Thursday, March 03, 2005

The hit single

I said Light Up the Fire reached number 31 in the British charts. According to it reached 32 in late September 72 having entered at 40 in mid September. The following week it disappeared from the charts.

These days that might represent a tally of no more than a few hundred sales. In 1972 it was no mean achievement...especially when you look at the competition.

In the top 40 of that week I counted no less than ten pop and rock classics. There were obscure songs by pop greats such as Cliff Richard, Elvis, Rod Stewart and Michael Jackson. The chart was headed by Slade's Mama Weer All Crazee Now, one of the greatest British pop songs of the 70s. David Cassidy was number 2 and T Rex's Children of the Revolution was 3.

Layla by Derek and the Dominoes (alias Eric Clapton, ISTR) was at 22.

Rubbing shoulders with Parchment's 32nd position there were, in ascending order Elvis, Elton John, Hawkwind's Silver Machine, Partridge Family, Peter Skellern, David Bowie. These were pop's greatest years.

Beneath them at 34 was Donny Osmond's Puppy Love and after that 10cc with Donna, followed by Alice Cooper School's Out (somehow missing the summer rush in the UK), Bee Gees, Hollies and Carpenters. Donny Osmond was in the top ten with another song.

Okay, it was achieved by a mass buying campaign organised by the Festival of Light. But it was a great record, a great song performed by a great band and the band was struggling to get air-play. This was not just because of the competition but also because many DJs felt, understandably, that the Festival of Light was getting at them. I understand there was a Top of the Pops appearance.

Here's a picture of the single's European sleeve. Sometime I will post a picture of the British single which featured one of those folk/hippy pictures of the band.

The story goes that the Festival of Light ran a competition for a theme song. The winning band/singer got to record a hit single and the runner up had their song recorded as the B-side. So Judy Mackenzie had her song Let There Be Light recorded as the B-side of Light Up the Fire. Sadly, it was given the sort of production attention that B-sides were given in those days and does neither the band nor the song much credit.

According to John Paculabo's sleeve notes on simply...Parchment the song was written by Trinity Folk and came to the attention of the Musical Gospel Organisation at a concert in Coventry Cathedral in February 1972. The band was encouraged to submit the song to the Festival and renamed as Parchment.

Many school children and young married couples now know the song as Colours of Day - but few of them will have heard the amazing original version recorded as the single by Pye with the aid of the production talents of John Pantry.


pf said...

And here is that British top 40 chart from late September 1972:
1 Slade Mama Weer All Crazee Now
2 David Cassidy How Can I Be Sure
3 T Rex Children Of The Revolution
4 Faron Young It's Four In The Morning
5 Rod Stewart You Wear It Well
6 Donny Osmond Too Young
7 Michael Jackson Ain't No Sunshine
8 Lieutenant Pigeon Mouldy Old Dough
9 Roxy Music Virginia Plain
10 Lynsey De Paul Sugar Me
11 Sweet Wig-Wam Bam
12 Drifters Come On Over To My Place
13 Cliff Richard Living In Harmony
14 Jackie Wilson I Get The Sweetest Feeling
15 Blackfoot Sue Standing In The Road
16 Dandy Livingstone Suzanne Beware Of The Devil
17 Judge Dread Big Six
18 Mott The Hoople All The Young Dudes
19 Junior Walker & The All-Stars Walk In The Night
20 Gary Glitter I Didn't Know I Loved You (Till I Saw You Rock 'N' Roll)
21 Hurricane Smith Who Was It
22 Bill Withers Lean On Me
23 Derek & The Dominoes Layla
24 Little Eva The Loco-motion
25 Hot Butter Popcorn
26 David Bowie John I'm Only Dancing
27 Peter Skellern You're A Lady
28 Partridge Family Breaking Up Is Hard To Do
29 Hawkwind Silver Machine
30 Elton John Honky Cat
31 Elvis Presley Burning Love
32 Parchment Light Up The Fire
33 Seashells Maybe I Know
34 Donny Osmond Puppy Love
35 10cc Donna
36 Alice Cooper School's Out
37 Bee Gees Run To Me
38 O'Jays Back Stabbers
39 Hollies Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress
40 Carpenters Goodbye To Love

AP said...

Hi, can you just confirm that 'Let there be Light' contains the lyrics 'Let there be light in the land. Let there be light in the people. Let there be God in our lives from now on.'?
Trying to write a legit reference for it!
Thanks, Anna

pf said...

Yes it does!