395. ‘Mississippi’, by Pussycat

Following on from ‘Dancing Queen’ is a daunting task, but someone had to do it. In the autumn of 1976, that task fell to Pussycat, and their sole #1 record, ‘Mississippi’.

Mississippi, by Pussycat (their 1st and only #1)

4 weeks, from 10th October – 7th November 1976

It’s a gentle intro, a slice of soft country rock, that puts me in mind of the Eagles at their blandest, or Matthews Southern Comfort’s ‘Woodstock’ from earlier in the decade. In the past year or so, country and western has become something of an established presence at the top of the charts, from Tammy Wynette to J.J. Barrie to this…

But when the vocals come in, we move from country to schmaltzy. Well you can hear a country song from far, When someone plays a honky-tonk guitar… It’s a tribute to country music, an ode to the genre, and a love-letter to the USA’s most famous river. Mississippi, I remember you… Whenever I should go away, I’ll be longing for the day…

It’s the sort of song that you start to forget before it’s even finished. It’s very gentle, a pleasant enough stroll down the middle of the road, but it’s a bit dull. It makes you yearn for ABBA… But that’s not fair. We can’t go comparing songs to what went before! It is too long, though. I’ll state that with conviction. Times were four and a half minutes was record-breaking; now it seems to be the standard.

By the end, the band are bemoaning the fact that rock ‘n’ roll took over from C&W. The country song forever lost its soul, When the guitar player turned to rock and roll… Except, that’s patently not true. Rock ‘n’ roll was born from country (and jazz and the blues) – rock ‘n’ roll is country – plus here we are, with a country song at number one… So it can’t be that dead. We flutter to a finish, and I remain underwhelmed.

Pussycat were a Dutch band – which perhaps explains the schlager-heavy feel that this record has (they also, perhaps inevitably, recorded a version in German.) They were a seven piece, with what looks like three girls and four boys… (To be fair, they all have long hair and frills in the pictures I can find!) The best way I can describe them is like looking at a picture of ABBA after you’ve had a blow to the head. Still, they officially make 1976 the year of the mixed-gender pop group, after Brotherhood of Man and our aforementioned Swedes.

‘Mississippi’ was written by the band with the Bee Gees ‘Massachusetts’ in mind, and you can really hear the influence. Plus, it gives us our second #1 single named after a US State (and I’m happy to hear suggestions of others to come/that I’ve missed). They scored one more minor hit in the UK following this, but remained big in the Netherlands well into the ‘80s.

To finish, I think I have to crown ‘Pussycat’ as the worst band name to feature on this blog. It’s just… a ‘no’ from me. And Spotify seems to agree, as they have erroneously grouped this group’s back-catalogue with a trip-hop group of the same name, who’s last album was titled ‘Sexy Bondage Domination’…

15 thoughts on “395. ‘Mississippi’, by Pussycat

  1. Agree with you – Pussycat was an appalling name. (Mind you, one of my best friends is in a band called London, who originally formed also in 1976 – look on Spotify and they are now one of several, including what looks like a teenage girl). They come across rather like Brotherhood of Man and J.J. Barrie, in that they seem such nice wholesome folks that you hesitate to say anything negative about them, but they all remind you that 1976 was at times a pretty forgettable year in music terms. And I know I’m showing my age, but the guy at the back looks the spitting image of onetime Radio 1 and Top of the Pops presenter Peter Powell.

  2. Pleasant enough at the time, mums and dads loved it, I found it quite tuneful and really liked it for a while, but it’s not one I choose to play. The recent interest in Dutch Country Music acts clearly goes back a long way, at least for those of us paying to attention to Eurovision where The Common Linnets nearly won, and did quite well out of it, as did German band Texas Lightning – both of whom were better than Pussycat. And now of course we have cool country acts from Sweden, the UK, Australia (see Olivia Newton-John flirting with that in the 70’s long before Keith Urban and the more obscure but wonderful Fanny Lumsden). And you thought Pussycat was a dodgy name….but at the time nobody thought of it as anything other than “I taught I taw a puddy-cat”. But then we’d already had the heavy rock all-girl band Fanny to compare with…

    Abba should have had 11 weeks on top, though, all in all 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s fine, but I’m struggling to sing it in my head even now. I fear this is the start of a bit of an MOR run of #1s too. I’m not sure why I find the name so bad… I don’t think it’s the dodgyness of it, more the disconnnect between it and the band’s image and sound. (Though, glancing ahead, I think one of 1977’s chart-toppers beats Pussycat in the bad name stakes…)

      1. Yes you’re probably too young to remember the fabulous Josie And Pussycats which predated 1976 – animated hannah barbera plus songs 🙂 I think you may be right about the MOR chart-toppers! One of them is pretty fine, one is charming, one christmassy, one passable, and one dirge after the next non-MOR gem Abba, if I recall correctly and havent forgotten something good in between.

        If only it had been Livin’ Thing (ELO), Queen, Abba, Yvonne Elliman, Boston, or Steely Dan instead on top.. 🙂

      2. I’d forgotten that one 🙂 Prob the only example of a chart-topper with a bit of fun in it till, well, ooh, Manhattan Transfer (another oldie), more than anything else 🙂

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