Saturday, 29 January 2011

Rattles - The Witch (1970/ No. 8/ 15 weeks/ Decca)

I often think that 1970 and 1971 might be the most interesting of all years in chart history - Most of the big 1960s names had run out of steam as consistent commercial hitmakers, but glam hadn't yet really taken hold as the dominant style of the day. The result of this gap is that anything seemed to have an equal opportunity of catching the public's imagination at the time.

One of the most fun things about this period is the predominance of heavy rock techniques in things which are still recognisable as catchy pop singles. Think Black Sabbath, Family, Atomic Rooster, 'The Witch Queen Of New Orleans'...

So, three weeks in the top ten for a West German song about being chased through a forest by a witch;

"Can't you see me runnin'?
I am really runnin' for MA LIFE!
Guess from where I'm comin'!
Guess why I'm runnin' for MY LIFE!

Can't you see the witch?
Can't you see the witch?
Can't you see the WITCH BY MA SIDE?!"

In itself, this would make for an arresting song, but its augmented by all sorts of hooks, licks and tricks; Demented witch cackles, Hendrix wah-wah, a string section doing a Bernard Hermann Psycho thing. People have built entire careers on doing this "horror rock" thing with much less skill and playfulness.

1 comment:

  1. I've never heard of this song before now - but you've sold it for me! Jon Savage put together a compilation of performances from 1970 which are on the cusp of rock, folk, country and pop which is worth checking out. Details here: