From Kent to ARIA: Paper Lace – “The Night Chicago Died”

Published: March 29, 2018

I must confess that this is not my idea; having recently come across Tom Breihan’s ‘The Number Ones’ column for Stereogum, and in turn, Tom Ewing’s ‘Popular’ column for Freaky Trigger, I felt inspired to approach the format from my own geographical perspective; that is, review every single to reach number 1 on the ARIA Charts/Kent Report, and assign a numerical grade from 1-10. In the interest of brevity (and some pertinence), the column shall begin from July 1974, the date in which the initial Kent Report was first published commercially, and work forwards from there. Dependent upon time constraints and general interest, publishing of these articles will, similar to Ewing and Breihan’s columns, be daily. And now…


downloadPaper Lace – “The Night Chicago Died”

23 September – 11 November 1974 (8 Weeks).

It’s difficult to be enthused about Paper Lace in the retrospective; their other hit, “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” is a relic, and proof enough that chart success does not always signal timelessness, or any measure of ongoing interest. It’s also not very good, but a lot of that can be attributed to production that has naturally deteriorated over time. You can forgive them, but you can also forget them.

Much like “Billy,” “Chicago” found more fame when Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods’ rendition topped the US charts. However, in doing so, they also managed to piss off Chicago mayor Richard Daley, and make an assortment of geographic and historical errors that nevertheless bungled Lake Michigan, the affluence of certain Chicago suburbs, and the actual details of Al Capone’s downfall. Peter Callandar defended those inaccurate and romantic lyrics limply, and it didn’t matter either way because it gave them success all over, if not in the US. Nevertheless, Donaldson’s cover is again superior, and no reason either good or bad arises to listen to this perfectly tasteful and unobjectionable Americana daydreaming. 4.

Pop / Top 40 / General
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