Yesterday I posted the first of a number of Top 5s I submitted to The Scotman’s Recommends supplement between 2007 and 2008.
Today’s selection was written in April 2008. As with all of the Recommends entries I’ll be republishing, some of the information or “facts” may be out of date or overtaken by events.
TOP 5 MUSIC FOR A BIRTHDAY PARTY
1. Altered Images – Happy Birthday
Initially championed by John Peel, Altered Images broke through into the mainstream with their third single, the infectious “Happy Birthday”. The single reached number 2 and was rather kept off the top spot; rather ironically, by Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s “It’s My Party”. Fronted by the pixie of pop, Clare Grogan, the band failed to reach the same dizzy heights again although they had several more Top 20 hits.
2. Stevie Wonder – Happy Birthday
Stevie Wonder wrote “Happy Birthday” to publicise the campaign to have Martin Luther King’s birthday made a public holiday in the USA. President Ronald Reagan finally agreed to the new holiday in September 1983 and the first official Martin Luther King Day, now celebrated on the third Monday of every January, was held in 1986.
3. The Birthday Party – Happy Birthday
Nick Cave’s Boys Next Door moved to London in 1980 and re-branded themselves as The Birthday Party. “Happy Birthday” was the B-side of their first single (“Mr Clarinet”) under their new name. The upbeat celebratory nature of the track’s title is in direct contrast with the song that features grunting, shrieking, a barking dog and a twin lead guitar attack. The Birthday Party’s blend of bluesy punk and freeform jazz heralded the way for the likes of Dinosaur Jr, Jesus and Mary Chain and The White Stripes amongst many others. File under “An Acquired Taste”.
4. The Beatles – Birthday
Both Pattie Boyd Harrison and Yoko Ono provided backing vocals and handclaps for this “White Album” track recorded in September 1968. One of the many ‘Fifth Beatles’, Mal Evans, also provided handclaps on the only “White Album” track where John Lennon and Paul McCartney shared lead vocals.
5. Happy Birthday To You
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, “Happy Birthday to You” pips “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” and “Auld Lang Syne” as the most popular song in the English language. The song started life as “Good Morning to All” and whilst the melody was written by two Kentucky school teacher sisters, the lyricist for the song as we now know it remains a mystery. Warren Chappell, who currently own the copyright, is believed to charge up to $10,000 for the song to appear on TV or film.
Comments: The entries were quite short due to editorial constraints, about 400 words per list.