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Step back to 1977 – Part 3

Here is part 3 of 1977, the songs that can take me back to the autumn and winter of that year.

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ABBA ““ The Name Of The Game.mp3
This is my favourite ABBA song, with a rather endearing video of domestic bliss via a communal game of ludo (it”s the name of the game, you see; video here). I had a bit of a crush on Agnetha. Actually, I still do. I think it”s the way she furrows her brow when she sings, as though she is in pain or perhaps in the incipient throes of an orgasm. Agnetha was the first adult woman I really fancied (along with the dark-haired lady from Baccara from part 2). Another Swede was my first pre-pubescent celebrity crush: the girl who played Annika in the Pippi Langstrumpf (Pippi Longstocking) movies. Anyway, for all their talents, the members of ABBA seemed to be rather nice, ordinary people. They might have been your folks” friends, the people you were allowed to greet before being sent to bed. One can imagine Björn getting a bit bristly, possibly due to the tight trousers he wore. He looked like he really should have been an architect. Agnetha looked like a dental hygienist (don”t even think of making oral jokes!), Annifrid like a hairdresser (or perhaps art teacher), and Benny like a truck driver who got promoted to an administrative office gig where he”d now mainly look at porn magazines. Yes, they did look like they could have been my parents” friends. No surprise, then, that in 1977 my mother bought the ABBA ““ The Album LP, and the following year went to see ABBA ““ The Movie (though her review of it was scathing). My older brother, the DJ at the church camp disco that produced my first slow dance (story in part 1 of 1977), acquired the single as part of a whole bunch for more church discos.

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Amanda Lear ““ The Queen Of Chinatown.mp3
Amanda Lear pulled one of the great PR stunts in pop history when rumours, allegedly emanating from her quarters (as per an idea by Salvatore Dali), began to circulate that she was a transsexual, a notion supposedly supported by her deep voice. Then, to prove that these were just “malicious” rumours, Lear posed for nude photos, which were widely published. Even Bravo “” for all its inherent conservatism not a publication shy of portraying nudity (the pederasts must have loved the covers showing naked teen girls; check out the “70s Bravo covers) “” ran some of these pics. Sure enough, Ms Lear was indeed all woman. The rumours of her transgendered birth persist, because it”s just too god to let it go.

All that calls to mind the South African runner Caster Semenya, the world champion who was publicly humiliated by having to undergo a test to determine whether she was a girl or a boy or transgendered (and I don”t buy the argument that a white athlete would have been treated in the same shameful manner). Last month it was rather quietly revealed that she is indeed female. In the interim this rural teenage girl was put through a hell of publicity, with even the standard bearers of political correctness feeling entitled to crack jokes at her expense. I wonder whether this gifted athlete and perfectly pleasant girl will ever recover from this experience? And the muck of wilful suspicion will not dissipate.

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Raffaella Carrà – A far l”amore comincia tu (Liebelei).mp3
Sometimes the songs you despised back then are very effective in conjuring sentiments of nostalgia. So it is with this song, which I absolutely despised as 1977 turned cold (I hated the German Schlager version by the ingratiating Tony Holiday, titled Tanze Samba mit mir, even more). Hearing the song now, it isn”t really that bad. It has a nice energy. Carrà“s stage personality didn”t really help much to endear her to me. She had an over-enthusiastic way of shaking her booty that hinted at coordination troubles, she dressed in disco clothes like a pre-menopausal startrooper on a final mission, and she disappointed me by not conforming to my stereotype of the dark-haired Italian. Carrà, who first recorded the song in 1975, later released the song in German as Liebelei (the word that incongruously was part of the original title).

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Leif Garrett ““ Surfin” U.S.A..mp3
I remember the day I bought this atrocity very well. I had just bought a pop music magazine called, I think, Pop. That issue included cool stickers picturing pop stars and band logos, and (I”m pretty sure) an article about the Lynyrd Skynyrd planecrash. I read the mag on the bus to my maths tutor”s place. On the way back, I decided to stop in town and drop in at the local Karstadt department store to buy myself a single”¦this single. Leif Garrett, as the cover suggests, was a teen idol in the Shaun Cassidy mode, the kind that Tiger Beat fed on regardless of accomplishment or talent. Before becoming a recording star, Garrett had been a quite prolific child actor, playing roles such as Tony Randall”s son in the TV series of The Odd Couple. His singing career was not very successful, though his disco number In Was Made For Dancing was a hit in Europe in early 1979. My older brother borrowed this record, and in return introduced me to Them, thereby igniting in me a nascent interest in older rock music which would find fuller expression a few months later. Yet, when I bought this single, I had no idea Surfin’ USA was a cover of the Beach Boys song.

