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Imaginary lovers.

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Another installment in the ongoing and potentially never-ending Edinburgh Exorcism series.

Tartan terror!Somewhere in Rochester, N.Y., around 1990, there lived a thirtyish British woman who felt she had outgrown childish things.

I never met her; I just harvested parts of her record collection from time to time when I visited my favorite local record store.

The Bay City Rollers’ Once Upon A Star, the group’s second U.K. album, was never released in the States, but I got my hands on it through the secondhand bin at Fantasy Records anyway.

(My copy was missing the ridge on the upper top with the band members’ photos on it, which I assume got stuck on the bedroom wall of the aforementioned British chick. Indeed, until Wikipedia came along, I never knew what the full album cover looked like.)

The motorcyclist appears to be straddling the center line, which would make the album cover design acceptable in either England or the States.

Is the motorcyclist riding on the left, British-style, or the right, American-style? He appears to be straddling the center line — equally illegal in both places — with his eyes off the road to boot. At least he’s wearing a helmet.

The most noteworthy thing about the album, to me, was a small note on the back cover that appeared under the Side Two song titles.

See, Once Upon A Star includes songs titled “Marlina” and “La Belle Jeane,” both original tunes with songwriting credited to various members of the Rollers.

Lest anyone take that too seriously, the album says:

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

I’ve not seen a disclaimer like this on a record before or since.

(Although I don’t normally traffic in albums geared to teenage girls, except for a Partridge Family album I can only vaguely remember buying and will deny all knowledge of if asked.)

It raises more questions than it answers:

1. Was (or is) this common? Did Bobby Sherman or Shaun Cassidy have to put this same sort of caveat on the LPs that had “Julie, Do Ya Love Me” or “Hey Deanie” on them?

2. Whose idea was this? Bell Records? The Rollers’ management? The Rollers themselves? (Though, since they wrote the songs, they could just have changed the words if they thought it was going to be a problem.)

3. What did they think would happen? Were they genuinely concerned that the Rollers’ teenage fans would go throw themselves in front of trains, thinking that Derek or Woody was involved with some French chick named Jeane?

(J.K. Rowling had a funny line about her decision to write Fleur Delacour into the Harry Potter series — something about how English boys fantasize about French girls. Arsed if I can find an exact citation, though.)

4. Was this just for the British audience? Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of Bay City Rollers, the band’s first U.S. long-player, which cobbles together “Marlina” and a bunch of other songs from their first couple British records.

I wonder — and maybe one of the fan-club folks can enlighten me — whether the same admonition was reprinted on the U.S. album, or whether the group decided its U.S. fans were made of sterner stuff than their sisters across the pond.

(My copy of 1976’s Dedication includes no such warning about the song “My Lisa,” for what that’s worth.)

5. Was the band trying to skirt the entire issue? “Marlina” is a pretty uncommon name; I wonder if the group used it in a song specifically because there weren’t too many Marlinas out there.

The whole thing summons one charming image, though:

I like to imagine some 14-year-old Rollers fan in 1975 lifting the needle at the end of “Let’s Go” and setting it down again at the beginning of “My Teenage Heart,” so she wouldn’t have to hear Les McKeown sing a song to some other chick named Marlina.

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3 responses »

  1. EricaTyson2012

    This was fun to read. Great title, too.

    Reply
  2. Eric Faulkner wrote the song “Marlina” for his little cousin Marilyn.

    Reply
  3. ‘Marlina’ was a lullaby.

    Reply

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