My 1969 Charts – November

My 1969 Song Book 1

My 1969 Song Book 1

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NOV 1969

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
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

music book 2

music book 2

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
4 ( 6 ) SOMETHING The Beatles
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

schoolbook RAF Seletar

schoolbook RAF Seletar

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
5 ( 8 ) (CALL ME) NUMBER ONE The Tremeloes
6 ( 10 ) RUBY DON’T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN Kenny Rogers and The First Edition
8 ( 9 ) I’M GONNA MAKE YOU MINE Lou Christie
10 ( 5 ) FEELIN’ SO GOOD (SKOOBY DOO) The Archies

popcorn transfers

popcorn transfers

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


My 1969 Charts – September

Changi Village

Changi Village

SEPT 1969

2nd Sept1969

Not much happening music-wise, just shuffling positions, and a second week at one for Zager And Evans, by virtue of being on an RAF DC10 heading for the Far East 1st Sept. Flights on those days were LONG. The first leg was to Bahrain (Muharraq), which was night-time when we landed and very humid and warm. I read my precious 30th Century superheroes Legion comic on the way, The Tornado Twins were the debut guest stars. Aka Super-speed descendant twins of The Flash, Barry Allen, who is getting a hot new TV series any day now.

Second Leg was to Gan, an RAF island base in the Indian Ocean, which closed in 1976 and is now part of the Maldives. It had a huge impact on me, as the first real view I had of land from the air was of this green tropical jewell in a blue sea of bright sunshine. I fell in love with palm trees, sunshine, beaches pretty much from that moment on. This wasn’t grey black and white TV UK, this was gorgeous widescreen tropical technicolour life. The RAF lads wore shorts as their uniform, we got served orange sherbet drinks in the waiting room, hot with ceiling fans spinning, and I was amazed to watch a giant fruit bat soaring through the sky. Awesome!

The final stage to RAF Changi and we landed 2nd Sept, late afternoon-ish, I think, bundled together and sitting with luggage in a very crowded small waiting room, until the RAF bus (pure white, known as Ghari’s, an Indian word) took us to the Cameron Hotel, the main stop-off for newly arrived families waiting to find lodgings. A short walk from Bedok Junction shop-shacks, and my first impression was of Chinese girls buzzing about the small hotel outside eating area. Turns out they weren’t girls, they were ladies, just shorter than I was used to seeing adults, hotel staff. we had one-room for the four of us, plus a shower-room, the first-time I’d ever seen a shower. Yes, honestly! The hotel menu was unusual, I think we had shark one day, it was a bit tough, and I would very much be against any hotel serving shark these days.

I also had my first introduction to my life-long battle with my nemesis: the mosquito. They were everywhere in Singapore, and smoking coils, electric aroma pads were only minor inconveniences to them. Being as my sweet body odour continues to be irresistible to the little buggers, in a football crowd of people I’m the one they zoom in on, and some nights I got eaten alive by any dashing in through the air vents above windows, the slatted windows during cleaning, or any door left open, sitting outside, standing at bus stops, playing in gardens. One night I woke up with 70-odd swollen bites from craftily-hidden stalking mozzies, looking like I’d been beaten up. No exaggeration the teachers thought I’d been beaten up, swollen eyes, puffy face, red arms and legs, dad took photos of it. I hate the little blood-sucking gobshites. The main armory in those days was flit. That sounds so sweet. It’s actually a now-banned toxic poison called DDT and it was liberally sprayed everywhere to kill them and the zillions of cockroaches, which were also everywhere and detestable. On a happier note, the walls of the hotel inside and out had dozens of chit-chats zipping about eating the insects: wall geckos were so cute, but had a nasty habit of leaving their tail twitching in your hand if you tried to grab one. Oops!


1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
2 ( 3 ) EARLY IN THE MORNING Vanity Fayre
4 ( 6 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
5 ( 7 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
6 ( 2 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
7 ( 4 ) IN THE GHETTO Elvis Presley
8 ( 8 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan
9 ( 11 ) GOODNIGHT MIDNIGHT Clodagh Rodgers
10 ( 10 ) CONVERSATIONS Cilla Black

11 ( 12 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones
12 ( 13 ) GIVE PEACE A CHANCE Plastic Ono Band
13 ( 14 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
14 ( 17 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
15 ( 9 ) SI TU DOIS PARTIR Fairport Convention
17 ( 18 ) I’M A BETTER MAN Engelbert Humperdinck

