4th August 1970
3 weeks for Cliff on top, and Elvis is on his heels at 2, how appropriate since Cliff modeled himself on early Elvis! Marmalade go for a 4th top 5, a melancholy Rainbow, and The Archies get a 5th Top 10 with a record that still has never been officially released in either the UK or the USA. Smokey Robinson gets a top ten song about tears, no not The Tracks Of My, this time it’s the equally classic Of A Clown.
Motown labelmates The Jackson 5, the hottest pop group around, enter at 13 with a third hit The Love You Save, a big improvement on ABC for me. They were the darlings of US variety shows of the time, not least the Ed Sullivan Show, which we had on TV in Singapore, albeit a while later. Look at the clip and marvel at Michael’s precociousness as performer. Fab. The other new record is at 20, Fairweather’s Natural Sinner. I’ve added it in retroactively as I didn’t hear it until 1975 while Andy Fairweather-Low was undergoing a solo career revival, having already had the hit pop group success with Amen Corner, including topping my charts in 1969 with Half As Nice. Not his finest hour, in all honesty.
1 ( 1 ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
2 ( 4 ) THE WONDER OF YOU Elvis Presley
3 ( 3 ) LADY D’ARBANVILLE Cat Stevens
4 ( 2 ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
5 ( 12 ) RAINBOW Marmalade
6 ( 5 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
7 ( 13 ) LOVE VIBRATIONS The Archies
8 ( 14 ) TEARS OF A CLOWN Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
9 ( 8 ) LOLA The Kinks
10 ( 10 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
11 ( 9 ) I’LL SAY FOREVER MY LOVE Jimmy Ruffin
12 ( 6 ) NEANDERTHAL MAN Hotlegs
13 ( NEW ) THE LOVE YOU SAVE The Jackson 5
14 ( 17 ) SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED I’M YOURS Stevie Wonder
15 ( 16 ) BIG YELLOW TAXI Joni Mitchell
16 ( 15 ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
17 ( 19 ) 25 OR 6 TO 4 Chicago
18 ( 18 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
19 ( 20 ) COTTONFIELDS The Beach Boys
20 ( NEW ) NATURAL SINNER Fairweather
Talking of Ed Sullivan. As I’ve said before, in many ways my TV world of the 60’s and early 70’s was much more American than British, and that held true especially in Singapore – there were UK shows but they tended to be the sci-fi shows like Doctor Who and UFO, which was the latest, most exciting. mind-blowing show for me to get hooked on. Gerry Anderson had gone into live action TV, keeping the model-making for the space-age vehicles and flying saucers, as we called them in those days. I loved it. I also loved American variety shows like Ed Sullivan, though he was very, very dull. He also regularly had an awful cute mime mouse on far too often (once was more than enough, never mind 50 times in 8 years) Topo Gigio. If I’ve repeated myself here, apologies, just take it as a warning as it’s still on youtube! Avoid!
11th August 1970
A second number one from The Archies, Love Vibrations was featured on Archie’s Funhouse, an hour-long mix of songs and sketches and short stories, with a supposed live audience of kids. See lower down for more info! On an otherwise still-dull chart, Smokey Robinson goes top 5, Jackson 5 top 10, both Motown, and there are 2 new entries, both songs Tom Jones has recorded. Just as well as his version of I (Who Have Nothing) is in at 16, a terrific dramatic ballad, with The Voice on fine form. Shirley Bassey had the UK 1963 hit version (produced by George Martin) but this was a cover of Ben E. King’s US original English-language version of an Italian hit 1961 song by Joe Sentieri.
At 20, is another cover by Three Dog Night, this time Randy Newman’s Mama Told Me Not To Come, typically lyrically quirky and interesting and 2 or 3 decades before he became a big-deal movie composer for Pixar and others. I’d prefer to hear Randy, but this passed the time till Tom Jones covered it for his Reloaded album with Stereophonics.
1 ( 7 ) LOVE VIBRATIONS The Archies
2 ( 2 ) THE WONDER OF YOU Elvis Presley
3 ( 3 ) LADY D’ARBANVILLE Cat Stevens
4 ( 5 ) RAINBOW Marmalade
5 ( 8 ) TEARS OF A CLOWN Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
6 ( 4 ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
7 ( 1 ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
8 ( 6 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
9 ( 12 ) NEANDERTHAL MAN Hotlegs
10 ( 13 ) THE LOVE YOU SAVE The Jackson 5
11 ( 9 ) LOLA The Kinks
12 ( 10 ) THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD The Beatles
13 ( 14 ) SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED I’M YOURS Stevie Wonder
14 ( 11 ) I’LL SAY FOREVER MY LOVE Jimmy Ruffin
15 ( 16 ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
16 ( NEW ) I (WHO HAVE NOTHING) Tom Jones
17 ( 15 ) BIG YELLOW TAXI Joni Mitchell
18 ( 18 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
19 ( 17 ) 25 OR 6 TO 4 Chicago
20 ( NEW ) MAMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME Three Dog Night
Archie’s Funhouse and Love Vibrations: I’ve bought the series DVD in haze of rose-tinted bliss, and it’s excruciating to sit through – except for the songs. I enjoyed the Archie comics, but I loved the cartoon band pop to bits and recorded this direct off the TV at the time, tinny and all from a hand microphone onto my mid-60’s reel-to-reel (well, technically dad’s recorder but my need was greater and I acquired it pretty much so I could record every song I loved from that moment on. That was a LOT of songs and a lot of blank reel-to-reel tapes for me to save up to buy for the next 20 years. I’m obviously biased but I still love this song, written by one Neil Brian Goldberg, a songwriter who never made it but who impacted me and I hope other young kids of the time.
What happened was that music maestro and Archies producer/songwriter Jeff Barry was moving on (he of hit songwriting married couple Jeff Barry & Ellie Greenwich, many a legendary song like Be My Baby, Da Do Ron Ron, Leader Of The Pack, River Deep Mountain High, and of course Sugar Sugar also for the Archies without Ellie). He took on Neil who ignored instructions to dumb down the hit machine and aim for 7-year-olds – instead his subject matter for songs was the world, the environment, civil rights, fairly serious topics for kiddie-pop. I noticed. I also noticed the promo cartoon videos to accompany and the fab tunes still sung by Ron Dante. Only 4 of the dozens of songs ever made it to limited release and none are available to buy to this day, including this one. So this will be the only chart it has ever appeared in. Boo! Hiss! It’s sweet (or twee), ever-so-slightly hippie psychedelic and melodic bubblegum.
18th August 1970
It’s Elvis on top, with his second number one in just over a year, following on from In The Ghetto. The Wonder Of You was originally a 1959 hit for Ray Peterson, but Elvis notched up the drama, now entering his Las Vegas phase and it was essentially Showbiz City from here on. I was still mad on Elvis and it would be another 2 years before the increasingly naff singles caused me to lose my love – in retrospect it all started here, really, give or take, as Parody Elvis killed off Gospel Elvis. These days, The Wonder Of You is nowhere near the top of my list of classic Presley.
Cat Stevens gets to 2, just ahead of a new entry for a new act, Bread. Bread was essentially David Gates, a great songwriter with an angelic sweet vocal, which I loved, but which provoked the same reaction amongst musos as The Carpenters – sweet equals sickly in their eyes, totally unable to appreciate the song quality. Make It With You is gorgeous, and was covered in the 90’s by Let Loose, to reasonable effect.
In at 5, one of my all-time fave bands of the 70’s debut – Hot Chocolate, fresh off The Beatles Apple label, and now with Micky Most’s RAK Records, loved that yacht logo on the vinyl. Errol Brown led the mixed race combo, in itself a statement at that time, and Errol and bandmate Tony Wilson showed they were nifty songwriters pretty much immediately (writing for other acts like Mary Hopkin). The organ and strings riffs of Love Is Life and that shuffling percussive rhythm were irresistible to me, and that soaring melody just fabulous. Still love it to bits.
Also in, at 19, Andy Williams is back with It’s So Easy, my top-rated crooner of the time. Andy was never bad, and I loved that he covered current hits on his show and albums. Just look at him singing this bouncy joyous pop ditty live – effortless and stylish.
1 ( 2 ) THE WONDER OF YOU Elvis Presley
2 ( 3 ) LADY D’ARBANVILLE Cat Stevens
3 ( NEW ) MAKE IT WITH YOU Bread
4 ( 7 ) GOODBY SAM HELLO SAMANTHA Cliff Richard
5 ( NEW ) LOVE IS LIFE Hot Chocolate
6 ( 1 ) LOVE VIBRATIONS The Archies
7 ( 4 ) RAINBOW Marmalade
8 ( 6 ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
9 ( 5 ) TEARS OF A CLOWN Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
10 ( 8 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
11 ( 10 ) THE LOVE YOU SAVE The Jackson 5
12 ( 9 ) NEANDERTHAL MAN Hotlegs
13 ( 11 ) LOLA The Kinks
14 ( 13 ) SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED I’M YOURS Stevie Wonder
15 ( 16 ) I (WHO HAVE NOTHING) Tom Jones
16 ( 19 ) 25 OR 6 TO 4 Chicago
17 ( 15 ) IT’S ALL IN THE GAME The Four Tops
18 ( 14 ) I’LL SAY FOREVER MY LOVE Jimmy Ruffin
19 ( NEW ) IT’S SO EASY Andy Williams
20 ( 18 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
Back in Singapore, time for some end-of-holiday musings and summary: the long summer holiday from school was pretty literal there, hot days, comics, music, TV, swimming pool, beach, catching fish for my tank, and yet more comics. I was getting a pretty good set of new Action Comics by this time, as well as back issues of Adventure Comics, all featuring my beloved Legion Of Super-Heroes (and Superboy and Superman). I can’t understate how shaky and sweaty I would get when I came across a new issue – the surge of excitement overcame everything else. I had to have them, no matter what. By this time I was off on longer bus journeys, to Katong and Siglap bookstores and roadside kiosks, to Changi Village second-hand bookstores, and to Singapore City plush department stores newsagent sections (with grown-ups, that one, it was just that bit too daunting to go into the city on my own). Just as well I didn’t always tell where I’d been (I used to say Bedok, near where we first lived, and bring back fish from the tropical fish store for the tank as proof). Ah happy days, and I even got friend Dale to accompany me too, eventually – his parents also didn’t know. Given the red-flag bombs left locally aimed at us kids, as I’ve already said, I had to get my priorities right. I knew the risks, took no chances straying from the main bus route and the shops, and I wouldn’t have trusted strangers, but those comics were meant for me, I had to have them! I still have them….
I noticed by now that the comics I brought over from the UK were getting a bit brown and stained round the edges, so hot and humid was it, constantly. I had moth balls in the draw I kept them in, but that didn’t stop it. The expensive new ones needed to be kept as mint as possible in my obsessive eyes. I came up with a solution. Bread rolls. Or rather the bags the rolls came in, labelled with Bakers logos and so on, but otherwise transparent – I washed them out, dried them off for a day or two, and stored my comics in them one in each bag. Then inside a larger bag. It worked – they are still inside the same bags 46 years later, fairly airtight and stacked in my childhood wooden box. Some might call that anal retentive and they’d be right. But my comics are still near mint and worth a bob or two now.
