Sting Of Death is a Z-grade monster flick directed by Florida schlockmeister William Grefe. It’s good campy fun for fans of such things (of which I am one) and features a never was dance-craze dance called “The Jellyfish” sung by Neil Sedaka to a ska-like beat.
Monkey, don’t be a donkey.
It’s nothing like the Monkey.
It’s isn’t funky or anything that’s junky.
It’s something swella!”
The first single I bought was “Snow Coach” by Russ Conway. It was at a school jumble sale, St. Cuthbert’s Primary, sometime in the late 1960s. I bought it because I loved winter, and Christmas, and the idea of traveling through some snow-covered landscape to the sound of jingling sleigh bells . I also knew my great Aunt liked Russ Conway, so if I didn’t like it….
I bought it together with a dog-eared copy of a Man from U.N.C.L.E. paperback (No. 3 “The Copenhagen Affair”). These were the very first things I had chosen and bought for myself, with a tanner (6d) and thrupenny bit (3d). I played the single from-time-to-time on my parents’ Dansette Record Player - its blue and white case and its BSR autochanger, which allowed you to play up to 7 singles one-after-another. My brother had a selection of The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Who, Elvis and The Move, which he played alternating one A-side with one B-side like some junior DJ. It meant I didn’t have to buy singles, as my brother bought most of the things I wanted to hear, so I could spend my pennies on books and comics and sherbert dib-dabs. It was a musical education, and though Conway was a start, the first 45rpm single I really went out and bought was John Barry’s The Theme from ‘The Persuaders’, which I played till it crackled like pan frying oil.
As this documentary shows 45rpm singles were an important part to growing up: everyone can recall buying their first single - what it looked like, its label, its cover, the signature on the inner groove - and the specific feelings these records aroused. With interviews from Norman Cook, Suzi Quatro, Holly Johnson, Noddy Holder, Richie Hawley, Paul Morley, Jimmy Webb, Jack White, Neil Sedaka, Trevor Horn, Miranda Sawyer, Brian Wilson, The Joy of the Single is a perfect piece of retro-vision, that captures the magic, pleasure and sheer bloody delight of growing-up to the sound of 45s.
After a series of massive hits in the early 1960s ( “Calendar Girl,” “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen”) and a sharp career decline post-British Invasion, singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka staged an improbable comeback after Elton John signed him to his newly formed Rocket Records label in 1973.
“It had been like Elvis coming up and giving us the chance to release his records. We couldn’t believe our luck,” the future Sir Elton, a huge Neil Sedaka fan, said at the time.
The second album Sedaka released on Rocket Records was The Hungry Years in 1975. “Bad Blood,” the first single from the album was essentially a “call and response” style duet between Neil Sedaka and an un-credited Elton. The song’s lyrics basically essay two “bros” giving a third some hard-knock advice about a woman who is taking advantage of him. (Don’t expect that you’ll ever be hearing “Bad Blood” sung by two female contestants on Duets is all I have to say!)
“Bad Blood” spent three weeks at the top of the US singles chart in October and was certified gold. (The song would ironically be knocked off its #1 perch by Elton John’s “Island Girl.” I recall buying both singles as an Elton John crazy 9-year-old with my birthday money and playing both records until the grooves wore out).
This rocks on so many levels I can’t even begin to list them all. So, let’s forget about the multiple dimensions of pop culture bliss unfolding before our eyes and ears and just bask in the glow of Neil Sedaka doing a ska tune while bikini clad girls go-go to the latest dance craze, The Jellyfish (no vertebrae required), in the viciously seductive Sting Of Death from 1966.