Released today in 1988: The Loco-Motion

PWL PWL14

PWL PWL14

The Loco-Motion has been covered by a great many artists and has been a hit for several of them. Written by the legendary team of Goffin and King, it was written in 1962 with Dee Dee Sharp in mind, who had just had a hit in America with Mashed Potato Time. A demo of the song sung by Eva Boyd, the Kings’ nanny, was recorded but Sharp turned the song down, perhaps because she’d already had one hit with a song about a dance craze. Boyd’s vocals were thought to be strong enough to carry the song and so instead, under the name Little Eva, she was allowed to release it herself. It was #1 before the end of the year. Such was the popularity of the song, it was a Top 10 hit for other artists in each of the next two decades: Grand Funk Railroad had another #1 with it in 1974, and then in 1988 Kylie Minogue took it to #3. It’s never been a chart-topper here though: the UK ignored Grand Railroad Funk’s take on the song (although the group had had a hit in this country earlier in the 70s), while both Little Eva and Minogue scored #2 hits with their versions. Other hit versions in the UK include a contemporary rival to Little Eva’s 1962 hit by The Vernons Girls, and a take by Dave Stewart while moonlighting from Eurythmics with Barbara Gaskin in 1986, the year in which Little Eva’s original almost became a hit for the second time.

The version released by Minogue today in 1988 was not the one she had had a hit with in her native Australia the previous year. She had performed the song at a variety night at Melbourne’s Festival Hall on 3 August 1986 with other members of the soap opera ‘Neighbours’, the cast of which she had joined earlier that year. A popular performance on the night, Minogue then made a studio recording of the song which found its way to Mushroom records, who offered her a one-single deal to release it. Mushroom had links with PWL, Pete Waterman’s record company, and the brief Mushroom gave engineer Mike Duffy (on secondment to Mushroom at the time) was to make Minogue’s recording sound like the type of music Stock Aitken Waterman were producing in the UK. Exactly a week shy of the anniversary of her performance of the song at Festival Hall, Minogue’s debut single Locomotion was issued in Australia. It went to #1 for seven weeks.

Mushroom looked to PWL for material for a follow-up, and in the autumn of 1987 Minogue was given two weeks off ‘Neighbours’ to fly to the UK to record something with Stock Aitken Waterman. As has been famously documented elsewhere, it nearly didn’t happen: The Hit Factory was simply too busy. But once Waterman recognized Minogue’s potential, she became a priority artist. In the UK, Minogue’s version of the Little Eva hit was re-recorded by Stock Aitken Waterman (and re-titled, back to Goffin/King’s original The Loco-Motion) for inclusion on her debut LP, Kylie, and saw release as her third British single – almost exactly a year after the release of her first version in Australia.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Jul. 25
1980
Adam ANT Kings Of The Wild Frontier (CBS CBS8877)
BAUHAUS (Peter Murphy) Terror Couple (4AD AD7)
ROXY MUSIC (Bryan Ferry) Oh Yeah (Polydor 2001972)
1988
FIVE STAR Rock My World (Tent PB42145)
Kylie MINOGUE The Loco-Motion (PWL PWL14)

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