399. ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’, by David Soul

And it is onwards into 1977. Officially the late seventies! Bring it on!

Don’t Give Up On Us, by David Soul (his 1st of two #1s)

4 weeks, from 9th January – 6th February 1977

Actually… I’m tempted to write the entire year off after thirty seconds of this next number one. It’s been creeping up on us, slowly but surely, with Demis Roussos, Chicago, Johnny Mathis… I fear the soft-rock years may officially be upon us.

In fact, I think this record has the exact same gloopy, doopy backing track from Johnny Mathis’s Christmas #1. They sure sound similar. Though David Soul’s voice has nowhere near the gravitas that Mathis had. Don’t give up on us baby, Don’t make the wrong, Seem right… It’s a decent voice, but a very soppy one.

I want to get a foothold on this song, a way in to appreciating it, but I can’t. It’s a puff of smoke. There’s nothing actually there. It’s a ‘check your watch’ kind of song, in that you start to wonder how long it’s going to go on for… Pulses are raised slightly come the middle-eight: I really lost my head last night… though you struggle to imagine the singer of this song being capable of any strong emotions… and then we get the blandest solo you could ever imagine, featuring a mish mash of guitars, strings and a French horn.

And then there’s a key change! Of course. Is there a more divisive trick in the songwriters’ handbook than the key change? Some make you punch the air and shout ‘YES!’; others make you wish the song would just end right there and then. No prizes for guessing which camp this record falls into…

Before coming to this record, I knew David Soul as being famous for his role in ‘Starsky and Hutch’, though I needed to check which one he was (Hutch). Soul’s record career came slap bang in the middle of the show’s four series run. So, he had the exposure and was perhaps always going to score a huge hit. But ‘Starsky and Hutch’ was a cop show, in which the two main characters used their wits and traded blows to catch the bad guys. They were cool, bad-ass. Yet, it is hard to think of another song that is as far away from being cool, or bad-ass, as ‘Don’t Give Up on Us’ is.

I just wish it had a bit more – a lot more! – life about it, is all. And glancing down the list of up and coming #1s for the year – including one more from Hutch – I worry that this might become a recurring wish. Not that there aren’t plenty of classics to come, though. So come on – think positive! I won’t give up on 1977 yet… (see what I did there?)

12 thoughts on “399. ‘Don’t Give Up On Us’, by David Soul

  1. David Soul was a girl pin-up, oh so pretty and blonde, and had a passable singing voice – his original ambition was to be a singer. Cue the UK’s Tony MacAuley seeing an opportunity. Songwriter or co-songwriter of previous chart-toppers from The Foundations, Long John Baldry, The New Seekers, Edison Lighthouse, Soul gave him a last fling of the chart-topping life – but Don’t Give Up On Us isn’t in the same league as the others. It’s more a Pickettywich effort than a Build Me Up Buttercup or Baby Now That I’ve Found You. Not even as catchy as You Won’t Find Another Fool Like Me. But it was soppily pleasant enough to appeal to fans in the UK and kicked off an 18-month hit-making career while jumping into flashy cars and doing car chases on TV. None of his records were anything more than “mildly pleasant” though..

    1. Well, he’s not the first TV star to try their hand at a pop career, and he won’t be the last. I just think that as his character had a bit of charisma and action about him, then his debut single could have had some too…

  2. For some reason, this forgettable gloop managed to knock out “Dancing Queen” in America. What’s weird about David Soul’s music success in the US was that Starsky & Hutch wasn’t as big of a hit in the ratings as it was in the UK especially competing with higher-rated shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But as Tom Breihan pointed out, 1977 was a time when you still only had three major networks to choose from when watching TV, ABC, CBS, and NBC, so even if Starsky & Hutch wasn’t a major hit Americans would have had some vague knowledge of who David Soul was and maybe that was just good enough for him to take off. There are some things to like here from how everything swells up on the bridge to Soul’s quiet singing fitting well with the theme of regret and trying to save a relationship but as Breihan points out, “Don’t Give Up On Us” remains a sleepy nothing of a ballad. It fills space, and it does nothing else.” Not something I’m going to think about after hearing it.

    1. I did not know that ‘Starsky and Hutch’ was a bigger hit in the UK than the US. I think people in Britain probably ate up the glamorous LA storylines in what was a pretty deprived time economically. I must admit I always get S&H and ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ mixed up… having never really seen either. Both involve two dudes and a car in the ’70s!

      1. Haven’t watched much ‘70s TV so I wouldn’t recognize it and it’s not like it’s left much of a cultural legacy in comparison with Mary Tyler Moore or All In The Family. The only time the show has seen any modern relevance was when it went the Charlie’s Angels route in the 2000s in a movie adaptation with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller and naturally they sing the song in the movie. https://youtu.be/xLLsjlKWohU

  3. badfinger20 (Max)

    He was also in Salem’s Lot…I would list all of his movie appearances rather than talk about this song…

    David Soul’s problem? He has none.

  4. Pingback: 401. ‘When I Need You’, by Leo Sayer – The UK Number Ones Blog

  5. Pingback: 413. ‘Silver Lady’, by David Soul – The UK Number Ones Blog

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