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Santa Esmeralda – Don”t Let Me Be Misunderstood (single version).mp3
Santa Esmeralda – Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood + Esmeralda Suite.mp3
Santa Esmeralda”“ You”re My Everything.mp3

Handclaps, percussion, enter the Spanish guitars, wait for the riff and the strings, and then Leroy Gomez kicks in: “Baby, do you-ou understahand me now”. Wow. And it gets even better. Never mind Nina Simone, Santa Esmeralda”s is the perfect version of Don”t Let Me Be Misunderstood. Here we have the 7″³ version, which is all I can handle as I boogie furiously across the floor, and the even better full version, which comes with a heart attack warning. And in case I never get around to posting it, there”s also a very fine ballad titled You”re My Everything, which appeared on the LP (which included only four songs) and in some regions as the b-side of Don”t Let Me Be Misunderstood.

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Umberto Tozzi ““ Ti Amo.mp3
I must confess:  I rather like cheesy Italian pop, and I have no idea whether the stuff is considered totally uncool or not by Italians (I suspect the latter). Ti Amo possibly is my favourite of the lot (but that may be the nostalgia speaking). Umberto really gets into it, too. He went on to have a few more hits in Germany, including Tu and Gloria, which later became a hit for the late Laura Branigan. South African-born Schlager singer Howard Carpendale did the obligatory German cover of it, retaining the Italian title but draining all the impassioned drama from the original.

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The Runaways – School Days.mp3
Having noted my return to music fanaticism, my mother gave me for a stereo for Christmas. It was a fairly basic thing by most standards, but a most welcome step-up from my now broken record player whose lid doubled as a speaker. This one had a plastic lid designed for no other purpose than to guard the system against dust. Cool. By now I was spending all my money on singles. Just after Christmas, I bought the Wings” Mull Of Kintyre, a few weeks before it even entered the German charts, persuading me that I had an unerring talent for spotting a trend. And I bought the Runaways single. Having read about manager Kim Foley and the decimation of the original line-up in Rocky magazine, I rather liked the look of promoted frontwoman Joan Jett. I had no idea what the Runaways sounded like. But I wanted at least some Joan Jett. I remember sitting on the bus on my way to my grandmother”s (she still funded my record-buying expeditions, but acknowledged that she could no longer use me as a proxy for her Heino-loving ways), feeling a rather sexual excitement at the thought of hearing Joan Jett”s voice. She would not disappoint. And it would not be the last record I”d buy under the influence of hormones.

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  1. July 27th, 2010 at 11:44 | #1

    Wow, Santa Esmeralda! One of those tunes I must have annoyed everyone around me with because I played it over and over again. Loved it then, loved it now.

    The Runaways were a stroke of genius here also. I wasn’t into Joan yet, though later I dated someone that was a ringer for her, but for me it was Cheri Curry. Brings up primative stirrings even now. I had the chance to meet her, along with her sister, at the music distributorship I worked at when they were promoting their single “Since You’ve Been Gone”. Killer smile on her.

    Nice feature you’re running here.

  2. halfhearteddude
    July 27th, 2010 at 15:35 | #2

    Oh, I loved the Currie sisters; I bought their version of Since You Been Gone on the basis of rampant hormones. It’ll feature in the 1980 round-up.

  3. Jasper
    July 28th, 2010 at 00:19 | #3

    You spoke of Caster Semenya, who was questioned about gender issues and asked yourself whether such a thing would happen to a white person. I give you the Dutch Foekje Dillema (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foekje_Dillema) who was in the 1950s disqualified for life from sporting events because of doubtful gender issues.
    I secretly love the Rafaela Cara song, by the way…

  4. Liz P
    July 28th, 2010 at 06:39 | #4

    Oh, Dude, your posts are just delightful to read.

    That is all. :) Thanks for that!

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