Tune of the Week – “Nothing But A Heartache”
I hear this song, close my eyes and, hey, it’s the weekend. There are some tunes which send you to another place. I hear the opening notes of “Nothing But A Heartache”, the clatter of drums opening the Small Faces’ …
I hear this song, close my eyes and, hey, it’s the weekend.
There are some tunes which send you to another place. I hear the opening notes of “Nothing But A Heartache”, the clatter of drums opening the Small Faces’ “Whatcha Gonna Do About It?” and that mad buzz on The Quik’s “Bert’s Apple Crumble” and I’m back in a record label office in London on a Friday afternoon getting set for the weekend. Usually I would have spent that week trying to get hacks interested in some of the worst indie bands known to man or woman, sending out an never-ending ream of really bad trance 12″ singles and wondering how I was going to sell a so-so hip-hop album by a DJ/producer better known for his house remixes. But on a Friday afternoon, those tunes on the office stereo meant the end was in sight.
My boss Eugene was old mod and he’s the one who tipped me off to this tune. I’ve probably listened to The Flirtations and “Nothing But A Heartache” a couple of hundred times since I first heard it on an old Deram compilation, “The Northern Soul Scene”. Every time out, that dynamic, dramatic melody still weaves a spell and makes you want to move.
The Flirtations were Viola Billups, Ernestine Pearce and Shirley Pearce, three ladies from south Carolonia who ended up in swinging London in 1968. After a spell as Tom Jones’ label-mate on the Parrot label, they walked in the doors at Deram, were handed this song (written by Wayne Bickerton and Tony Waddington) and made it their own. They had a couple of other singles on Deram (and later on Polydor and Mojo) and had another hit with a disco tune called “Earthquake” before they called it a day. Naturally, various northern soul and disco revivals have pulled them back in and you’ll still find a version of The Flirtations (Billups was replaced by Loretta Nolan) making cash from playing songs like this in halls around the place. And yeah, I think I will play this at Soundcheck tonight.