12 October 2009
You'll Never Walk Alone by The Crowd, easily the most dimly-remembered charity ensemble record of the 1980s, even though it did get to number one. Recorded to raise funds for the appeal launched after the Bradford City fire of 1985, it featured a heady mix of chancers, has-beens, mates of mates and the odd TV megastar.
Gerry Marsden opens it, as you would expect, and then up pops Tony Christie. We then get the Nolan Sisters in all their hairsprayed glory before the ensemble of some quite surreal names sings together, conducted by Graham Gouldman. Gary Holton, who would would die later the same year, had presumably had one of his heavy nights as he was wearing his shades indoors, while we also got Dave Lee Travis in the first flushes of greying beard and Bernie Winters in a jumper.
Jim Diamond, a fine singer, ends the chorus with that wonderful unique voice of his. Before him is a bearded semi-operatic bloke whose identity I can't decipher. It could be Renato of Save Your Love fame, but both my brother and I managed to convince my beloved father at the time that it was Geoff Capes ("by heck, he's a good singer!").
I love the utter surrealism that comes with the shot of Lemmy really belting the closing chorus out, while standing in the same room as Kiki Dee, Rolf Harris and Kenny Lynch. There isn't much more to say about it; the ridiculousness of the cast list sums it up beautifully.
It got to number one in the summer of 1985 and raised a tidy sum, but the money ended up going to the local burns unit as the appeal had closed by the time the cash was acquired. A six-figure chunk had to be creamed off because the publishers scandalously refused to donate their royalties, and Marsden later got heavily (and harshly) criticised for "using football tragedy to further his career" when he turned up with some fellow Scousers at another studio to do Ferry Cross The Mersey after the Hillsborough disaster four years later.
Liverpool fans still sing You'll Never Walk Alone as their final ritual before kick off at every home game. And still the television stations turn the sound up on the Kop to make it sound louder than it actually is...