Tom Ewing at Freaky Trigger has taken on the daunting task of reviewing, in order, every UK number one pop song since the UK charts started in November 1952. He starts with Al Martino’s Here In My Heart and has got as far as Brian Poole and the Tremeloes’ Do you love me? from October 1963.
His reviews are pretty well written. Though obviously personal they nevertheless convincingly convey the feel of the record to the reader. The earliest record he reviews which I can remember is Lita Roza’s How Much Is That Doggie In The Window? from April 1953 which was a regular on Uncle Mac’s Childrens’ Favourites on Saturday mornings1.
You have to wonder whether without the invention of the charts (and the creation of a market that might care about them) British pop wouldn’t have cycled round a selection of stock ditties forever, rocking contentedly between slop and whimsy. As whimsy goes “Doggie” is rather charming, especially with Lita Roza sounding so coquettish (as coquettish as one can sound on a song this twee). Animals and small children may prove - I’m guessing here - a bane of these stumbling new charts. This song was still being played on pre-school TV when I was very small, though the verses about the bandits and robbers are new to me and make me like the record a lot more than I might.
Once he gets to the middle of 1962, when I first arrived at secondary school, I can remember about half of the songs. By late summer 1963 I can remember almost all of them probably because from June to August I was in hospital with a broken leg and mum & dad bought me a cheap transistor radio2 to stop me getting too bored. I could then listen to any radio station I liked, when I liked and discovered Radio Luxembourg.
I hope Tom can keep up his reviews. He’s slowed down in the past few months but is still posting regularly. I’d love to know where he’s finding all the songs.
2 It was only about as big as my iPod though perhaps thicker. It was my constant companion for the next few years until I bought a Dansette in 1967. It’s probably still in a drawer at my mum’s though it’s probably in bits.
Posted 14 December 2004, 00:26 GMT