345. ‘Jealous Mind’, by Alvin Stardust

This next number one kicks off, and instantly reminds me of another chart-topper from not so long ago. The chugging, fuzzy guitars that lead us in were last heard on 10cc’s ‘Rubber Bullets’. Musically, this is very mid-seventies soft-glam. It’s nice.

Jealous Mind, by Alvin Stardust (his 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 3rd – 10th March 1974

Then the singing starts, and it instantly reminds me of another chart-topper from much longer ago. Buddy Holly lives! If he’d made it to the seventies, and gone glam, he might have sounded a bit like this. Why is it I must know, The things you’re doin…? A-ah-hu-ho-ho, It’s just my jealous mind…

Seriously, the hiccup is spot on. A-ah-hu-ho-ho… It’s not an easy thing to mimic, the Buddy Holly hiccup – believe me, I’ve tried. For the rest of the record it’s not just Holly that Alvin Stardust harks back to – I get Elvis, early-Cliff and Eddie Cochran. It’s a fifties rock ‘n’ roll hit, set to a glam rock beat. I should love it…

But something’s lacking. The riff is fun, the solo is furious, the vocals are very singable… It’s just a little… gimmicky? Is that it? It’s definitely lacking a special ingredient, whatever that might be, to make this great. It’s not helped by Stardust’s get-up, the black leather and the outrageous quiff. He looks like an Elvis impersonator, before they were a thing. Plus, his name sounds like a rip-off of Gary Glitter…

When you delve into the Alvin Stardust back-story, you begin to understand why. For a start, he was an actual rock ‘n’ roller in the early sixties. He went by his first stage-name, Shane Fenton, with his band The Fentones. Their biggest hit, ‘Cindy’s Birthday’, made #19 in 1962. The big Mersey bands put paid to the Fentones, Fenton slipped into obscurity. Years later, a bloke called Peter Shelley created a persona called ‘Alvin Stardust’, based on David Bowie’s ‘Ziggy Stardust’, who was in turn based on the real British rock ‘n’ roller Vince Taylor. All very meta… Shelley cut a record as Stardust, ‘My Coo-Ca-Choo’, then got stage fright when the song took off and started climbing the charts. He needed a new ‘Alvin Stardust’, pronto, and turned to Fenton.

So, seeing pictures of Alvin Stardust Mk II, all leathered and quiffed up, looking old enough to know better, suddenly makes sense. He was well over thirty when he scored his first and only #1. But there’s something romantic about it, this jobbing singer finally making it after all that time. His short burst of fame in the mid-seventies didn’t last too long but, amazingly, Stardust had a third-wind in 1981, with the #4 hit ‘Pretend’ and a fourth one in ’84 with two #7 hits, one of which was aptly titled ‘I Feel Like Buddy Holly’. That’s some staying power: a real rock ‘n’ roll limpet. (Personally, I would have liked them to have kept changing Alvin Stardusts with every album, like a regenerating Doctor Who, as a weird experiment in pop.)

Away from the interesting back-story, though, I still can’t find much to love about this record. It’s another nail in the glam-rock coffin. Watered-down glam, a fifties homage, a last-minute relaunch of a washed up star…. But hey, ho. Worse things, worse people, have topped the charts. Moving on.

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13 thoughts on “345. ‘Jealous Mind’, by Alvin Stardust

  1. My Coo Ca Choo was the big seller, it was held off the top spot by million sellers from Glitter & Slade, so Jealous Mind was a sort of “big follow-up”. The way he held the microphone was his gimmick, very rock n roll 50’s, but the leather wasn’t the original costume (I recall seeing him debut on a kids pop show in a multicoloured feather outfit). Peter Shelley had hits in 1974/75, but masterminded other stuff on Magnet records, but it was Alvin who had the staying power, Pretend was fab and part of the burgeoning rockabilly scene of the early 80’s which he’d influenced a bit.

    Most importantly of all, the very affable Alvin was from around the Mansfield area where I was born, the only rockstar to get famous… 🙂

    1. Yes, a smaller hit but higher chart position. Worth keeping track of how often this happens… I’m thinking ‘Vincent’ and…? Of course there will be others later on. Stardust clearly had something – hence the staying power stretched over 25 odd years. And yes, I can see the Stray Cats, and even Shaky himself, in him.

  2. badfinger20 (Max)

    The story was interesting…manufacturing another Alvin Stardust. I wonder what Bowie thought of this?
    Another guy I’ve read about but never heard…now I have. It’s likable but…it’s probably his appearance… would you call that an early mullet?

  3. Pingback: 349. ‘Sugar Baby Love’, by The Rubettes – The UK Number Ones Blog

  4. Pingback: 351. ‘Always Yours’, by Gary Glitter – The UK Number Ones Blog

  5. Pingback: Recap: #331 – #360 – The UK Number Ones Blog

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