Released today in 1981: Will You?

A&M AMS8131

A&M AMS8131

It was Will You?, one of the earliest songs Hazel O’Connor wrote, that persuaded Tony Visconti to produce the soundtrack for the film ‘Breaking Glass’ in which she was to star. Visconti had heard some demos of other songs that she had put together but was not convinced; when she put a backing track for Will You? and sang the words in front of him, he decided to get on board. Not only was this great news for the soundtrack album, it was important for O’Connor’s self-confidence and her future career: with him at the desk, she felt sure of a hit.

When it came to recording the album in 1980, Visconti brought in session musicians to record O’Connor’s songs, including saxophonist Wesley Magoogan who improvised a sax solo on a newly extended instrumental section of Will You?, making the completed song an epic, nearly five-minute ballad. (If You Were There, but can’t quite recall this song, it’s the rather solemn number which includes a refrain that might jog your memory, “Or will you just politely say goodnight”.) Sure enough it was a big hit, going Top 10 in 1981 when issued as a single, but thereafter the trouble started.

BBC Wales was making a television series called ‘Ennal’s Point’ at the time the single was in the charts, and someone was taken enough with it to suggest it was used as the show’s theme tune. But it was the instrumental section they wanted, and when the series began airing in January 1982 it was that part with Magoogan’s memorable sax that was heard. Furthermore, BBC Records and Tapes decided to release this edited part of the song as a single in its own right, billed on the sleeve as “Ennal’s Point – an extract from Will You by Hazel O’Connor”. Despite not actually featuring her, the BBC single was still credited to O’Connor. Magoogan might well have felt somewhat overlooked, given his contribution was the prominently featured element of the work.

Via publisher April Music, Magoogan claimed a share of royalties for Will You? as a co-writer, and a full royalty for the Ennal’s Point single. O’Connor’s lawyers defended her against the claim but it wouldn’t go away, leading to the Performing Rights Society withholding payments of any writer royalties relating to Will You? owing to the dispute. April Music, Magoogan, O’Connor, and then her former manager’s Mainly Modern Music, all disputed the royalties owed. Then Albion Music, O’Connor’s own publisher, got involved. The contract she had with them stated that they were entitled to receive a share of all earnings related to songs she had written during and prior to her signing with them; the frozen royalty payments were affecting the cut they were entitled to. The defendants claimed and counterclaimed against each other and against Albion, with the whole sorry mess rumbling on for the next few years.

NEW SINGLES on sale from May. 8
1981
Hazel O’CONNOR Will You? (A&M AMS8131)
TOYAH I Want To Be Free (Safari SAFE34)
1984
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED Bad Life (Virgin VS675)
1989
Bobby BROWN Every Little Step (MCA MCA1338)
Neneh CHERRY Manchild (Circa YR30)
The CHRISTIANS, HOLLY JOHNSON, PAUL MCCARTNEY, GERRY MARSDEN AND STOCK AITKEN WATERMAN (Holly Johnson) Ferry ‘Cross The Mersey (PWL PWL41)
WE’VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE’RE GOING TO USE IT Pink Sunshine (WEA YZ461)

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