Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Singles, Part 4
Can’t stop spinnin’ those singles! Today we listen to a handful from the other side of the Big Pond, from our friends in the United Kingdom. They will take us on a little tour of the isles across the ocean.
Let’s begin in the northern Isles … in Scotland, where Al Stewart comes from. Stewart, best known for the 1976 hit album Year Of The Cat (and its title track, a hit single), has also worked with a number of big names including Alan Parsons, Jimmy Page and Rick Wakeman. Stewart followed up the platinum Year Of The Cat with 1978’s Time Passages, which spawned another hit with its title track and “Song On The Radio,” which barely managed to climb into the American Top 30.
Now we catch the train south to Wales for Andy Fairweather Low, a Welshman, who made his name by performing with the group Amen Corner – they had a top single “Half As Nice” in 1969. But Fairweather Low (or is it just Low?) is perhaps best known for playing with superstars like the Who, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton and many more. “Spider Jiving” is the title track and single from Fairweather Low’s first solo album in 1974.
Let’s hop over to London to find Tim Curry, an acclaimed stage and screen actor. Of course you knew he could sing – he absolutely wailed as Dr. Frank N. Furter in the play and movie Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the late 1970s Curry attempted to be a recording artist and his 1979 LP Fearless was fairly successful. Curry co-wrote most of the songs on the album including the tongue-in-cheek single “I Do The Rock,” which dented the Top 100 for about two seconds.
Four decades ago, you would have to turn down a London back street to find Marianne Faithfull; that was when she was a raging drug addict and most famous for being Mick Jagger’s girlfriend. Marianne was also a singer – or at least a skillful talk-singer. Jagger dropped her in 1970 and Faithfull continued to be a poster girl for sorry drug excess (think Amy Winehouse today) but she managed to finally clean up enough to create Broken English, an acclaimed work that put her on the map in 1979. One of the album’s songs was “The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan,” written by cartoonist/poet Shel Silverstein and originally cut by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Faithfull’s version became an anthem of sorts, and was featured in the movie Thelma and Louise.
And no – we haven’t forgotten the Irish. Neither did Paul McCartney, who issued this incredibly controversial ditty in 1972 as the very first single from his new band Wings. “Give Ireland Back To The Irish” criticized the British stepping in to separate the battling factions in Northern Ireland and basically wound up creating a police state. Now this kind of thing was no problem for McCartney’s former band mate John Lennon, but the “cute Beatle” uncharacteristically pulled no punches with his tune. Of course, the song was banned from all media exposure in the United Kingdom, but that didn’t stop it from achieving the Top 20 there.