Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Top 10 banned songs

It's almost exactly 43 years to the day since BBC suits heard The Beatles' ‘A Day In The Life' and deemed it too far out for the British public. It wasn't the increasingly experimental band's decision to bolt together a host of different sections, including the spectacular orchestral crescendo, that upset their ears.

What the network took great offence at were the lyrics, particularly John Lennon's supposedly druggy refrain of "I'd love to turn you on". Nowadays the landmark ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' track is little short of an unofficial national anthem and no one would dream of criticising, let alone outlawing, it.'s top 10 banned songs.

10 'When I'm Cleaning Windows' George Formby

The much-loved, ukulele-playing comedian's finest moment was deemed too smutty for radio broadcast in 1936 because of these lyrics: "The blushing bride she looks divine / The bridegroom he is doing fine / I'd rather have his job than mine / When I'm cleaning windows." Going on these rules, this week's entire Top 40 would be empty.

09 ‘Lola' The Kinks

Back in 1970, drunken romps with transvestites weren't exactly all over the radio. However, it wasn't the lewd backstory of this track that caused offence but the fact it mentioned "Coca-Cola". The BBC's strict advertising code forced The Kinks to change the offending lyric to "cherry cola" and the band found themselves with a smash hit on their hands.

08 ‘Honky Tonk Angel' Cliff Richard

Imagine Sir Cliff's utter horror when he realised that the subject of his 1973 cover was not a lovely little housewife with a keen eye on the kitchen but a brassy hooker with a bedroom fixation. The God-fearing pop star promptly banned the track himself and prayed day and night that it would not impact on his elevation to The Big House.

07 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' The Beatles

Here they are again. The Beatles were on a rich vein of creative form during this period, inspiring many but upsetting others with their uncompromising vision. At the time of its 1967 release, Paul McCartney claimed this was inspired by a Julian Lennon drawing. Others, taking the song's initials as a massive hint, insisted it was actually about LSD. We're really not sure how they came to that conclusion...

06 ‘Love To Love You Baby' Donna Summer

This unstoppable disco monster came out in 1975 with a pioneering Giorgio Moroder production, falling just shy of the 17-minute mark on the extended mix. However, it also featured a series of erotic groaning passages, taped as the US star writhed around the recording booth. In fact, the BBC later claimed it contained 23 "orgasms". That must have been a long night in the studio.

05 'Give Ireland Back To The Irish' Wings
Sir Paul McCartney was never one to shy away from controversy in his post-Beatles career. Let us not forget this is the man who penned the ‘Frog Chorus'. But before that, he marked his departure from The Fab Four with this 1972 single. So inflammatory was the subject manner that BBC Radio 1 DJ Alan Freeman had to refer to it as "a record by the group Wings" on the chart show ‘Pick Of The Pops'.

04 'Glad To Be Gay' Tom Robinson Band

Originally written for 1976's London gay pride parade, this went on to make the top 20 in 1978. It may have dissected every aspect of British society's views on homosexuality with wit and style, becoming the era's official "gay national anthem" according to infamous activist Peter Tatchell, but that didn't stop the BBC refusing to play it. Ironically, Robinson now works for the corporation as a DJ.

03 'Ebeneezer Goode' The Shamen

"He created the vibe / He takes you for a ride and as if by design / The party ignites like he's comin' alive / He takes you to the top, shakes you all around / Then back down, you know as he gets mellow." What on earth were The Shamen singing about back in 1992!? ‘Ebeneezer Goode' was banned and eventually withdrawn, but not before it had gone to number one during the BBC's drug awareness week.

02 'God Save The Queen' The Sex Pistols

When Queen Elizabeth II was planning her Silver Jubilee in 1977, it's unlikely she was hoping to receive a special present from the ghastly punk movement or its obnoxious figureheads. But that's exactly what happened with this untouchable Sex Pistols protest anthem, which told the UK we had "no future". The public reacted by sending it to number two although the BBC were less impressed and refused to play it.

01 'Relax' Frankie Goes to Hollywood

When Radio 1 DJ Mike Read decided to draw his listener's attention to the debut single from a new band from Liverpool, it's unlikely he was intending on making them one of 80s' pop's most famous and infamous bands. But that's what happened in 1984 with ‘Relax', which the BBC banned only to see it go to number one for five weeks as Frankie Goes To Hollywood became household names. Good work Mike!

That was's top ten, do you think they missed any?

Until next time keep rockin'
The 0800 Jukebox crew.

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