Changi Road and a white ghari (bus)

Changi Road and a white ghari (bus)

9th September 1969

3 weeks for In The Year 2525, a record I was truly mad on in a futuristic sci-fi way. Tommy Roe gets a Top 5 follow-up, based on memory more than actually hearing it, cos there was no radio and no TV so no music for me, and as we settled in to finding a house, dad still had to go to work, though we managed to avoid going to school right away. The only new entry is Bobbie Gentry, which did find it’s way onto 2-way Family Favourites, broadcast in Singapore for the forces abroad and on Radio 2. Only MOR or inoffensive pop ever found it’s way onto the show, so much of the stuff in the UK charts, like Space Oddity, Marrakesh Express and other classic future faves weren’t known to me until the mid-70’s or even early 80’s in some cases. “I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” though was a Burt Bacharach cover that was just gorgeous, I loved her husky voice, and the melody, and it became my 4th ever single purchase at an evening market record-stall, a month or two later. The concept of being able to shop in the evening was also a novelty to post-war UK which was firmly shut all over every evening and Sundays. It was fab and bustling.

This was the week I was introduced properly to two things: swimming, and severe sunburn, both connected. The RAF brochure to newbies stated quite firmly not to stay in the sun, cos it’s on the equator and You. Will. Burn. We must have missed that warning, cos after going to RAF Changi swimming pool with our new friends from the hotel The Marshalls and their 2 girls, we ended up horrifically sunburnt to the point where just moving was sooo painful, especially on the back, lying on the front suffering was about the size of it for a few days. Swimming was also new to me, really, apart from a few traumatic forced sessions when I was 6 or so in Chesham when I really wasn’t happy being taken out of my depth! So, 11-years-old, and a rubber ring in the baby pool. So not cool! Once everyone left me to my own devices though, essentially I taught myself to swim, at first with the help of the ring, then on my own bit by bit, ringless. I was quite proud of that. Yay for young me!

1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
2 ( 2 ) EARLY IN THE MORNING Vanity Fayre
4 ( 14 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
5 ( 5 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
6 ( 4 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
7 ( 6 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
8 ( 8 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan
9 ( 13 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
10 ( 9 ) GOODNIGHT MIDNIGHT Clodagh Rodgers

11 ( 10 ) CONVERSATIONS Cilla Black
12 ( 11 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones
14 ( 12 ) GIVE PEACE A CHANCE Plastic Ono Band

Changi Village buses old and new

Changi Village buses old and new

16th September 1969

4 weeks for Zager & Evans on top, Bobbie Gentry being the only real challenge for my love. A bit of music was to filter through from the British charts though, notably fave Mama Cass’ fab It’s Getting Better, as she tended to be a family friendly radio and variety show guest, especially the American variety shows which were all over the TV – Andy Williams, Dean Martin and black comic Flip Wilson were the biggest, but The Osmond Brothers and The Jackson 5 and the likes of them were regulars along with big names like Frank, Sammy and their cronies. More relevant was Hare Krishna Mantra, George Harrison-backed Radha Krishna Temple Indian chanting pop hit, which might not have been typical of the sort of Indian music widely heard on Singapore TV and radio, but it was an introduction to me of world music. The other major style of music was Chinese Mandarin-language, either modern pop-styled or more authentic. I wouldn’t say I ran out to buy either types of music, but they slowly got through in terms of hearing them regularly and having an impact on me in later years.

In Singapore for week 2, still in the hotel, still avoiding school, and getting more used to travelling by buses, all single-deckers, regularly running between Changi Village, past the infamous World War 2 Changi Prison and the RAF airport, and Singapore City. The buses were either new and cool or ricketty things from the 50‘s, which were a real pain to ride on. We went to view a brand new 4-bedroom house built on a very American-looking new housing estate called Bedokville. 42 Jalan Limau Perut, it wasn’t cheap but new friends the Marshalls were taking the house next door and we needed to get out of the hotel, so it was looking good, it was HUGE (to us) compared to every flat and house we’d ever lived in, and it had a fridge! Luxury! OK there was a smelly monsoon drain and sewerage works behind the house, but the Malay kampong (wooden house settlement) behind that was interesting. Quite a variation from the middle class houses, too. I was keen, cos it looked so much like every American suburban TV and movie film I’d seen, houses running up the short hill into the distance until the non-urban tropics popped back just over the brow of the hill. Incredibly, it’s all still there, on google map, just looking a lot more burglar-alarmed and walled, as opposed to wire fenced and open in 1969, and our house (as it became) still stands. Yes, modern technology gives good nostalgia!

