oldies videos here…
2nd June 1970
3 weeks on top for Glen Campbell’s fab Honey Come Back, as Ray Stevens holds at 2, and the highest new entry is another total Singapore summertime pop gem, the chugging shuffling very very famous In The Summertime from Mungo Jerry. It was a monster hit, instantly catchy, with across-the board appeal and I loved it for many years until over-familiarity gradually eroded it’s charm. I’m still fond of it though, as it reminds me of Singapore so much.
The Beach Boys’ Cottonfields sounded like an ancient song, though it was a mere 30 years old, in contrast with Gerry Monroe’s energetic, falsetto-stomping update of Gracie Field’s 1931 once-famous signature tune Sally, which was a whoppingly ancient 39 years old. Time’s a funny ol’ thing, covers of songs from the 70’s wouldn’t seem that ancient in these X Factor and The Voice days, but they sounded like they were from a century ago in those days. Whatever, it’s a fun record in at 12.
Marvin Gaye gets his 2nd top 10 hit, as Abraham Marvin And John goes where his Grapevine had been before, and Status Quo return with a very different blues boogie sound, Down The Dustpipe at 20, no more shiny psychedelic pop sadly. Or happily, in the long run. At 17, Fleetwood Mac are also back with some blues, slowed-down and disturbingly haunting, The Green Manalishi was very much Peter Green’s final mental-illness-laid-bare work with the Mac, and the end of this phase of their career, seemingly with finality as the principal songwriter left to deal with drug-induced and long-term mental problems. The song, with it’s eerie whooping, took me back to childhood horror television soundtracks (I got to stay up to watch them occasionally, like Tales Of Mystery And Imagination in 1966, which featured an old-woman ghost and scared the bejeezers out of me for years afterwards, and lost me a lot of sleep hiding under the bed-covers). Anyways, the record disturbed me then, and it still has that effect on me now.
1 ( 1 ) HONEY COME BACK Glen Campbell
2 ( 2 ) EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL Ray Stevens
3 ( 3 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
4 ( 5 ) DON’T YOU KNOW Butterscotch
5 ( 4 ) YELLOW RIVER Christie
6 ( NEW ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
7 ( 8 ) ABC The Jackson 5
8 ( 15 ) COTTONFIELDS The Beach Boys
9 ( 10 ) GROOVIN’ WITH MR. BLOE Mr. Bloe
10 ( 17 ) ABRAHAM MARTIN AND JOHN Marvin Gaye
11 ( 11 ) DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS Tom Jones
12 ( NEW ) SALLY Gerry Monroe
13 ( 13 ) QUESTION The Moody Blues
14 ( 12 ) SPIRIT IN THE SKY Norman Greenbaum
15 ( 14 ) THE ARCHIES EP (Sugar Sugar/Bang Shang A Lang/ Everything’s Archie (Archie’s Theme)/Over And Over) The Archies
16 ( 16 ) BACK HOME England World Cup Squad
17 ( NEW ) THE GREEN MANALISHI Fleetwood Mac
18 ( 18 ) SAVE THE COUNTRY The Fifth Dimension
19 ( 19 ) UP THE LADDER TO THE ROOF The Supremes
20 ( NEW ) DOWN THE DUSTPIPE Status Quo
Meanwhile, in Singapore, I was a lot happier in my tropical wonderland than I’d been in the UK. School was also very sadly winding down for me, I felt bad about having to leave somewhere I was very happy, with lots of friends and lots of fun at RAF Seletar Secondary Modern, in order to take up a new role as a boy with educational potential at RAF Changi Grammar. I’d seen one of my acquaintances make the trip the previous term, and after my mum had been a bit disappointed I failed my 11plus exams first-time round, and seemed proud I’d got in to the Grammar School (dad also got into Grammar in his youth but didn’t like it and bailed), I really had no get-out clause handy without causing disappointment, even though I felt a bit sick about leaving, and about joining another new school yet again – this would be my, let’s see, ooh, 8th school in 7 years. Always the new boy intruding on others’ established social circles, me. Probably why I still see myself outside of gangs and groups and organisations – not that I don’t have, and didn’t have, friends (Im very fortunate to have loads) but having seen what groups of human beings are capable of, and been on the receiving end of it, I don’t trust human nature and it’s herd instincts and it’s tendency to do what the leading biggest bully thicko wants them to do. We see this in the playground, and we see it now in politics and supposed religious movements (which are the opposite of what they pretend to be) as lost and weak-minded look to others to give their life some meaning.
Plus, I got to know people from other cultures and had a wider perspective on life and human nature than people growing up in one area their whole life….
