Lynsey De Paul – No Honestly!

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Singer-songwriter Lynsey De Paul died yesterday at the age of 64.

She was one of those early-mid 70s figures who always seemed to be ‘around’ whether as a Whodunnit panellist (I got her muddled with Anouska Hempel) or as a Top of the Pops regular and, I would imagine, the musical interlude in countless comedy and variety series, introduced as ‘And now, adding a little glamour to proceedings, it’s the lovely – Lynsey De Paul!’.  But that is how it was for many women in the 70s, set to play second fiddle to the men.

Like many young males at the time, I was probably a little in love with Lynsey De Paul.  As well as glamour, she had a cheekiness and a slight air of mystique as if willingly trapped in the femme fatale role she often chose for herself.   She was looking to be rescued by a knight in shining armour.  There was a definite coy sexuality at play too as some of her record sleeves show (1974 album Taste Me, Don’t Waste Me and 1975’s frankly tacky Love Bomb though chart success was proving a little more elusive by this time).  Her music often had a 20s/30s feel which wasn’t uncommon in the early 70s.  It was the way to go if you were pure pop rather than glam or prog.

Three Sugars

Today I’ve listened to the three songs of Lynsey De Paul’s which I remember best:  Sugar Me [1972], Won’t Somebody Dance With Me [1973] and No Honestly [1974].  It’s probably the first time I’ve heard all three in nearly forty years.

I’m quite surprised that Sugar Me was her breakthrough single as it doesn’t really seem to do a lot beyond that cutely, boppy feel. It comes and goes without leaving much of a trace, well maybe a sweet aftertaste.

Won’t Somebody Dance With Me (why never a question mark at the end?) took the period mood to greater lengths and appropriately perhaps, won an Ivor Novello Award.  Inspired by Gilbert O’Sullivan’s pre-pop style, it’s coyly enticing with a pretty melody sung in Lynsey’s demurely sultry voice and is easily the best of these three songs.  It also forms my most personal associations of Lynsey De Paul and a memory of a particular weekday afternoon around late 1973.  A friend of mine, Richard, had bought the single and wanted to play it to me after school one day.  He was hugely excited about it.  So we sat on the floor beside his sister’s record player, he put the needle on the record and the music played.  He was clearly in love with Lynsey and, I think, with the song’s air of fatalistic romance.

No Honestly was the theme to the London Weekend sitcom of the same name and is still insanely castanet-catchy.  I used to tune in just to hear the theme at the start and was disappointed when the ‘No’ became ‘Yes’ and a new, hugely forgettable theme, Yes Honestly, replaced Lynsey’s.

It’s been said that she wrote a song for the 1983 Conservative Election Campaign, or was it the Party Conference?  I’m hugely relieved to find there is no trace of it.

So these three De Paul songs will suffice for me though I’d swap Sugar Me for Storm In a Teacup (which she co-wrote) if it could be The Fortunes‘ version.

There are a couple of 2CD compilations if you want the full Lynsey.

Lynsey de Paul – 11th June 1958 – 1st October 2014

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