I think of this as a one-hit wonder, as I can never recall if Fairground Attraction had another hit, or if I ever listened to any more of their songs. However, vocalist Eddi Reader gained a large fan base, which she took into a solo career that continues to this day. As well as being a singer songwriter, Eddi branched out into acting, and also became known for her activity on the political scene in Scotland. In 2006 she received the M.B.E., for her services to the arts.
But I digress.
Back in 1988, songs like this one were not my thing at all. It was number one in the charts, and held placings in the top twenty for three months after that. It was also the winner of the Brit Award for Best Single, in 1989. I managed to ignore it for a while, but constant radio plays finally drove it into my head, where it has stayed ever since. When I hear it again now, I actually like it.
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
It could be argued that the sign of a great song is how many other artists want to cover it. In 1967, this song was released by The Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli on lead vocal. A big ballad with an old fashioned arrangement, unusual even at that time. Nonetheless, I liked it immediately, and the catchy chorus was an immediate sing-a-long moment.
To say the song has endured for fifty-one years would be an understatement. It has been covered by over 200 other singers, the last one as recently as 2016. Popular on film soundtracks, most notably ‘The Deer Hunter’ (1978), and frequently used whole or in part by the makers of TV commercials, it just keeps going. Here is the original, followed by the same song used in Cimino’s film.
All together now…
The majority of songs featured in this series have some relevance to places, times, or events in my life. Memories, good and bad recollections, or just an overall reminder of a certain day or season. Generally, they are all here because I like them of course, but on this occasion I am featuring a song I don’t particularly like, and certainly have never owned.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Hip Hop genre anyway, and by the time this was released by House of Pain, in 1992, I was 40 years old, and rather irked by the fact that this track sampled the classic ‘Harlem Shuffle’, from 1963, as well as others from Junior Walker and Chubby Checker. The song was also heavily featured in advertising for Guinness beer in the UK, and became irritating, to say the least.
So, why is it here?
The simple truth is that like it or not, it is very catchy, and works well too. For over fifteen years, I have found it popping into my head often, usually when least expected. In all honesty, I have to confess that this is the sign of a very effective record. In the interests of balance and fairness, here it is.
Two songs with the same title. Twelve years apart, and they couldn’t be more different. One is from a ‘supergroup’ mentioned earlier this week, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. The other from a London band that started off performing Ska and Bluebeat covers, before becoming one of the most enduring and much-loved groups in Britain.
With the addition of Neil Young, CS&N became CSN&Y, in 1970. Their debut album, ‘Deja Vu’, was a big success, and went on to sell well over eight million copies. The ten tracks on the album feature songs written by various members of the group, in a range of very different styles. Although I liked both the album and the group, I found myself playing certain tracks much more frequently than others.
Especially this one. (This much later live performance is sadly the only one I can access.)
By complete contrast, the wacky Londoners who formed the group Madness were also often known as the ‘nutty boys’, and with good reason. They made the most of the video promotion explosion at the time, delivering some brilliant short films to accompany their single releases. In 1982, they released their fourth album ‘The Rise and Fall’, signifying a change of style and direction. This track was the biggest hit from that album, becoming one of the band’s signature songs to this day.
Love The One You’re With
There was a time when a popular group could get away with just using initials, and everyone would know who they were. Chicago Transit Authority became CTA, later changing to Chicago. Anybody knew that EWF stood for Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Blood, Sweat and Tears were also known as BST. Crosby, Stills and Nash became CSN, and with the arrival of Neil Young in that group, CSN&Y.
Formed in 1968, Crosby, Stills and Nash were one of the early ‘supergroups’, comprising of three men who had left other bands in order to work together. Crosby had been in The Byrds, Stills in Buffalo Springfield, and Nash was from the British pop group, The Hollies. They had instant success with their debut album, and developed a huge fan base.
In the early 1970s, it was common for members of groups to embark on solo projects too. Stephen Stills released his first solo album in 1970, and it earned him a gold disc. As well as backing vocals from Nash and Crosby, it also featured collaborations with Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton. The biggest hit from that album, and released as a single, ‘Love The One You’re with’ became a worldwide best-seller, and was covered by many other recording artists, including the Isley Brothers. Despite being sold as part of the ‘Folk-Rock’ genre, I loved that song when I was 18, and still do today.
Our Day Will Come
I was recently reminded of this song when it was featured on Thom Hickey’s excellent music blog.
I knew it from my youth, originally released by Ruby and The Romantics, in 1963. I loved it then, and love it just as much today. Few songs can really endure a span of 56 years, with numerous cover versions, each in their own way a significant hit at the time.
The list of artists who also recorded this song is too long to include in full, but here are some highlights.
1963, Bobby Darin
1963 Julie London
1965 Doris Day
1973 The Carpenters
1975 Frankie Valli
And there were dozens of others too.
You may recall my love for the voice of Amy Winehouse. She also recorded this song, which wasn’t released until after her death, in 2011. So naturally, I am going to feature her version, but I will also add Ruby’s original, because the song is just that good.
With more and more companies using songs on TV advertisements, it feels as if it is reaching some sort of commercial epidemic. On the plus side, it often reminds me of a song I loved, or a time and place when I heard it.
One recent example has seen a UK loan company using an old favourite of mine for their advertising. I hate those sort of companies; the ones that prey on people who need small amounts of money for an emergency, and don’t have a decent enough credit rating to get a reasonable interest rate. This company has a current interest rate of 1,291%, which is just disgusting, and should be against the law. Here is an example of how some poor sap pays back almost twice as much, in just six months.
Borrow £200 for 6 months
Interest rate 292% pa (fixed)
6 repayments of £63.65
Total amount repayable £381.89
Representative 1291% APR
Anger makes me digress, so back to the music. In 1966, Bobby Hebb wrote and recorded his song, ‘Sunny’. This soulful ballad was easy on the ear, and almost everyone liked it. I was a teenager at the time, enjoying a summer of relative freedom, as I was now considered to be old enough to do my own thing, and to be left in the house when my parents went away. I bought the record, and played it over and over. It seemed to sum up just how I felt at the time, in under three minutes.
Since then, it has been covered hundreds of times, and achieved the status of being voted one of the top 100 Songs of The Century. Bobby Hebb continued to perform and record, but had limited success, never regaining the height of popularity he reached with this song. I never heard another song by him, and ‘Sunny’ remained a one-hit wonder, as far as I was concerned. He died in 2010, at the age of 72.