Andrew Otis Weiss — Re-watching the Top of the Pop...

Re-watching the Top of the Pops' The Story of [year] specials covering the late 1970s and UK's spin on novelty songs is both fascinating and horrifying.

I know it's rooted in local pub and music hall culture but I also don't have a direct frame of reference for either.

Yeah, this is the big difference between the US and the UK. In the US, particularly mid-century, a band had to tour for *years* building a following one market at a time. Which at its best leads to bands with staying power, but also selects for a kind of conservatism and stagnation.

Nolan Void

Speaking again of early punk, the major record label sweep of the underground rock/punk scene in NY was so sudden and swift. Blondie basically were on a major label long before they had a hit big enough to justify it by American standards.

Andrew Hickey

My go-to arena rock song from the mid-70s through the early 80s is “More Than a Feeling,” which a British friend of mine once says should be our national anthem, and frankly, that was one if the few opinions we agreed on.

Jodie Troutman

Absolutely but to my ears they evoke the same disaffected suburban sound of Styx. Might be the vocal styles, which seem on par with each other.

Disclaimer, I don't hate either one and actually saw a cover band do a whole Supertramp set. But they are the same kind of "mid" to me.

Andrew Hickey

That's fine. I honestly couldn't name you a song by either without thinking very hard, and am perfectly prepared to admit that they have produced hundreds of classics I'm unaware of.
From a British perspective though they're sort of an undifferentiated mush that we're vaguely aware existed.


One of the things that I love about popular music is that there are these regional/national enclaves. Being from Canada -we know and love the Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, etc., but until the podcast, I never heard an Amen Corner or a Move song - and that why I love it.

Andrew Hickey

If you wanted to fill a stadium in the late 70s, you could do worse than grabbing a band out of Illinois. :)

It is one of the things I love about the podcast, that I see music from angles I normally wouldn’t. I’ve heard a lot of music from the era you’ve explored so far, but not nearly all.

Andrew Hickey

This attitude was put into sharp relief for me in my early Clash
message board days. For a certain age of UK members, punk as a concept seemed much more predicated on the clothes worn and their fashionability at the time than the US members of similar age, where it was more of a lifestyle thing.

Andrew Hickey

It’s funny to watch British television and hear them talk about the numerous hits of acts that in the US were one hit wonders or even completely unknown

No one in the US has ever heard of the Sugababes, but they get constantly name dropped on British quiz shows

Andrew Hickey

I had to look up what it actually in theory meant when there was a countdown of "one hit wonders" that included a band I owned 4 albums by

Single chart success has always struck me as a weird metric, especially in the 90s when single sales didn't really exist

Cris (without an H)


I don’t know if you watch Todd in the Shadows’s videos on one hit wonders, but there’s so many where he’s like “okay but they had a ton of hits elsewhere (often Japan)”

Trash Theory videos also have a very British POV that puts things in a new light

Nolan Void

My go to “my god the middle aged Brits on this message board go on and on about this band” back in the day was Showaddywaddy, band no one from America that is neither an Anglophile nor into 70s UK glam/bubblegum tracks has ever heard of. But aging UK punks that were teens in the 70s HATE them.

Nolan Void

And for those of us that grew up over here as they were having chart hit after chart hit with the same three chords (including a snooker themed novelty song FFS), finding out about their early, actually not dull stuff much later was mind blowing

That can't have been Quo, it's /interesting/

Nolan Void

Oh yeah, I remember seeing them interviewed a few times and they came across as very self aware and decent people (decent by rock star standards anyway)

Finding out they did Matchstick Men was nearly as confusing as when Jennie first played me New York Mining Disaster and asked me to guess the band

Andrew Hickey

I think I might have been. And I'd also managed to completely remove that actual song from my memory, having just listened to it, GAAAH!

I think I'd conflated ChasnDave with Quo somehow in the same way Percy Byshe Shelley and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are the same poet.

Need brain bleach

Andrew Hickey

Messrs Charles and David exclusively wrote Tottenham Hotspur related football songs. I remember hearing a horrible muzak version of one of them over the tannoy at Waterloo station once.
Pretty sure Ver Quo were not, however, season ticket holders at Old Trafford.

Mat Bowles

There was a particular DJ with big name prestige that absolutely loved Showaddywaddy, it was really really annoying and there were comic characters created specicially to mock him/them

Later revelations about the creep didn't help rehabilitate the stuff he liked either

Nolan Void

There was a weird decade-long dead period between the Spice Girls and One Direction where absolutely nothing crossed over from the UK. I'll watch old quiz shows on YouTube and have to just skip past whenever "UK Top 40 hits from the 00s" comes up, cause it's just going to be nonsense words.

Benito Cereno

I was amazed when you talked about how radio worked in the UK in the 60s. In the US, as long as you could get a license, you could put up an antenna and play pretty much anything (as long as it didn’t violated decency standards at the time).

Andrew Hickey

Weirdly, a lot of US acts found it was a better route to break the UK first. If you were, say, The White Stripes and barely known outside Michigan, breaking the UK would mean all the hipsters in other US cities would hear about you, and you could build on that.

Andrew Hickey

Walker had a cult in the US, particularly among avant-garde
/experimental musicians and fans thereof roughly Gen X and younger. That is, Evan Parker was the introduction point to Walker rather than the other way around. And it took a full 2 years for Tilt to get a US release (on an indie).

Eddie Robson

I think Hendrix is a little different because he had no career to speak of and had to decamp here and sign to a UK label to get started. From the punk era onwards you often have artists who've done an album or two and established themselves to some extent, and use the UK to kick on.

Andrew Hickey

I love UK pop retrodocs about the 1970s and 1980s because some things align so closely with the US experience with it, but others aren't even in the same solar system.

And some of it I'm vaguely familiar with because of my grandfather's work for NATO in the 1970s and my mom's Anglophilia.

Andrew Otis Weiss

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