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Sounds on Sunday: 50 years ago/12

FIFTY YEARS AGO the Charts recorded the best-selling “singles” of each week. Have the hits of 1971 stood the test of half a century of time slipping by since they were released? Sadly, in most cases the top selling singles have not: with only some exceptions the number one hits of 1971 are either not memorable – or memorable for the wrong reasons. Join us as we look back and ask ourselves: “what were we thinking???”

Fifty years ago, the 70s showed us what they were made of. Oh dear. “Knock Three Times” by Dawn – though sometimes credited to “Tony Orlando and Dawn” – hit the top spot of the UK Charts on 11th May 1971, where it remained for five grim weeks. Contemporary videos showcase the favourite font of the 70s, as well as the favoured choreography of the decade.

The song was written by L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine, who were trying to reproduce the feel of “Up on the Roof”. They didn’t succeed.  The pair went on to write two more hits for Dawn – compounding the error of writing the first one.

“Knock Three Times” was recorded in one of those 1970s “get it on vinyl, then we’ll think about how to produce a band around the song if it’s a hit” moments. Capitalism meets music. Dollars first, artistes later.

Perhaps we are being a bit hard on “Knock Three Times”. It’s a catchy little tune and there is a bit of a story in the lyric (boy admires girl from afar and wonders if she’s interested, since you ask). It’s probably no worse than many of Abba’s hits. Actually, that’s not a recommendation.

Take a listen – and make your own mind up.


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