28 March 2015

UK Music Chart: December 18 & 25, 1971 Featuring Middle of the Road

Middle of the Road
The publication of the final new chart of the year saw Benny Hill retain the top spot, thus crowning his comedy hit, Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West), as the Christmas Number 1 of 1971.

Along with Hill, two immensely popular glam rock groups of the era, T.Rex and Slade, continued to nail down the top three positions for another week. 

While they were repulsing all-comers at the top of the chart, three records quietly debuted at the bottom of the Top 20. These were new hits from Tony Christie, Middle of the Road and Val Doonican. 

(No new chart was compiled for the week of 25/12/1971).

Benny Hill at Number 1


The Chart: 
  • 01 (01) Benny Hill - Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West) 
  • 02 (02) T. Rex - Jeepster 
  • 03 (03) Slade - Coz I Luv You 
  • 04 (07) Isaac Hayes - Theme From 'Shaft' 
  • 05 (09) Gilbert O'Sullivan - No Matter How I Try 
  • 06 (04) John Kongos - Tokoloshe Man 
  • 07 (12) Cilla Black - Something Tells Me (Something's Gonna Happen Tonight) 
  • 08 (05) Cher - Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves 
  • 09 (06) Olivia Newton-John - Banks of the Ohio 
  • 10 (08) Tom Jones - Till 
  • 11 (11) The Newbeats - Run Baby Run 
  • 12 (20) The Congregation - Softly, Whispering I Love You 
  • 13 (14) Cliff Richard - Sing A Song of Freedom 
  • 14 (10) The Piglets - Johnny Reggae 
  • 15 (18) Deep Purple - Fireball 
  • 16 (17) Labi Siffre - It Must Be Love 
  • 17 (15) Diana Ross - Surrender 
  • 18 (23) Middle of the Road - Soley Soley 
  • 19 (26) Val Doonican - Morning 
  • 20 (21) Tony Christie - (Is This the Way to) Amarillo?
*Previous week in brackets; Climbers denoted in red; New entries in bold
*Image by Nationaal Archief, Den Haag, Rijksfotoarchief: Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 - negatiefstroken zwart/wit, nummer toegang 2.24.01.05, bestanddeelnummer 925-3455 (Nationaal Archief) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl], via Wikimedia Commons  

18: Middle of the Road: Soley Soley

Returning for another visit to the UK Top 20 was Sally Carr, together with her hot pants and boots and the rest of the Scottish band, Middle of the Road.

Soley Soley was their third consecutive British Top 10 hit (Number 5), but proved to be their last. Further releases failed to crack the upper reaches of the chart, the immediate two follow-ups only managing peaks in the 20s.

However across Europe, and in particular in Germany, their records continued to sell very well until the hits dried up in the mid-1970s.


19: Val Doonican: Morning

The Irish crooner Val Doonican had made regular excursions into the UK Singles Chart since 1964, when Walk Tall became his first British hit.

His last appearance in the Top 20 was in 1968 with If I Knew Then What I Know Now, so he had to wait over three years for this reappearance. Morning, written by Bill Graham, was once again an example of the MOR-styling which endeared him to his target demographic: the (much) older generation.

It would go on to peak at Number 12 in the weeks to come, but apart from one last brief appearance in the lower recesses of the Top 40, this would be Doonican's chart swansong.

20: Tony Christie: (Is This the Way to) Amarillo?

Back in this week in 1971, Tony Christie's recording of (Is This the Way to) Amarillo? made an unspectacular entry into the UK Top 20 and peaked at an equally unspectacular Number 18 some weeks later.

In the circumstances, one might be forgiven for thinking that this run would be the sum of its chart shelf life. Not so. Some thirty years later, British comedian Peter Kay included it in his highly popular sitcom Phoenix Nights, which ultimately led to its re-release as a means to raise funds for Comic Relief.

It then seemed to take on a life of its own: climbing to Number 1 in 2005 for a run of seven weeks and subsequently re-recorded for the 2006 World Cup as Is This the Way to the World Cup?, this time peaking at Number 8.


The UK Number 1 album this week:
  • T. Rex - Electric Warrior


The American Top 10 (Click to play tracks)