18 February 2024

The Going Thing - Sweet Sunday/ Windy Day

Label: Decca
Year of Release: 1971

Say hello to the only group (to the best of my knowledge) ever to emerge from the Ford manufacturing line - unless, of course, we're counting Ford Timelord of The Timelords. Back in the sixties, Ford were seemingly keen to make their cars seem sexy, zingy and a little bit more rock and roll; less "any colour you want, so long as it's black", and more "all the colours of the swinging rainbow, baby".

In Australia, the group The Going Thing were pulled together to groove and bop on a popular television advert to make cars seem more like something to dance about. There was nothing special about the ad, particularly not by modern day standards, but the zesty young folk in it clearly caught the public's imagination well enough that Ford began pumping out LPs by them for promotional use. "Christmas 1968 With The Going Thing", "The Going Thing 1969" and "1970" all appeared on Ford's own record label, and included gems such as "The Warranty Song" (please do click on the link to hear that one), "I Dig Rock and Roll Music" (where they sadly don't sing about loving "Duane Bleeding Eddy"), "Ford - It's The Going Thing" (of course) and an array of sunshine covers of popular hits.

American producers Tom and John Bahler were responsible for the group's sound and approach at this point, and offered $50,000 a year to Karen and Richard Carpenter to work on the project, which the pair sensibly refused, choosing to instead continue with their own work. Nonetheless, even without any contributions from the Carpenter siblings, the outcomes of this period were likably fluffy and pie-eyed enough to become of interest to collectors - the "1970" LP in particular goes for some inexplicably eye-watering sums given its contents, frequently attracting eBay bids upwards of £100. 

Once the Ford gig was up, the Australian label Sweet Peach picked them up and attempted to market them as a group with things other than family cars on their minds. The resulting LP "Good News" is a less kitschy collection of songs, and as such is seemingly of less interest to collectors. 

Following that album's disappointing performance, Decca surprisingly chose to give them a leg up with this single, which was issued not just in Australia but the UK as well. Like a lot of their material, its quality does belie its somewhat naff origins. "Sweet Sunday" is an intriguing cross between gospel and technicolour harmony pop, and while it's difficult not to sing The Velvet Underground's "Oh Sweet Nuthin'" over the first few bars, the group manage to carry the cheer of the ditty in a manner that wouldn't embarrass The Fifth Dimension. It's feelgood music handled with incredible care and some UK journalists even predicted a hit.

Sadly, it didn't sell after all, and by this point it seems both Decca and Sweet Peach felt the group's goose was cooked; not just a relic of a previous age, but a relic from a television advert at that. Such failure may seem disappointing, but let's be honest, four albums of material across four years is more than most television commercials could ever dream of generating. It's not as if the Humphreys off the Unigate advert managed more than one single, after all.

If the previews below aren't working properly, please go right to the source.

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