A Clockwork Orange has influenced multiple fields of the arts and there are plenty of cultural references from it relevant to Smash Hits covers stars. Heaven 17, for example, take their name from one of a number of fictitious bands it mentions: in the novel by Anthony Burgess (first published by William Heinemann on 14 May 1962), schoolboy protagonist Alex visits a record shop and spots two other truants looking through the new releases by Johnny Burnaway, Stash Kroh, The Mixers and Lay Quiet Awhile With Ed And Id Molotov; his new acquaintances ask him if he is interested in other top acts such as The Heaven Seventeen, Luke Sterne and Goggly Gogol. But Alex has come to buy a new recording of Beethoven’s Ninth – he is dismissive of his new friends’ choices of Ike Yard’s Honey Nose and Night After Day After Night as “moaned by two horrible yarbleless like eunuchs whose names I forget”.
When the scene is created for the film directed by Stanley Kubrick, a chart showing the Top Ten singles can be seen on the sales counter:
1. Goggly Gogol – Mass in G
In a later scene, Alex is shown removing a microcassette of this recording from his player.
2. Johnny Zhivago – Really Play
Johnny Zhivago is also mentioned in the novel, but the track is named as Only Every Other Day.
3. The Humpers – Sweaty Club
4. Heaven Seventeen – Inside
The definite article is missing from the name shown on the chart board prop (as it is with the name of the 1980s group), but in the script they are referred to as The Heaven Seventeen.
5. Bread Brothers – Dogs And Cats
6. The Sparks – Switch Me On
Sparks are not named after this act, but coincidentally Ron and Russell Mael renamed their band from Halfnelson at around the time the movie was released (13 January 1972 in the UK). As a result, their eponymously-titled debut album, already available in the United States, had to be reissued bearing their new name. (‘Sparks’ was apparently a reference to the Marx Brothers, Ron and Russell being the Sparks Brothers.)
7. The Blow Goes – Downy
8. The Legend – Jelly Roll
9. Cyclops – Black Christmas
10. Comic Strips – Art Nouveau
Along with Sparks, another band from the Smash Hits cover who underwent a name change was Kajagoogoo, whose original name was by chance the title of the single shown here at #10. Art Nouveau released their single Fear Machine in 1981, prior to Chris Hamill (Limahl, his stage name, was an anagram of his surname) joining and their signing with EMI.
It wasn’t just group names that were inspired by A Clockwork Orange though. The teen slang Nadsat and other phrases from the text crop up in various recordings, such as Ultraviolence from New Order’s 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies. But it is perhaps the Korova Milkbar – the venue favoured by Alex and his droogs because it serves milk laced with drugs – that is referenced most frequently. It gave its name to the record company Korova which signed Smash Hits cover stars Strawberry Switchblade and Ian McCulloch’s band Echo and the Bunnymen. Korova is the Russian word for cow, hence the label’s catalogue number prefix of KOW. The word is used in the title of the b-side to U2’s 1991 single The Fly: Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk/Korova.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Jan. 7
AZTEC CAMERA (Roddy Frame) Oblivious (Rough Trade RT122)
Paul YOUNG Love Of The Common People (CBS PY1)
EURYTHMICS Julia (Virgin VS734)
HEAVEN 17 … And That’s No Lie (Virgin VS740)