There are songs to leap up and down in the air to whilst trying not to spill your drink, songs for brides and grooms to take their first dance to without tripping up and songs for the last chance to cop for someone before heading home on your own.
But surely the best of all are those songs which make you want to fling your arms round whoever is within reach and sing along to at the top of your voice as if there’s no tomorrow.
And near the top of that list has got to be Andy Fairweather Low’s 1975 top ten hit Wide Eyed and Legless.
As songs with drinks as their theme go, it’s up there with Seven Drunken Nights, Whisky In the Jar, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please and Chumbawamba’s anthemic Tubthumping.
But although we can all hug, hum and shout along with the chorus, it isn’t so much a song about the joys of inebriation as a guilty admission that alcohol dependence isn’t too great an idea.
It’s a habit that can’t be kicked: “It’s the same thing every night, but the rhythm of the glass is stronger than the rhythm of night”
Or to put it another way: “Wide eyed and legless, I’ve gone and done it again, wide eyed and legless. This world is full of my shame. Shame, I can’t get free from these chains.”
Despite all attempts to sober up, the singer’s sozzled again: “I’ve been here before but this time it feels like the end. I should’ve known better, I know. But my memory’s no friend. Well, I’ve tried everything that I know will get rid of this fling. And I can’t understand why I’m wide eyed and legless again.”
But why let sombre and sober be confused? Whilst we are enjoying a minute or two’s singalong-a-Low leave it to the po-faced Oxford Word blog to get to the bottom of things:
“The adjective legless is used as a slang term to describe someone who is extremely drunk, particularly someone who can no longer stand or walk. The earliest example we can find of this usage is from a 1975 song by Andy Fairweather-Low, Wide Eyed and Legless.
“We suspect that this is not the first instance of someone getting ‘legless’ and indeed the phrase ‘legless drunk’, with legless modifying drunk, can be traced back to the 1920s:
“She poured liquor into the bums, beggars, ragtags, and bobtails that hung around the saloons till they were legless drunk”: 1926 Jack Black in You Can’t Win.
So that’s all right then? Well, apart from dragging Watch With Mother favourites Rag, Tag and Bobtail into the proceedings at least.
Despite his very English sounding name, Andy Fairweather Low (sometimes hyphenated, sometimes not) was, in fact, Welsh having been born in Ystrad Mynach and first came to prominence in the Cardiff-formed band Amen Corner.
The band was named after The Amen Corner, a weekly gathering at Cardiff’s Victoria Ballroom (later to become The Scene Club), where every Sunday night the dj Dr Rock would play the best soul music from the United States.
Initially the band specialised in a blues and jazz-oriented style, but were steered by their record labels towards a more commercial sound.
Their first singles and album appeared on Decca’s subsidiary label, Deram but they left at the end of 1968 to join the cutting edge Immediate, where they were instantly rewarded with the chart topping (If Paradise Is) Half as Nice in early 1969, followed by another Top 5 entry with the Roy Wood composition Hello Susie.
Low’s boyish looks made him eminently pin-uppable and he had a distinctive vocal style – based on never actually looking like he was opening his mouth at all.
Initially a covers band – albeit a big sounding one with a great brass section – their chart debut was Gin House Blues, an alcohol fuelled blues classic probably dusted down because of the success of The Animals’ with House of the Rising Sun, and their biggest pre-Immediate hit involved kidnapping The American Breed’s excellent Bend Me Shape Me.
The original Amen Corner disbanded at the end of 1969 with Fairweather Low leading Dennis Byron (drums), Blue Weaver (organ), Clive Taylor (bass) and Neil Jones (guitar) into a new band, Fair Weather.
The band scored a UK hit with Natural Sinner in July 1970, although the outfit’s albums, Beginning From An End and Let Your Mind Roll On, failed to chart.
Having by now developed as a songwriter of some repute, after twelve months Fairweather Low left to pursue a solo career, releasing four albums up to 1980 and scoring hits with Reggae Tune (which actually wasn’t a reggae tune at all) in 1974, and Wide Eyed and Legless, a number six Christmas time hit in 1975.
In the late 1970s and 1980s he worked for numerous artists as a session musician, performing as a backing vocalist and guitarist on albums by Roy Wood, Leo Sayer, Albion Band, Gerry Rafferty, Helen Watson ]and Richard and Linda Thompson.
Other names he has been associated with – either in the recording studios or live on stage include The Who, Joe Satriani, Roger Waters, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton and Bill Wyman.
In 2006 he released Sweet Soulful Music, his first solo album in twenty-six years. The song Hymn for My Soul became the title track of Joe Cocker’s 2007 album. Cocker’s tour of 2007/08 bore the same title.
But fans long for the day when he becomes Wide Eyed and Legless (in his own right) Again.
|Andy Fairweather Low
|Andy Fairweather Low
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