There have been a couple of recent themes for these posts that have thrown up so many possibilities that they have given me good reason to use them more than once. This week’s is one of them, and as it is a few weeks since I last used it I thought it about time to give you some more songs for it. So, for the third time, this week’s theme is dance. The previous collections were in numbers 95 and 97, if you want to revisit them. It is a theme with so many possibilities, so I’ve found a selection of good songs with no repeats, though several of the acts have been here before.
I think this one is a first, if you discount classical pieces, as I think it may be the first instrumental I’ve played. But it fits the bill for me of getting us off to a rousing start:
No one sleeps while they’re on! Love Sculpture released their version of Sabre Dance as the closing track of their album Forms And Feelings in January 1970. It was an 11 minute version, which had previously featured in its shorter form in 1968 as a single, which got to #5 in the UK, and hit the top thirty in several European countries, but as far as I can tell it didn’t chart in the the US. Love Sculpture were short lived, and not long after this Dave Edmunds, their lead guitarist, went solo and had a UK #1 with I Hear You Knocking. This is utterly manic, and brings back happy memories of seeing the band play it on Top Of The Pops. The music was written by Adam Khachaturian in 1942 as the final piece in his ballet Gayane, and if you’d like to hear a classical version you can find one here. No discernible loss of speed, though!
The remainder of this week’s tunes are a little more sedate than that. Like this one:
Dance Away was a track on Roxy Music’s sixth album, Manifesto, released in March 1979 and getting to #7 in the UK and #23 in the US. It was the second single taken from the album, in April of that year, and was a big hit in the UK, reaching #2 and earning the band a Gold Disc. It also got to #44 in the US, though they never enjoyed the same level of success over there as they did here. Maybe Bryan Ferry was just too cool for them!
Another laid back one for you next. You will know that this guy is one of my favourites, and it is perhaps a surprise that I have waited till this third selection to feature this one:
That is a wonderful live version of a beautiful song, with a respectful British audience: no whoops and hollering here! For A Dancer appears on Jackson Browne’s third album, Late For The Sky, which was released in September 1974 and got to #14 in the US, though it didn’t make the chart here. The song is about loss and the way we never know how long people will remain in our lives. There have been several suggestions as to who he was writing about but I haven’t been able to find anything from Jackson himself to confirm if any of them are correct. The one thing that is for certain is that this isn’t about the suicide of his first wife, as some have said: that didn’t happen until 1976. The song has featured twice in memorial episodes of Saturday Night Live, which is rather sad, but fitting.
I thought I’d go with another of my top favourites for my next selection:
Mary Jane’s Last Dance was written for, and was released on, Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits album in November 1993. The album peaked at #2 in the US and #10 in the UK. This song was released as a single on the same day as the album, and got to #14 in the US and #52 in the UK. It is one of his lesser known songs, but I still like it and the video is fun! In case you didn’t recognise her, the part of Mary Jane was played by Kim Basinger, who was later quoted as saying that this was the most fun she had ever had making a film.
I think it’s about time for a female vocal, the first of two this week. They don’t come much better than this:
This was the closing and title track on Tina Turner’s Private Dancer album, which was released in May 1984, getting to #3 in the US and #2 in the UK. It is a superb album and one which I recommend, if you don’t know it. Twenty years after she first became a star this was the start of a real purple patch, and the two albums which followed this one – Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair – are also excellent. This track was released as a single in October 1984 and got to #7 in the US but only to #26 here in the UK – maybe we had all bought the album by then? The song was written by Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits, who originally recorded it for their Love Over Gold album. But Knopfler felt the song sounded wrong with a male singer, so it was never included and, to my knowledge, has never been released as a Dire Straits track.
Time for something a little more upbeat, I think. I know of three songs with this same title, and no doubt there are many others, but with apologies to Chris Montez and David Bowie, this is the one I like best:
Let’s Dance was a track on Chris Rea’s ninth album, Dancing With Strangers, which was released in September 1987 and made #2 in the UK. It was a hit album in many other countries, mostly in Europe, but like just about everything he has done it didn’t chart in the US. I’d have thought he was suited to their market, and find it really surprising he has never made it over there. The song was released as a single and got to #12 in the UK. Despite what I just said it even got to #81 in the US – Huzzah!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m having a lot of fun this week playing some of my favourites. Here’s another:
Said She Was A Dancer is a track on Jethro Tull’s sixteenth album, Crest Of A Knave, which came out in September 1987, reaching #19 in the UK and #32 in the US. This song was released as a single in January 1988, getting to #55 in the UK. It is one of a pair of songs on the album – the other is Budapest – which suggest that Ian Anderson and the band had some interesting experiences while touring in Eastern Europe! Both are great, and the album is very good too. I saw them live in 2011, and they played both songs in their set – I was in my element!
For this week’s closing tune I’m going back to a pop classic. I know I could have given you the Jagger/Bowie version but I prefer the original:
Martha and the Vandellas released Dancing In The Street as a single in July 1964, and it became a massive summer hit: #2 in the US and #4 in the UK (on a 1969 re-release, having got to #28 the first time around). It also featured on their April 1965 album, Dance Party, which was a minor US hit, getting to #139. There have been many cover versions, including The Mamas and Papas, Van Halen, and the afore-mentioned Mick Jagger and David Bowie, who took their version to #1 in the UK and #7 in the US in 1985. I’ve always thought this was a great song to celebrate summer, in the way that it was originally written by Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson and Ivy Joe Hunter: it highlighted the concept of having a good time in whatever city the listener lived, after the idea for dancing came to Stevenson from watching people on the streets of Detroit cool off in the summer in water from opened fire hydrants. That explains the reference in the lyrics to ‘the Motor City.’ The song later became a kind of anthem for the civil rights movement, though Martha Reeves thought that idea was absurd when queried about it by a British journalist. From what I can find, it did have quite an impact and was later banned from many (white) radio stations. Things don’t change much, do they?
That’s all for today, and I hope I’ve proved that dance is fertile ground for songs with this third set. For the most part this week’s tunes have been fairly laid back, with a couple of notable exceptions, but dances don’t always have to be fast and manic, do they? Having set myself into a mellow groove I’m now off to read the paper and see what they say about our esteemed Prime Minister’s far from convincing win in last night’s vote of confidence. Yes, he won, but over 40% of his own MPs voted their lack of confidence in him, and that doesn’t sound to me like a long term basis for him to continue in the role. Of course, if he had lost, I would briefly have been doing a happy dance, but would have stopped fairly quickly when I realised that the field to replace him was full of equally inept numpties. Such is political life here at present! Have a good day and a good week, and I’ll see you again soon 🤘