25th August 1970
School hols nearly over, and it’s a reggae new entry at 1 for Desmond Dekker, finally getting the top spot after peaking at with Israelites the previous year. Written by Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, You Can Get It If You Really Want was a fab melodic pop groove released on the super-cool reggae label Trojan. Back in 1970, though, Desmond was the big reggae star. Hot Chocolate go up to 2 with the fantastic Love Is Life, and Marmalade hold at 3 with the lovely Rainbow. New at 11, a future Kylie cover, the soulful funk of Chairmen Of The Board, starting their string of hits with one of their great singles, Give Me Just A Little More Time. Lead singer General Johnson had a terrific voice, and the creative team was ex-Motown legends Holland-Dozier-Holland on their new Invictus record label. Funkier, but still fab.
1 ( NEW ) YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT Desmond Dekker
2 ( 5 ) LOVE IS LIFE Hot Chocolate
3 ( 3 ) MAKE IT WITH YOU Bread
4 ( 1 ) THE WONDER OF YOU Elvis Presley
5 ( 2 ) LADY D’ARBANVILLE Cat Stevens
6 ( 6 ) LOVE VIBRATIONS The Archies
7 ( 7 ) RAINBOW Marmalade
8 ( 8 ) CECILIA Simon And Garfunkel
9 ( 10 ) IN THE SUMMERTIME Mungo Jerry
10 ( 9 ) TEARS OF A CLOWN Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
11 ( NEW ) GIVE ME JUST A LITTLE MORE TIME Chairmen Of The Board
12 ( 12 ) NEANDERTHAL MAN Hotlegs
13 ( 13 ) LOLA The Kinks
14 ( 11 ) THE LOVE YOU SAVE The Jackson 5
15 ( 15 ) I (WHO HAVE NOTHING) Tom Jones
16 ( 14 ) SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED I’M YOURS Stevie Wonder
17 ( 19 ) IT’S SO EASY Andy Williams
18 ( 16 ) 25 OR 6 TO 4 Chicago
19 ( 18 ) I’LL SAY FOREVER MY LOVE Jimmy Ruffin
20 ( 20 ) ALL RIGHT NOW Free
Back in the tropics, what kind of games were popular in our house? I got a fab game called Battling Tops for christmas which dad and his RAF mates also pissed themselves over – it was like an old amphitheatre but curved. Basically you wrapped up to 4 spinning tops in nylon rope, placed them in the 4 starter blocks at 90 degrees around the arena, and pulled hard. They then went mad, spinning towards each other and colliding, and the winner was the one who didn’t get chucked out the arena and who spun the longest.
The grown-ups were big on Canasta, very much a social thing among young married couples, or a ladies-only bit of fun – I still adore card games but they seem to be a thing of the past generally these days. Anyway, I watched avidly behind each grown-up watching how they played till I picked it up, and eventually I got to play too. Yay!
The other big social do, again for couples, but also men’s beer-drinking gatherings at our house (cos we had a dartboard) was darts. Mum and dad went onto the main RAF camp for nights out (we stayed on our own, brother & I, locked indoors with neighbours opposite keeping an eye on the house), I was quite sensible from an early age, these days you’d be done for child abandonment but at 12 or 13 years old I certainly didn’t feel I needed a baby sitter to control my younger brother and a bit of squabbling now and then. Anyway, they won loads of team darts awards, albeit some as runners-up (still have the little wooden plaques and cups) and I got to play darts as much as I wanted. Never did get great at it, though, preferred DC Comics and pop music and American TV.
Other board games: Monopoly (of course), Careers, Scrabble, Mouse Trap, and minor ones like draughts, snakes and ladders, ludo and so on. My big new board game, though, was Chess. I joined the chess club at Seletar Secondary Modern in my first year, and liked it, and ended up getting my own super-funky magnetic chess board (still have it) which I took to my new upcoming school, where I basically spent breaks with the other nerds playing chess. Yes my days of hanging about with the cool kids running round school playgrounds and playing fields were over, the new RAF Changi Grammar School was a whole different ball game, so to speak, and I pretty quickly got labelled a “swot” which was the social kiss of death for any shy boy. To be continued in September, and day one at school…