Inspired by our series of articles looking back at music released 30 years ago, Jimmy Hunter takes a step further back in time to give us a Song of the Day 1979. This week, he gets The Knack of My Sharona...
This week we're taking a trip across to the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for our selection, and a record that I find as annoying as I do enjoyable. It spent 6 weeks at the top of the US charts 40 years ago and spoiled the chances of Donna Summer breaking yet more records (more on this soon): yup, my choice this week is the top selling US single of 1979 - My Sharona by The Knack.
Were it not for this record, would anyone have ever heard of them? Perhaps not. It shows the tenacity of record company pluggers and the value of getting air play on (minor) US radio stations to get the public to take notice. The mood in the US in 1979 was moving away from Disco, in fairly blatant homophobic fashion, towards rock and this record was awarded all sort of heroic labels. However after relatively successful follow-up album in 1980 the group then disappeared from sight and broke up in 1982.
But, and it's a big but, this record took America by storm and provided the record buying public an alternative to the commercial and in many cases, somewhat bland, disco options that were flooding the market. But the product being hawked hard to radio stations must also be good: so, is it? Well yes, it is. Very. The clearly obvious hook is the bass line and the rhythm and this is set up very quickly at the start and is maintained, with almost monotonous persistence, all the way through.
The other hook lies within the melody and the vocals: "muh-muh-muh yyyyeeeee Sharona". But that's it for me. When I said it's good I meant musically. The lyrics freak me out. They always have and yes, I know it was "a different time" but that doesn't make it ok ...
"Never gonna stop, give it up, such a dirty mind
I always get it up, for the touch of the younger kind"
The record was hailed as a new era in rock. A tad prematurely as it turns out and really very inaccurately too. My mixed feelings about this remain very clear and strong and I still feel the original reservations I had about it when I first heard it. But, I do think the music is really very good.
Judge, then, for yourself in this video from a German music TV show of the time ...
Image - Amazon