Monday, 14 January 2013

The Connells '74-'75'

Chart Peak: 21 [14 in 1995]

Originally a No.14 hit in August 1995 for brothers David and Mike Connell and their band, but an even bigger hit all over Europe... '74-75' is due for re-release on 4th March 1996.
As it turns out, this was one of those re-issues that ended up charting lower than the first time out. But notice that both its peaks were multiples of the number 7... I'm not sure whether this was one of those re-releases that got more airplay with a lower chart position, although since it failed to return the album to the Top 75, I suspect not. Mind you, that album was originally released in the US as early as 1993 so perhaps it had just had its day; and yes, that does mean that this song is about as long ago now as 74-75 itself was then.

I'm one of many people who've never knowingly heard another song by the Connells, but this one is firmly enough in my memory, and not only because that apostrophe at the start of the song title makes it the first track alphabetically on every MP3 player I've ever owned; I used to have one that reset the shuffle every time I switched it on or off, so that opening acoustic guitar figure was the first thing I heard on my journey to work every day. Well, until I got bored of that and deleted it, at which point '#9 Dream' by John Lennon took over the slot, but I digress. The reason I took that step was that I didn't want to start with exactly the same song every time (and prefer to save slower songs for later in the day) so I kept skipping it every time and ended up never hearing it. It's too good for that.  Thankfully I now have a different MP3 player which enabled me to reinstate the song, and it's much more of a pleasure to hear that guitar. The other main reason I recall this song is that it was ubiquitous on the then-new VH1 channel with that brilliantly simple video, not the most attention-grabbing promo of the era (nor I should imagine one of the most expensive) but one of the most memorable. What I didn't notice through our mono 1990s telly was what a brilliant-sounding record this is, both the subtlety of the arrangements - listen to how the high and low harmonies support that fragile lead vocal in a way that reminds me slightly of Crowded House at their eeriest - and the excellent engineering on those acoustic guitars, the full sounding bass and the clean electric guitar that plays the solo. In fact it's such a brilliant recording I want to listen to it again right now. See you in 4-and-a-half minutes...

Right, back again. The one thing I never paid that much attention to was the lyrics. I sort of knew what they words were, but I never tried too hard to piece together the exact meaning. It's obvious that there's something about the rejection of nostalgia, trying to push away somebody who's more interested in reliving their youth than the protagonist as he is now. If you stretched a point (and ignored chronology) you could almost imagine it was a kind of answer song to 'Disco 2000'. In that context I rather like the fact that the song ends so gradual: the lead vocal stops and the hum of the backing singers continues over the fade, and you can almost picture the singer walking slowly away, shaking his head. It's easier to feel the emotion than precis the words, which is a pretty good thing for music to be doing.

Even though you hardly ever seem to hear this song on the radio, I know I'm not alone in my affection for this song. My mum's always been a big fan of that video, and I remember noted journalist, documentarist and now blogger Pete Paphides tweeting excitedly that he finally owned a copy of this song on vinyl - through the LP version of Now 33, an exciting and rare find in itself. I don't have his luck, but I'm glad enough to have the song somewhere.

Available on: Ring