Love this. A great Supersonic intro and one of the most sublime singles of the 70s.
Smokie (originally spelled “Smokey” until they were threatened with a lawsuit by a certain Motown legend) were a band from Bradford who had had been kicking around for years without any success before coming under the wing of the songwriting and production team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman in the mid-70s. Though “Chinnichap” were famous for the Bubble-Glam hits they penned for Suzi Quatro, Mud, and The Sweet, they showed their versatility (and smarts) by not forcing the denim-clad Smokie into this mould and instead wrote some laid-back, country-rock songs for them that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on an American FM radio station.
There must have been a gap in the market for a Northern English version of The Eagles — grey Yorkshire houses on the album cover instead of California hotels — because they were very successful. Their second album Changing All The Time was a big seller in 1975 down to the presence of the Chinnichap hits “If You Think You Know How To Love Me” and “Don’t Play Your Rock & Roll To Me.” They also wrote the title track which is a really lovely song, hard to believe it’s by the same guys who wrote “Blockbuster” and “Tiger Feet”.
Because of those hits my sister got the album for Christmas 1975 as a present from our Gran. She was 14 at the time and up until then had only owned Bay City Rollers and Osmonds albums so this might have been her first non-“teenybopper” record. Two years later she was into The Clash, but I don’t think Smokie were directly responsible for that. These days she really likes The Eagles which you probably can blame them for.
I’ve always loved the cover of this album, a nicely evocative bit of pre-Photoshop collage and hand-tinting.
Download: Science Friction – XTC (mp3)
The first time I ever saw XTC they were performing this song (their debut single) on Magpie of all places. That show was always hipper than Blue Peter.
This one is for all those who have suffered during this past week of Gilbert O’Sullivan, Cilla Black, and Leo Sayer.
Another good thing Leo Sayer did was write this song. Think that’s about it though.
Gilbert O’Sullivan did some naff things (like dressing in that outfit) but this is a beautiful song. I think Morrissey should cover it.
People still dress like that up North, right?
One of the best things about the pop charts in the 1970s is that records like this which owe more to Jazz and Edith Piaf could become hits, as this did in 1977 when it got to #1. Most of the “novelty” hits that decade were terrible but this was classier than most and I still have a soft spot for it. Surprised to see them on Whistle Test though.
I had a little crush on their lead singer at the time and she does look rather sexy here.
The real pleasure in this clip isn’t Dave Edmunds (who looks half-asleep or stoned) but the audience, especially the odd fellow at the back who I assume must be the host of the show.
I don’t think I’ve seen this ad since it was on the telly in 1976 but I could still remember every word of it — especially “Come back, Chuck” which became a playground catchphrase for a while. That says something about how brilliant it was.