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S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y! Rollermania Strikes Again in October

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S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y! For many readers, that chant will undoubtedly conjure up images of a group of tartan-clad Scotsmen, whose catchy, hook-filled 45s led hordes of screaming teenagers and teenyboppers to the dance floor (alongside adults with discerning taste in irresistible pop music, of course!). The history of The Bay City Rollers is being celebrated by the fine folks of the U.K.’s Salvo Records with the October 4 release of a deluxe four-disc anthology they’ve quite accurately called Rollermania (Salvo SBX451). The enterprising label has already given us similar career-spanning box sets for bands as diverse as The Move and Procol Harum, and this set looks to follow the format of those predecessors. It contains all of the major hit singles plus a smattering of album tracks and hard-to-find rarities, such as the original single version of “Saturday Night,” sung not by Les McKeown, but by Nobby Clark. With over four hours of music on 71 tracks plus a 36-page book, Rollermania is the most comprehensive look at the Rollers yet. And as the band sold an estimated 150 million records, it’s long overdue. Hit the jump for more on this powerhouse act of the 1970s!

1971’s “Keep On Dancing,” a cover of the popular Gentrys tune, marked the first chart appearance of Alan Longmuir, Derek Longmuir and Gordon “Nobby” Clark, aka The Bay City Rollers. (In the earliest days, other band members included David Paton and Billy Lyall, who would go on to form Pilot.) “Keep On Dancing” was recorded under the auspices of producer Jonathan King (“Everyone’s Gone to the Moon”) and also featured King on backing vocals; the formula clearly worked, as the single shot to No. 9 on the British charts. Further success wasn’t easy to come by, however, but the band pressed on, adding Eric Faulkner and Stuart “Woody” Wood to the lineup. In 1973, songwriters Bill Martin and Phil Coulter presented the band with a song called “Saturday Night,” but it didn’t have any luck cracking the charts. Nobby Clark duly left the band, allegedly disappointed by the group’s lack of success. Clark was replaced by one Les McKeown. If only Clark had known what was around the corner…

1974 would mark the beginning of Rollermania. With the now-classic lineup in place and the release of “Remember (Sha La La La),” the band’s popularity exploded in England. “Shang-a-lang,” “Summerlove Sensation” and “All of Me Loves All of You” each went Top 5, and this run culminated with the No. 1 placement of a Four Seasons cover done Rollers-style, “Bye Bye Baby.” It became the biggest seller of the year in the U.K. (“Bye Bye Baby” would be one of many successful covers recorded by the group, although its members, particularly the Faulkner/Wood partnership, did write many songs, as well. Other Rollers covers include the Beach Boys’ “Don’t Worry Baby” anchored by steel drum – and unfortunately not on the box set – as well as their memorable Dusty Springfield cover, “I Only Wanna [sic] Be With You,” the Greenwich/Barry/Spector “Be My Baby,” Eric Carmen’s “Let’s Pretend,” and even David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel!”)

With all of this U.K. success, management was keen to have the Bay City Rollers crack the North American market. The band’s U.K. label, Bell, had recently transformed under the aegis of hitmaker Clive Davis into Arista, and so it was on Arista that a re-recorded and much-hyped “Saturday Night” with McKeown vocal hit pole position on the U.S. chart in 1976. Bay City Rollers, a U.S.-only debut LP, also hit No. 1. (Much like virtually every act of a decade earlier, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, the Rollers’ LPs were released in different configurations in the U.S. and abroad.)

With the teenage/bubblegum market squarely aimed at by Davis, dissension began to grow in the band’s ranks even as they scaled the charts. Bassist Alan Longmuir departed in 1976, and was replaced by Ian Mitchell, with whom the band released Dedication, its first LP to be issued in both America and England, albeit with some differing tracks on each edition. (Further complicating things, Mitchell originally recorded the Fletcher/Flett title song for the album, but his vocal was subsequently replaced by McKeown’s for later pressings and the single version.) Mitchell only lasted seven months, and the revolving door of personnel had begun. Pat McGlynn was his replacement, and he too didn’t last long. It was as a four-piece (McKeown, Wood, Faulkner and Derek Longmuir) that the Bay City Rollers recorded 1977’s It’s a Game. The same year’s “You Made Me Believe in Magic” would be the band’s final U.S. Top Ten hit, but it didn’t even score that high in the United Kingdom. Alan Longmuir returned the following year as the band attempted to bolster its waning popularity with an NBC-TV, Sid and Marty Krofft-produced Saturday morning variety show aimed at the kiddie crowd. The show wasn’t successful, and it seemed as if the Rollers’ time had passed. By the end of 1978, McKeown had departed, and with Duncan Faure, the group recorded three albums under the simplified name The Rollers, before calling it a day in 1981. (The Salvo box includes two tracks by the solo McKeown, as well as a handful of tracks by The Rollers, although there’s nothing off 1980’s Voxx.)

Sporadic reunions have occurred since, but the legacy of the band is best remembered by its music, which like the best pop, has survived the changing times and remains infectious. Salvo brings Rollermania to shops on October 4, and it can be pre-ordered here so that BCR fans always have a reason (or four discs’ worth of reasons!) to truly keep on dancing!

