Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1975-1976

This list belongs to “Israelites,” Desmond Dekker and the Aces’ little reggae wonder that went top ten U.S. and #1 in England several years earlier but re-charted to shame the competition. I hear more gospel than reggae in its call-and-response vocals, but the unsuppressed terror (“I don’t wanna end up like Bonnie and Clyde”) belongs to music borne of cultural isolation and post-colonial unease: where will I fit in this new order?

Until I spotted “Israelites” this ranking belonged to “Love Hangover,” a transatlantic smash, an aqueous burbling in which Diana Ross, in the same year as “Love to Love You Baby,” transformed herself into a sustained coo of pleasure. Or perhaps Joan Armatrading’s manifesto, a plea so naked as to be ruthless. Or the Isleys looking at the world they and Desmond Dekker live whose residents know neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain; but act as if these things are possible, as the harmonies and guitars articulate (it makes the Power Station’s 1985 cover all the more grotesque — more coke for monsters).

Then there are the ugly things. To be grounded requires the acknowledgment of earth, or mud, or Mud. A band who earned seven consecutive top tens, including two #1 singles, they dressed like Gary Glitter wannabes and recorded tracks with the textures of bangers and mash. Not a single American crossover, though “L-L-Lucy” might have if their handlers have hyped them like (the) Sweet. “Bionic Santa” and “The Ugly Duckling” are the Brit equivalents of “Convoy” or any number of Yank comedy things with which the public was smitten. The only song I dislike more than Pete Townshend’s shriveled idea of metaphorical wit is Adrian Baker’s take on “Sherry” — because Frankie Valli is one of my blind spots, and this Triassic Era of proto-yuppie nostalgia for ol’ time pop ‘n’ roll turns my teeth to ash.

The Hague

Mike Reid – The Ugly Duckling
The Who – Squeeze Box
Chris Hill – Bionic Santa
Adrian Baker – Sherry
Gary Glitter – Love Like You and Me

Meh

Peter Frampton – Show Me the Way
Kenny – Julie Anne
Paul Davidson – Midnight Rider
Mud – Moonshine Sally
George Baker Selection – Paloma Black

Sound, Solid

Electric Light Orchestra – Evil Woman
Mud – L-L-Lucy
Moments – Dolly My Love
The Drifters – Can I Take You Home Little Girl
Climax Blues Band – Couldn’t Get It Right
The Ritchie Family – The Best Disco in Town

Good to Great

Desmond Dekker and the Aces – Israelites
Diana Ross – Love Hangover
Gladys Knight & the Pips – Midnight Train to Georgia
Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection
The Isley Brothers – Harvest for the World
The Isaac Hayes Movement – The Disco Connection
David Ruffin – Walk Away from Love
The Stylistics – Funky Weekend
Lou Rawls – You’ll Never Find Another Love like Mine

One thought on “Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1975-1976

  1. My visits are infrequent, but y’all know I have to leave a comment. I guess my excuse in 1975-76 was I had to study. I immediately recognize The Who, Frampton, and ELO songs.

    I appreciate being reacquainted with Joan Armatrading. I was a latecomer, but I became a fan in the early 1980s. A friend introduced me to her, but she got some airplay then. I still love to her sing.

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