Sunday, June 17, 2007

Paper Lace - Paper Lace (1974)

Paper Lace was a Nottingham based pop group, formed in 1969. They are known to Americans as a classic one-hit wonder; however, in the UK they were a classic two hit wonder. The core of the band originally formed in 1967 as Music Box, but changed their name to Paper Lace when Phil Wright joined as drummer and lead singer.

The band took their name from lace products created from a special grade of high quality paper manufactured in Nottingham; their hometown. Paper Lace was one of hundreds of pop bands in England looking for the big time while slogging their way through small club gigs and brief television appearances. A season at Tiffany's, a Rochdale club, led to more television appearances, but a passport to the charts did not arrive until a 1974 victory on Opportunity Knocks, the ITV talent contest series.

Thanks to that show, songwriters/producers, Mitch Murray and Peter Callender quickly signed them. The smash hit "Billy Don't Be A Hero" stayed three weeks at Number one on the UK Singles Chart in March 1974. It was followed by an equally catchy story song, which reached the Number 3 called "The Night Chicago Died". Another hit, "The Black-Eyed Boys", took Paper Lace to Number 11 in late 1974.

With their subject matter about the Vietnam War, it was logical that "Billy Don't Be A Hero" should become a hit in the United States; however, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods were the first to release "Billy" in the United States, and Paper Lace had to be content with a #96 placing. Although, the follow-up song, "The Night Chicago Died", set in the Prohibition era with reference to Al Capone, was untroubled by any such competition and topped the Billboard Hot 100.

The group released two albums, "First Edition" (1972) and "Paper Lace (1974); however, they quickly faded from the public eye as the band's popularity waned. Philip Wright and Cliff Fish carried on as Paper Lace, with other musicians filling in for the missing band members. In 1978, they surfaced briefly with a sing-along version of "We've Got the Whole World in Our Hands" with their local football team, Nottingham Forest Football Club. The 7" single, with "The Nottingham Forest March" as the B-side, reached Number 24 in the UK chart.

Since then, the band has ceased to be a creative unit and only performs sporadically in a largely revamped lineup thoughout the UK. This first album, however cheesy, is a worthy entry simply because the entirety of the band's hit singles are all present. Stay tuned for the band's rare debut LP, "First Edition", which will be posted here in the coming days. In the meantime, check out this bubblegum classic, "Paper Lace".

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