3 March 2010

Driver 67 - Headlights

Driver 67 - Headlights

Label: Logo
Year of Release: 1979

If you're British and of a certain generation, the mention of the track "Car 67" by Driver 67 will automatically cause a smile of recognition to flicker across your face. Often written off as a 'novelty' single, the track in fact had a certain amount of charm and care most throwaway ditties lack. The fact that Paul Phillips, the artist behind the record, sat in a taxi singing into the radio for his Top of the Pops appearance also showed a Bill Drummond-esque attention to detail. I was only six years old when that was transmitted, but I didn't even need to check it out on YouTube to remind me what the performance looked like - now there's memorable presentation in action.

Less is really heard about the flop follow-up track "Headlights" and that, my friends, is because it was banned. "Car 67" may have been all fluff and innocence about relationship woes and tears before bedtime, but "Headlights" was - and I'm a liberal minded person as you'll hopefully by now realise - just wrong. Not even wrong in the way that vaguely sexist songs about women belonging in the kitchen are wrong, but outright, out-scoring Lou Reed-circa-Berlin type wrong. In the track, Paul Phillips adopts a sinister gravelly voice, and unveils his tale of sexually harassing and stalking young ladies on the highway at night - "I can see your fear in my headlights" he growls. It's an obvious thing to say, but it's no wonder the woman who chose to reside at Royal Gardens got rid of him. This particular track certainly puts a new spin on things. Or perhaps he had some kind of breakdown after being dumped and began taking revenge on womankind - mine is not to question why.

Unsurprisingly, this wasn't a follow-up smash, and apparently generated enough complaints on the only occasion it was ever played on Radio One never to be touched by a DJ there ever again. As for Paul Phillips, one can only assume he was attempting to play up to the darker side of country music and trucker rock, and the joke just got lost in translation. If nothing else, he surely must come close to taking the prize for one of the most questionable and absurd follow-ups to a hit single ever.

The B-side "Tail Lights", on the other hand, periodically has a vague resemblance to the "South Park" theme tune, which is surely a coincidence.


the saucer people said...

And to think five minutes ago I was reminiscing about Driver 67 (god knows how that popped into my addled head) as I watched the YT clip then I
check to see if some 40something blog has posted the track and I come across this!

I used to think the 1963 Joe Meek produced Jack The Ripper by Screaming Lord Sutch was the height of bad taste for a UK single release but Headlights has knocked it off the number one wrong its so wrong!
To think as well that at the time the Yorkshire ripper was terrorising a large part of the country, what were they thinking indeed!

Anyway, thanks for this, no doubt destined for a mix compilation!

Not stumbled across your blog before so this should fill the gap between now and home time! Like the Jim Garrison paraphrase btw!

Anonymous said...

I love it sounded like they have musical spirits or something. Great post. Really interesting.

Chris Randolph said...

Just found the blog & I've been going through it in reverse chronological order. Fantastic stuff, thanks so much.

In the contest for most horrifying follow-up single to a hit, allow me to suggest "Mr. Turnkey" by Zager & Evans.

23 Daves said...

Yes, I've heard it -that's a horror of a record.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this one!!!!!