21 July 2010
One Hit Wonders #9 - Freddie Starr - It's You
Year of Release: 1974
Readers, do you ever despair? I sometimes despair. Life's hard, and then just when you're looking for some kind of hope on the horizon, a sign that all is essentially well with the human race, you find out that the Freddie Starr single you picked up for 50p and bought as a joke was actually a top ten hit. As if Ken Dodd's musical career didn't already nearly send you into a deep, dark depression.
The strangely under-referenced (perhaps for good reasons) "It's You" is perhaps more expected than Kenny Everett's attempts at chart smashes, or even Jasper Carrott's. Despite his successful career as an "anarchic" comedian, Freddie Starr without question harboured ambitions to be a credible rock star which I'm sure have never faded - unbelievably, he even managed two very minor hit albums, the tragically titled "After The Laughter" in 1989, and "The Wanderer" in 1990. The latter has nothing to do with the Kevin Rowland album of the same name I'm sure we can safely assume. He even worked with some respectable industry figures, his greatest privilege undoubtedly being recording with Joe Meek in the sixties, a meeting of unpredictable minds I'm actually quite glad I wasn't anywhere near at the time.
Sadly, whoever he recorded with, Starr's contributions to the pop world are largely forgettable. "It's You" may have managed the number 9 slot in 1974, but it's an unremarkable slow tempo ballad with lyrics even Doddy would have rejected as overly saccharine. Starr's voice is quite thin and reedy and smacks of insincerity - it's impossible to take seriously, in fact, even though the jokes seem non-existent, leaving us in a strange limbo. Neither naff enough for a cheap joke, nor good enough to be a decent single, this just sits on your turntable seemingly trying its hardest to go unnoticed. Robbie Williams may look like the bastard son of Freddie Starr, but it's clear who the superior singer and performer is.
The only really surprising thing about this disc is that people bloody well bought it in large numbers, which is interesting as they'd never really warmed to any of the man's singular recordings before, and never really did again. "It's You" clearly had something which clicked with both his fans and the general public, but it's not obvious to my ears what. To get some perspective on this situation, it's worth remembering that The Who's "I Can See For Miles" finished one place lower in the charts than this effort. I spit on the British record buying public.
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