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Hail Hail to Heil Heil: now Celtic fan says Hello Hello to Mastermind final

If the prize was for alliterative specialist subjects, John Savage would win it hands down.

John at the SARM studios
John at the SARM studios

The Celtic fan enters Friday’s final of Mastermind on BBC TV with a track record of scoring points on his favourite club, and Nazi Germany from 1933-45…bolstered by a pretty impressive general knowledge under pressure.

His choice for the hour-long final, which is being screened from 7.30pm on April 5, is 1970s chart music in the UK, remembered by some as defined by Gary Glitter's song, Hello Hello (I’m Back Again). And not, insists Mr Savage, a song favoured by Rangers fans.

What were your favourite songs of the last 60 years? Read our new series Not Fade Away: 60 years, 60 songs

The salesman from Polmont, near Falkirk, is one of six contenders in the final and each features in a short film which covers their specialist subject.

Mr Savage was taken to SARM Recording Studios in Notting Hill, London, owned by producer Trevor Horn, of The Buggles fame.

In the 1970s it was Island Records' London studios and Bob Marley, among others, recorded there and at one time also had a flat within the complex. In 1984, it was the base for Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to unite the music industry and record Feed the World as Band Aid.

But what does Mr Savage, now 52, and father to 14-year-old son Andrew, recall of the 1970s. He shares his recollections with HeraldScotland readers:

“The very early part of the decade doesn't hold too many memories as I didn't really get into music until 1972, coinciding with the arrival of glam rock, and I went on from there.

The 1970s was a mixed bag really, from the depths of the Wurzels, Clive Dunn and Benny Hill, to the heights of the Sex Pistols and David Bowie, along with the most overrated act ever: Abba (and if you don't believe, me listen to the lyrics of Dancing Queen).

We saw the rise (and fall) of glam, punk, disco, ska and reggae and I had favourites in all genres: Sex Pistols; Roxy Music; Bowie; Queen; Mott The Hoople; The Police; Bob Marley; Chic, Madness and many more.

From 1972-75 some really good music was produced, some of which remain listenable today like Bowie, Bolan, Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry, Queen and Mott The Hoople, although the major "glam" acts haven't really travelled so well.

Sweet, Mud, Suzi Quatro, andAlvin Stardust haven't really stood the test of time and musically have a great deal in common with some of the manufactured acts we see today.

There was a hiatus in 1976, and looking at the charts there is confirmation that excessive heat affects the brain. Remember the neverending heatwave which also coincided with me leaving school.

Luminaries such as Demis Roussos, Pussycat (a Dutch country & western band), The Wurzels, The ubiquitous Abba (especially Dancing Queen), J.J.Barrie, David Soul, Telly Savalas, Our Kid, Brotherhood Of Man, Manhattan Transfer (didn't you just want to punch the two guys in the line-up?) and David Dundas, to name but a few.

But there were also a few gems: the Boston Tea Party by the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (the best chart song by a Scottish band ever); Jailbreak and The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy; Misty Blue by Dorothy Moore; Anarchy In The UK (briefly).

1978 and 1979 were decent years as we saw a crossover from some of the new wave/ punk acts hitting the charts: the Boomtown Rats, Buzzcocks, Stranglers, Ian Dury etc. But these years were dominated by the Bee Gees / Grease, which was not my cup of tea at all.

So they’re my thoughts on the music of the 1970s. No doubt I will have upset a few Abba lovers…but I can live with that.”

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