Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Radio One More Time: Records by DJs

They reckon that music journalists are just frustrated pop stars, which might be true. But they're nowhere near as frustrated as disc jockeys are. The desire to make a record instead of merely playing them seems to seize every DJ at some point in their career and, however ill-advised, they will go ahead and find someone willing to stick something out.

We've already explored Mike Read's attempts to boost his Trainspotters profile by recording his own jingle based on his own single, but there were to be worse transgressions.

Steve Wright, for one. Wright's first toe dipped into seven inch vinyl was merely irritating: as Young Steve and The Afternoon Boys, he turned a weak catchphrase into a weaker single - one which even Russ Abbot might have thought twice about recording:

I'm alright
You're alright
Everyone's feeling alright tonight
Having a laugh and singing a song
If you're alright, you can't go wrong

The b-side, though, Oh, Damien, wasn't bad for a novelty single - being based on one of Wright's "characters" back when they had some sort of actual character to them - this was an ode to Radio One's supposed in-house social worker. Obviously, you wouldn't want to hear it more than once, but that's still more times than you'd want to hear the follow up single, Get Some Therapy.

Again, trying to spin out a catchphrase into three minutes, Get Some Therapy still managed to sell well enough to persuade Steve to try something more complex on his third single. Unfortunately, "complex" turned out to mean homophobic. In an age where Konnie Huq gets a bollocking for suggesting that we should ride bikes rather than taking the car, it's incredible that as recently as 1984 one of the BBC's highest-profile presenters was able to release The Gay Caballeros, which suggested that Wright being pursued by stalking Mexican male rapists was a light comic motif, and nobody batted an eyelid.

Perhaps one of the most successful bids to storm Top of the Pops as artists rather than presenters was Convoy GB. Having noticed that CW McCall's Convoy - a tribute to the then slightly-modish CB Radio - consisted mostly of talking, and realising they could talk, Dave Lee Travis and Paul Burnett knocked up a spoof, rushed into a studio and released it under the not-entirely-secret identity Laurie Lingo and The Dipsticks. Despite being a novelty parody of a novelty hit, and despite Travis' cod Scouse accent, it was taken to the nation's hearts.

Of course, even John Peel popped up from time to time on record. He once whistled on an Altered Images album track.

[Part of Radio One More Time]