21 January 2013

One Hit Wonders - Microbe - Groovy Baby

Label: CBS
Year of Release: 1969

Even if you know only a tiny bit about Wonderful Radio One, your natural assumption would be that novelty records emerging from the station itself were not an immediate phenomenon.  Most readers of "Left and to the Back" are probably familiar with Steve Wright's horrendous (if frequently failed) assaults on the charts in the eighties, and Dave Lee Travis's stab at humour in the seventies with his trucking record "Convoy GB".  This, however, is a vintage example from its earliest days.

Ex-pirate DJ turned legitimate broadcaster Dave Cash is behind this record, and the story behind it is  more straightforward than I had hoped for.  While he worked at Britain's favourite station, it would seem that he was informed by the newsreader Pat Doody that Ian Doody, his three-year old son, would sit transfixed by the radio listening to his father's voice and attempting to have conversations with him.  Rather than giving his daft and obviously delirious boy a brutal kick to the windpipe for such unearthly stupidity, Doody was impressed by this cuteness.  So too was Cash, who thought that it might amuse the public to have the boy on record uttering the day's slang, such as "Groovy baby".  The otherwise impeccable - but at this point rather hitless - Chris Andrews penned something appropriate, Maddy Bell, Leslie Duncan and Dusty Springfield (citation needed, the "Dusty" element could just be Internet rumour-mongering - ed) trilled some vocals, and Ian Doody gurgled over the top at regular intervals.

To an extent, the public approved.  This wasn't a monster hit, but it did climb to number 29, which seems somewhat unbelievable under the circumstances.  It's not that this is the worst novelty single I've ever heard, but beyond a certain cute factor it's rather slight.  One can only assume that having a very small child uttering sixties hip-speak seemed far funnier at the time than it does now (and to be fair, people might have howled with laughter at a similar concept around the peak of "Austin Powers").

The B-side is unusual in that it includes silent gaps so the "children at home" can insert whatever exclamations they want, but I'm much more interested in the oft-claimed fact that Natalie Casey was the youngest person to ever chart in the UK with "Chick Chick Chicken" in 1983.  Even if we take into account the performer's ages in days, months, or even hours, Ian Doody actually broke the top forty compared to Casey's number 72 entry. I smell a rat here, readers, and I suspect the rodent has got bits of Mike Read's pantry all around its mouth.


KL from NYC said...

I'm from the US and not familiar with British radio (except for radio plays), and I've only read about the pirate radio days.
I appreciate the background info.

Unknown said...

I have searched for this song for years. I remember listening to it while we were posted to germany in the 70's.

According to mum i listened to it a lot. ( i was born 71)


Chris Clark said...

A bit after the event but the above is not quite the full story. Young Ian was recorded, not for the record, but for Dave Cash to play on his show. These "cute" drop-ins became very popular with listeners, which led to the single.