Author Topic: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s  (Read 16614 times)

daf

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The spark for this came from finding out that Mungo Jerry actually had TWO number ones *, so I was going to start a "Obscure & forgotten number 1's" thread (mainly to include the Mungo nugget), but while trawling through the lists, it became clear, that what I think is obscure might not be to everyone - how can I leave 'this' or 'that' song out . . .

So, instead, here's an exhaustive and exhausting trawl through every single UK number 1 - starting in 1952, and ending whenever we finally catch up to the present  . . . or rather, the future, and BEYONNNNND!!

Hopefully, we'll have some fun - plus tears of joy & pain, gladness & madness, recrimination, jealousy, bitterness, regret, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance, sweet, sweet, acceptance  - with plenty of obscurities, head-scratchers, ear-bogglers, killers and fillers along the way.

Bonus points for any interesting info-nuggets or memory-titbits anyone has on the songs. (hopefully Elton John will chip in -  as I'm pretty sure he's got three copies of every Top Spot platter ever made - the crazy cat!)

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
* (no peeking - can you name 'the other one' without googling it?)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 03:52:27 PM by daf »

daf

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So strap yourselves in & let the madness begin, with our first entry - straight in at number one, it's . . .

1. Al Martino - Here In My Heart



From : November 9 1952 -  January 10 1953   
Weeks : 9
B side : I Cried Myself To Sleep Last Night

Quote
Jasper "Al" Cini was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The name Jasper was an anglicisation of his father's name, Gasparino. His parents were immigrants from Abruzzo, Italy, who ran a construction business, and while growing up, he worked alongside his brothers, Pasquale and Frank as a bricklayer.

After serving with the United States Navy in World War II, during which he was part of, and injured in, the Iwo Jima invasion, Cini began his singing career. Encouraged by Lanza, he adopted the stage name Al Martino—based on the name of his good friend Lorraine Cianfrani's (née Losavio) husband Alfred Martin Cianfrani—and began singing in local nightclubs. In 1948, he moved to New York City, recorded some sides for the Jubilee label, and in 1952, won first place on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts television program with a performance of Como's hit "If".

As a result, he won a recording contract with the Philadelphia-based independent record label BBS, where he recorded "Here in My Heart". Lanza's label RCA Victor had asked him to record the song, but Martino called and pleaded with him to let Martino's version have a clear run. The song spent three weeks at No. 1 on the US pop charts in June 1952, earning Martino a gold disc, and later in the year, also reached the top of the UK charts. It was number one in the first UK Singles chart, published by the New Musical Express on November 14, 1952, putting him into the Guinness Book of World Records. "Here in My Heart" remained in the top position for nine weeks in the UK, a record for the longest consecutive run at number one, that has only since been beaten by five other songs.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 03:45:19 PM by daf »

non capisco

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This is a bold undertaking, daf, and I salute you. It's still three odd years til we'll even get a sniff of rock'n'roll but I dare say I'll follow this for the duration regardless.

daf

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Bless you!

Yes, it will be a LONG haul . . . and I did consider starting in the more 'pop friendly' years, but I couldn't decide where that should be . . . Anyway, this way we'll be able to trace the minute changes in musical trends from Orchestral soup to Digital nuts - (I'm particularly fascinated to find out what was happening in that post-Elvis, pre-Beatles interregnum)

I'll be splitting threads on the decade, so eventually we should end up with "part 8 - The 2020s"

As a rough guide, I'll try and do one a day * - with some leeway if there's a discussion about one of the songs raging - but anyone can chip in about any of the songs at any point - or singles in general :
- your first record,
- faves
- worsties
- what SHOULD have been a number 1
- Splintering a record into pieces with your bare hands in sheer frustration due to weeks of relentless teasing from your brother about Annie Lennox "looking like a man" on the 'Right By Your Side' sleeve . . . and then cathartically ending up buying a replacement copy of it from ebay 29 years later (. . . ahem!)

do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the thread . . . so mote it be!

- - - - - -
* (up to this point there's been 1319 songs at number one - so at that rate we could cover the lot in under 4 years)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2019, 06:00:38 PM by daf »

another Mr. Lizard

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As someone old enough to actually remember Mungo Jerry's other number one, and the owner of a well-thumbed copy of a big book of official UK charts from 1960-2000, and someone who used to religiously listen to Johnnie Walker's Tuesday lunchtime chart countdown in the mid 70s, I'm all over this and in for the duration.

Here's a question - which single got to number one in the UK for four hours?

Great thread! Although you could just make them up for the last 15 years and most of us wouldn't notice.

I was actually going to start a 'Greatest Number Ones*' thread, but this has somewhat stolen my chips and pissed on my thunder.


