Tag Archives: Pop

Some Smokie for the weekend

This week it’s Bradford band “Smokie” who had hits mainly in the 1970s. Their biggest success was with the songwriting team of Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman who also wrote hits for Mud, Sweet & Suzi Quatro. Smokie’s songs were always catchy with good musicanship and production but it was lead singer Chris Norman who provided the distinctive vocals and good looks. Norman left the band in the 80s and pursued a successful solo career, but Smokie continued without him. In recent years the band have done reunion gigs and Norman has worked with other artists, most notably Agnetha Fältskog of Abba.

Smokie had 13 top 40 hits, including 7 top tens.
I think they’re probably best known for their hit “Living Next Door To Alice” which reached number 5 in 1976 and was a hit again with comedian Roy “Chubby” Brown when it reached number 3 in 1995, but I’m going to go with two of their other hits.

Smokie had their first hit in July 1975 reaching number 3 with “If You Think You Know How To Love Me”
(Uploaded to YouTube by smokieVEVO)

“It’s Your Life” reached number 5 in 1977
(Uploaded to YouTube by smokieVEVO)

Some Steps for the weekend

This week it’s British 4 piece vocal group Steps. They were formed in 1997.

An unashamedly pop group, Steps specialised in feelgood pop tunes accompanied by dance routines for each song. They disbanded in 2001 after a massively successful run, having sold over 20 million records worldwide. They had 16 top forty hits, including 14 top tens and two number 1s. The number ones being Heartbeat/Tragedy in 1998 and Stomp in 2000.

In 2011 they reformed for a 4 part documentary reunion show, and a subsequent greatest hits compilation which reached number 1. In 2012 they embarked on a 22 date tour, released a new studio album and did a six date tour.
They reunited again this year for their 20th anniversary and released a new album “Tears on the Dancefloor” which reached number 2 in the album chart.

These songs are both from their “Tears on the Dancefloor” album and has their typically upbeat catchy pop vibe.

“Scared of the Dark”
(Uploaded to YouTube by StepsVEVO)

“Neon Blue”
(Uploaded to YouTube by StepsVEVO)

Glen Campbell tribute

This week it’s a tribute to Glen Campbell who died of Alzheimers on August 8th, aged 81.
One of the true greats of popular music, Campbell was a singer, guitarist, songwriter and TV presenter. He crossed the music divide and was highly regarded by people in the music business in other musical genres; rock legend Alice Cooper was one of his close friends.

During his 50 years in show business, Campbell released more than 70 albums, sold over 45 million records and received numerous awards. His partnership with songwriter Jimmy Webb produced some classic songs such as “Wichita Lineman”, “Galveston”, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” and “Honey Come Back”.

He made history in 1967 by winning four Grammys in the country and pop categories. Three of his songs were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame (“Wichita Lineman” in 2000, “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” in 2004 & “Gentle On My Mind” in 2008), while Campbell himself won the Grammy Lifetime achievement award in 2012.

In the UK he had top forty singles including five top tens.
These are well known hits of his but are also my favourites. Wichita Lineman in particular is one of my all time favourite songs.

RIP Glen Campbell.

“Wichita Lineman” reached number 7 in 1969. Should have been number 1.
(Uploaded to YouTube by 2old2Rock)

“Rhinestone Cowboy” reached number 4 in 1975.
(Uploaded to YouTube by GlenCampbellVEVO)

Some Olivia Newton-John for the weekend

Last week it was ELO whose only number one was with Olivia Newton-John, and this week here she is in her own right!

Australian singer Olivia Newton-John OBE has had 19 top forty hits, including 11 top tens and 3 number ones. It is a shame that despite some great solo singles all her number ones were with other artists and from musicals, two with John Travolta (from Grease) and one with ELO “Xanadu” from the movie of the same name.
Olivia also had two hits duetting with Cliff Richard.

Olivia debuted in 1971 with “If Not For You” reaching number 7, quickly following that up with “Banks of the Ohio” reaching 6 later the same year. She continued with country and wholesome pop, including representing the UK in Eurovision with “Long Live Love” in 1974. In 1977 she reached number 6 with ballad “Sam”.