9th June 1970
Ray Stevens sings to me that Everything Is Beautiful in it’s own way – well, that’s a very rose-tinted and wildly inaccurate viewpoint if taken literally, but the equality sentiment (red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight) struck a chord with me even if the more overtly religious elements didn’t have the same power to lil 12-year-old John. Now I’m much more cynical, but it’s nice to hark back to a time when one had bursting optimism that anything good was possible. The record, of course, is not held up with esteem these days, but it was hugely popular at the time, and made me a fan of Ray Stevens, both his serious and his comedy tracks. Just as well, cos his Greatest Hits is a very schizophrenic experience! My fave record for nearly a decade, in part for the sledgehammer nostalgia for Singapore it brought out in me when times were less fun.
Butterscotch at 2, don’t cha know, while the ever-present Cliff is highest new entry at 8, with his biggest UK hit in 2 years, Goodbye Sam Hello Samantha, a good ol’ pop record about growing up and taking an interest in girls. Pity, cos Goodbye Samantha Hello Sam would have caused a sensation. Cliff was 12 years into his career, and already was just SO famous, non-stop hits, TV shows, films, very much an institution with everyone but the rock critics. This one did nothing to improve that situation, but I loved it anyway, cos, frankly, I pretty much loved everything Cliff did till I hit my teens and I couldn’t remember a time when there was no Cliff. 45 years on, I still can’t (fairly obviously).
At 14, Free, All Right Now, rock classic. Still famous, and a hit many times, it’s easy to forget how young Free were at the time, but oh that riff is timeless. Not, however, a riff that made it’s way over to Singapore radio, rock was not approved of, so from my point of view there’s a bit of retro charting going on here because I DID become aware of it soon after Singapore days were over, but for me it was the third Free song to get to love, after Little Bit Of Love and Wishing Well both of which I (gasp!) prefer. Wishing Well especially is vastly under-rated in comparison. Hey ho. In at 19, The Four Tops are back with a cover, It’s All In The Game, one Cliff covered in the early 60’s, but I’d say the Tops is the definitive version. That’s pretty much a golden rule of mine: With Levi Stubbs on lead vocal, any Four Tops cover is ALWAYS the definitive version. Well, nearly always!
1 ( 2 ) EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL Ray Stevens
2 ( 4 ) DON’T YOU KNOW Butterscotch
3 ( 1 ) HONEY COME BACK Glen Campbell
4 ( 3 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
5 ( 6 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
6 ( 5 ) YELLOW RIVER Christie
7 ( 8 ) COTTONFIELDS The Beach Boys
8 ( NEW ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
9 ( 12 ) SALLY Gerry Monroe
10 ( 7 ) ABC The Jackson 5
11 ( 10 ) ABRAHAM MARTIN AND JOHN Marvin Gaye
12 ( 9 ) GROOVIN’ WITH MR. BLOE Mr. Bloe
13 ( 11 ) DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS Tom Jones
14 ( NEW ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
15 ( 15 ) THE ARCHIES EP (Sugar Sugar/Bang Shang A Lang/ Everything’s Archie (Archie’s Theme)/Over And Over) The Archies
16 ( 13 ) QUESTION The Moody Blues
17 ( 17 ) THE GREEN MANALISHI Fleetwood Mac
18 ( 14 ) SPIRIT IN THE SKY Norman Greenbaum
19 ( NEW ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
20 ( 16 ) BACK HOME England World Cup Squad
So, what was I watching on TV? This month Sesame Street debuted in the USA, and it found it’s way over to Singapore pretty rapidly – although strictly speaking far too old to watch the show, it was pretty revolutionary in style, and soooo cool for kids, so I enjoyed it anyway. Of the new shows on local TV from the 1969/70 USA schedule (there were very few UK TV shows of note, in comparison, other than Doctor Who, so my TV world was American): My World And Welcome To It, Rowan and Martin’s laugh-In, The Carol Burnett Show, The Mod Squad, Marcus Welby MD, Julia (the first black female-starring sitcom), Nanny And The Professor, The Courtship Of Eddie’s Father, The Smothers Brothers Show, The Flying Nun, The Dean Martin Show, The Andy Williams Show, and from Australia low-budget sci-fi series Phoenix Five: Space ships, that was enough for me. Sold!
16th June 1970
2 weeks on top for Ray Stevens, as Mungo Jerry hit 3 in the summertime, as Simon & Garfunkel follow-up Bridge Over Troubled Water with the rousing brilliance of Cecilia. For some inexplicable reason it wasn’t a hit in the UK, but was huge everywhere else. Just to rub salt in the wound the song has been a big hit in cover versions in the UK since, most notably Suggs in the 90’s. I can only assume that the BBC didn’t playlist it, and most people who liked it bought the all-time classic album, which popped to the top of the chart again and again for 2 years. It’s rare you get an album that works as a complete whole, and where every track is great, but this was my first exposure to one as our next-door-neighbours loaned us the album, and I became enthusiastic for Cecilia in particular.
