A Quick One? Not really!
Ziggy from The Who Forum sent Radio London what he thought was 'a quick question'

Hi Mary,

I wonder if you could possibly answer a quick question for me? Over on The Who Forum there's some debate about what is being said on the Radio London jingle that appears before 'I Can See For Miles' on The Who's 'Sell Out' album.

The jingle in question goes...
"You're a pussycat, you're where it's at, the one that's in on every place....the in sound!"

There's some disagreement concerning "the in sound", with certain listeners hearing it as "the AM sound". I've Googled this, and surprisingly it's an issue that appears to have bugged the various online Who communities for quite a while! It would seem pretty clear to me that "the in sound" is the obvious candidate, being a common phrase from that era... but is there any chance you could give us the definitive answer?
Thanks in advance!

Ziggy

Click on the photo for purchasing information and to hear clips from 'The Who Sell Out'

I replied:

Hi Ziggy,

There have always been debates about this jingle, because the Sonovox effect makes it so difficult to decipher. Many people think the line is 'the one that's in on every PLAY... the end's out' and believe it to be some sort of US sporting reference - probably baseball. However, we have discussed this possibility with US sports fans and they say 'the end's out' is not a sporting term.

I have never met anyone who thought the line was 'the AM sound', but I think that's far more likely than 'the end's out'! I'm inclined to go with:

'the one that's in on every play... the in sound',

but I don't think anyone has a definitive answer. If we get one, I'll let you know!

Another Sonovox jingle that confused people for years was 'It's just great... for f-fun'. Some translated it as 'It's just great... For farmers'!

Best wishes, Mary

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'Fab' Alan Field decided to investigate thoroughly, to see if he could come up with the definitive answer

1). I would say that the words are -
"You're a pussycat; 'n' you're where it's at;
The one that's in on every play; The In Sound; Big L".

2). There is a sporting reference in the jingle: it's the expression "in on every play", which is quite common in the States in basketball, American football and baseball. It's how they describe the guy who's everywhere on the field, at the centre of the action. There's also something called the "end zone" in American football - the area where a touchdown is scored - but those aren't the words in the jingle.

3). To supplement their own, highly acclaimed, customised jingles from PAMS of Dallas, Radio London 'pirated' some jingles from other stations or demo tapes. 'Pussycat' is one of these. It's actually a composite of five sections from four separate jingles (the semi-colons in the lyrics above show the edit points, and only the first two sections come from the same jingle). The 'Big L' tag (Radio London's alias) is of course their own, from one of the custom PAMS cuts. Except for the Sonovox section, the rest comes from two separate jingles made by another Dallas company, Gwinsound (named after its founder Tommy Gwin), and issued as part of their series 5 which was titled "The In Sound".

4). Unfortunately the Sonovox section itself, which is the subject of the debate, is of unknown origin. I've contacted two jingle experts, Norman Barrington in the UK (who's virtually dissected the jingle) and Ben Freedman in the USA (the head of Gwinsound.com and other jingle companies), but neither can identify it for certain. Putting together what they told me, it seems to be a generic 'pre-record', but it's not Gwinsound, it's probably not PAMS, and might be from a third Dallas jingle company called Pepper and Tanner, or from somewhere else entirely!

5). So what does it say? In a 1994 interview John Entwistle was specifically asked about the 'Pussycat' jingle, in a bid to settle a debate that was raging even then about whether it said 'IN sound' or 'AM sound'. He said he thought it said 'IN sound' as practically all radio was AM at the time. This view is echoed by Norman Barrington: "The word 'in' is stretched because it is hard to do as Sono, hence it could be misheard as 'AM', but back then just about everything was AM sound". My own thoughts? The fact is, Radio London chose to insert the sono dub into a jingle that had an 'IN' theme, and in this context 'In sound' seems to make more sense than 'AM sound' . Compared with FM, it's hard to see why AM sound would be worth boasting about, especially in a jingle that's intended to promote a radio station as the one that stands out from the rest.

6). Just to keep the jingle lyric debate alive, and broaden it out a little.... I'm pretty sure I can hear a very clipped "and" in the first line, which is why I've rendered the lyric as: "You're a pussycat 'n' you're where it's at". On the original Gwinsound jingle there's about 1 second of music after the word 'pussycat', which Radio London edited out; when the jingle is heard complete it's somehow easier to hear the 'n'.

7). There's a promo for Gwinsound products at www.gwinsound.com/demo.html. It includes part of a 2002 interview with Tommy Gwin (which starts 2min 15 sec into the clip). This will be dynamite for people on The Who Forum and I won't spoil the surprise by telling you what he says, just hear it for yourself...

