ZANG TUMMM TUMB ARTICLES “the first draft of history”


WHAM! RULE: Billy Oceans ‘Caribbean Queen abdicated from the American singles throne last week to be replaced not by the Prince as had been expected, but by Wham! who vaulted three notches to complete a rapid (by American standards) ascent which has seen them hailed as the new Culture Club — though what Boy George and Co will make of that is anyones business.

In Britain too, Wham! were the weeks sensation, their second album ‘Make It Big entering the chart at number one. The Whamsters previous album, ‘Fantastic, also debuted at number one, but was overtaken by Yazoos ‘You And Me Both after a fortnight. By an odd twist of fate, Wham!s latest success blocked former Yazoo chanteuse Alison Moyets bid for the chart summit.

In the current climate, if you dont get to the top straight away, you dont get to the top at all, and Alison must be resigned to a steady decline as Duran Duran, Paul Young, Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Eurythmics et al will all be challenging for the chart leadership in the next few weeks, though Wham!s toughest challenge looks like coming from EMI/Virgins ‘Now Thats What I Call Music 4' and CBS/WEAs ‘The Hits Album, both of which are double platinum before release and contain 32 hit tracks. This is all bad news for Frankie Goes To Hollywood, whove already slumped to number two, with second week sales of ‘The Pleasure Dome sinking to around 75,000.

Though a considerable number of acts reach number one with their first charted album, most fall short with their second attempt. Prior to Wham!, the only other acts to open their album chart career with a brace of number ones are, in order of achievement, the George Mitchell Minstrels, the Shadows, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Monkees, the Bay City Rollers, Mike Oldfield and Gary Numan. Only the Beatles and the George Mitchell Minstrels extended the sequence beyond their first two chart albums. The latter secured a hat-trick of toppers before settling for a lower position, whilst the Beatles went on to complete a formidable run of seven consecutive number ones before ‘A Collection Of Beatles Oldies spoilt the sequence.

BACK in the USA. to coin a phrase, Wham! are the seventh British act to reach number one this year, emulating Billy Ocean, John Waite, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Culture Club and Yes. However, of more than 100 American chart toppers by Britons since 1952, ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go is only the third by a duo.

Peter & Gordon were the first British twosome to reach the summit, back in 1964, with the Lennon-McCartney song ‘A World Without Love. Elton John and Kiki Dee repeated the feat 12 years later.

Wham!s reign atop the US singles chart may be short. Chaka Khan, whose ‘I Feel For You took over from ‘Freedom here, is odds-on favourite to complete the double by dethroning ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go in America. Chaka has severe reservations about ‘I Feel For You — she was practically forced to record it — but gave unstinted praise to Wham!s singles in a recent interview with American news agency UNS…

THE TEMPTATIONS staged one of the years most impressive and welcome comebacks last week when their dancefloor favourite ‘Treat Her Like A Lady zapped onto the singles chart at number 26.

Its the Temps first top 40 hit since ‘Papa Was A Rollin Stone in 1973, and a pertinent reminder that its never too late to revitalise a chart career.

The Temptations are rightly recognised as one of the key acts in the history of black music, recording a string of classics in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Since then, their career has gone off the boil, though their back catalogue continues to sell, and their worldwide sales exceed 22 million, of which ‘Just My Imagination accounts for a tenth.

The success of ‘Treat Her Like A Lady will hopefully herald a new era of chart activity for the Temps. Former Motown colleague Diana Ross commented on the syndicated American radio show ‘Ebony recently: “These guys dont know when to quit. When I first heard the record (‘Treat Her Like A Lady) I just flipped. Im jealous that they can be so good after so long.”

Invited to remark on her interviewers mischievous assertion that “Motown is pretty healthy at the moment, with the Temptations, Stevie Wonder and Lionel Richie and all”, Ross parried weakly “RCA (her American label) is no slouch either, you know”…

REGULAR READERS of this column -and I believe there are a few — will undoubtedly have noticed my periodic mention of Imp Records boxed sets. The latest additions to this rapidly expanding range are ‘The Dance Box and ‘The Love Box Volume 2', each comprising 75 tracks at a bargain basement price of £6.99.

The Dance Box, as its name implies, is packed with dancefloor favourites, and spans the last 22 years. As with the previously reviewed ‘This Is Rock ‘N Roll, it contains a number of brand new, previously unheard recordings from newcomers like Hollywood Boulevard, PDQ and the Big Apple. Their contributions are adequate, but the sets real selling point lies in the 56 top 50 hits therein.

The definition of disco/dance, as applied here, is very broad, covering everything from the Kinks and Bananarama to the Thompson Twins, but the emphasis is, quite rightly, on black American acts. The years 1978 and 1979 are recognised as peak years for black music, and that fact is reflected here by the presence of classics like ‘Contact (Edwin Starr), ‘Going Back To My Roots (Odyssey). ‘Get Down (Gene Chandler). ‘Love Train (The OJays), Strut Your Funky Stuff (Frantique), ‘This Is It (Dan Hartman) and many more. Many will find The Dance Box a convenient way of replacing well worn copies of these records, and at £6.99 its cheaper than four singles.

The Love Box Volume 2' is aimed at a rather different audience, and contains less hits, but its a well balanced set of mellow moments from the superb Ella Fitzgeralds ‘Everytime We Say Goodbye to the Lotus Eaters ‘First Picture Of You. Other highlights include Bloodstones breezy ‘Natural High and the Main Ingredients ‘Just Dont Want To Be Lonely.

Nothing to frighten the horses, and a great solution to the annual problem of what to buy your more mature relatives this Christmas…

IT MUST be nearly a year since I last glimpsed Chartwatch, the worlds most (only?) statistically minded music quarterly. Im pleased to report, therefore, that editors John Hancock and Neil Rawlings and their dedicated band of helpers are still producing this highly readable collection of analyses and listings guaranteed to bring hours of enjoyment to chart enthusiasts.

Amongst the wide range of features packed into the latest (14th) edition of Chartwatch are a Frankie Goes To Hollywood family tree, a rollcall of American R&B chart toppers between 1949 and 1963, an assessment of the chart career of the Bay City Rollers and a list of singles to spend most weeks at number one in Zimbabwe! Theres also an interesting overview of the major artists and trends of 1975.

Warmly recommended, Chartwatch is available for 90p from 17 Springfield, Ilminster, Somerset TA19 OET. Incidentally, Neil, youre right — a rabbit is a lagomorph, not a rodent…