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Sounds on Sunday: 50 years ago/7

50 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???”

Sometimes the study of history requires us to confront very unpleasant things that happened in the past. This – the song “Baby Jump” by Mungo Jerry, which spent two weeks at the top of the UK charts in March 1971 – is one of those occasions.

The previous year, 1970, had seen Mungo Jerry top dominate the charts with the catchy classic “In the Summertime”. Anyone who hoped “Baby Jump” would be similar would have been serious disappointed. The song was written by lead singer and Mungo frontman Ray Dorset. It sounds like it was his attempt to enter the field of heavy rock: a field from which he should have been instantly barred. The video, below, seems to confirm this was an embarrassing adventure.

However, the worst-by-far aspect of this song is the lyrics, which just show up the predatory sexism common at the time. The singer describes a woman dressed in a mini-dress and a see-through sweater and asks what she is doing to him. What is she doing, Ray? She’s wearing what she wants and putting you in a situation where you have to keep yourself under control.

Ray doesn’t think so, and he goes on to sing about attacking her and getting her. This should have led to him being locked up. Quite why we never campaigned in the 1970s for men only to be allowed out if they wore chastity belts escapes me, for a moment.

Could it get worse? Yes, it did. The song is riddled with stereotypes and images that the media churn out as being the epitome of attraction and availability – and which, sadly, men seem to believe are the case. And throughout this sad and sorry description of woman the plastic doll is the repetition that women are deliberately driving men past the point of control. If you complained about this back in the 1970s, you were turned on and castigated for being a humourless feminist.

It is completely dreadful. We gave serious consideration to not including it, but in the end there was one compelling reason to include it in our list. The younger generation has to recognise just how bad things used to be and understand what a long fight it was to make this thinking unacceptable. There is so much more that could be said – and you can research that for yourselves. All we can say is just watch a bit of this, remember this is the era in which Jimmy Savile operated – and understand why women fight for freedom.


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