(Post by John Allan, from Bridgetown, Western Australia – March 2021)
“Well done ma’ son. Got Brexit done good ‘n proper our Boris, good lad. No more of ’em foreigners taking over our music charts !”
First and foremost this isn’t a political piece. Secondly, I’m an SBA (Scots Born Australian). I’ve spent more than half of my existence here in the colonies. This is an article about music. Music from artistes in the 70s not from the US or the UK specifically.
It was on the 1st of January 1973 that PM Edward Heath signed Britain up to the European Economic Community (EEC), later to be known as the EU. It was at this very time that the ‘euro’ sound crept into the UK charts.
We should have seen the warning signs. Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg were getting us hot under the collar with “Je t’aime” in 1969 while a damp Sacha Distel moaned about “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” as we tried to impress potential girl friends by inviting them to sit on our handlebars with disastrous results. What should have been stubble rash turned into gravel rash. (Yes, I know BJ Thomas sang it in the film !)
Then we were all humming along to “Eye Level”, the “Van Der Valk” theme tune by the Simon Park Orchestra. Si and his troubadours might have been Brits but the tune was written by a Dutchman for a Dutch cop!
Before you know it we were holidaying abroad, sloshing our sangrias on the disco floor to “Una Paloma Blanca” and “Daddy Cool”, Dutch and German respectively, or pogo-ing to the Gallic gibberish “Ca Plane Pour Moi” of Plastic Bertrand. And don’t think just because the Scotland football team qualified for something this side of the last ice age you can own “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”. That hand belongs to two Spanish senoritas from Bacarra circa October ’77.
To add insult to injury, “The Smurf Song” by Father Abraham and the Smurfs reached number 2 on the charts in June 1978. What were we thinking ?
Other countries got into the act. Greek Demis Roussos who thought the marquee a fashion statement went on “Forever and Ever” in a high pitched warble. To think that he was at one time the bass player with prog rockers Aphrodities Child and Vangelis’ band mate. (Yes the “Chariots of Fire” guy but that was later in the 80s. And you can stop doing that slow motion running thing. You’re embarrassing the kids !)
Nana Mouskouri was constantly on one or another television special until she went into politics then concentrated on the career of her twin sons The Proclaimers.
A great swoosh of synthesizers and sequencers rode the waves to Britannia with “Autobahn” by Kraftwerk and “Oxygène” by Jean-Michel Jarre in ’74 and ’76
Thankfully the Ozzies came to the rescue. “If Not For You” Olivia Newton-Mearns, who knows where we would be. And lets not forget that “Help Is On It’s Way” from The Little River Band.
That reminds me of the Great British fighting spirit. The dogged determination and bravery of the Duke of Wellington striding forth on his trusty steed Copenhagen, leading his troops into battle (while balancing a traffic cone on his head) against the might of Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops on that fateful day in Belgium, June 1815.
Wasn’t there some obscure Scandinavian quartet that sang about that ?