Displaying items by tag: ABBA
The British top 40 music charts have always been a bit peculiar when compared to the U.S. Sure, they are often on top of new music trends way ahead of the Americas. But their charts are also sprinkled with weird revivals of a song a decade after it was released or there's the embrace of a song that is just too strange to have been a hit in any other country.
That's certainly the case with the short-lived band Sweet Dreams, which in 1974 had a Top Ten British hit with a cover version of ABBA's "Money Honey." The track briefly charted in the U.S. and some other countries, but in every other country than Britain, the original version by ABBA was the clear-cut winner.
The oddest thing about Sweet Dreams is that during the period when the song was a hit in Britain, the female lead singer inexplicably performed the song in blackface.
The song was recorded by Polly Brown, who had previously has a top five U.K. hit in 1970 when she was a member of the pop-rock band Pickettywitch. The "Money Honey" cover was recorded in the same session that also included "Up In A Puff Of Smoke," which was her first solo hit. Brown and her producers decided to release "Money Honey" under the name Sweet Dreams and recruited singer Tony Jackson to perform with her as the male member of the group. They made an appearance on "Top Of The Pops" and eventually released an album.
While "Money Honey" was a hit in the U.K., none of the group's follow-up singles charted and the group broke up after one album, with Brown going on to release "Up In A Puff Of Smoke" under her own name. Jackson's solo career faltered, with the highlight being his recording of the song that was used as the theme for the film The Cassandra Crossing. He found a bit more success as a background singer, performing on hits such as "Knock on Wood" by Amii Stewart, "Every Time You Go Away" by Paul Young and "Wishing Well" by Terence Trent D'Arby.
There isn't a lot of documentation about the band, but when the first single was released, Brown decided to give herself the name "Sara Leone" (an apparent reference to the country Sierra Leone) and perform in blackface. It apparently didn't anyone long to decide this might not be the wisest career move and by the time the dup appeared on "Top Of The Pops," Brown was in semi-blackface, wearing a wig and sporting makeup that made her look more deeply tanned than black. Still, it's a weird thing to do and I haven't been able to determine why she decided to do it.
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