The Bay City Rollers, Rollermania: The Anthology (Salvo SBX451, 2010)

Disc 1

  1. Keep On Dancing (Original Single Version)
  2. Alright
  3. We Can Make Music
  4. Jenny
  5. Wouldn’t You Like It (1972)
  6. I’d Do It Again
  7. Manana
  8. Because I Love You
  9. Saturday Night (Original Nobby Clark U.K. Single Version)
  10. Hey C.B.
  11. Remember (Original U.K. Single Version)
  12. Bye Bye Barbara
  13. Shang-a-Lang
  14. Are You Ready For That Rock ‘n’ Roll
  15. Angel Angel
  16. Just a Little Love
  17. Ain’t It Strange
  18. Jenny Gotta Dance
  19. Summerlove Sensation (Single Version)
  20. Bringing Back the Good Times
  21. Saturday Night (Les McKeown Version)

Disc 2

  1. All of Me Loves All of You
  2. The Bump
  3. Bye Bye Baby
  4. It’s for You
  5. La Belle Jeane (U.K. Single Version)
  6. Keep On Dancing (Les McKeown Version)
  7. Once Upon a Star
  8. Let’s Go
  9. My Teenage Heart
  10. Rock ‘n’ Roll Honeymoon
  11. Give a Little Love (U.K. Single Version)
  12. She’ll Be Crying Over You
  13. Money Honey
  14. Maryanne
  15. I Only Wanna Dance With You
  16. Don’t Stop the Music
  17. Love Is
  18. Too Young to Rock ‘n’ Roll
  19. Wouldn’t You Like It
  20. Eagles Fly
  21. Lovely to See You

Disc 3

  1. Love Me Like I Love You
  2. Mama Li
  3. I Only Wanna Be With You
  4. Rock ‘n’ Roller
  5. Let’s Pretend
  6. You’re a Woman
  7. Yesterday’s Hero
  8. Rock ‘n’ Roll Love Letter
  9. It’s a Game
  10. Dance Dance Dance
  11. You Made Me Believe in Magic
  12. Are You Cuckoo
  13. Dedication (Les McKeown Version)
  14. The Way I Feel Tonight (Single Version)
  15. Love Power
  16. Another Rainy Day in New York City
  17. All of the World is Falling in Love (Single Version)
  18. If You Were My Woman
  19. Where Will I Be Now
  20. Strangers in the Wind
  21. When I Say I Love You

Disc 4

  1. Turn on the Radio
  2. Washington’s Birthday
  3. Elevator
  4. Hello and Welcome Home
  5. Stoned Houses
  6. Playing in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band
  7. Life on the Radio
  8. Ricochet
  9. Doors, Bars, Metal
  10. Ride
  11. No Doubt About It
  12. Set the Fashion
  13. Yesterday’s Hero (U.S. Version)
  14. Summerlove Sensation (U.S. Version)
  15. Give a Little Love  (U.S. Version)
  16. Where Will I Be Now (Alternative Vocal)
  17. Kings Road Chelsea – Les McKeown
  18. All Washed Up – Les McKeown

Disc 1, Tracks 1-2 from Bell single 1164 (U.K.), 1971
Disc 1, Tracks 3-4 from Bell single 1220 (U.K.), 1972
Disc 1, Tracks 7-8 from Bell single 1262 (U.K.), 1972
Disc 1, Tracks 9-10 from Bell single 1319 (U.K.), 1973
Disc 1, Tracks 11-12 from Bell single 1338 (U.K.), 1973
Disc 1, Tracks 13-18 from Rollin’ (Bell U.K. LP BELLS244, 1974)
Disc 1, Tracks 19-20 from Bell single 1369 (U.K.), 1974
Disc 1, Track 21 from Arista single AS0149, 1975
Disc 2, Tracks 1-2 from Bell single 1382 (U.K.), 1974
Disc 2, Tracks 3-4 from Bell single 1409 (U.K.), 1974
Disc 2, Track 5 from Bell single (U.K.), cat. no. unknown
Disc 2, Tracks 6-10 from Once Upon a Star (Bell U.K. LP 8001, 1975)
Disc 2, Tracks 11-12 from Bell single 1425 (U.K.), 1975
Disc 2, Tracks 13-14 from Bell single 1461 (U.K.), 1975
Disc 2, Tracks 15-17, 19-21 from Wouldn’t You Like It? (Bell U.K. LP 8002, 1975)
Disc 2, Track 18 from Rock n’ Roll Love Letter (Arista LP 4071, 1976)
Disc 3, Tracks 1-2 from Bell single 1476 (U.K.), 1976
Disc 3, Tracks 3-4 from Bell single 1493 (U.K.), 1976
Disc 3, Tracks 5-8 from Dedication (Bell U.K. LP 8005, 1976)
Disc 3, Tracks 9-10 from Arista 108 (U.K.), 1977
Disc 3, Tracks 11-13 from Arista 127 (U.K.), 1977
Disc 3, Tracks 14-15 from Arista AS 0272 (U.S.), 1977
Disc 3, Tracks 16, 19-21 from Strangers in the Wind (Arista LP 4194, 1978)
Disc 3, Tracks 17-18 from Arista 202 (U.K.), 1978
Disc 4, Tracks 1-6 from Elevator (Arista LP 4241, 1979)
Disc 4, Tracks 7-12 from Ricochet (Epic LP 85004, 1981)
Disc 4, Track 13 from Dedication (U.S.) (Arista 4093, 1976)
Disc 4, Tracks 14-15 from Bay City Rollers (Arista 4049, 1975)
Disc 4, Track 16 cat. no. unknown
Disc 4, Tracks 17-18 from Les McKeown, All Washed Up (East World LP EWS-81220, 1979)

Written by Joe Marchese

September 20, 2010 at 10:05

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