Long ladies were a popular thing in the 70s. In 1972 The Hollies sang about a ‘Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress’, then in 1974 Mungo Jerry were interested in a ‘Long Legged Woman Dressed In Black’ and in 1977, local band Circus brought us simply a ‘Long Legged Lady’. One may be wondering looking at this title if the Long Legged Lady in the Circus song was dressed at all because there is no mention of her attire in the title, but we are very quickly informed by Bernie Millar – who handled the Circus vocals – that ‘She struts by with a red dress on’, which was just as well as back then in South Africa, women were never allowed to be without some form of clothing.
And the word strut is not out of place in this first line of the lyrics as there is a kind of funky rock strut going on with this song which, I was surprised to find in digging out information on the song, was written and recorded by a certain Dennis Waterman. That’s right folks. This 3 minutes of wonderful rock, began life as a song by the Waterman part of Stock, Aitken & Waterman who brought us the likes of Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley.
I have not managed to get hold of a copy of Waterman’s version to hear how he recorded the track, but judging by a couple of the other tracks on Youtube from Waterman’s 1977 album ‘Downwind Of Angels’ on which his version of ‘Long Legged Lady’ appears, it seems that Waterman did rock a little before he went all poppy. However, while Waterman seemed to rock in a Foreigner or REO Speedwagon kinda way, Circus seemed to have been listening to the likes of ZZ Top and Van Halen as they give the song a harder edge to it.
When they came to film a video for the song, the band brought in a cheetah to feature alongside them playing in Ciro’s nightclub. However, the cheetah took exception to the loud music and ran amok so the video ended up being cheetah-less, but unfortunately it featured Bernie Millar’s nipples which showed through his opened jumpsuit and the SABC banned it. Radio 5 got in on the act as the press lambasted the SABC for its decision and refused to play Circus records. So despite the track sounding so cool, the song did not get played on the radio and could not follow up The Hollies and Mungo Jerry’s success with their long ladies (both the latter made the Springbok Top 20) and the public had to wait a further 9 years before we finally saw a ‘Lady In Red’ in our charts and we all know how much that did not rock!
Where to find it:
In The Arena – Circus (2001), Retrofresh, freshcd116