Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Love of the Common People" by Paul Young

Song#:  1907
Date:  05/19/1984
Debut:  87
Peak:  45
Weeks:  11
Genre:  Pop

Pop Bits:  Young's debut LP No Parlez didn't initially set the house a-fire when it was issued in the UK. Its first two singles failed to chart and that typically meant that the album was quickly headed to the dust bin. But then it got a reprieve. A third single, a cover of Marvin Gaye's "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)," became a surprise #1 hit. A fourth single, "Come Back and Stay," got to #4. The album reached #1 and became a huge seller in the UK. In the US, "Wherever" was a non-starter at #70, but "Come Back" was a minor hit getting to #22. With the album finally catching on, there was now potential for a third hit. Instead of selecting another track from the album, the label decided to reissued one of the singles that initially failed, "Love of the Common People." With Young now hot property, the song caught on and got to #2 in the UK. The US still wasn't fully on board with Young, so the single petered out before it could get inside the Top 40.

ReduxReview:  This 60s folk tune was a good song to begin with and there were already some solid versions existing from folks like The Four Preps and Waylon Jennings, but Young takes the tune directly to the 80s and comes up with a unique take. It's really the arrangement/production that makes Young's version a winner. The rolling beat, synths, and those background vocals work together to make the song interesting. I'm not sure why it failed to do better in the States. Maybe the old-style message song with its sing-a-long chorus didn't connect with modern pop listeners. I'm not sure the reason, but I have always thought it was a nice spin on an older song.

ReduxRating:  7/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally recorded in 1967 by The Four Preps. The American vocal quartet had some success in the late 50s scoring two big Top 10's in 1958:  the #2 "26 Miles (Santa Catalina)" and the #3 "Big Man." They would grab two more Top 20's before their charting luck ran out in 1964. They continued to record and issue some singles, including "Love of the Common People," but nothing reached the charts. By 1969, the group had disbanded. Although "Love" was not a hit, the song ended up getting covered by many artists including The Everly Brothers, Lynn Anderson, Waylon Jennings, John Denver, and (weirdly) Leonard Nimoy. Even a pre-stardom Elton John recorded the song in 1968, the year before his debut album appeared. The American funk/soul group The Winstons recorded the song in 1969. Their version was the first to chart in the US. It got to #54. In the UK, Jamaican reggae singer Nicky Thomas covered the tune and his single reached #9 in 1970.


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