Forty Years On…Showaddywaddy
Given that the present day is too horrible to actually live in, the only way you can actually “live” these days is to fixate on the past. And this urgent need for recuperative retrieval has lead me to look up whoever was in the UK charts exactly 40 years ago.
And guess what – “Under the Moon of Love” by Showaddywaddy was riding high in the charts forty years ago this week. There were several hundred people in Showaddaywaddy I think, and dozens at any given time. You’ll recall the way these teddy boy revivalists capered all over the stage while covering doo-woppy hits of yesteryear in which saxophones featured prominently.
But my main memory of Showaddywaddy, the thing that makes me smile, is the fact that the high water mark of their popular acclaim just happened to coincide with with our family acquiring its first colour television.
Showaddywaddy were the first thing I ever remember seeing on colour television, and they might have been invented for the express purpose of showcasing this technology. The brazen vividness of the colours of their long teddy boy coats seemed to reach out from the screen and hypnotize me with new expressive possibilities. It’s not that I’d previously felt deprived. I’d never thought of myself as watching “black and white” TV. If you’re used to it – then “black and white” TV is just TV, the natural shape and texture in which television programmes are delivered.
But I have no memory of watching Showaddywaddy in black and white (although I probably saw them alongside other stompy mid seventies fifties revivalists). I’m wondering if I ever saw Pot Black in black and white – the one show deliberately promoted to test the colour medium. For me, Showaddywaddy will always evoke, a Proustian snapshot of a formative moment of sensory overload, the moment when I realised the privations of my TV watching to date. No subsequent “special effects” have ever had a comparable impact.
And along with the pleasure of the recollection comes the inevitable melancholy recognition that I will never be as visually impressed by anything ever again in my entire life. Showaddywaddy showed me colour as an eight year old and nothing and nobody will ever show me colour in quite the same way ever ever again.
Perhaps I was subconsciously moved to look up the UK charts for November 1976 because i was straining for something – something that I sort of knew would already be Showaddywaddy. Perhaps I was motivated to reach back like the because like everybody else, I’ve been trying to scan for breaks in the evening cloud cover to see a moon. An enormous moon. A moon of love.