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Big British Hits


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Showing 1-25 of 36 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 25, 2012 2:06:30 PM PDT
Mike B. says:
...that didn't do so well in America. Sometimes they weren't even released here, other times they were - but charted below our Top 40. Occasionally one would receive some FM airplay or be a regional hit beloved by diehard fans, though for the most part they were a comparative failure compared to their British success - and remained largely unknown to the general American public. Here's 5 to get things started:

1) Steve Harley And Cockney Rebel - "Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)": One of the most requested and played songs in BBC Radio history, it's been covered by 120 other artists. Made it to number 96 in America. Years later it sold millions here as part of "The Full Monty" soundtrack.

2) Mungo Jerry - "Baby Jump": Not a feel-good skiffle song like their global smash "In The Summertime". Rather, a snarling ferocious rocker featuring the sound of cracking whips. Fantastic.

3) T.Rex - "Ride A White Swan": The single that jump-started the glam years in England. Reached #76 here.

4) The Move - "Brontosaurus": Starts slowly, then turns into a fast rocker with barrelhouse piano.

5) Robert Palmer - "She Makes My Day": Brilliantly sung and arranged Beatlesque ballad.

Which big British hits do you feel could've/should've done better in America?

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 2:20:37 PM PDT
Fischman says:
The Kinks -- Waterloo Sunset

One does not need to have grown up in London to be able to get the magnificient beauty of that song.

The Yankee insult continued through the 2012 London Olympics when NBC didn't show Ray Davies singing the most quintisential English song of all during a closing ceremony that featured plenty of far less talented performances.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 3:38:16 PM PDT
The glamband Slade had a bunch of chart topping hits in the UK in 1972,73 & 74 and they a had a littlle success here in America but, just like T-Rex they were on fire in Britian in the early seventies.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 4:42:01 PM PDT
The Jam had a bunch of great singles -- most of which were considered "too British sounding" for radio play in the States. Not seeing them live is one of my biggest musical disappointments. I had tickets for a show at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ, but it was canceled due to low ticket sales.

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 5:54:52 PM PDT
You could pick a number of artists who had a string of UK hits that barely charted in the top 40--if at all--in the US. Some have been mentioned already, including The Kinks, T.Rex, Slade, The Jam and The Move. Others include:

The Small Faces (bar "Itchycoo Park")
Roxy Music
Kate Bush
The Who (the early hits before "I Can See For Miles")
Fleetwood Mac (Green-era hits)
The Status Quo
The Smiths
Blur
Pulp

Plus lots of isolated singles by bands that otherwise did well in the US, for example "Sweet Dream" and "The Witch's Promise" by Jethro Tull, "Black Night" by Deep Purple, etc. The list is practically endless: songs that hit #1 in the UK that didn't even reach the top 30 in the US in 1964 alone (when UK acts were at their most popular) include:

Anyone Who Had A Heart--Cilla Black
Juliet--The Four Pennies
You're My World--Cilla Black
(There's) Always Something There To Remind Me--Sandie Shaw
Little Red Rooster--The Rolling Stones (NR in the US)

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 7:24:26 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 25, 2012 7:26:41 PM PDT
Michael Ary says:
I know this discussion is titled Big British Hits, but it seems to be more about bands that did better elsewhere. For example, the American band, Cheap Trick, was one of those bands that had to go to Japan to get recognition. Their first American album in early 1977, containing their lone single "Oh Candy", failed to chart. Yet, "ELO Kiddies" was already a hit single in Japan and in Europe. Their second album, "In Color", was largely ignored in America. The singles "Southern Girls", "I Want You To Want Me", and "So Good To See You", failed to even chart! But, in Japan, "I Want You To Want Me" and "Clock Strikes Ten" were No. 1 on the charts. Cheap Trick's first single to chart in the United States, "Surrender" (1978), had to wait until the bands third album, "Heaven Tonight". By then, Cheap Trick were already megastars in Japan. None of Cheap Trick's first three albums made it into the Top 40 in the United States. But, all three albums became gold records in Japan. "When Cheap Trick went to Japan to tour the country for the first time in April 1978, they were received with a frenzy reminiscent of Beatlemania."[Wiki]

Posted on Oct 25, 2012 8:54:22 PM PDT
Good answer with The Jam, and you might as well throw in the Style Council and Weller's solo works as well.

Posted on Oct 26, 2012 6:38:59 AM PDT
Fischman says:
Don't forget how the ignorant Americans completely failed to recognize the musical genius of David Hasselhoff. He had to go to Germany to get his due!

