Friday, June 20, 2008

There's Klingons On The Starboard Bow...

The 80s charts were chock full of novelty/comedy records, some instant classics, some…well some not so much. One of my favourite comedy hits of that decade, or any other, was ‘Star Trekkin’ by U.K. comedy artist The Firm (not to be confused with the Jimmy Page supergroup project or the 90s hip-hop group of the same name).

The Firm were largely the brainchild of Irish born John O’Connor, who under another guise released five new age music albums as EKO (which means “one” in Sanskrit), starting with 1974’s ‘Future Primitive’ through to 1996’s ‘Celtica’. In between times O’Connor owned and operated a recording studio called Bark Studios. There he produced song demos for up and coming performers and worked as a session player with artists such as Bucks Fizz, but also found time to continue working on his own material as a composer/guitarist. One of the songs he came up with was a collaboration with Graham Lister called ‘Arthur Daley (E’s Alright)’ which was an unofficial homage to the character of the same name from the ITV series ‘Minder’. In 1982 ‘Minder’ was at the height of its popularity in the U.K. and as a consequence ‘Arthur Daley’, released under the pseudonym of The Firm (which also included Alan Williams), reached #14 mid year. ‘Minder’ star Dennis Waterman had already had a chart hit with the theme song from the show ‘I Could Be So Good For You’ (UK#3 in 1980) which had two shots at the Australian charts in late 1980 and again in early 1983.

Though ‘Arthur Daley (E’s Alright)’ only made it to #72 in Australia, The Firm’s next single performed considerably better. ‘Star Trekkin’ was initially rejected by just about every record label in the U.K. O’Connor believed in the song so much he pressed 500 copies off his own bat and eventually ‘Star Trekkin’ started to get some airplay across the U.K. The song then hit warp factor nine and zoomed to the top of the British charts mid year, spending two weeks at top spot. Though the original TV series ‘Star Trek’ had long since ceased production, the films were still being produced and let’s face it the ‘Star Trek’ brand was as popular as ever. The song took the main characters, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Dr. McCoy, Engineer Scotty and Lt. Uhura and threw them together in a wacky comedy space adventure. But the song did more than just appeal to ‘Trekkies’ (though they probably appreciated the comic references more), it was a quirky little pop number that was accessible to all. It reached #3 in Australia and combined with hit status in Japan and across Europe went on to sell over a million copies worldwide. The song was backed by a fun clay-mation promo clip. It was included on an album of material by The Firm aptly titled ‘Serious Fun’.

Settling in the U.S. O’Connor continued with his EKO project into the 90s and most recently has been an award winning composer of the music for the animated series ‘King Of The Hill’. Lister went on to become a professional tennis coach.


meggsy said...

I won't be able to get this tune out of my head all night now,
brilliant post.
Cheers Megan

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Thanks Megan, gotta love those novelty hits :)