24 January 2009

Something in the air -Thunderclap Newman

"Something in the Air" is a song recorded by Thunderclap Newman. It was a UK #1 single for three weeks in July 1969. The song was later covered by The Mandrake Memorial (their final, non-LP single) in 1970, Fish and Promised Land in 1991, Tom Petty in 1993, Eurythmics in 1999, The Superjesus in 2001, Elbow and Wellwater Conspiracy in 2003, and Hayley Sanderson2006. Wilco has also been known to cover the song in their live shows. in

In 1969, Pete Townshend, The Who's guitarist, was the catalyst behind the formation of the band. The concept was to create a band to perform songs written by former Who roadie and drummer/singer John 'Speedy' Keen. Townshend produced the single, arranged the strings, played bass under the pseudonym Bijou Drains, and recruited eccentric GPO engineer and jazz pianist Andy 'Thunderclap' Newman (a friend from art college), and 15-year-old GlaswegianJimmy McCulloch.

Originally titled Revolution but later renamed to avoid confusion with the Beatles' 1968 song of that name, "Something in the Air" captured post-flower power rebellion, marrying McCulloch's sweeping acoustic and glowing electric guitars, Keen's powerful drumming and yearning falsetto, and Newman's felicitous piano solo.

The single reached No. 1 on the UK charts just three weeks after release, holding off Elvis Presley in the process. The scale of the song's success surprised everyone and there were no plans to promote Thunderclap Newman with live performances. Eventually a line-up - augmented by Jim Pitman-Avory on bass and McCulloch's elder brother Jack on drums - played a handful of gigs. Personal records say the band played live only five times, although Keen referred to a two-month tour, playing "everywhere". In the UK, a follow-up single, "Accidents", came out only in May 1970 and charted at No. 44 for a week. An album, Hollywood Dream, peaked in Billboard at No. 163. Thus, the song and the band were forever linked as a one hit wonder.

"Something in the Air" appeared on the soundtracks of the several films The Magic ChristianThe Strawberry Statement (1970) (which helped the single reach No. 25 in the United States) and later Kingpin (1996), Almost Famous (2000),The Dish (2000) ,and The Girl Next Door (2004). It also appeared on and was the title of the second disc in the Deluxe Edition of the Easy Rider soundtrack. (1969) and

"Something in the Air" has been used extensively in television, most notably on an advertisement for British Airways which featured PJ O'Rourke. More recently, a version of the song was used in the advertisements for the mobile phone service provider TalkTalk. (A similar advert for TalkTalk shown at the beginning of advert breaks during Big Brother features the opening bars). The song was also featured in the pilot episode of the American television show Aliens in America and in the third season episode Bad Earl of My Name Is Earl. A version of the song recorded by Ocean Colour Scene was previously used by telephone provider Ionica. In 2008, this song appeared in a Coca-Cola commercial in Taiwan.

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