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Pissing off the Taste Police with the Bay City Rollers

August 14th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments


It was inevitable that the Bay City Rollers would be regarded as the apogee of uncool, even in their pomp. The screaming, barely pubescent girls at their concert one might have overlooked – after all, the Beatles survived that. Even the outfits – tartan and stupid sock-revealing bell bottoms – might have been forgivable. But the juncture of both was too much to accept for the self-respecting music fan. That, and the name of the bassplayer, Stuart “Woody” Wood. Woody!

My rejection of the Bay City Rollers coincided, quite naturally, with the nascent sprouting of pubic hair. Once I had bravely (or obliviously) paddled against the informed mainstream which held BCR in the sort of contempt which two decades later would later be directed at the hapless Hanson. Where I once regarded BCR’s I Only Wanna Be With You as the definitive version of the song – and, well, the only one I knew – I now wished Leslie, Eric and Derek ill. Not on Woody, though, because I liked Woody. I laughed when their post-Leslie McKeown career, with South African teen idol Duncan Faure at lead vocals, flopped.

Still, BCR were my introduction to pop fandom. I don’t know why I chose them, and not, say, Sweet, who had much better songs and whose Poppa Joe was a favourite when I was six. It can’t have been the outfits. Perhaps I just liked Woody’s feather-mullet. But my pre-pubescent band they were. The girls loved them, which seemed to me a good reason to emulate them. So when I read that the Scottish idols wore no underpants, I was at once appalled and fascinated. Of course I tried going commando. That sartorial imitation did not last long on grounds of the jeans’ zipper and stitching chafing my tender scrotum.

I forgave the Bay City Rollers their lapse in hygiene (should the reader be of the commando persuasion, may I implore him at this point to put on some Y-fronts. You never know when you are going to have an accident. And I don’t necessarily mean vehicular mishaps). I even found it in my heart to overlook the personnel changes which followed the departure of Alan Longmuir. It was an odd thing: Alan, who looked 40 even then, was replaced by Ian Mitchell, who looked 12, who in turn was substituted for Pat McGlynn, who looked nine and three-quarters. Before BCR hit the big time – before Woody and Leslie joined and they had a hit with Keep On Dancing – the original members looked like old dudes, held over from Woodstock. Now the new influx was barely older than I was.

Ian and Pat didn’t last long, and the final album with Leslie McKeown on vocals, It’s A Game, was recorded as a foursome, with many of the songs self-penned, mostly by Eric Faulkner and Woody. There was a slightly incongruous cover of Bowie’s Rebel Rebel. On the back cover, our friends had shed not only their shirts, but their trousers seemed to have fallen off too, revealing the folly of going commando (actually, it probably was a comment on shedding the loony tartan outfits). I can’t say that It’s A Game was a poptastic triumph; my BCR infatuation was already waning on account of pubic growth (and here we enter another good argument against going commando). It did, however, deliver a quite magnificent song, You Made Me Believe In Magic. It is exquisite, perfect pop, crying out to be covered and turned into a massive hit (which it was in Japan, where BCR fever contributed to global warming). The title track was not bad either, at least the chorus.

Indeed, a couple of BCR singles could qualify as perfect pop. Saturday Night, with the stuttering chorus, is a bracing bit of glam pop. Likewise 1976’s prescient Yesterday’s Hero, which borrows the live concert effects from Sweet’s Teenage Rampage. It would be regarded as a classic had it been released in 1973 (which would have been two years before it was originally released by Australians Vanda & Young).

Summerlove Sensation, Bye Bye Baby, Rock And Roll Love Letter (“I’ll keep on rock and rollin’ till my jeans explode”), Money Honey, Give A Little Love, Shang-A-Lang, I Only Wanna Be With you are all fine pop records of their era. I wouldn’t want to listen to those every day, but once in a while, when in a ’70s mood, I do enjoy a bit of Bay City Rollers – even without the nostalgia caveat behind which I sometimes hide.

And if someone has their 1972 song Mañana, I’d be delighted to receive it…

Bay City Rollers – Yesterday’s Hero.mp3
Bay City Rollers – Rock And Roll Love Letter.mp3
Bay City Rollers – Summerlove Sensation.mp3
Bay City Rollers – You Made Me Believe In Magic.mp3*
Bay City Rollers – Saturday Night.mp3*
Bay City Rollers – Bye Bye Baby.mp3

Previously on Pissing off the Taste Police:
Counting Crows
Simply Red
John Denver
Barry Manilow
Lionel Richie
The Carpenters
Billy Joel
Neil Diamond
America
.