1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
3 ( 2 ) EARLY IN THE MORNING Vanity Fayre
4 ( 15 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
5 ( 4 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
6 ( 9 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
7 ( 6 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
9 ( 7 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
10 ( 8 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan

11 ( 5 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
12 ( 10 ) GOODNIGHT MIDNIGHT Clodagh Rodgers
13 ( NEW ) HARE KRISHNA MANTRA Radha Krishna Temple
15 ( 12 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones

RAF Changi swimming pool with the Marshalls

RAF Changi swimming pool with the Marshalls

23rd September 1969

5 weeks for Zager And Evans, and a late surge by Robin Gibb to signify mum buying Saved By The Bell (once our basic record player/radio arrived from the UK in a crate of clothes and stuff sent over – dad bought it in Aden when he was sent on a year’s unaccompanied service in 1966, and we lived in a Liverpool slum flat with mice scuttling about the place, and fleas). Good Morning Starshine hits the top 5, I adored that melody. New in? Johnny Cash’s San Quentin prison-track, an album we borrowed eventually, and a sort of novelty hit, A Boy Named Sue. I was about the right age, and was glad I hadn’t been named Sue, being a sweet (wet) boy and all. Bob Dylan also sneaks in with a record that had once-in-a-blue-moon radio plays, but for Dylan, at that time, it was more pop-friendly (if naughty).

In the Cameron Hotel, named for the Cameron Highlands in Malaya, I think, an upland holidaying cooller area for Europeans seeking some heat-relief, we were in the process of moving out. Into our new luxury home. Me and my brother dashed upstairs to claim a bedroom each, the first time we’d had our own, he grabbed the first one he went into, I got the bigger front one I think, next to mum and dad’s, it had a balcony over the front garden. The back ones looked over the Kampong and sewerage works. I say garden – as it was a new house it was basically a lawn (not grass as the UK knows it, a sort of wide-leaved variation) plus a few random flowering weeds on the driveway up to the covered verandah/car port. I was fascinated by the teeny tiny titchy lil’ butterflies fluttering round these flowers. So tiny! In contrast to the effing huge spiders on the wall. Massive! I mean, REALLY big, they virtually stared at you. The little ones were just as bad, cos they had a nasty habit which my brother found out about when he started tormenting one – it jumped right at him. He jumped pretty well himself, then. Funny.

We also had a cleaner. She was very nice, a slim older Chinese lady called Tan, and the whole concept of having someone else do the housework was really a leftover from the Stiff Upper Lip colonial days, which were very much in their closing days. British women were too frail to do housework in the humid heat (it was thought in the olden days, and it sort of hung over into the 60’s) and local labour wasn’t that expensive relative to increased income (for being posted abroad). I really never felt at ease Tan doing the work as an Amah (as they called it), so I tended to feel sorry for all the workers and be nice to them and help. I’m sure the extra cash was helpful, but that’s besides the point, I was and am working class from a poor background. This was luxury! We had a fridge with a freezebox and we could make ice-lollies! It was sunny! It was hot! It was exotic…

On the downside, a school bus picked kids up on the corner outside, a white Ghari and there was no getting away from heading for my first secondary (Big) school at RAF Seletar (on the other side of the island), and my brother to his junior school at RAF Changi….

1 ( 1 ) IN THE YEAR 2525 Zager And Evans
2 ( 9 ) SAVED BY THE BELL Robin Gibb
3 ( 4 ) I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN Bobbie Gentry
6 ( 6 ) BAD MOON RISING Creedence Clearwater Revival
7 ( 13 ) HARE KRISHNA MANTRA Radha Krishna Temple
8 ( 7 ) MY CHERIE AMOUR Stevie Wonder
9 ( 10 ) MAKE ME AN ISLAND Joe Dolan
10 ( 14 ) IT’S GETTING BETTER Mama Cass

11 ( 5 ) HEATHER HONEY Tommy Roe
12 ( 11 ) VIVA BOBBY JOE The Equals
13 ( 15 ) HONKY TONK WOMEN The Rolling Stones
14 ( NEW ) LAY LADY LAY Bob Dylan
15 ( NEW ) A BOY NAMED SUE Johnny Cash

Bruv, school uniform and our new house

Bruv, school uniform and our new house