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Friday 13 December 2019

Retro top 10: this week in 1990

‘The Joker’ holds the record for the longest gap between transatlantic chart-toppers
‘The Joker’ holds the record for the longest gap between transatlantic chart-toppers

Jim Hayes

When model and singer Nick Kamen removed his 501s in a laundrette full of women in a famous Levi's advert in 1985, he could not have known that it was the beginning of an era in which Levi's would not only sell vast quantities of jeans, but also revitalise the fortunes of artists and songs relegated to the past.

'I Heard It Through The Grapevine' (the backdrop to Nick Kamen's laundrette strip), 'Wonderful World', 'When A Man Loves A Woman', 'Stand By Me', '20th Century Boy' and 'Should I Stay Or Should I Go' - the Clash's only UK No. 1 a decade after its original release - were among the songs that became late eighties/early nineties hits after featuring in Levi's commercials.

California's Steve Miller Band also tasted success on the back of a Levi's ad. Their Billboard Hot 100 charttopper from 1974 reached No. 1 in the UK and Ireland in 1990 directly as a result of its use in 'Great Deal', a Hugh Johnson-directed TV ad for Levi's. The song hadn't even charted in the UK first time around.

'The Joker' holds the record for the longest gap between topping the chart at one side of the Atlantic and then achieving No. 1 on the other side.

In the song, Steve Miller baffles listeners with the unusual word 'pompatus' in the line, 'I speak of the pompatus of love'. While it has been claimed that Miller invented the word, he most likely heard it on a song called 'The Letter' recorded by Los Angeles doo-wop group The Medallions in 1954.

The Steve Miller Band achieved great success in the rock arena, particularly in the US, but enjoyed few hits this side of the Atlantic. Their only other top ten entry in the UK was 1982's 'Abracadabra'.

1 The Joker The Steve Miller Band

2 Groove Is In The Heart/What Is Love? Deee-Lite

3 Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini Bombalurina

4 Four Bacharach and David Songs (EP) Deacon Blue

5 What Time Is Love? KLF featuring The Children of the Revolution

6 Where Are You Baby? Betty Boo

7 The Space Jungle Adamski

8 Tonight New Kids On The Block

9 Vision of Love Mariah Carey

10 Rhythm of the Rain Jason Donovan

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