Originally published on 3rd May, 2005:
five years ago today, I stood in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, clutching a tinny transistor (almost certainly
Hong Kong made) to my ear. I'd grown up in a household where the radio was playing in the background almost constantly
it seemed, but during the previous months my personal interest in music had really awoken.
I had started to watch Top Of The Pops religiously. These were exciting times musically. New bands like Madness and The Specials
were helping to change the musical terrain and their performances as much as their music made Top Of The Pops essential viewing.
I remember one evening in particular in early 1980 I was watching the show with my brother Pete when another new band made
their debut. As soon as the song started I was drawn to the brassiness of their sound. I'd developed a liking for brass
instruments through my interest in the Two Tone groups but this was clearly something different.
Pete told me that his friend Steve had seen this group supporting The Specials the previous year. This
seemed to confirm in my mind that this was a group I SHOULD be interested in.
"What's their name?" I asked.
"Dexys Midnight Runners"
I sat back and watched the rest
of the performance truly enthralled. There was something about the way the musicans moved - even stood - which
was like nothing I'd ever seen before. I had no idea what the singer was singing but whatever it was he
seemed angry about it. The guitarist stomped his foot as he strummed his guitar with attitude a-plenty while the brass
section thrust their instruments skywards as they pumped out these unbelievably bold sounds.
"What was that name again?"
"Dexys Midnight Runners"
After the programme had finished I must have asked the same
question a few more times as I relived the excitement of what I'd just seen with Pete. There was something about
the name which was equally alluring and yet difficult to remember. Anyway, my persistence paid off. A few days
later Pete - who had clearly picked up on my interest in this new band - bought me a copy of the single. In
fact I must have gone on about it rather a lot because my other brother Dave picked up a copy for me too!
A few months later as I stood by the foot of Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens holding that
tinny transistor I listened in anticipation to "this week's parade". My favourite group of the
moment had a single in the charts at the time called "Geno". It was the follow-up to the single which had
blown me away but, whereas that song had hardly dented the top forty, this new single had made its way - somewhat
improbably - into the top ten. I thought about how amazing it would be if this group - MY group - could actually
claim the number one spot.
There used to be a real thrill in listening to the chart countdown
in those days. Songs didn't enter the Top Forty at number one and slip out of the charts again two weeks later
as they do now. A new release could work its way up the charts gaining increased air-play and Top Of The Pops
coverage as it did. "Geno" had already been knocking around the Top Forty for the previous five weeks.
As we reached the Top Ten and the recent Number Ones "Talk Of The Town" and "Working My Way Back
To You" my anticipation grew. At least it was still in the running. Gradually I realised it must still be in the
"And at this week's Number Five, up six places it's
'Toccata' by Sky."
The Number Four
was no more inspiring - 'Silver Dream Machine' by David Essex - but what the DJ announced next was of far more
interest. The previous week's chart-topper, Blondie's "Call Me" had slipped two places to
Number Three. We had a new Number One.
Number Two... he's 'Coming Up' five places... it's Paul McCartney."
I knew exactly what this meant. I felt a shiver down my spine and a sense of overwhelming pride which caused
tears to well up in my eyes. My group had done it. But I still had to listen to a recap on the rest of the chart
before I could hear the words I'd been waiting for.
"Which means... the new Number One is 'Geno'... by Dexys Midnight Runners!"
Now everybody would remember their name.
for the record (as it were) the Top Forty from 3rd May 1980 was - in its entirity - as follows:
01 Geno - Dexys Midnight Runners
02 Coming Up - Paul McCartney
03 Call Me - Blondie
04 Silver Dream Machine - David Essex
05 Toccata - Sky
For Thought - UB40
07 Working My Way Back To You - The Detroit Spinners
08 Sexy Eyes - Dr. Hook
09 Talk Of The Town - The Pretenders
Check Out The Groove - Bobby Thurston
11 My Perfect Cousin - The Undertones
12 Don't Push It Don't Force It - Leon Haywood
Groove - Rodney Franklin
14 Work, Rest And Play EP - Madness
15 What's Another
Year - Johnny Logan
16 My Oh My - Sad Cafe
17 Dance Yourself Dizzy - Liquid Gold
18 January February - Barbara Dickson
19 I Shoulda Loved You - Narada Michael
20 Wheels Of Steel - Saxon
21 Poison Ivy - The
22 Kool In The Kaftan - B.A. Robertson
23 Golden Years EP - Motorhead
24 Missing Words - The Selecter
25 Don't Make Waves - The Nolans
26 Let's Do Rock Steady - The Bodysnatchers
Greatest Cockney Rip Off - Cockney Rejects
- Bad Manners
29 Breathing - Kate Bush
30 Fool For
Your Loving - Whitesnake
31 No Doubt About It - Hot Chocolate
32 Staring At The
Rude Boys - The Ruts
33 Going Underground - The Jam
34 Take Good Care Of My Baby - Smokie
35 A Forest - The Cure
36 Hold On To My Love - Jimmy Ruffin
Dear Miss Lonely - Phil Lynott
38 This World Of Water - New Musik
Go Round - Again Average White Band
40 In The City - The Jam