1975 Polly Brown – Puff Of Smoke
Polly Brown grew up in Birmingham, England, and joined the group Pickettywitch in 1969. She sang lead vocals for the group on a series of singles. In 1970, their recording of That Same Old Feeling reached #5 on the UK chart. I remember playing the record on the air in Nashville, but the single only reached #67 on the Hot 100.
The group had two more singles reach #16 and #27 in the UK later that year, but neither one touched the US Hot 100.
Sales for Pickettywitch continued to slide, and Polly left the group in 1973 to pursue a solo career. She covered So Much In Love, which was a #1 hit for The Tymes in 1963, but the single did not advance her career at all.
In 1974, Polly teamed up with producer Ron Roker and recorded a cover of an Abba album cut, Honey Honey. They released the single as a duo named Sweet Dreams. Their single hit the charts before Abba released their version as a single. While the Sweet Dreams version reached the top ten in the UK, the Abba version quickly overtook it in the US: Abba’s version reached #27 in the US while the Sweet Dreams version stalled at #68. Tony Jackson replaced Ron for live performances and future recordings. Five more singles failed to chart, and the pair stopped recording together.
Polly jumped on the disco train in 1975 and finally had a hit in the US. The single Up In A Puff Of Smoke reached #16 on the Hot 100, #29 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart, and #3 on the Disco chart.
A Song for Europe was the singing contest that the UK used to pick its competitor in the Eurovision singing contest in 1976 and Polly competed both as a solo singer and as part of Sweet Dreams. Brotherhood of Man won the UK competition with an impossibly cute performance and eventually won the Eurovision contest with their song, Save Your Kisses For Me. That record sat at the top of the UK chart for six weeks and sold six million copies. While it only reached #27 in the US in 1976, it successfully reached the top of the AC chart.
In the eighties, Polly copied Dionne Warwick and added an “e” to her last name, becoming Polly Browne for at least one single. That didn’t work any better for her than it did for Dionne.
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