December 10th, 2014

Blue Red

63 UK Christmas No.1s - 1979

Pink Floyd - Another Brick In The Wall (part 2)

"Another Brick in the Wall" is the title of three songs set to variations of the same basic theme, on Pink Floyd's 1979 rock opera, The Wall, subtitled Part 1 (working title "Reminiscing"), Part 2 (working title "Education"), and Part 3 (working title "Drugs"). All parts were written by Pink Floyd's lead vocalist and bassist, Roger Waters. Part II is a protest song against rigid schooling in general and boarding schools in the UK in particular. It was also released as a single and provided the band's only number-one hit in the United Kingdom, the United States, West Germany and many other countries. In addition, in the US, along with the tracks, "Run Like Hell", and "Don't Leave Me Now", "Another Brick in the Wall" reached number fifty-seven on the disco chart.

In the UK, it was Pink Floyd's first single since 1968's "Point Me at the Sky"; the song was also the final number-one single of the 1970s. For Part II, Pink Floyd received a Grammy nomination for Best Performance by a Rock Duo or Group and lost to Bob Seger's "Against the Wind". In addition, Part II was number 375 on Rolling Stone '​s list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".The single sold over 4 million copies worldwide.

The single, as well as the album The Wall, were banned in South Africa in 1980 after the song was adopted by supporters of a nationwide school boycott protesting racial inequities in education under the apartheid regime.

Each of the three parts has a similar tune, and lyrical structure (though not lyrics, aside from the "all in all" refrain), and each is louder and more enraged than the one before, rising from the sadness of Part I to the protesting Part II to the furious Part III.

It was Producer Bob Ezrin's idea to use a school choir for this song,

The most important thing I did for the song was to insist that it be more than just one verse and one chorus long, which it was when Roger wrote it. When we played it with the disco drumbeat I said: "Man, this is a hit! But it's one minute 20. We need two verses and two choruses." And they said, "Well you're not bloody getting them. We don't do singles, so fuck you." So I said, "Okay, fine", and they left. And because of our two [tape recorder] set up, while they weren't around we were able to copy the first verse and chorus, take one of the drum fills, put them in between and extend the chorus.

Then the question is what do you do with the second verse, which is the same? And having been the guy who made Alice Cooper's School's Out, I've got this thing about kids on record, and it is about kids after all. So while we were in America, we sent [recording engineer] Nick Griffiths to a school near the Floyd studios [in Islington, North London]. I said, "Give me 24 tracks of kids singing this thing. I want Cockney, I want posh, fill 'em up", and I put them on the song. I called Roger into the room, and when the kids came in on the second verse there was a total softening of his face, and you just knew that he knew it was going to be an important record.

Griffiths approached music teacher Alun Renshaw of Islington Green School, around the corner from Pink Floyd's Britannia Row Studios, about the choir.

Though the school received a lump sum payment of £1000, there was no contractual arrangement for royalties from record sales. Under a 1996 UK copyright law, they became eligible for royalties from broadcasts, and after royalties agent Peter Rowan traced choir members through the website Friends Reunited and other means, they lodged a claim for royalties with the Performing Artists' Media Rights Association in 2004.

Pink Floyd were my older brothers favourite band so this brings back memories of hearing this song being played very loud in his bedroom!
Blue Red

63 UK Christmas No.1s - 1980

St Winnifred's School Choir - There's No-one Quite Like Grandma

"There's No One Quite Like Grandma" was a number one hit in the UK Singles Chart, by the Stockport-based primary school choir St Winifred's School Choir from 27 December 1980 to 3 January 1981. It was written by Gordon Lorenz.

The song was a Christmas number-one single in both the UK and Ireland, demoting John Lennon's last single, "(Just Like) Starting Over," to number two. After two weeks on the charts, a previous Lennon song, "Imagine," replaced it. Both Lennon songs were posthumous releases; Lennon had been killed three weeks prior.

More recently, the song was used within the one-off Channel 4 comedy by Peter Kay called Britain's Got the Pop Factor..., which had Sally Lindsay, who was in the original choir of the song, in a cameo role. Furthermore, an extract of the song is always used in the "Granny Brainiac" segment in Series 3 of Sky One TV show Brainiac: Science Abuse.

In October 2009, the song was re-recorded by 14 members of the original choir. It was released in the UK in November 2009 as part of food company Innocent Drinks' "Big Knit" campaign, to raise money for Age Concern.

This single proved to be really hard to find! I think people had bought it at the time and then realised later they didn't like the song and threw them away rather than selling them at recrod fairs and car boot sales. For many years I had this song on a cassette single but eventually managed to trackdown a 7inch single.
Blue Red

63 UK Christmas No.1s - 1981

The Human League - Don't You Want Me

"Don't You Want Me" is a single by British synthpop group The Human League. It is the band's best known and most commercially successful recording to date. In 1981 it was the Christmas number one in the UK, where it has since sold over 1,560,000 copies, making it the 23rd most successful single in UK Singles Chart history. It later topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the US on 3 July 1982 where it stayed for three weeks.

An urban myth has grown around the song that it is autobiographical. This is untrue. Susan Ann Sulley is often irritated that she constantly has to refute the mistaken belief that the song is a reference to her and Joanne Catherall joining the band. At only 17 years old when the song was recorded, she was legally too young by UK law to have been a cocktail waitress and was, in fact, still in Secondary School.

"Don't You Want Me" was released in the UK on 27 November 1981. To the amazement of the band, it shot to number one on the UK charts. This success was repeated six months later in the US, with "Don't You Want Me" hitting No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Billboard magazine ranked it as the sixth-biggest hit of 1982. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA the same year for sales of a million copies. As of November 2012, "Don't You Want Me" is the 23rd best-selling single in the UK with 1.55 million copies sold.

The video was released in December 1981, just as the music video culture was becoming an integral part of the pop music scene, and it was a major contribution to the song's commercial success.

Although The Human League came from Sheffield, I couldn't recall having ever met or even seen Phil Oakey around Sheffield. I knew both the girls as they used to hang out all the time in the same club as me called 'The Limit' in the early 80's and I knew Martin Ware well as he had a record shop and I used go to buy records from him.

But about four years ago I was standing outside a bank in the city centre while Steve went inside to sort out his money. All of a sudden I noticed Phil Oakey walking towards me with a big smile on his face and he gushingly said 'Hiya' and he greeted me with a big hug and kissed me on the cheek like he'd known me for years!
He then said
"Oh My God!, I haven't seen you for years, how've you been keeping? "
"Fine thanks. How are you?" I replied as though I'd known him for years.
"Yeah doing really well. God! how long has it been since The Limit?"  *Blows* "It must be 25 to 30 years!
"About 28!"
I realised it was probably a case of mistaken identity - although it would have been nice to think that he had actually recognised me from the 'Limit' days!
"Doesn't time pass! Oh you know what? it's really great seeing you again"
"Yeah it's really nice seeing you again too"
To which I got another hug and he told me to "take care" as he dissappeared off down the road!
Steve then came out of the bank and I said "you'll never guess what's just happened!"

To this day I have no idea whether I was who he thought I was or not!