Hold On Billy – Shades

My Dad’s favourite seven inch single was found in a skip. He doesn’t know who Shade’s were or why the song appeals to him so much but he has always loved a bargain so I’m guessing that’s part of the appeal.

The song dates from 1974 and throws back to the 50’s in it’s ripping of Rebel Without A Cause style Menace To Society (no, not the Hip Hop one) overtones. It can be seen as either a cheesy novelty record or a pre-disco funk/concept album squeezed down into a mere single. Hold On Billy is literally the story of…

“A child born in the ghetto without hope, without a future”

Over police sirens, a pumping horn section, big soul backing singers and a mock Elvis meets Dragnet voice over, the story of Billy unfolds like a radio play.

“Billy Never had a chance”

It was a huge hit in our house when I was a kid. I don’t think it registered much any place else as I can find out very little about Shades and their mid seventies shenanigans anywhere on line. I think they were part of the same British Faux-American scene that spawned a revival in drape coats and cartoonised the Teddy Boys as some multi-coloured doo wop fixated frivolity rather and a genuine youth culture of rebellion and considerable danger.

This is the British BBC’ised 70’s looking back at the American RKO 50’s through rose tinted black and white… Or Something.

“You’re not to blame Billy, give yourself up”

On the rock-O-Meter it scores pretty danmed highly.


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