Posted on Oct 26, 2012 6:59:11 AM PDT
vivazappa says:
I don't know the numbers but Hendrix was bigger in England for a period of time than he was in th U.S.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 26, 2012 10:26:43 AM PDT
Mike B. says:
A few other Americans who first found success in England: Suzi Quatro, Sparks, Chrissie Hynde

Posted on Oct 26, 2012 10:54:21 AM PDT
Emery Would says:
More recently, Kings of Leon were huge in England before finding success here. They're from Tennessee.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 8:04:34 PM PDT
I would add 'Dead End Street' as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 27, 2012 11:24:46 PM PDT
Michael ...I believe You're My World by Cilla Black and There's Always Something There To Remind Me were both chart hits in the U.S., with You're My World charting at #26. I bought the 45's and still have them. Maybe they didn't chart as high here as they did in the U.K. but they did chart and had radio air play. I also have Cilla Black's It's For You (Lennon-McCartney) which was lower down on the charts.

Posted on Oct 28, 2012 6:11:43 AM PDT
Wurzels: "I Am a Cider Drinker" and "Combine Harvester." #3 and #1 UK, and nothing here in the 'States.

Posted on Oct 28, 2012 7:39:45 AM PDT
When You Were Sweet Sixteen by The Fureys and Davey Arthur

Posted on Oct 29, 2012 4:18:24 PM PDT
@MissMiscellanea: strange...I had checked wiki before posting that list but somehow missed "You're My World" peaking at #26. "There's Always Something There To Remind Me" only peaked at #52, however, which is well outside of the top 30 limit I originally used to compile that list.

The number of songs that hit #1 in the UK, but didn't reach the top 30 in the US, increases in later years, however.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2012 9:22:20 PM PDT
I realize #52 isn't very high, but it was enough of a hit and got enough radio airplay that I knew about it and purchased it. And, at that time and at my age, the only sources for music were A.M. radio and TV shows like Ed Sullivan and Shindig.

Posted on Oct 29, 2012 9:54:35 PM PDT
Dr. Mikey says:
I've always thought that the biggest British recording star who never made it big in the U.S. had to be Cliff Richard. It would be interesting for someone (e.g., M. Topper) to look up how many hit records he had in Britain and how many he sold there compared to his totals in America.

Going the other direction, I think Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran were Americans more popular in Britain, and definitely P.J. Proby.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2012 10:05:15 PM PDT
Before the Beatles and the British invasion, I don't think Americans thought it possible for anybody except Americans to sing rock & roll.

Posted on Oct 29, 2012 10:10:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 29, 2012 10:11:03 PM PDT
@Dr.Mikey: far be it for me to resist a challenge! I took a quick glance at Cliff's wikipedia discography, and counted a dizzying 69 top ten singles in the UK between 1958 and 2008 (an astonishing 50 years worth of hits!!). In the US, he's had 3 top ten hits. I think you're right; I don't think any artist has a greater disparity between the UK and US chart success than Cliff Richard.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 29, 2012 10:36:13 PM PDT
Cliff may have had 3 top ten hits, but I don't think anyone was aware of who he was ... at least not until the Beatles came to America and people started hearing about and reading about the English music scene. But by then, he seemed out of date to America's youth ...he was more of an Elvis type.

Posted on Oct 29, 2012 10:38:51 PM PDT
@MissMiscellanea: I was surprised he even had the three top ten hits that he had. I didn't think he had any in the US.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 3:10:14 AM PDT
Jimi Jac says:
It's a shame that the Super Furry Animals never broke in the states.
If Sid Barrett had remained the singer in Pink Floyd, & been Welsh, that's what they may have sounded like, it you could imagine such a thing.

Posted on Oct 30, 2012 3:19:02 AM PDT
Dr. Mikey says:
Michael, I knew you were da man. I do remember "Devil Woman" in 1975 and "We Don't Talk Anymore" (which I really liked) in 1979. I also just looked up Cliff (pain from shoulder surgery makes one do funny things in the middle of the night) and am amazed at how many awards he has won. I saw him sometime in the mid-80s on stage in London doing the lead in Dave Clark's musical "Time." He was very good and the girls did scream when he came onstage the first time. It also seems that the Beatles said they didn't want to do his kind of music, by which I assumed they meant lightweight.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 30, 2012 6:06:36 AM PDT
Cliff Richard has always been big in the Australian charts, as with the UK.

I'm sure too, that Buddy Holly was - in his lifetime - always more popular in the UK, than he was in the US.
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Discussion in:  Rock forum
Participants:  19
Total posts:  36
Initial post:  Oct 25, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 14, 2012

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