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45 at 33: Murray Head’s One Night In Bangkok

Did you all know that librarian Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a pop singer older brother?

Murray Head is indeed Anthony Head’s sibling, and years after he came on as a Cat Stevens style folkie, in the dying days of 1984, One Night In Bangkok marched its way to No. 12 in Britain and remains his one solitary hit.

An unlikely pop music confection with them heavy lyrics from a Broadway musical, lyricist Tim Rice hooked up with Benny and Björn from ABBA to create Chess, a musical look at tensions between the US and USSR through the metaphor of the game.

Head was featured in the cast and sang this song, sounding more like M’s Pop Muzik than a musical number. The slightly mechanised verses are spoken rather than sung with such memorably sardonic quips as “I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine.” and “I’d let you watch, I would invite you / But the queens we use would not excite you.”

Chess and double entendres meet in lines like, “One town’s very like another / When your head’s down over your pieces, brother.”

Beats snakes and ladders any day.

Steve Pafford

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