310. ‘Son of My Father’, by Chicory Tip

Time for something a little different. A record with a glam rock beat to it – as is becoming the norm – but with twiddly, electronic bits too. Think Joe Meek producing a Slade song, sung a sarfLahndan accent.

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Son of My Father, by Chicory Tip (their 1st and only #1)

3 weeks, from 13th February – 5th March 1972

The initial riff is simple and repetitive; but effective. It drills into your head and stays there. There’s a reason why this song lives on to this day in football chants. And at the end of each line there’s an electronic flourish. It sounds futuristic, but also old-fashioned in its simplicity. And then completely of its time thanks to the glam-stomp. An impossible record to place…

Adding another layer are the lyrics. This is no love-song, nor a party anthem. It’s a song about breaking with tradition. In the first verse, a mum is advising her son as he grows up: Be just like your dad lad, Follow in the same tradition, Never go astray and stay an honest loving son… (Though to be honest I’m relying on ‘LyricFind’ here, thanks to the thick accent and the mix, which pushes the synthesisers right to the front.)

Son of my father, Molded, I was folded, I was preform-packed… It’s an anthem of frustrated youth, of the need to make your own way in the world. It’s got a message… Which is overshadowed by the fact that this is the first completely electronic #1. It’s just, to my ears anyway, synthesisers and hand claps. (I know, there’s a bassist in the video below.) We’ve had ‘electronic’ chart-toppers before… ‘Runaway’ by Del Shannon, and The Tornadoes seminal ‘Telstar’, but none so completely sold to the sound. The solo here is a fifties piano-rag, but one beamed in from another planet.

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‘Son of My Father’ was based on a German hit from the year before, the melody of which was composed by none other than Giorgio Moroder. Moroder himself had released a version with English lyrics – listen to it here, it’s slightly faster and with a bit more ‘oomph’ to it, I think I like it better – but it did nothing. Then Chicory Tip got hold of the song and sold a million with it.

By the end of the song, the son has broken away from the pressures of his family and tradition. Son of my father, Changing rearranging into something new, Collecting and selecting independent views… But he’s still the son of his father. You can reject the past while still respecting it. I like it.

It’s a strange little song. I have to keep reminding myself that it really is quite ground-breaking. It’s easy to lose sight of that, and to get distracted by the fact that it’s also a catchy pop hit. Chicory Tip had been around since 1967, without much success. ‘Son of My Father’ was their first hit of any kind, and they scored two further Top 20s in its wake. They released one album before calling it a day in 1975, though they soon reformed in different versions that still tour.

So then. We have a huge #1 smash, combining two of the 1970s foremost sounds: glam and electronica. (Throw in a dash of disco and it would have been a hat-trick.) This is a big hit, and a big step forward.

12 thoughts on “310. ‘Son of My Father’, by Chicory Tip

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    I never heard this before but I’m with you…I like the Giorgio Moroder version better also. It does have more depth to it.
    Funky little song though…I like it.

  2. Giorgio had been having European hits with synth-based pop tracks for 3 years with no UK success, this one fully announced synth had arrived with a bang, and it was the sound of the future – purists may say it was Hot Butter’s Popcorn that was the sound of the future with Rock elements removed, but from the point of view of 14-year-olds this sounded futuristic, if jolly and catchy. Our end-of-term music lesson allowed us to bring a single in to play to the class. A girl brought this in and I suddenly became embarrassed about my new purchase – Nut Rocker was back in the charts, and I thought the classical link might go down well in a Music lesson. I loved retro as much as Futuristic. Still do 🙂

  3. OMG, that top picture…they look like comic book rejects…the superheros that didn’t make the cut or stumbled in drunk.

    I kinda like both versions. Moroder goes on to do “I Feel Love”, the “Chase” on C2CAM, soundtracks for Foxes and American Gigolo, “On The Radio”, the soundtrack for Cat People, Scarface and Top Gun… He had his fingers in all kinds of things and, in the middle 90s, disappeared, pretty much, for 20 years.

    1. Ha! Yes, I did wonder how real that photo was… Looks like it had had the 1972 version of Photoshop done to it…

      I like both versions too… But Moroder’s just has a bit more beef to it.

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