Tag Archives: soul

almost top of the pops – hot chocolate

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

3rd April 1974

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate – ‘Emma.’

It started with a miss …

In 1969, friends Errol Brown and Tony Wilson decided to form a band. Based in Brixton, London, the singer and bass player initially brought in Franklin de Allie (guitar) Larry Ferguson (keyboards) Ian King (drums) and Patrice Olive (congas.)

Their first official release was quite fortuitous: the band prepared a demo to hawk around the record companies – a reggae tinged version of John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace A Chance.

Errol had changed some of the lyrics, only to be subsequently told he could not do so without Lennon’s express permission. And so it was more in hope than expectation that the, as yet unnamed, band submitted the demo to The Beatles‘ label, Apple

As it happened, Lennon loved the version and the track was released, under the band’s label-given name of The Hot Chocolate Band.

It bombed.

Here’s why.

The Hot Chocolate Band: ‘Give Peace A Chance.’

Towards the end of the year, Mickie Most of the RAK label, signed Errol and Tony as songwriters and they went from strength to strength, penning songs for likes of Mary Hopkins, Julie Felix and even Herman’s Hermits.

Come 1970, and it was Mickie who pushed Errol and Tony into writing material for their own band, whose name had by now been shortened to the more familiar, Hot Chocolate.

‘Love Is Life’ was a pretty good opening effort, reaching #6 in the UK charts that summer. Who could possibly have thought then that this song would herald a fifteen year period in which the band would score a hit in each consecutive year – the only group in the UK to have done so.

Their brand of pop /soul / disco with heavier beats and percussion was very unique and became hugely popular over the years.

Hot Chocolate

Including re-issues, Hot Chocolate amassed a staggering 35 hits prior to the turn of the century. In doing so, they became part of the nation’s musical fabric, permeating the subconscious and being admired by many who would normally listen to other styles of music.

They are not a band I myself would have considered a ‘favourite’ but looking through the list of hits, I realise just how much I did / do enjoy them – this one being the stand-out for me. From August 1971, I recollect it (well, a session musicians version) being on a Top of the Pops compilation that I played to death;

‘I Believe (In Love)’ – peaked at #8 in the summer of 1971
This one!

Amazingly, the band only recorded one #1 hit – ‘So You Win Again‘ in 1977, but as with so many others over the years, this week in 1974 saw Hot Chocolate ALMOST Top of the Pops.

Hot Chocolate – Emma.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie” Jackson from Glasgow – April 2022)

almost top of the pops – detroit emeralds

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

24th March 1973

DETROIT EMERALDS – photo by General Loney

The Shirelles it was who sang, ‘Mama Said (There’d Be Days Like This’) back in 1963. How very right Mama was!

When I set myself this challenge of working through bands / artists and songs that were ‘ALMOST Top of the Pops’ on this day throughout each year of The ’70s, there were a few conditions to be met:

  • The band / artist did not reach #1 in the UK singles chart with that particular song;
  • The band / artist had to be in the Top 10 of the week in question;
  • The band / artist could not be one of the one of the popular ‘big hitters.’

For one or more of these reasons, the following had to be discounted from this piece:

Slade / Donny Osmond / T Rex / Cliff Richard / Gilbert O’Sullivan / Alice Cooper / The Faces.

That left me with Roberta Flack, Jimmy Helms ….. and Detroit Emeralds!

Being into Glam Rock, Blues / Hard Rock / Punk throughout The ’70s, the music of the three bands and artists I was left with, had more or less escaped me. So this piece is likely more of an education for me than of interest to you, dear reader!

Actually, in recent years I have been listening to Craig Charles’s Funk & Soul Show at teatime on a Saturday, as I cook up my curry. I do now have an appreciation of Funk … and am working on my Soul.

Right – yeah. The Detroit Emeralds:

The Emeralds, were formed as a vocal harmony group by four brothers from Little Rock, Arkansas in the mid-Sixties. However, before moving to Detroit (and expanding their name) then releasing their debut single ‘Show Time‘ on the Ric-Tic Records label, Cleophus and Raymond Timon had left the band. leaving just Ivory and Abrim. They were then joined by childhood friend James Mitchell.

