Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Thunderclap Newman’s Rush Follow-Up

I was pleased – and surprised – to see a special section devoted to single releases in the Rolling Stone Record Review, originally published 1971.  The review of “rush” follow-up to UK #1 hit – 1969’s “Something in the Air” by Thunderclap Newman – caught my eye, since The Who‘s Pete Townshend produced and played bass on the original hit.  Says Ed Ward:

“A follow-up to ‘Something in the Air,’ this record has all the makings of another one.  Newman’s trip is a strange one, and this engaging number is a catalogue of children hit by trains, run over, and such, all set to a wonderful tune.

“‘Love is just a game / You fly your paper plane / There is no wind’ — say the words to the fadeout.  Meditate on that.”

“Accidents” was written by Speedy Keen, who penned The Who Sell Out‘s opening track, “Armenia City in the Sky.”  How amusing to learn, as I did just now, that the group met for the first time when they recorded their #1 hit at the behest of Townshend, who was in the throes of writing Tommy and lacking sufficient time to devote to the solo efforts of each of the individuals in the group – Andy “Thunderclap” Newman (piano), Jimmy McCullough (who would later join Wings) & John “Speedy” Keen (guitar/drums/vocal).

Belgian 45 picture sleeve (in distinctive RUGBY TYPEFACE)

Thunderclap Newman 45

(Rugby font also used by The Holy Modal Rounders)


Released in June, 1970 “Accidents” would peak at #46 in the UK pop chart – the first of three singles from the group’s one and only album, Hollywood Dream, for which the group would record a very different (and much lengthier) arrangement of “Accidents.”

The group would disband by April of the following year.  Keen, interestingly, would produce debut albums for both Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers and Motorhead.

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