11 October 2012

The Saucers - Spring Has Sprung/ Major Breakthrough


Label: BBC
Year of Release: 1982

The curious thing about fluke novelty hits is that the lucky performers seldom accept their fate as flash-in-the-pan artists.  Instead, they have a tendency to try to milk their already limited template dry - hence Lieutenant Pigeon spent years releasing (actually quite entertaining) singles with honky-tonk pianos that nobody really bought, The Firm's attempted follow-up to "Star Trekkin'" entitled "Superheroes" was just more squeaky sci-fi/ fantasy stupidity which didn't get played enough to even annoy anyone, and the less said about Edelweiss' attempts to go for a second gold the better.  

Noel Edmonds had spent years hosting "Top of the Pops" and watching the limited fortunes of actors and TV presenters attempting spin-off novelty singles, so you'd have thought he'd have been sceptical about Brown Sauce having another crack at the charts after "I Wanna Be A Winner" got into the Top Forty.  Perhaps he was, and perhaps it's for that reason that he fails to appear in the video or the credits for this particular effort - but nonetheless, Saturday morning Swap Shop regulars Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin feature, and his old chum BA Robertson is back on songwriting duties again. In all other respects, this is business as usual.

Unsurprisingly, this single completely failed to chart.  More interestingly, perhaps, it's actually quite good, even better than its predecessor.  Whereas "I Wanna Be A Winner" was essentially a silly, off-the-cuff joke created for the "Swap Shop" TV show which was only released as a single to cater for public demand, "Spring Has Sprung" is actually a reasonably classy piece of early eighties synth-pop, complete with hushed vocals, atmospheric fills and a similar demanding, stomping chorus.  You can tell that a lot more thought has been put into this - obviously, Philbin's semi-erotic monologue and peculiar mid-Atlantic vocals do threaten to push the whole thing into the realms of parody, but had this been issued by a serious pop act such as Dollar, it might have been a minor hit.  This does actually sound as if Robertson was taking the prospect of the celebrity couple Chegwin and Philbin having further hits seriously and had decided to push the concept as hard as he could.  The video for this single recently emerged online and even features Philbin pouting moodily whilst dressed in new wave garb, looking like some kind of proto-Donna-out-of-Elastica.  

The B-side, to my amazement, is also a proper song rather than an off-the-cuff instrumental.  "Major Breakthrough" is a strident piece of marching rock which involves Chegwin pleading with Philbin's (presumably fictional) army father for his daughter's hand, whilst Philbin coos "Ooh Daddy, ooh Daddy dear!" girlishly in the background.  This has just the right level of bizarre, angular tweeness to 
bear vague resemblances to a Bis B-side, a fair fourteen years before that bunch saw the light of day.

Still, let's not go overboard.  Both sides of this are ultimately disposable and inessential in the grand old game of pop, but the fact that they provide any pleasure at all is still a shock to the system.  I'm actually quite glad they did attempt this single, even if BBC Records and Tapes are probably sorry they bothered to spend any money pressing these up.

1 comment:

Sterling Cale said...

I think the look on their faces on the sleeve either suggests fear of public reaction or (in Chegwin's case) in the throes of seriously alcohol dependency and were aching for the photo session to end so they could nip to a nearby pub to partake of the first (presumably of many) tipple of the day.