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  1. wzjn
    August 14th, 2008 at 12:22 | #1

    My younger sister once made me tack a picture of Derek on the ceiling above her bed so she could wake up to him in the morning. I can still hear You Made Me Believe In Magic thinking of that time.Great job.

  2. ib
    August 14th, 2008 at 15:57 | #2

    Ah, I “Remember” it all so well…Superb and very brave post.

  3. Anonymous
    August 15th, 2008 at 01:26 | #3

    Harry Vanda and George Young, formerly of the Easybeats, wrote both “Love Is in the Air” and “Yesterday’s Hero,” which were sung by John Paul Young, no relation. However, George Young is related to AC/DC’s Malcolm and Angus Young, who are his brothers.

  4. whiteray
    August 15th, 2008 at 03:18 | #4

    By golly, you caught me in a shutout. I’ve got a fair number of mp3s and albums by your other “Pissing off . . .” entries, but nary a bit of work by BCR. I’ll listen.

  5. Beth
    August 15th, 2008 at 08:28 | #5

    I couldn’t like the Rollers, because I liked the Osmonds, but I did have a soft spot for Eric. Especially after I read in (probably) Fab 208 that his favourite book was The Lord Of The Rings.(I will be sneaking off with ‘Bye Bye Baby’, thanks!)

  6. Rol
    August 18th, 2008 at 14:26 | #6

    Afraid they were a bit before my time, so I never caught the bug. I have been listening to the Dave Edmunds song ‘Rollers Show’ quite a lot recently though.

  7. My hmphs
    August 18th, 2008 at 20:08 | #7

    Well, you know I love “Saturday Night.” Sadly, as an 8-year-old with no money, I only heard that one song and “You Made Me Believe in Magic.” Thanks for the much-needed retrospective!

  8. JustGoodTunes
    August 18th, 2008 at 23:55 | #8

    I think I may be a member of the taste police! Barry Manilow & Lionel Richie make me want to rip stuff and punch babies….and what's the name of that horrible AWFUL Billy Joel song that goes akakakakak? Too bad he wasn't abducted by the Mars Attacks aliens…..or was he?

  9. Any major dude with half a heart
    August 19th, 2008 at 08:41 | #9

    Movin’ Out. Come on, that’s a fine song.I love your site, justgoodtunes, but let’s face it, some of the stuff you post is not going to find favour with the Taste Police either!!!

  10. Mr. Satan A. Chilles
    August 20th, 2008 at 03:32 | #10

    Another fine post, thank you. Made me reach for the Eric Carmen records, and later, A Flock of Seagulls. (hint, hint)

  11. side3
    August 23rd, 2008 at 23:30 | #11

    I love The Roller. Check out the post -Les album “Elevator”…even the Taste Police would love it. A great power pop album.

  12. albgardis
    September 13th, 2008 at 09:39 | #12

    Oh ja, The Bay City Rollers. It seems as if everyone is younger than me, because I was hit full force with the bug, haha. I heard “Remember”, “Shang-a-lang”, Summerlove Sensation” played on our radio station when it was new, and duly recorded it to a cheap Ferro tape (all I had). But when I **SAW** them (Musikladen 1975 – Bye Bye Baby) – I was melting away… And imagine, I saw them only in black and white. From then on Suzi Quatro (my previous hero) was done, thrown out, and Leslie it was from then on. (Until I saw Agnetha Fältskog the following spring, but that’s another chapter…)Do I need to mention that – of course! – I possess all LPs on vinyl? But alas, some songs were released as B-Sides only, on Singles, and I lack several of them.I am lucky to have most albums on files now (a dutch blog posted all last year). Let me check whether the files ar still there – yes, here they are:http://rapidshare.com/files/57462125/file_bcr_001.rar.htmlhttp://rapidshare.com/files/57460359/file_bcr_002.rar.htmlhttp://rapidshare.com/files/57458866/file_bcr_003.rar.htmlhttp://rapidshare.com/files/57457412/file_bcr_004.rar.htmlhttp://rapidshare.com/files/57451945/file_bcr_005.rar.htmlhttp://rapidshare.com/files/57450370/file_bcr_006.rar.htmlThese are *not* the UK files with the additional B-sides (Bonus Tracks), but still, those who don’t have the reguar albums might like these anyway.

  13. albgardis
    September 13th, 2008 at 09:41 | #13

    P.S. Sorry, I don’t have “Manana” either. Still looking for that, together with some B-Sides.

  14. ray
    June 16th, 2009 at 03:41 | #14

    Les of the Bay city rollers still milking it in Japan. Did you know Saturday night is a huge hit in Japan?
    http://japansugoi.com/wordpress/smap-sing-saturday-night-with-les-mckeown-bay-city-rollers/

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