In 1978 the film “Grease” came out with Olivia in the lead role of Sandy and everything changed. She rode a massive wave of popularity and had two number ones with Travolta and reached number 2 with “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from the film.
As her character Sandy changed from “Sandra Dee” to rock chick at the end of Grease, so did change Olivia musically. Olivia’s next single in 1978 was the song “A Little More Love” with her singing “where did my innocence go?” and reached number 4. “Magic” continued in a similar vein in 1980.

In 1981 she released album “Physical” and the lead single of the same name was a worldwide smash. It was a raunchy pop song and the video accompanying it made a worldwide impact. The single made number 7 in the UK.

Olivia made a music special with videos for all the songs on the album, but none of the other singles made the impact “Physical” did, making 18 and 43 with “Landslide” and “Make a Move On Me”. This in my opinion was a great shame as I have this album, and it is vastly underrated and a great pop album.

So here are two tracks from the “Physical” album which I particularly like which weren’t singles.

”Stranger’s Touch”
(Uploaded to YouTube by OliviaNewtonJohnVEVO)

(Uploaded to YouTube by QueenofRockChannel)

She still continues to make music today with a focus on wellbeing. Her last album “Liv On” in 2016, was a “collaborative grief and healing” album with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky. She said “As a group, it’s our intention with this album to create songs with a message of compassion and hope. They are for anyone facing a time of challenge in their life, whether it is grieving a loss – or on the journey to health and recovery.”
Olivia is herself battling cancer and I send her my best wishes.

Some Searchers for the Weekend

This week it’s British band The Searchers who were part of the Merseybeat era in the 1960s. They had 12 top forty hits including 6 top tens and 3 numbers ones which were their debut “Sweets For My Sweet” , “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” and the song below.

“Needles and Pins” was their second number 1 and was at the top for three weeks in Jan/Feb 1964.
(Uploaded to YouTube by Trevor Coard)

“When You Walk In The Room” reached number 3 in Oct 1964
(Uploaded to YouTube by Hawkmoon03111951)

Some Bucks Fizz for the weekend

This week it’s British group Bucks Fizz who were formed for the UK entry for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1981. They won the competition and went on to have a great success having thirteen top forty hits including seven top tens and three number ones.
The group’s debut and first number one was Eurovision winner “Making Your Mind Up” which stayed at the top spot for three weeks in April 1981. Their second number one was “The Land of Make Believe which hit the top spot in January 1982 for two weeks.

“My Camera Never Lies” was their third and final number 1 hitting the top spot in April 1982
(Uploaded to YouTube by Andante Etnadna)

“If You Can’t Stand The Heat” reached number 10 in November 1982
(Uploaded to YouTube by Andante Etnadna)

Some Bananarama for the weekend

This week to celebrate the announcement that the original line-up are getting back together, it’s Bananarama!
Yes, Sara Dallin, Keren Woodward have reunited with original co-band member Siobhan Fahey for a tour. Although they carried on when Siobhan left in 1988 and Jacquie O’Sullivan did three years and then Keren and Sara continued as a duo, it is the original trio which is remembered with fondness and had their biggest hits.
The group had 25 top 40 hits including 10 top tens.

Both of these songs were massive at the time and it is surprising to see both only reached number 8!

“Cruel Summer” reached number 8 in 1983.
(Uploaded to YouTube by Walter Barrooshian)

Next is “Venus” which was a cover of the 1970 song by Shocking Blue. Funnily enough both versions reached number 8, the Bananarama one in 1986. Both versions did hit number one in other countries however.
Venus is different in production to Cruel Summer as it was the first collaboration with new producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman and the “hit factory” sound is very apparent. The previous producers ( for Cruel Summer) were Swain and Jolley who were famous for producing Imagination’s hits and Spandau Ballet’s albums True and Parade among others.
(Uploaded to YouTube by jeffrey a)