Home > Uncategorized > Step back to 1977 – Part 2

Step back to 1977 – Part 2

In part one of my nostalgic trip to 1977 I recalled the sudden death of my father and how I shoved my rival out of the way in a race for my first true love”s favour. Puberty”s hormones had started to rage in my 11-year-old body. One day in early September I bought a copy of the teen magazine Bravo, familiar to me from the posters that used to cover my older sister”s bedroom walls. This one had Linda Blair from The Exorcist on the cover, and inside the first of a four-part series of Smokie posters. Apart with providing me with excellent sex education, buying Bravo turned me from a casual music fan into an obsessive. My growth was rapid, as the first part of 1978 will show. I might regard most of the sings in this post with nostalgic affection, but I am not proud to associate myself with some of them publicly.

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Baccara – Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.mp3
Baccara – Sorry, I”m A Lady.mp3

I have told the story before how the poetry of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie ignited my passion for the English language, which by 1977 I had learned for a year in school. It was the word “erjitayshin” (as in “Meester, your eyes are full of hesitation”) that send me to the Langenscheidt Englisch-Deutsch dictionary. It caused me great satisfaction to have mastered a four-syllable word. From there, I”d regularly translate lyrics from the snappily titled Top Schlagersongtextheft booklets. As we”ll see in part 3 of 1977, my first celebrity crush on an adult involved the blonde from ABBA, but the Baccara lady in black also gave me strange stirrings, proving that I am not tied to a particular type of woman. The spoken admonition in the Spanish duo”s second hit, in which the white Baccaraette regrets that she is a woman of virtue, also seemed cute and, indeed, sexy to me. In short, Baccara represent the aural and visual stimuli to my nascent pubescent sexual awakening.
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Harpo – In The Zum-Zum-Zummernight.mp3
Flute! This is not one of Harpo”s better-remembered songs. It reached #13 in West-Germany in September, his last Top 20 entry there. Indeed, by 1977 ““ the year he spent a month in Swedish jail for refusing to perform compulsory military service ““ Harpo”s career was declining. Being a bit of a Harpo fan, I bought two more singles by Harpo after this “” Television and a cover of The Troggs” With A Girl Like You, neither of which were hits “” and then the singer disappeared. A few years later he briefly returned to the news when he sustained serious injuries from being kicked by a horse he was training (he lost sight in one eye and his sense of smell). You and I might have boiled the horse down for glue. Harpo, in commendable contrast to you and me, named his next album after the horse, Starter. Apparently Harpo still performs (Northern German and Danish readers can catch him on 30 July at an Oldies-Night in Süderbarup, near Flensburg).
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Boney M – Belfast.mp3
Like Woody Guthrie before them, Boney M had a message of politics. “Got to have a believin”, got to have a believin”, got to have a believin” all the people “cause the people are leavin”. When the people believin”, when the people believin”, when the people believin” all the children cause the children are leavin”.” Right on! It took 20 years for the conflicting sides to listen to Boney M with open hearts and minds before they signed the Good Friday Peace Accord. On this song, Marcia Barrett got to sing lead instead of the more ubiquitous Liz Mitchell. It was co-written by Drafi Deutscher (who in the1960s recorded what may well be the only ever world-class Schlager, Marmor Stein und Eisen) specifically for Barrett, intended for her to sing even before she joined Boney M. Its original, less snappy title was Londonderry, which might locate Deutscher either on the Protestant or the Oblivious side.

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Rubettes – Ooh-La-La.mp3
When successful acts died commercially in Britain, they lingered on for a while in Germany. The Rubettes benefitted from such loyalties when their Ooh La La La became a hit well past their sell-by date. I thought the chorus was quite catchy, but I obviously did not take the time to translate them. “I”m contemplating having her my bride; she”s got great big tits, that”s what she has. Yes, when it comes down to lovin”, anything goes and everyone knows it, I swear now, for she has a thing about shedding her clothes.” Tom Waits was not going to perform a cover version of that, but it was pretty risque for the pop charts in the 1970s. And then, Rubettes Man engages himself with her clothes-shedding temperament: “I heard my parents footsteps coming down the stairs to see what all the noise was about. So I rolled over to the old piano and I said: “˜Ma, we”ve been playing the blues.” My mother gave me a knowing glance and she said: “˜Son, is that how you play it with your trousers round your shoes?”” Surely a real mother would have given a knowing look and ask her horny son not to soil the rug…

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Bay City Rollers ““ You Made Me Believe In Magic.mp3
There are BCR songs I like because they make me feel like a kid again. But this song I like because it”s damn good. It didn”t do very well because by then even the German teen girls had begun deserting the group, though it apparently cracked the US Top 10 (but only #34 in the UK and even in Germany only #24). Soon singer Leslie McKeown would depart as well. So You Made Me Believe In Magic stands as a testament to what might have been. It has a great arrangement (I really like the strings) and the guitar solo ““ ostensibly by Woody, but I don”t buy that ““ is pretty good too, albeit rather of its time. In memory of BCR, here”s a great video of the band performing for OAPs; I suspect it was a funny response to their being a teenybopper band.

