Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The Alternative TOTP Canon #33: Sue Wilkinson - You Gotta Be A Hustler If You Wanna Get On

One thread running through a lot of this Canon, and quite a few of the accepted faces of TOTP legend, is oddity or plain being out of place, the sense that should it get a high enough profile or sneak into the upper end of the charts anything could be presented to the prime-time pop kids. Originally titled You Gotta Be A Scrubber... but changed on the advice of the head of Radio 1, the late Wilkinson (she died of cancer in 2005) was a model and actress who had an in-house songwriting job and had worked with Chas Jankel of the Blockheads. This was released on Hendrix's manager Chas Chandler's label and hammered by a Radio 1 DJ - our source forgets which but thinks it may have been DLT. Those are facts. Actuality is something different as even by out of place's standards this represents an enigma, a plainly bizarre entry into the show's catalogue, as the kids would say a WTF. Here we have a monologuist on the verge of a nervous breakdown, a tremendous amount of cynicism only matched by the levels of subtle playing to camera. So many questions. Why is she standing like that? Why has the drummer (Don Powell of Slade, actually) set up a full kit if he only plays shaker and muted cymbal? What's with the ruler twanging on the edge of a table? What are the audience supposed to do for two and a half minutes?

7 comments:

Arthur Nibble said...

For no reason whatsoever, this is one of three particular songs that I categorise under 'who bought this novelty crap and snuck it into the 30?' - the others being "Gimme Dat Banana" by Black Gorilla and "Naughty Naughty Naughty" by Joy Sarney.

Noax said...

I absolutely love it. A friend of mine introduced me to this when I was at University and even though I thought I couldn't be shocked by music at that stage, my jaw dropped wide open.

Arthur, I also love 'Naughty Naughty Naughty' too! It's a great shame that, AFAIK, neither of these songs are available on CD or digitally. Millions would disagree, I'm sure.

'Gimme Dat Banana' I'm not so keen on, so at least it's not 3 sad songs out of 3 for me. 'Monkey Chop' by Dan-I on the other hand....

Adam Maunder said...

I love it too - at least, on having just heard it for the first time; repeated exposure is of course the death-blow to anything like this - and it reminds me of a couple of things:

Leon Payne's country song 'Psycho', recorded by Eddie Noack, Jack Kittel and - most famously - Elvis Costello, a first-person monologue from a murderer seeking comfort from his mother; and a record that was a far bigger hit than either 'YGTBAH' or the latter, Meri Wilson's 'Telephone Man', which I would certainly place in the hall of unnecessary novelty ignominy.

Not too far off the more self-consciously novel moments from today's distaff pop loonies, either - if she held off the crunching Eurodance beats for a minute or two, Lady Gaga could do pretty well on this one.

Arthur Nibble said...

Don't get me wrong, there are novelty songs I like that others think are dross ('Funky Gibbon', anyone?)...though I'm with you on "Telephone man" as well!

MikeMCSG said...

I think it was Travis ( and Burnett ) that got this into the charts.

Anonymous said...

Y G T B A H Is an excellent song, it might come over noveltyish but the lyrics are clever, witty and amusing. Only ppl with a low intelligence and sense of humour may not like it!

clunkie said...

i think the ruler twanging on the edge of a table is the sound of bed springs = "on their back/in the sack" (on the unexpurgated version).