*it's 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' BTW

This looks like a really interesting thread. I wondered if you were aware of Tom Ewing's blog where he reviews every Number 1, he's one of the best writers on pop that I've been able to find (although the posts have really slowed down over the last couple of years)

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/



This looks like a really interesting thread. I wondered if you were aware of Tom Ewing's blog where he reviews every Number 1, he's one of the best writers on pop that I've been able to find (although the posts have really slowed down over the last couple of years)

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/
I didn't want to be the one to say "Popular did it before", but...  I always thought the guy should have set himself a cut-off point. The last number one of 1999 would have been a decent place to end it.

daf

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I was actually going to start a 'Greatest Number Ones' thread, but this has somewhat stolen my chips and pissed on my thunder.

And what delicious chips they were! *

I wondered if you were aware of Tom Ewing's blog where he reviews every Number 1

No, but I am now! I'll give it a look-see - hopefully we wont tread on each other's toes too much!

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
* (Maybe we can do a decade round-up at the end of each thread - nominate a top five best & worst - and see what comes out on top?)

There are earlier #1s from the "missing charts" (1940-1952)

Captain Z

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2019, 09:34:01 PM »
I did this a few years ago - as in listened to them all in order during my commutes. In actual fact I gave up around James Blunt in 2006(?) because I decided there was nothing left in it for me. My rule was I had to give each song at least one verse and chorus before skipping, and the only time I broke that rule before the late 90s and Westlife was for 'Long Haired Lover From Liverpool'. But by the time I hit 2005 I was skipping practically everything.

I've been doing the same with all the Now! albums which I've stuck with (currently on Now 93) which has softened me towards modern pop somewhat.

But this is an excellent idea for a thread and I hope to join in and contribute. Immediate memories of the 50's decade were a vague sense of the excitement young people must have felt at 'Rock Around The Clock' and 'Great Balls Of Fire', 'She Wears Red Feathers' with its #cancelled lyrics and the painful 'My Old Man's A Dustman', a real Mrs Brown's Boys of a record. (Ok, just checked, that was 1960).

Captain Z

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2019, 09:42:19 PM »
This looks like a really interesting thread. I wondered if you were aware of Tom Ewing's blog where he reviews every Number 1, he's one of the best writers on pop that I've been able to find (although the posts have really slowed down over the last couple of years)

http://freakytrigger.co.uk/popular/

Yes I also follow this, having come across it wondering if anyone else had spotted the similarity between B*witched's 'Rollercoaster' and 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'. It's a magnificent undertaking but doesn't half start to disappear up its own arse towards the later ones. I think I preferred it when he just wrote his immediate thoughts upon hearing the songs or set daft challenges like listening to 'Everything I Do (I Do It For You)' 16 times in a row - for each week it was at number 1. But I appreciate that becomes more difficult once the records are within living memory and I can't deny I've learned some interesting facts.

But I wish he'd either just knock it on the head or pass it over to someone else now he clearly doesn't have the time. It's such an anticlimax to find out there's finally been a new post after 3 months for it to be a fucking Blazin' Squad song.

Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2019, 09:51:46 PM »
I think my main memory of reading through "Popular" a few years ago (when I should have been working) was chuckling at the extreme antagonism between some commentators that frequently spilled over into "so what are you really angry about?" territory. It seemed too many of them thought their own thoughts/memories were the definitive fact.

Captain Z

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2019, 09:53:20 PM »
1. Al Martino - Here In My Heart

A rousing vocal performance on this one. Al Martino certainly leaves me stirred and not shaken. On the amplifier scale I'd give it 6 out of 11.

Johnboy

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2019, 10:27:03 PM »
Great thread idea, Daf, I'll chip in for sure

I too read Popular in work for a few years, some good writing in there from various heads.

(Bailed out in early '90s though)

non capisco

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2019, 10:31:37 PM »
and the painful 'My Old Man's A Dustman', a real Mrs Brown's Boys of a record. (Ok, just checked, that was 1960).

The White Stripes' 'Hotel Yorba' is a massive rip off of 'My Old Man's A Dustman'.

Nowhere Man

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2019, 10:41:47 PM »
I admire your efforts in creating this thread my good sir, although for my money 'Cumberland Gap' in 1957 was when the UK really stepped up their game, music wise. I'm very happy to hear any further gems from the pre-skiffle years though.

purlieu

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2019, 11:19:26 PM »
Well, that was a nice song to start off with. Nothing revelatory, but nicely written and a strong vocal performance. There is, undoubtedly, a lot of music on its way that I've never heard, other than 1997-2000 when I was a weekly Top 40 listener (it's weird, it feels like it was a big part of my life - and I suppose three years was, in my teens - but my actual obsession with the charts was such a short-lived thing.) Either way, I'm looking forward to following this thread for a while. I've wanted to download every number one for a long time, but never got around to it, and having a discussion thread will definitely make it more appealing.

machotrouts

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2019, 12:12:35 AM »
What is it with Al Martino and hearts. Can't get enough of them. Weirdo

Crabwalk

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2019, 01:46:22 PM »
Great thread idea daf - I'm looking forward to the journey.