Anyway, BCR remind me of the Great Poster Debate of September 1977. Bravo carried four different sizes of posters: A4, A3, a double-sided A2 insert called the “Superposter”, and the Starschnitt, weekly pieces of a picture that glued together would produce a life-sized poster (the only one I ever collected was of the Beatles). Although I was not a little girl, there were BCR posters up on the walls of the bedroom which my younger brother and I shared. Although I bought the magazines, we”d take weekly turns in deciding which posters would go up; my brother”s bargaining strategy was that if he had no say, he”d veto any poster going up. One week, the Superposter choice fell between a garish picture of BCR clones called the Dead End Kids on the colour side, and a really cool monochrome photo of Jimi Hendrix (of whom I knew nothing yet, other than that he was dead). Alas, it was brother”s week to choose the posters (pictured on the Bravo cover here), and he opted for the fucking Dead End Kids. I tried all I could to persuade him that Jimi had to go up, even trying to emotionally blackmail him by claiming that our late father, an opera and theatre man, was a big Jimi Hendrix fan. To no avail. The Dead End Kids went up ““ comedy socks, skimpy cut-off denim shorts with rather too open legs and all. I never got to hear any of their records, but a lot of Hendrix”s.

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Kenny Rogers ““ Lucille.mp3
Two years ago I was at a party when the electricity went off. The host quickly produced a guitar for an old-fashioned sing-along. But when nobody really remembers complete lyrics, these things tend to e short-lived. So as our host was idly playing as blues riff, I started singing along, making up lyrics as I went along to what I called The Muthafuckin” Blues. The lyrics of my ditty were more country than blues. You know the deal: my dog gone died, my woman gone left me, and the crops in the field are being left unharvested. Later I realised that, apart from the deceased canine (and the bitter end that my woman who gone left me would eventually meet), I was riffing on the theme of Kenny Roger”s Lucille, from the point of view of the wronged husband.

My mother bought the single on a trip in October to Cologne, at the massive Saturn store, at the time Europe”s biggest record shop. It was our first family trip since my father”s death in June. Before departing, I had been given a new pair of black leather shoes which had a very distinctive smell. Lucille evokes that smell and the very particular memories of that trip.

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Hoffmann & Hoffmann ““ Himbeereis zum Frühstück.mp3
Carole King – Hard Rock Cafe.mp3

This German cover of the Bellamy Brothers rather good Crossfire played every morning on our radio alarm clock, a modern thing with green digital numbers. Almost like I Got You Babe in Groundhog Day. It was one of three songs that seemed to play in a loop at the time: Carole King”s Hardrock Café, a German cover version of Herman”s Hermits” No Milk Today by a guy who played the fiddle, and this song. Although I was by now vehemently opposed to any German music whatsoever, I had a sneaking affection for this song. Raspberry ice cream for breakfast (which beats starfish and coffee, maple syrup and cream) sounded like just the thing to fulfill my nutritional needs. I was intrigued by the notion of rock “˜n” roll in an elevator (you don”t think they meant something other than dancing to Bill Haley, do you?). Sadly, one of the Hoffmanns died young, having thrown himself from a Rio hotel window in 1984. He was 33. I can”t say I liked Carole King”s song much, though it sounds a lot better now.

Part 3 follows soon. And when we get to 1978, when the music will get a lot better.

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  1. Olli (1966)
    July 21st, 2010 at 15:00 | #1

    I absolutely love the record cover of “Himbeereis…” (later I heard somebody call it “Himbeergeist (raspberry liquor) zum Frühstück):
    * the pink colour of the title letters
    * the singers having a yummy icecream
    * the Atlantic record lable that shows that Hoffmann+Hoffmann were labelmates of Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin

    The music brings back memories of afternoons spent ice skating in Hamburg with music from crappy old loudspeakers.

  2. James
    July 21st, 2010 at 16:19 | #2

    Dude,

    I remember most of this lot well. Horse shit, pretty much uniformly, but there’s a sense of amusement in remembering them and what passed as hot pop music, POST the punk era.

    Worst of the lot is Boney M. ‘A cheap holiday in other people’s misery’, as someone else sang around about the same time.

    I grew up in Belfast and, like the vast majority of its citizens, rejected violence and those promoting it. But I certainly would have made an exception for the creators of this record! (and the aptly named Simple Minds ‘Belfast Child’, another pox on the face of recorded music).

    As for Baccara, my recollection of ‘Sorry, I’m a lady’, in the music press of the time, was the rumour that the two singers were, in fact, transvestites. By that stage, I couldn’t have cared less about chart pop, having moved on to weightier stuff than this lot, but whether true, false or just a PR scam for publicity, it certainly placed Baccara on the UK charts once the story broke, as there was a bit of a clamour to see them on Top of the Pops so we could judge for ourselves.

  3. Kevin Killion
    July 24th, 2010 at 00:23 | #3

    “a German cover version of Herman’s Hermits’ No Milk Today by a guy who played the fiddle” —– Whoa! I want THAT one!

  4. Kevin Killion
    November 11th, 2010 at 18:34 | #4

    AMDWHAH — Still pining for that tune: “a German cover version of Herman’s Hermits’ No Milk Today by a guy who played the fiddle” Sounds irresistible!

  5. halfhearteddude
    November 11th, 2010 at 23:10 | #5

    Man, I’d love to get hold of it myself, or at least remember what the name of the artist was. I can even picture the guy. Gah!

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