1 ( 1 ) EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL Ray Stevens
2 ( 3 ) HONEY COME BACK Glen Campbell
3 ( 5 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
4 ( 4 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
5 ( 2 ) DON’T YOU KNOW Butterscotch
6 ( 8 ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
7 ( 6 ) YELLOW RIVER Christie
8 ( 9 ) SALLY Gerry Monroe
9 ( NEW ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
10 ( 7 ) COTTONFIELDS The Beach Boys
11 ( 14 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
12 ( 10 ) ABC The Jackson 5
13 ( 12 ) GROOVIN’ WITH MR. BLOE Mr. Bloe
14 ( 19 ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
15 ( 11 ) ABRAHAM MARTIN AND JOHN Marvin Gaye
16 ( 13 ) DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS Tom Jones
17 ( 17 ) THE GREEN MANALISHI Fleetwood Mac
18 ( 15 ) THE ARCHIES EP (Sugar Sugar/Bang Shang A Lang/ Everything’s Archie (Archie’s Theme)/Over And Over) The Archies
19 ( 16 ) QUESTION The Moody Blues
20 ( 18 ) SPIRIT IN THE SKY Norman Greenbaum
23rd June 1970
3 weeks for Ray, Cliff goes top 5, Free top 10 and not much else other than 2 new entries: Creedence are back with Up Around The Bend, more southern blues rock and one of their bigger UK hits but not one of my faves of theirs, in at 17, and in at 18, also not one of my faves of The Archies, Who’s Your Baby? It was a very odd choice for single, and following on from the huge Sugar Sugar they had a wealth of great bubblegum tracks they could have gone with to get a UK follow-up hit but they went with this lacklustre effort, I guess because it featured joint female vocals again, as per Sugar Sugar and was also written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. That’s a shame because the regular album tracks (and they were 3 albums in by this time) featured many far more interesting tracks that only had Ron Dante on lead vocal and flipped in and out of a few pop genres bubblegum stylee, and there were far better songs that only ever featured on the TV shows and never had an official release – and still don’t…..
1 ( 1 ) EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL Ray Stevens
2 ( 3 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
3 ( 2 ) HONEY COME BACK Glen Campbell
4 ( 6 ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
5 ( 4 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
6 ( 8 ) SALLY Gerry Monroe
7 ( 9 ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
8 ( 7 ) YELLOW RIVER Christie
9 ( 5 ) DON’T YOU KNOW Butterscotch
10 ( 11 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
11 ( 14 ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
12 ( 10 ) COTTONFIELDS The Beach Boys
13 ( 12 ) ABC The Jackson 5
14 ( 13 ) GROOVIN’ WITH MR. BLOE Mr. Bloe
15 ( 16 ) DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS Tom Jones
16 ( 15 ) ABRAHAM MARTIN AND JOHN Marvin Gaye
17 ( NEW ) UP AROUND THE BEND Creedence Clearwater Revival
18 ( NEW ) WHO’S YOUR BABY? The Archies
19 ( 17 ) THE GREEN MANALISHI Fleetwood Mac
20 ( 19 ) QUESTION The Moody Blues
The Archie Show was a 30-minute one-season show that ran 1968/69 and was shown in Singapore in 1970, but the music-heavy show was Archie’s Fun-house which was an hour-long 1970/71 series, having already shared the spotlight with Sabrina The Teenage Witch in 1969/70. The Funhouse was the series where I was squatting holding a microphone in front of the TV to record as many tracks off the TV, complete with cartoon noises, kids cheering, family talking, and microphone hand-changing bangs and clicks. I was pretty keen on the bubblegum pop, to say the least, and some of the tracks I recorded are now downloadable (along with 20 or 30 that I didn’t know), but some long-forgotten gems (by everyone but me, seemingly) which feature in future charts, aren’t. Among those which were released by 1970 and which I’ll link to instead are: Get On The Line, Love Light, Bicycles Roller-Skates And You, and Catching Up On Fun. The album cover featured on the tracks, is the very first album I bought with my own pocket money, so I’m totally and completely biased of course, Singapore City shopping expedition and a record store with more than one Archies album, me only enough cash for one….
30th June 1970
4 weeks and everything is still beautiful for me in tropical Singapore. Simon & Garfunkel get a 4th top 5, and The Four Tops go top 10, while there are 4 spiffy new entries, led by Cat Stevens making his chart debut at 10 – I say debut, but Lady D’Arbanville should really be viewed as his big 3-years-overdue belated follow-up to Matthew And Son, which I was SO mad on from 1967 onwards to the present-day. I loved that record so much, friends of my parents and relations who had the single had to put up with me playing it and singing along to it. Needless to say it would have been number one for weeks, had I been charting then. Lady D’Arbanville shows Cat entering into his post-TB singer-songwriter phase, after he’d been a teenage pop star and songwriter of great pop songs like Here Comes My Baby and First Cut Is The Deepest. It’s a fantastic, if slightly macabre, song, terrific melody and lyrically I guess based on having to watch people die while in hospital, a life-changing experience for him.