'Here in my Heart' reminds me a bit of 'The Impossible Dream' especially with the chorus melody. Al fairly belts out those 'Heeeeeerrrrrre's doesn't he? I prefer his quieter crooning voice to his bellow. The big finish does pack a wallop, but if he sang this to an actual loved one, I suspect they'd be terrified.

daf

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2019, 03:04:09 PM »
Up next - everyone's favourite Ragtime Cowboy Joe, its . . .

2. Jo Stafford - You Belong To Me



From : January 11 – 17 1953
Weeks : 1
B side : Pretty Boy

Quote
Jo Elizabeth Stafford (November 12, 1917 – July 16, 2008) was an American traditional pop music singer and occasional actress, whose career spanned five decades from the late 1930s to the early 1980s. Admired for the purity of her voice, she originally underwent classical training to become an opera singer before following a career in popular music, and by 1955 had achieved more worldwide record sales than any other female artist.

Quote
"You Belong to Me" is credited to Pee Wee King, Chilton Price and Redd Stewart.

Price, a songwriting librarian at WAVE Radio Louisville, had written the song in its virtual entirety as "Hurry Home to Me" envisioning the song as an American woman's plea to a sweetheart serving overseas in World War II. Afforded songwriting credit on the song mostly in exchange for their work in promoting it, King and Stewart did slightly adjust Price's composition musically and lyrically, shifting the focus from a wartime background "into a kind of universal song about separated lovers" and changing the title to "You Belong to Me". Price had previously had success with another hit which she had written, "Slow Poke", under a similar arrangement with the two men.

The first 1952 recording of the song was by Joni James. She had seen the sheet music in the Woods Building in Chicago and the lyrics attracted her. She recorded the song in February, 1952, in Chicago and it was released in March on the local Sharp Records label. After she signed to MGM, it was reissued as her second single on that label on August 5, 1952,

A cover version by Jo Stafford became the most popular version. Issued by Columbia Records, it was Stafford's biggest hit, topping the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom (the first song by a female singer to top the UK Singles Chart)

gilbertharding

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2019, 04:02:10 PM »
Just as a by-the-by, "What was Mungo Jerry's other number 1?" was a question on Popmaster this morning...

I didn't catch the answer, and I haven't cheated by looking it up - so it will be a nice surprise for me in about three years time.

Buzby: what kind of equipment is Al Martino using to get that reverb on the shouty bits?
« Last Edit: March 11, 2019, 04:16:09 PM by gilbertharding »

Captain Z

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2019, 04:16:27 PM »
In The Wintertime

daf

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2019, 04:24:29 PM »
I didn't catch the answer, and I haven't cheated by looking it up - so it will be a nice surprise for me in about three years time.

That's the spirit!

(should get there a bit sooner though : in just under 300 days - so pencil it in for the first week of the 2020 New year)


Crabwalk

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #24 on: March 11, 2019, 04:40:58 PM »
2. Jo Stafford - You Belong To Me

Wow, loved that! What a beautiful song and vocal. I'd never heard of it before but it has all the hallmarks of a standard.

I like the maudlin, rainy day vibe, reflecting her mindset stuck at home while her fella is off galavanting around the world. He'll come back with an STD and she knows it.

purlieu

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2019, 04:56:23 PM »
Wow. I'd only heard Kate Rusby's cover before now, hadn't expected the original would sound like that. It's a beautiful song, either way.

machotrouts

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2019, 05:04:20 PM »
Definitely not as beautiful as the Lords of Acid song with which it RUDELY shares a title.

daf

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2019, 05:31:28 PM »
Little nugget about this - 'You Belong to Me' was originally the B side :

Quote
In a July 1953 interview, Paul Weston said his wife's big hit was really the "B" side of the single "Pretty Boy", which both Weston and Columbia Records believed would be the big seller.

In an 'I Will Survive' move, They flipped it to the A side for the UK release.

Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2019, 05:43:27 PM »
Just as a by-the-by, "What was Mungo Jerry's other number 1?" was a question on Popmaster this morning...

I didn't catch the answer, and I haven't cheated by looking it up - so it will be a nice surprise for me in about three years time.

As someone who used to compile pop quizzes, I can confirm that 'Name the 3 number hits written by Mungo Jerry's Ray Dorset' is a cracking question.

Captain Z

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Re: The Toppermost of the Poppermost - UK Number Ones : part 1 - The 50s
« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2019, 05:44:02 PM »
2. Jo Stafford - You Belong To Me

Reminds me a little of 'I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time' (1941), and also vaguely of 'Nobody Does It Better'.