OF COURSE, there were a lot better singles in the pop chart but what can you do? Beige will prevail.
A combination of guilt-tripping peer-pressure and a genuine if naïve and perhaps even misguided desire to make some kind of a difference to the world meant that banal, mindless, oblivious conformity won through in the end.
It wasn’t anything to do with music. It was all about marketing, hype and good, old-fashioned bullshit.
How could we have ever thought that it would be any different? It was a foregone conclusion. Shit floats. Always has, always will. And there are an awful lot of dullards and impressionable kids out there. Thinking about it now, it would have been surprising if the crappy charity protest record didn’t get to the top of the Christmas chart.
Then again, who really gives a fuck about the pop chart at any time of the year, up to and including Christmas? This is not the concern of adults. Teenage girls and people who work in the music industry, I can understand. Anyone else, not so much – and this was just as much the case a quarter of a century ago as it was earlier this week.
WHILE Richard Curtis probably isn’t someone you would turn to for stark social realism, the story of pirate radio deserves a slightly more serious appraisal than that found in his latest happy-go-lucky comedy, The Boat That Rocked.
Curtis’s Sixties-set tale of high-jinks on the high seas has received mixed reviews – “fine if it were funny, but auto-pilot Curtis prevails”, said one reviewer; “I am going to email Richard Curtis and tell him I hate him and ask for my money back,” said another – but unlicensed radio remains a staple of British culture to this day.
In The Boat That Rocked, much is made of the fact that a hopelessly out-of-touch BBC played just 45 minutes of the new-fangled pop music per day, meaning that pop-hungry teenagers had no option but to tune into stations that took the music they loved more seriously.
In reality, despite attracting daily audiences of up to 25million people, the pirates’ brash and breezy US-style of commercial radio was anathema to Harold Wilson’s Labour government – although the official line was that pirate radio broadcasts had the potential to blot out the signals of legally-sanctioned stations, as well as emergency services and air traffic control communications.
The then-Postmaster General Tony Benn declared war on the pirates in 1965 with the promise, “the future does not exist for them”.
Although the Marine Broadcasting Offences Act of 1967 sank the pirates anchored just outside British waters, and a couple of years later Radio One (fronted by many former pirate DJs) soaked up their audience, unlicensed radio never really went away.
WHEN the final volume of David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet was published in 2002, the one thing that shell-shocked readers knew for sure was that his compelling saga of lost children, corrupt coppers and accidental heroes would never make it to the screen.
Peace’s thrilling, visceral, often unhinged prose seemed resolutely unfilmable, his grimly compulsive tales too complicated, too perverse, too downright ugly for the increasingly risk-averse and anodyne worlds of TV and film.
Telling a story of dirty deals and bloody murder in deepest, darkest Yorkshire which spans the best part of a decade, the blood-soaked quartet almost seems to imply that evil often triumphs whether good men do anything or not. Midsommer Murders, it isn’t.