At 13, another new entry, also a belated debut for a long-time fave (for a 12-year-old) The Kinks. Lola, of course, was a revelation lyrically with it’s gender-confusing woman-is-a-man story theme, and a genuine classic, but again, strictly speaking it would really be following up on many previous hits (had I been charting pre-1968) as I was mad on Autumn Almanac in ’67, so presumably it would have hit the top spot as I sang along to it on the radio, with the lyrics handily printed in Weekend Magazine when I lived at RAF Valley, Isle Of Anglesey. Mum wondered how I knew all the words, so I showed her. Then there’s Sunny Afternoon, another top fave, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, Death Of A Clown (Dave Davies’ solo hit), Waterloo Sunset (another classic!), and the main one which just a little too early for me to know well, You Really Got Me. I got mad on that one in 1973 after buying 20 Flashback Greats of the 60’s.
At 18, Diana Ross’ solo career starts off properly with the charting of Reach Out And Touch, very much of the time mood-wise, 1970 was all about songs of peace harmony and love, and they all had a huge affect on my future attitude to life and politics. This one was a lovely one to start off with – though again, not really a debut – already Diana had a credit on 2 number 2’s (Love Child and I’m Gonna Make You Love Me), both of which should been number one’s, and she was pretty huge in Singapore 1970 for me as we borrowed the neighbours’ double album of Supremes hits which reminded me just how many fantastic singles they had had, most notably for me those I already knew and loved (Baby Love, Stop In The Name Of Love, You Keep Me Hangin On, You Can’t Hurry Love) any of which could have topped a hypothetical mid-60’s personal chart. Finally, at 19 it’s Shirley Bassey debuting with a decent cover of recent George Harrison Beatles hit Something. I say debut (is this getting repetitive?) but Shirl was a big fave of dad, and so I knew her 50’s stuff well (Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me springs to mind) and she had show-stoppers like As Long As He Needs Me, the immortal Goldfinger, and Big Spender which were variety show fodder galore, and radio standards, and would all have done very well in my theoretical charts.
1 ( 1 ) EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL Ray Stevens
2 ( 2 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
3 ( 4 ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
4 ( 3 ) HONEY COME BACK Glen Campbell
5 ( 7 ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
6 ( 5 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
7 ( 8 ) YELLOW RIVER Christie
8 ( 6 ) SALLY Gerry Monroe
9 ( 11 ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
10 ( NEW ) LADY D’ARBANVILLE Cat Stevens
11 ( 9 ) DON’T YOU KNOW Butterscotch
12 ( 10 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
13 ( NEW ) LOLA The Kinks
14 ( 12 ) COTTONFIELDS The Beach Boys
15 ( 14 ) GROOVIN’ WITH MR. BLOE Mr. Bloe
16 ( 18 ) WHO’S YOUR BABY?/SENORITA RITA The Archies
17 ( 17 ) UP AROUND THE BEND Creedence Clearwater Revival
18 ( NEW ) REACH OUT AND TOUCH (SOMEBODY’S HAND) Diana Ross
19 ( NEW ) SOMETHING Shirley Bassey
20 ( 16 ) ABRAHAM MARTIN AND JOHN Marvin Gaye
So as I bid June farewell, I was also doing very well in my ongoing series of swimming badges, pretty had all the simple ones, and distance ones, and swimming-style ones, so only the bigger complicated ones were left, and they took a lot more effort, knowledge of human biology, and more complicated tasks and stamina – the one I was starting to work towards was the Bronze Medallion Life-Saving badge, but that meant a lot of time being tutored one evening a week before it got too dark at RAF Changi swimming pool. I probably swallowed several gallons of kids pee, I know they used to pee in the pool cos it was a topic of conversation in the kids changing rooms and at school. Did I get the badge? Stay tuned.. At school, end of year sports events were all the rage, and I had to compete in the crawl, one length of the RAF Seletar swimming pool – I was embarrassed to be seen doing my own version of crawl, head high out of the water at all times, so I made the last nervous decision to try and do it properly, head down, breathing every other stroke. The only problem is the fresh water was harder to swim in (Changi was salt water) and the chlorine blinded my sight. Net result? I came last and veered off towards the sides of the swimming pool before I realised I wasn’t going straight. I’m sure I was hilarious! Felt like a t*t though!