21 July 2010

One Hit Wonders #9 - Freddie Starr - It's You

Freddie Starr - It's You

Label: Tiffany
Year of Release: 1974

Readers, do you ever despair?  I sometimes despair.  Life's hard, and then just when you're looking for some kind of hope on the horizon, a sign that all is essentially well with the human race, you find out that the Freddie Starr single you picked up for 50p and bought as a joke was actually a top ten hit.  As if Ken Dodd's musical career didn't already nearly send you into a deep, dark depression.

The strangely under-referenced (perhaps for good reasons) "It's You" is perhaps more expected than Kenny Everett's attempts at chart smashes, or even Jasper Carrott's.  Despite his successful career as an "anarchic" comedian, Freddie Starr without question harboured ambitions to be a credible rock star which I'm sure have never faded - unbelievably, he even managed two very minor hit albums, the tragically titled "After The Laughter" in 1989, and "The Wanderer" in 1990.  The latter has nothing to do with the Kevin Rowland album of the same name I'm sure we can safely assume.  He even worked with some respectable industry figures, his greatest privilege undoubtedly being recording with Joe Meek in the sixties, a meeting of unpredictable minds I'm actually quite glad I wasn't anywhere near at the time.  

Sadly, whoever he recorded with, Starr's contributions to the pop world are largely forgettable.  "It's You" may have managed the number 9 slot in 1974, but it's an unremarkable slow tempo ballad with lyrics even Doddy would have rejected as overly saccharine.  Starr's voice is quite thin and reedy and smacks of insincerity - it's impossible to take seriously, in fact, even though the jokes seem non-existent, leaving us in a strange limbo.  Neither naff enough for a cheap joke, nor good enough to be a decent single, this just sits on your turntable seemingly trying its hardest to go unnoticed.  Robbie Williams may look like the bastard son of Freddie Starr, but it's clear who the superior singer and performer is.

The only really surprising thing about this disc is that people bloody well bought it in large numbers, which is interesting as they'd never really warmed to any of the man's singular recordings before, and never really did again. "It's You" clearly had something which clicked with both his fans and the general public, but it's not obvious to my ears what.  To get some perspective on this situation, it's worth remembering that The Who's "I Can See For Miles" finished one place lower in the charts than this effort.  I spit on the British record buying public.


The Confused said...

Don't forget too that Freddie made his recording debut in 1963 for Joe Meek, releasing two singles as "Freddie Starr and The Midnighters" followed a year later by his first solo disc. Sad to say they're all rather forgettable and Freddie dissed them many years later saying he sounded like "a choirboy being sick."

Joe Meek praised Freddie saying he had that "extra something" which could only had been his manic sense of humour. His recording sessions for Meek tended to be anarchic affairs... even Ritchie Blackmore recalls one such session in detail with Freddie pulling down his trousers and waving his willy about... when Joe looked in, he was VERY surprised to see what was going on.

Unfortunately Joe chose Freddie to test a new microphone for him. What did Freddie do? He sang, inserting silent gaps at random. Meek went frantic thinking the microphone was faulty... when he found out it was another of Freddies' pranks, it's fair to say he was far from happy!

23 Daves said...

I knew if I'd get nothing else from this blog entry, it would be a Meek-Starr anecdote. And lo and behold, you've delivered.

Somebody really should have created a sitcom about the pair of them. The Radio Times preview for every single episode would end with the sentence "Needless to say, Meek is displeased - with hilarious consequences!"

The Confused said...

lol! Yes, a sitcom of the adventures of Starr and Meek would be a comedy writers dream. Starr did write a rather graphic account of the one night he did sleep at number 304 in his autobiography and "Needless to say, Meek is displeased - with hilarious consequences!"