A rare clip of the Detroit Emeralds performing their first single, Show Time in 1968

Now a trio, they scraped into the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #89 on 20th April 1968.

A run of charting hits followed in the United States, but it was not until the 1973 UK hit ‘Feel The Need In Me’ that they really came to the fore. Peaking at #4 in the UK, they failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100, but did score at #22 in the US R&B Chart.

Riding the success of ‘Feel The Need In Me,‘ Westbound Records in USA, with whom they’d signed in 1970, decided to re-release the earlier minor (R&B Chart) hit, ‘You Want It, You Got It,‘ in the UK – a shrewd move as it too sold well, reaching #12 in May of ’73.

This is a TV ‘Soul Train,’ recording of the track from its initial US release in 1971 – have you got the moves?

The Detroit Emeralds scored one more minor hit in the UK, also in 1973 – ‘I Think Of You’ which managed a high of #27 in August.

The band started to fall apart in 1974, and in 1976 James Mitchell formed The Floaters, with his brother Paul – and of course, Larry, Charles and Ralph. (Boy, I sure hope their hit falls into a week I can cover within this series – sheer class!)

In 1977, Abe Tilmon hired three others to form a quartet version of the band. ‘Feel The Need In Me’ was re-released in the UK (an expanded version, I believe) and it too charted, rising to #12 and remaining in the Top 40 for eleven weeks.

‘Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)’ from Detroit Emeralds’ second of five albums, ‘You Want It, You Got It.’

I have to say, I’m glad I settled on writing about the Detroit Emeralds. From being in virtual ignorance of their music, I must confess to having added each of the four tracks highlighted here to my streaming playlist.

They may not have reached #1; they may not have achieved super-stardom…. but for a while back in 1973, Detroit Emeralds were ALMOST Top of the Pops.

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – March 2022)

almost top of the pops – ashton, gardner & dyke

(A look at bands / artists, who this day in The ‘70s were ALMOST Top of the Pops.)

14th March 1971

ASHTON, GARDNER & DYKE.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke.
Ashton, Gardner & Dyke on Top of the Pops

Hanging on to their Top Ten status, but only just, Ashton Gardner and Dyke were this week in 1971 heading back down the UK chart with ‘Resurrection Shuffle,’ never to darken the Top 40 again.

Forever since saddled with the ‘one hit wonder’ moniker, piano / keyboard player Tony Ashton, bassist Kim Gardner and drummer Roy Dyke had so much more to offer.

Formed in 1968 as what could be termed a ‘supergroup,’ they released six singles and four albums in their five years together, one of which was soundtrack to the 1971 film ‘The Last Rebel,’ about American football star, Joe Nemeth.

Formerly with The Remo Four (Ashton and Dyke) and The Birds**(Gardner) the band had pedigree, and covered various styles and genres from R&B, to soul , to blues rock and jazz rock. This however would ironically prove their eventual downfall.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke – brilliant, but this perhaps illustrates why prospective fans were a bit bemused! (Almost Alex Harvey-esque, I think.)

The intention was to make their mark as an ‘album’ band, but the success of their fourth single, ‘Resurrection Shuffle’ actually backfired, with crowds turning up at their shows expecting much of the same, and leaving a tad bemused by the multi-genres played.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: ‘Mister Freako’ – the band’s third single and pre-cursor to ‘Resurrection Shuffle.’

Poor album sales forced the band to consider their future in 1973, the outcome being to call it a day.

Tony Ashton moved on to play with Medicine Head, then briefly also with Family before teaming up with Deep Purple’s Jon Lord to release a couple of singles. This would be a precursor to hooking up with another of Deep Purple’s number, Ian Paice in Paice, Ashton & Lord.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke with the title track from their fourth and final album, 1972’s ‘What A Bloody Long Day It’s Been.’

Resurrection Shuffle’ peaked at #3 in the UK Charts, a position it maintained for two weeks, and for a while, back in February 1971, Ashton, Gardner and Dyke were ALMOST Top of the Pops.

Ashton, Gardner & Dyke: ‘Resurrection Shuffle.’

