Wednesday, 6 April 2011

20: Anita Ward, “Ring My Bell” (no.1, 1979)

A gorgeous distillation of the disco ethos, just as the Disco Sucks movement was taking hold in the U.S. (Frankly, who - aside from sour-faced, cousin-loving, culture-burning grinches in provincial American baseball grounds - could resist those “ping” effects, the disco equivalent of those silver balls you sometimes get on top of cupcakes?) Originally offered to teen pop sensation Stacy Lattishaw, who’d have to wait another year for her own one-hit wonder (“Jump to the Beat”, no.3, 1980), “Ring My Bell” then fell into the lap of Memphis schoolmarm Ward while she was recording her first album, and - lo - pop history was made. Later remixed endlessly, and covered (sort of) by the Fresh Prince, Frances de la Tour and - best of all - by Tori Amos, it also provided the title for a late 80s C4 series that offered viewers all the thrills and spills of live telephony. (It was no Star Test.) Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing sexual in the substance of “Ring My Bell”, the song being a plea to postmen everywhere to deliver their irregular packages on a first visit, rather than pushing a “we called while you were out” card through the door; Ward’s follow-up single, “(You Can Slide That) Through My Letterbox” proved altogether more suggestive.

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