming lessons? Saturday mornings were a trip into Changi Village on the bus, and a walk to the swimming pool at the Padang on camp (or a quick SZ taxi-ride – taxis used to cram as many people in as possible, so often it was more like a bus ride with strangers people getting on and off en route). I pretty much did OK at swimming, picking up distance badges early on and moving onwards and upwards to badges of more merit. We had robes the badges were sewn onto – hey we all did it, it was the fashion! Pretty sure I also picked up bloody varrucas at the pool too, by the time I left Singapore I had warts in many bodily places. For those not in the know, they have a comforting way of popping up years later and developing nicely into Hollywood-style witch-warts which you can share with the rest of the world whenever you go the beach. How sweet! Not to mention the hard bits of skin on your feel soles left when you get them burnt off, just to remind you occasionally that they once shared your feet with you. If that sounds a bit ewwww I actually loved swimming (eventually) though it was sometimes a case of “do we have to?!”. Best thing though: the comics in the Changi Village book shops, as I started to fill-in some of my missing back issues of DC comics. I became obsessive in my search for the Legion Of Super-Heroes.
1 ( 2 ) SUGAR SUGAR The Archies
2 ( 1 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
3 ( 5 ) EVERYBODY’S TALKING Nilsson
4 ( 6 ) SOMETHING The Beatles
5 ( RE ) FEELIN’ SO GOOD (SKOOBY DOO) The Archies
6 ( 9 ) LAY LADY LAY Bob Dylan
7 ( NEW ) NOBODY’S CHILD Karen Young
8 ( RE ) (CALL ME) NUMBER ONE The Tremeloes
9 ( NEW ) I’M GONNA MAKE YOU MINE Lou Christie
10 ( NEW ) RUBY DON’T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
18th November 1969
2 weeks for The Archies on top, The Beatles get up to 3 with their 4th hit, The Hollies re-enter future (1988) number one He Ain’t Heavy at 9, and Stevie Wonder gets his 3rd Top 10 of the year, the less-remembered but fab Yester-Me Yester-You Yesterday, an under-rated Motown gem.
How about a naughty John tale? I was actually a goodie-goodie child, rarely did anything wrong, but for some reason I’d managed to get a catapult as a new toy, and was quietly enjoying the sheer speed that little bits of gravel from the road flew off in it, it was pretty powerful. I was under the balcony of the house happily aiming at the road so nothing would get hit, when a taxi went by with a passenger in it. I waited till it was almost out of the way and the let one go. Unfortunately I didn’t wait quite long enough, it smacked right into the rear light of the black and yellow taxi and smashed it as the car drove away. Not for long, though, it reversed and a livid Chinese driver jumped out shouting at me as I dashed indoors and up to my room. He was having none of that, got my dad, ranted a bit, dad gave him 25 dollars for the damage and that was the end of my pocket money for a while. I tried to explain it was an accident (which it was) but I guess with hindsight, claiming something is an accident (even when it is) is no excuse. What was worse though was not being believed! Bad bad John!
1 ( 1 ) SUGAR SUGAR The Archies
2 ( 2 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
3 ( 4 ) SOMETHING The Beatles
4 ( 3 ) EVERYBODY’S TALKING Nilsson
5 ( 8 ) (CALL ME) NUMBER ONE The Tremeloes
6 ( 10 ) RUBY DON’T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
7 ( NEW ) YESTER-ME YESTER-YOU, YESTERDAY Stevie Wonder
8 ( 9 ) I’M GONNA MAKE YOU MINE Lou Christie
9 ( RE ) HE AIN’T HEAVY…HE’S MY BROTHER The Hollies
10 ( 5 ) FEELIN’ SO GOOD (SKOOBY DOO) The Archies
25th November 1969
3 weeks for Sugar Sugar on top, but the only movement of note is the new entry from Rolf Harris at 4. I’m going to ignore all of the recent nastiness and pretend it never happened cos in the 60’s Rolf was loved by kids. He brought Australia into the living room, along with Skippy The Bush Kangaroo, and ethnic aboriginal-flavoured delights like the great Sun Arise alternated with his jokey hit records like Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport and Jake The Peg (diddle iddle dum). Biggest of all, though, was the touching Two Little Boys, a tale of brothers, both as youngsters, and serving in a war as adults. Like Sugar Sugar, much derided, and like Sugar Sugar missing the point: 11-year-olds like me loved them. I still do. Two Little Boys was a huge record, pretty much on 2-way Family Favourites every other week with messages of “missing you much” from family members back home, and then again on Juniors Choice over the years, till the BBC decided pre-teens no longer needed their own pop-music show. Yes they do!
This (Last) / Peak / wks
1 ( 1 ) 1 7 SUGAR SUGAR The Archies
2 ( 2 ) 1 12 I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
3 ( 3 ) 3 4 SOMETHING The Beatles
4 ( NEW ) 4 1 TWO LITTLE BOYS Rolf Harris
5 ( 4 ) 3 5 EVERYBODY’S TALKING Nilsson
6 ( 7 ) 6 2 YESTER-ME, YESTER-YOU, YESTERDAY Stevie Wonder
7 ( 5 ) 5 4 (CALL ME) NUMBER ONE The Tremeloes
8 ( 6 ) 6 3 RUBY DON’T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
9 ( 9 ) 9 5 HE AIN’T HEAVY…HE’S MY BROTHER The Hollies
10 ( 8 ) 8 3 I’M GONNA MAKE YOU MINE Lou Christie