Wednesday, 12 June 2013

The All Seeing I featuring Tony Christie 'Walk Like A Panther'

Chart Peak: 10

For the year's wackiest collaboration so far, dance gurus The All Seeing I created something of a "Sheffield Tour-de-force" by enlisting the help of Jarvis Cocker and Tony Christie... It's almost 28 years since Tony made his first big impact on the UK charts with the No.2 hit 'I Did What I Did For Maria'.
Little would we have guessed then that Stereophonics and Tony Christie would go on to have their first (and only) Number One singles only a week apart in 2005. I certainly wouldn't have, because this record was the first time I'd ever heard of Tony Christie at all. That's not completely surprising since he hadn't charted in my lifetime, but he was evidently better-remembered in the North of England, and so Jarvis was called in to write some lyrics for him, apparently borrowing a title from an earlier Christie song - this version was initially known as 'Walk Like A Panther '98' until the release date was postponed to January 1999.

Cocker even took over the vocal for Top Of The Pops when Christie was unavailable (it sounds a bit odd when Christie's recorded backing vocal comes in over him). In many ways there's more Cocker than Christie in the song anyway. Whilst I now recognise the reference in the opening line "Marie has set up home with a man who's half my age...", Marie or Maria being the wife or girlfriend of the protagonist in many Christie songs, who else would write "your existence an insult/ and stains that are suspect cover your clothes"? It certainly wasn't the sort of thing Christie cut his teeth on and he doesn't quite seem to know how to sing it, though he seems game for a laugh and gives it a decent try. Nonetheless, without knowledge of the backstory I just couldn't get the song at all at the time, which seems rather a failing of it. I like it more now, though.

The All Seeing I also appear on: Now 39
Tony Christie also appears on: Now 60, 61
Available on: Pickled Eggs And Sherbet

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