Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1973-1974

In another year, “Walk on the Wild Side” and “He’s Misstra Know-It-All” would’ve sashayed off this stage, but Bryan Ferry’s cover of Bob Dylan’s cool-eyed account of an imminent apocalypse stands as one of the most radical reinventions in pop history, beside which even Roxy Music’s own “Pyjamarama” and Mott the Hoople’s excellent “All the Way to Memphis”wither.

The world by now knows my dismissal of the Stones’ most perfunctory single to date, and while I can’t dismiss an Elton John faint reggae take on a Beatles song for its lack of originality it still sounds gross, misbegotten — and his least remembered American megahit (“The success of Elton John’s version of the song says less about the cover itself and more about the late-’60s nostalgia that came on incredibly fast,” Tom Breihan noted in 2019).

Finally, Nazareth’s “Bad Bad Boy” almost ranked higher thanks to its awesome stutter-riff.

The Hague

Elton John – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Lena Zavaroni – Ma! He’s Making Eyes at Me Gina
The Partridge Family – Walking in the Rain

Meh

The Rolling Stones – It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll
David Bowie – Knock on Wood
Robert Knight – Love on a Mountain Top
Sweet Dreams – Honey, Honey
10cc – The Dean and I

Sound, Solid

Andy Fairweather-Low – Reggae Tune
Nazareth – Bad Bad Boy
The Pearls – Guilty
Cozy Powell – Na Na Na
The Glitter Band – Just for You

Good to Great

Bryan Ferry – A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall
Lou Reed – Walk on the Wild Side
Stevie Wonder – He’s Misstra Know-It-All
Roxy Music – Pyjamarama
Mott the Hoople – All the Way to Memphis
10cc – The Wall Street Shuffle
Queen – Seven Seas of Rhye
The Chi-Lites – Too Good to Be Forgotten
The Love Unlimited Orchestra – Love’s Theme

5 thoughts on “Ranking #10 singles, UK edition: 1973-1974

  1. “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”‘ was proof that The Maestro didn’t expend every ounce of the magic on those astonishing first two albums, but following “Mother Of Pearl,” there were no more jewels to be found, and only the incessant polishing [and re-polishing] in the long road ahead.

  2. I love, looove Pyjamarama. It’s so weird for a single. Even if it feels polished or “tamed” around other Roxy Music bangers, it’s still weird. Paul Thompson is having a stacatto blast there. MacKay colors the rythm, Ferry’s coos are on point. What’s not to like? By all means should have been a ballad: Careful Whisper. Perhaps it is, a closet ballad. And it’s the first Ferry entry on his own quiet storm phase…sort of.

    1. I didn’t know! Great catch. Ferry and Wonder are my most populated artist in Jukebox 73. They were on fire. I wish he was as understood in the American charts as Wonder was in the Brit charts. But I can understand the diffiulties: depraving all context, Ferry (solo or with Roxy) still sounds like an alien. Not even the future. The futrure was not this bold or exiting (and yet, catchy). And that complete reinvention of the cover artform that is the Dylan song proves it.

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