(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)
20th July 1978
So many destination, faces going to so many places
Where the weather is much better and the food is so much cheaper
Well, I help her with her baggage for her baggage is so heavy
I hear the plane is ready by the gateway to take my love away.
(It’s well seeing Scottish keyboard player Andy McMaster (originally from Calton, Glasgow) wrote the song, ‘Airport’ some forty-four years ago. It would have lost some credibility with all the flight cancellations these days.
Mind you, he may have been able to spend more time with his love, waiting for her to pass through ‘check-in’ and perhaps they could have worked things out.)
The Motors were formed a couple of years after bass player Nick Garvey left one of my favourite bands from the mid-Seventies, Ducks Deluxe. (More of them perhaps at a later date.) His immediate new venture didn’t last long and so in 1977, he hooked up with former Ducks Deluxe keyboard player, Andy McMaster and together with Ricky Slaughter (drums) and Rob Hendry (guitar) The Motors were born.
As so often happened around that time, live sessions on John Peel’s radio shows led to a recording contract (Virgin Records) and in the autumn of that year, the band achieved their first chart success with ‘Dancing The Night Away.’ (Bram Tchaikovsky had by now replaced Rob Hendry on guitar, and this line-up would go on to record two albums and a couple more singles.)
This single was, to my mind, was their best release. While still in essence retaining the Pub Rock sounds of Garvey and McMaster’s previous band, they had the image, energy and ‘chant-along’ attitude of a punk / new wave outfit.
Surprisingly, this reached only #42 in the UK charts. Although the Top 20 on 18th September 1977 was more heavily influenced by Disco, bands like Eddie & The Hot Rods stood at #9 while The Adverts and Boomtown Rats were also represented with early hits. Why The Motors didn’t reach these heights is a mystery to me.
Their break came though in June 1978, with the release of ‘Airport.’ This softer sounding song had a distinctive, individual sound and was very radio-friendly.
Me? I still rank this as only their third best song!
To my mind, the follow-up, ‘Forget About You’ was better, though it only peaked at #13.
Shortly after this success, both Bram Tchaikovsky and Ricky Slaughter left the band. They were replaced in due course by Martin Ace and Terry Williams, both of whom I’d seen play as members of Man in the mid-Seventies.
This was like a ‘dream team’ for me: two ex-members of Ducks Deluxe + two ex of Man = The Motors. I could be dancing the night away all over again.
Proving old Aristotle incorrect, the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts. Indeed, the complete opposite was true. They came up with this in 1980, its peak chart position again surprising me …. in that #58 is way higher than I’d have considered achievable. They must have accrued some very loyal fans in their three years as The Motors, is all I can say!
Love and Loneliness’ was lifted from their third and final album, ‘Tenement Steps.’ By that time Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster had agreed that time was up and The Motors were no more.
In the whole scheme of all things music, The Motors were but a momentary flash, not quite fulfilling their undoubted pedigree. However, what they left was a true ‘classic’ that still receives radio / television airplay.
And remember – on this day in 1978, they were ALMOST Top of the Pops. Not all bands can boast even that.
(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – July 2022)
4 thoughts on “almost top of the pops – the motors.”
Nice! I really like both ‘Airport’ and ‘Tenement Steps’… and doubt 99% of Americans or 98% of Canadians ever heard either. Thankfully I lived near Toronto where one DJ paid attention to British music and got it played on CFNY, those two songs being examples. Mind you, if you’d not posted their name I wouldn’t have remembered the band name. too bad, they should have had at least some impact here.
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One up n me, Dave – I’ never heard of the album!
I posted Airport before…I really like this band with the songs I’ve heard. A fellow blogger turned me on them a year or so ago.
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Gotta say, Max, I never really liked this track. The ones preceding and following were decent to me, but considering the bands the members came from, overall I was a bit nonplussed. 🙂
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