6 November 2010
One Hit Wonders #15 - Joy Sarney - Naughty Naughty Naughty
Year of Release: 1977
So it's like this - John Schroeder's Alaska label spent most of the seventies releasing what could only be considered to be commercially viable (although often gimmicky) material. Discs with the disco in mind were put out, as were populist ballads, and even football songs. The public remained unmoved.
Perhaps this record should therefore be taken as proof that winning formulas come in unlikely packages, for this is the only single on the label to succeed in getting one of their artists on "Top of the Pops" - and lo and behold, it's a ballad to Mr Punch out of Punch and Judy sung by sultry ex-session singer-turned-housewife Joy Sarney. Alaska went to the trouble of actually hiring a professional Punch and Judy man for the session, gave Joy a bunch of extremely peculiar lyrics about her love for the hooked-nose one ("He's been in trouble with the law for Grevious Bodily Harm... I'm his puppet, but he won't pull my strings") mashed the lot together with the kind of bouncy lightweight rhythm frequently reserved for Paul Nicholas singles, and watched as to their delight they enjoyed their only hit. If you created a computer randomiser to pick up subject matter and style for a record, you'd probably come up with something which seemed less absurd.
It doesn't seem as if anyone else involved with the making of the single thought it would break through. The then-rookie engineer (and these days well-paid producer) Chris Tsangardies has gone on record as saying "The bloody thing was atrocious... it will haunt me, but it was a break". Reportedly, Joy herself is good humoured about the record, and is under no illusions about its status in the grand scheme of things. On top of that, only recently the BBC included it in a list of clips of the worst "Top of the Pops" appearances of all time, largely by dint of the unusual nature of the record rather than as a comment on Joy's performance.
After "Naughty Naughty Naughty" peaked at number 26, it would seem that an attempt was made at pulling Joy back into the music industry full-time, as a follow up "Angling for A Kiss" was released later that year. However, it failed to chart, and that seems to have been the end of that. In the meantime, online conversations rage about whether Joy Sarney actually hails from Liverpool or Southend. I spent my teenage years growing up in Southend, but on the basis of evidence I've been presented with, I'd say it's probably safe to conclude that she lived and worked in both places at one point or another. Let's not fight about who can rightfully place her on their local walk of fame, eh readers? We can share the credit.
Please don't ask me who the credited "Friends Of Joy" are on the B-side singing the cod-country track "Letters of Love", either. I'm sure it was probably an afterthought on the part of everyone concerned.
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