So I was reading the latest post from 70s Music Mayhem (a blog you should be reading, too) about the new songs on the Hot 100 during the week of December 4, 1976, and I clicked on the video for “Living Next Door to Alice” by Smokie, which is a particularly guilty pleasure of mine. And from there, through the wonder that is the “suggestions” column at YouTube, I found myself digging some other examples of 70s Europop—songs that were big in the UK and elsewhere without making a corresponding splash in the States, and in some cases without making a splash at all. That most of them tend toward bubblegum should be a surprise to nobody.
Here’s “Mississippi” by the Dutch group Pussycat, which did a month at Number One in the UK in the fall of 1976 and remains staggeringly popular. The video below has nearly 2.4 million hits at YouTube, even though the song went nowhere in the States. Maybe it wasn’t released over here—it certainly isn’t because it wouldn’t have fit on American radio in 1976 or 1977.
From there, it’s off to “Substitute” by Clout, an all-girl band from South Africa. “Substitute” was first recorded by the Righteous Brothers in 1975 before Clout got hold of it. Somehow it managed to make only Number 69 in Billboard and 52 in Cash Box in the fall of 1978 despite being an absolute hook monster.
Next stop, one of the most ridiculous records of all time, and I mean that in a good way: “Sugar Baby Love” by the Rubettes. Intended as an homage to American rock ‘n’ roll of the 50s with a jigger of glam-rock mixed in, its everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production (dig that short spoken bit toward the end) causes it to teeter on the brink of parody, especially as performed in the video below. It did a month at Number One in the UK during the summer of 1974 and actually scratched into the Top 40 here in the States.
From the over-the-top bop-shoo-waddy of the Rubettes, it’s a short leap to Showaddywaddy, straight-up revivalists who charted in the UK with 50s and early 60s remakes almost exclusively between 1974 and 1982. The biggest was “Under the Moon of Love,” which had been a Phil Spector production for Curtis Lee in 1961. The Showaddywaddy version was the Number-One single in the UK 34 years ago this week. It, too, failed to get a sniff in the States.
Given the likelihood that your taste for this sort of thing is not quite the same as mine, I’ll stop here.
Quick Programming Note: I’ve moved my Twitter feed to the top of the right-hand column under the title “Ye Olde Microblog.” One of the best uses for Twitter is to call attention to interesting links. I’ve been doing a little of that, and I intend to start doing it more often now, instead of saving things up to mention in a full post and then forgetting to do it. My goal is to make the microblog just that—a similar-but-different (and far more succinct) companion to the main entries here. So keep an eye on it, and if you’re on Twitter yourself, you can follow me here.