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Ain’t No Pleasing You

December 15, 2022

I did listen to my best of Chas and Dave CD yesterday afternoon. I was actually dancing around the house to it – something I haven’t done for a while. (And should do more often.) It also brought back another memory that has nothing to do with Margate.

After the two of them decided to pair up they did put out a couple of albums and had a bit of a cult following. It wasn’t until one of the breweries asked (and handsomely paid) them to adapt some of their songs for ads that they really came to national attention.

If you know anything about the UK pop charts you’ll know that more often than not the Christmas number one is something daft. 

Ergo the plot line in Love Actually of Bill Nighy’s aging and skint rocker putting out a special seasonal single.

You’re welcome.

Anyway, in December 1980 it seemed quite likely that one of Chas and Dave’s songs (possibly the real one from that ad – I don’t remember) was going to be that silly Christmas number one. And then something truly awful happened. John Lennon was gunned down outside his New York apartment building. The dreadful irony of this happening so soon after he’d released his first album in years was lost on no one. After getting to the number two spot, Chas and Dave were knocked out of position by Lennon’s ‘Starting Over’. No surprise there.

Chas and Dave would have been the first to admit that the majority of their songs were just meant to be fun. Then in 1982 (by which time I knew them) they put out something really different.

A wonderful song with full (well, a small) orchestra backing. That’s how they performed it at a gig I attended at the Dominion in London. When the curtains opened for their encore the orchestra was back. “You didn’t think we’d pay these geezers to just play the song once, did you?” Chas asked the cheering audience. 

The song had made steady progress and a week or so before that gig was sitting at number two and favoured to hit number one the following week. Then a different kind of disaster struck. Paul McCartney released the nauseating ‘Ebony and Ivory’ and it went straight to the number one slot.

Backstage after the gig I commiserated with them. “Bloody hell,” said Chas, “being knocked out by John’s death was one thing. That was fine. We were all in shock. No one cared about the charts. But being knocked out by this sugary shit? That is fucking annoying.”

I couldn’t agree more. It was fucking annoying. 

I’d forgotten how much I loved that song until I listened to it again (multiple times) yesterday. Definitely one of my desert island discs.

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