(Post by Colin ‘Jackie’ Jackson of Glasgow – March 2022)

____________________

(** The Birds were a British R&B band, formerly known as The Thunderbirds and counted within their ranks, one Ronnie Wood who would go on to do alright for himself. Following a legal dispute with the American Byrds, they changed their name in 1966 to Birds Birds.)

Blackpool (owes the charmer under me)

Paul Fitzpatrick: London, April 2021


There’s always been something about Blackpool…. a bit like the Kelvin Hall, The Kelvingrove Art Gallery or The University Café… it’s been a ‘happy place’ of mine.

My earliest memories of the Lancashire Riviera as great as they are, are mixed with trauma, however.

My first visit was in the summer of 1963, I was 5 years old and the only reason I remember anything about my inaugural trip is because of an incident that has stayed with me ever since.


Cliff Richard was mega in 63, even as a 5 year old I’d already seen one of his movies – Summer Holiday, dragged along to the La Scala in Sauchiehall St, to see it by my Mum.

What wasn’t there to like about Cliff – he was clean cut, he could sing, he seemed like a nice guy, he could also reverse park a double decker bus and navigate it all the way to Athens, whilst singing and dancing, with not a single hair out of place!

We’d got tickets to see his summer show at the ABC in Blackpool during our stay in 1963.
I don’t remember too much about the performance, just a communal feeling of excitement, and a collective sense of awe that we were all in the presence of this matinee idol.

What I do remember is that at some point during the performance I needed to go to the loo and being a big boy, I was happy to do this on my own….. plus Mum was transfixed by the Bachelor Boy and Dad by the scantily clad dancers.

It was all going well until on my return I made a wrong turn and exited a fire escape door into an enclosed courtyard.

The fire door slammed shut behind me and I was locked out of the theatre with no means of getting back in OR getting out of the enclosed courtyard, I remember shouting for my Dad in vain and it felt like I was there for hours but he was clearly oblivious to the empty seat beside him…. having too good a time.
My Mum I could forgive; it was Cliff for god sake, but my Dad was in big trouble…

HANGING OUT WITH MY MUM IN 1963

Indignation quickly turned to panic, and I remember thinking I would be stuck there on my own forever before a nice lady who lived in one of the flats overlooking the courtyard intervened. Telling me from her 3rd floor balcony, not to worry and that everything would be okay.

Eventually, my Dad tore himself away from the can-can girls, and by tracking my steps, figured out my rookie error.

He thought the whole episode was hilarious, I thought it was extremely poor parenting!

Cut forward a couple of years to our next visit and the big summer show was Morecambe & Wise; I can’t profess to being a fan as a 7-year-old, but I do remember the guy with the glasses was funny.

By age 7, I was dazzled by the bright lights and the goodies on display at Blackpool, there were toys and treats everywhere.
I had also discovered the Pleasure Beach and wanted to go on all the rides, particularly the Waltzers which remained a big favourite, but once again it was a traumatic experience that holds my memories.

On the last day of the holiday, we were due to go to the Pleasure Beach for a last hurrah before heading up the road and I was so excited to be going on all the rides again.

I can’t remember what I was doing (or thinking!) exactly, but at some point before breakfast I got one of my Dad’s lead fishing weights lodged up my nose and presumably swallowed it, sniffing, instead of blowing my nose as instructed.

This resulted in a quick exit from Blackpool and a dash back to Glasgow to visit our local doctor.

Why we couldn’t have gone to a local hospital in Blackpool (via the Pleasure Beach!) I don’t know, but I do remember a long, tense, silent journey back to Glasgow, feeling both sheepish yet sorry for myself.

I’m guessing the lead content of the fishing weight is what would have caused the panic, but the Doc said there was nothing to worry about and the lead weight would pop out in my next poop, pretty promptly.

Two trips to Blackpool, two traumas.

I can’t remember how many times we returned to Blackpool before I went back there again in 1974 with my mates.

I do recall seeing the brilliant Tommy Cooper one summer c.1968 but there was no associated trauma to remember the trip by… hence the lack of any further recall about the visit.

