Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Reg Presley and the people who know the chart position of everything and the value of nothing

I caught the end of a short Reg Presley obit this morning. Its central thrust seemed to be that Wild Thing went to number one in the USA and only got to number two in the UK.

 I hate this kind of thing. Chart positions are statistical happenings which depend on the amount of competition in a particular week and the level of corruption and statistical accuracy prevailing at the time of a record's release. Otherwise they don't prove much.

 It's sometimes interesting to reflect on those acts who had scores of number ones because it reflects consistency and popularity but to attempt to prove a point about whether, say, Abba are better or more successful than Elton John based on totting up the number of top ten records they had is the pursuit of idiots. The people who say these things are the same people who put the words "Oscar-winning" in the first line of an obit of a film person, as if that bauble justified whatever they are about to follow it with.

 Reg Presley traded his narrow range and strange sincerity into a place among the immortals. We all know that. And if we don't the stats aren't going to make any difference.


  1. Indeed.

    It's similar to obituaries that will inevitably say things like "his song, 'Wild Thing', was voted 261st on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

    In other words it's slightly better than Blondie's 'Heart of Glass' but not quite as good as Randy Newman's 'Sail Away'.

    Which really tells us nothing at all.

  2. happening a lot these days. jorno panics, cribs whatever's on the WikiPedia page, and just blurts it into being.

  3. I was just thinking the same thing while reading about this week's 99p rental film on iTunes. "Critically acclaimed" ... "renowned director" tells me nothing.

    You won't have seen The X Factor but I'm told they introduce returning "megastar" acts in their incestuous Syco world with not only chart positions but sales numbers.

  4. This morning I awoke to the news of Reg Presley's death. My mind immediately flashed back to TOTS nightclub on Southend seafront, at some point during the late 80s/early 90s. I would have been around 18 years old at the time.

    During the evening, the DJ took a break from playing contemporary music in favour of an abridged set of 1960s hits. I was hauled off the dance floor by a member of staff and instructed to "calm down" after my interpretive dance to Wild Thing was deemed to be "too wild."

    I thank Reg for giving me that moment of abandoned joy. It's what music is all about.