Friday, 25 May 2012

That's The Way To Do It

35 years ago this week the Sex Pistols were making their assault on the British monarchy and the British establishment, unleashing God Save the Queen (inarguably one of the most important recordings EVER) on the record buying public. Unfortunately they had to sit back and watch as the establishment (in the form of the BBC) ensured that their treasonous ditty was kept from the coveted Number One spot by a miserable Rod Stewart single.

It’s easy to forget that, although 1976 is seen as the birth of Punk and 77 as the year that many of the bands broke through, the UK charts in 1977 were dominated by American soul-lite, TV stars singing twee ballads and novelty acts. New Rose by the Damned, routinely cited as the UK’s first punk 45, struggled to make number 81 in late 1976 and the would not trouble the charts again until 1979; The Sex Pistols’ first single barely scraped the top 40, although they would go on to enjoy seven top 10 hits; The Clash did not have a major hit until 1979 – of their first nine singles only Tommy Gun managed to spend one miserable week inside the Top 20.

At the same time as the Pistols were barrelling up the charts with their anti-monarchist anarchy, this week’s song was hovering around the lower reaches of the British Top 30.

Joy Sarney, born Joy Crabtree in Liverpool in 1944, started her singing career in the Crabtrees, a mid-60s folk-comedy trio consisting of Joy, her brother Hal and their friend Derek Marsden. After marriage she became a reasonably successful session singer, a job which no doubt led to her being offered this tripe.

Naughty Naughty Naughty, engineered by Chris Tsangrides who only 12 months earlier had engineered Judas Priest's Sad Wings Of Destiny album, is a bizarre song featuring Joy singing about her love for a Mr Punch doll and promoting the hooked-nosed one’s wife-beating prowess. Sounds ridiculous? The middle eight of this atrocity begins "He's been in trouble with the law for Grievous Bodily Harm…but I believe his temper’s just for show.” Jeepers H Crackers; how many bruised women have uttered similar lines when asked why they don’t leave their abusive partners?

Tsangrides, in a 2001 interview for Sound on Sound magazine, had this to say: "A chap came with a funny idea for a song and he wanted a very cheap studio rate and somebody who was a bit zany to work on the track — so the studio said I could do it! This chap arrived with a Punch and Judy man and an ex-singer called Joy Sarney who had become a housewife in Southend. We recorded this love song between Joy and Mr Punch. The bloody thing was atrocious but it was a hit single.

“It will haunt me, but I'm grateful because it was a break and it gave somebody confidence in me.”

The track was issued by Alaska Records, a company that specialised in novelty records and easy-to-digest pop music, which was set up in 1972 by record producer and musician John Schroeder, co-author of the Helen Shapiro hit Walkin’ Back to Happiness and the man responsible for giving Status Quo their first big break (damn him!). I’m guessing by the time Joy walked into the studio that Mr Schroder had spent all of his royalties, as it seems there was little in the way of readies available to record a proper B-side, and Naughty Naughty Naughty was backed by a dreadful comedy country track called Letters of Love, credited to Friends of Joy.

As this was a minor hit (number 26, fact fans) a follow up was arranged but Angling for a Kiss, released later that same year, disappeared without a trace and so, it seems, did Joy. Joy appeared on Top of the Pops bravely – but perhaps stupidly - performing an off-key live vocal, surrounded by balloons – which must have pleased Schroder no end. But then nothing. She would later turn up as one of the backing vocalists with Southend-based rock and roll revivalists the Mickey Jupp Band for a short while but that, as they say, is that; your archetypal one-hit wonder.



  1. 5/27/12 wrote:
    It should be noticed that we Americans and Canadians had to put up with John Schroeders'"classy " jazz music too for a brief time. In 1965-66, he formed the studio musician congregation The Sounds Orchestral, and broke into the Top 100 twice on Parkway Records (on loan from the British Pye label)with the instrumentals "Cast Your Fate To the Wind" and "Canadian Sunset",both which also made the Canadian CHUM charts. For a classy musician like Schroeder to waste his talents on dreck like this "Punch & Judy" record, it seemed to be a tasteless effort, but then, Americans never really got the Punch & Judy popularity too well in understanding for tolerant reasons,other than for bad examples of domestic violence. Canada, on the other hand, may have once had popularity for Punch & Judy shows in their providenses for historical reasons, but may have had faded memories of them now. To Canadians, puppet shows in recent times (starting in the early 1960's) meant popularity for Ernie (Mr. Dressup)Coombs, Bob (Friendly Giant)Homme, and most recently Patty McCormick & her puppets on CBC Kids' morning show and their puppets. (McCormick's pupets are especially special, particularly her "Mama Yama" puppet, a crazy middle-aged chef and waitress, who's a real hoot) A Punch & Judy show to Canadian audiences might be considered quaint as nostalgia, but also may be considered an anachronism (particularly the mysogony of wife and spousal abuse of Judy.)The un-PC nature of it all may turn many audiences in the U.S. and Canada off.

  2. I vaguely remember this... which is worrying.

  3. she clearly does not endorse mr punch's behaviour - that ain't the way to do it

  4. It was on Disco Fever, a K-Tel compilation from the time. Didn't give its meaning a lot of thought ( I was 11... )until I saw it on a clip of Top of the Pops the other day. Certainly not a common theme in popular music it must be said

  5. Such a nice article. I'm wating for more.


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