Fast forward to July 1974 and my pals had just came back from a Glasgow Fair spent in Blackpool regaling tales of high jinks and romance.

One of the lads even had a penpal from Preston now, she was so keen that he even had a letter and present waiting for him at home on his return…..

The Three Degrees – When Will I See You Again…. ahhhh.

I had been unable to go with them in July because of a family holiday but I couldn’t wait for the next 8 weeks to fly by so that I could get to this Mecca of fun for the ‘September Weekend’ break.

We set off from Buchanan St bus station at midnight, which looking back seems strange as Blackpool is only 3 hours by car from Glasgow, but for whatever reason it took us 8 hours to get there.

The bus had been organised by Clouds Disco (later to become the Apollo) and there was a party atmosphere on the bus as most of us knew each other, or at least recognised the faces.

On arrival, we made the rookie mistake of hitting the pub as soon as it opened.
Day time drinking was a new concept to me, but alcohol was probably the last thing I needed, I was already as high as a kite on adrenaline and buzzing with anticipation for the weekend to come

We were hammered by early afternoon and that first day became a bit of a blur if I’m honest, culminating in some very strange headwear choices and photographs.

Most of us had turned 16 in the summer of 74 so getting into pubs and clubs wasn’t something we took for granted but there seemed to be no barriers in Blackpool as well as a wealth of choice.

Our preferred venue as it was for a lot of Glaswegians was Mama & Papa Jenks, a big sprawling pub with waitress service…. so you didn’t even have to take the risk of going to the bar to get served.
Jenks had three levels, a bar at ground level, a nightclub above it, and a gay bar in the basement.
The set-up was great but a bit of a shock to the system, particularly when you were used to sneaking into traditional working man’s pubs & saloons in Glasgow and hiding in the corner.

The nightclub at Jenks was pretty good if you wanted to spend the whole evening on-site but we found a great little Soul club nearby with a brilliant DJ that just nailed the music.

To be fair there were a lot of great soul artists/records in the charts at that time – George McCrae, Barry White, Don Covay, Johnny Bristol, The Tymes, The Commodores and The Hues Corporation, etc.
The DJ was playing all that stuff plus a load of imports and remixes we had never heard before.

Learning from our first day we paced ourselves over the rest of the trip, spending time on the Pleasure Beach and leaving the pubs till the evening.

I know Blackpool may not have the best image, but we were having a ball and when it came time to contemplate leaving, a few of the lads said they wanted to stay on… as it transpired some did through no choice of their own.

It seemed half of Glasgow was in Blackpool that weekend which contributed towards a great atmosphere, but the place wasn’t without its tensions.

Come the last night, we were in Jenks having a farewell drink and killing time before catching the bus home, and a massive fight broke out, between the Possil boys and the Calton boys…. and when I say massive, I mean chairs, tables, glasses, bottles, the lot.
The fight spilled outside onto the street like one of those bar room brawls you see in Westerns and it wasn’t long before the police weighed in.

A lad we knew, Hughie Kinnaird, was sharp enough to spot the trouble early-doors and encouraged a few of us to follow him and get out of Dodge before it escalated.
We managed to catch the bus back to Glasgow with minutes to spare but a few of our group got caught up in the rammy and ended up spending an extra couple of days in Blackpool… by necessity rather than design.
The return journey home was a bit more sombre than the party-bus we’d arrived on, but it still took 8 hours!

Another Blackpool trip another drama…

I’ve been back to Blackpool several times since 1974 for fleeting visits but mainly to watch my brother compete in dancing competitions and represent Scotland at the Tower Ballroom in the late 70s and early 80s.

The last time I was there was about 20 years ago when I was up in the North West from London for a meeting in Manchester and persuaded a colleague to stay in Blackpool during the Blackpool Illuminations.

He’d never been or wanted to go to Blackpool, so I was excited to introduce him to the delights of my favourite Northern English coastal town and to change his perception of the place, but it was a losing battle…. the place looked tired and run down and the bright lights didn’t seem so bright anymore.

I’ve not been back since then, and I’m not sure I ever will now.

I think I’d prefer to remember the old place the way it was….. bright, lively, invigorating and full of drama…..