THEY may not always be critically acclaimed, but each of these Scottish pop smashes has sold by the thousands. Chris McCall listens to the good, the bad and the ugly
BAY CITY ROLLERS - BYE, BYE, BABY
Their time at the top lasted barely two years, but Rollermania continues to such an extent that the Edinburgh band’s reunion show at the Barrowland Ballroom next month made headline news. The song that kicked off the hysteria was this 1975 cover of the Four Seasons’ classic. The Rollers made the song their own, however, by increasing its pace and adding a guitar solo for impetus. It sold more than one million copies and occupied the UK singles chart top spot for six weeks, becoming the group’s signature song in the process.
Easton was reportedly told by the late Marion Massey - who discovered Lulu - that she was unlikely to make the big time. The Bellshill-born singer promptly proved her wrong by signing a deal with EMI and scoring an American No 1 with 9 to 5 - although it was renamed Morning Train in the States to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton song of the same name. Easton was infamously booed at a Glasgow show in 1990 after announcing “It’s good to be home” in a noticeably American accent. Her last album, Fabulous, was released in 2000.
Jim Kerr’s group were at the peak of their powers in 1985 but lacked a crossover hit that would announce them to music fans in the US. Three artists - The Fixx, Bryan Ferry and Billy Idol - had all previously turned down the chance to record this track, and Simple Minds weren’t that keen on it either. After being persuaded to give it a go by their management, the Glaswegian group reportedly spent just three hours in a London studio in which time they rehearsed, arranged and recorded the song. The end result was used in the opening and closing credits of the John Hughes film The Breakfast Club, and promptly occupied the No 1 slot in the American singles chart for three weeks. Although it climbed no higher than seven on the UK chart, it would spend more than two years in the top 75.
Written by Reg Presley of 1960s garage rock legends The Troggs, Love Is All Around was reinvented for the 1990s by Wet Wet Wet. Everyone’s favourite soft rock group from Clydebank had already scored two No 1s with a cover of With A Little Help From My Friends and their self-penned Goodnight Girl, but this track provided a different level of success entirely. It sat at No 1 for an incredible 15 weeks in 1994 before the band voluntarily withdrew it from sale. Wets frontman Marti Pellow candidly told the Daily Record in 2004: “We did everybody’s head in the summer of 1994”. He did however add he was “very proud” of the single, commenting: “Its strength is its sheer simplicity.”
Collins’ career was at a commercial and critical low point in the early 1990s. The band in which he made his name as a master pop writer, Orange Juice, had split in 1985 and his solo career had failed to take off in the same way. But the global success of his 1994 single A Girl Like You would propel him back into the musical mainstream. Sampling Len Berry’s 1965 single 1-2-3, the song features former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook on vibraphone, and cracked the top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic.
Harris had long completed his transformation from shy bedroom producer to international pop superstar by the time this single was released in March 2014. It gave the songwriter from Dumfries his sixth UK No 1, and his second US top 10 slot as a lead artist. It has sold more than one million copies in the US alone. Music streaming service Spotify revealed it was played more than 160 million times by September 2014. Not everyone was a fan, however, with Time magazine branding it one of the worst songs of the year.