Alan Field

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Final thoughts from Mary

Listen very closely and you'll hear there's a 'miaow' sung on the very front of 'Pussycat'. Alan has pretty much confirmed my answer to Ziggy. 'In on every play' certainly makes sense, as it applies equally to top sportsmen and successful radio stations! We know that Kenny Everett in particular enjoyed editing together various jingles, one time splicing together every 'wonderful' from every available jingle on the ship, to produce a string of 'wonderfuls' to describe Radio London. He is the most likely culprit for producing the 'pussycat' edit.

I can see no reason whatsoever why Radio London would promote itself as 'the AM sound', which would be meaningless to the average British listener, who probably wouldn't even know what AM meant, other than 'before noon'! Most people would have been unaware that there was anything available on radio sets other than mediumwave, longwave and shortwave.

Short of identifying the source of 'the in sound' clip, I believe this is close to a definitive answer as we are likely to get.

Many thanks to Alan for his research.

Ziggy's Response

Thanks for the new info regarding the 'Pussycat' jingle, it makes for fascinating reading. Mr. Field is certainly a gent who knows his stuff. I guess we can say the question has pretty much been answered once and for all now... and I bet they couldn't have imagined back in 1967 that people would be spending so much time 40 years later debating and discussing one tiny word from that jingle!

Many thanks again for all your help,

All the very best for now,

Ziggy

Another perspective

John Bennett, aka Sloopy John B, who specialises in building models of the radio ships, has his own outlook on 'pussycat' - and other jingles.

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The Last Can of Tuna in Billingsgate Market

I read your article about  'Pussycat ' and it brought back a memory or two.

The British public was not used to jingles until, of course, the offshore stations came along. Jingles were revolutionary and I became fascinated by these short, 'cartoons' in sound. I began to collect jingles... and am still collecting all these years on.

Because the jingles were so fast and slick, I couldn't, as a child, get the words right, so I put in ones of my own for the words I couldn't recognise. So, Caroline North's jingle:  'You're off and running, you'll win let's go-go - with the baby Bob Stewart Show' was:

 'We've bought a new car, let's go-go-with the baby Bob Stewart Show'.

Now this was OK, until I started work in radio where it presented a few problems for me, especially when I was Head of Commercial Production. The habit stuck and I couldn't get out of it!

Often I would have my own inner shorthand for a jingle and then have to translate it into correct terminology.

There was a Piccadilly Radio jingle that ran:  'Piccadilly Care-Line, people helping people', which in my mental shorthand was:  'Piccadilly's CAROLINE people VETTING people'!

Going further back, I once had a Dutch girlfriend (Marialane) and she was very much a fan of RNI, Atlantis, Caroline and Veronica. We still keep in touch and nowadays she's married with lots of kids and cats. Back then, she decided to help me improve my Dutch but abandoned this quickly when she discovered I barely know English.

Anyhow, the jingles I had collected that were in the Dutch language, I named and catalogued as I heard them, or put another way, as they sounded to me!

One day Marialane was looking through the Radio Veronica jingles that I had put on the (now old) NAB/Spotmaster carts, and came across one that absolutely 'corpsed' her! Gales of laughter, eyes running with mirth, clutching of stomach 'cos it hurt - that sort of spontaneous, uncontrollable laughter.

I of course kept asking what had set her off, but she couldn't speak as she was laughing so much.

I got hold of the cart, and the name I had put on the cart label said:  'Radio Veronica, Sounds Great Down Billingsgate Market '. This was what had set her off.

Marialane did explain the correct words to me later, but it really was pearls before swine. To this day, that Veronica jingle is catalogued as  'Billingsgate Market '. She was even more perplexed when she found I had never been to Billingsgate market and wouldn't even know how to get there!

As you may recall, I had Caroline North on an intravenous drip into my ears back then, but occasionally I could get Radio 270, and I could hear Big L after nightfall, when the medium wave signal travels farther for some reason. Radio London reached my part of Cheshire in the evenings, and I would tune in every so often.

I heard a very strange jingle on Big L that had me completely baffled! As far as I could tell it was:

 'It's the last tin of tuna, in Lon-don England, see the ballerina. Wonderful Radio London Ole'.

Yes, you would instantly know it as Big L's Spanish jingle, as it is known , but still, in my catalogue system, it's marked as:  'Radio London Big L Last Tin of Tuna.'

The jingle that gave me the biggest problem was,  'Pussycat'.

Back then, when all the ships had gone, I was aged 10 or 11 and the passing of the offshore stations made me truly depressed. I felt as though I'd had a bereavement, so deep was my love of the stations.

I had the Big L 7" closedown disc, and then someone told me about the LP  'The Who Sell Out'. I saved money from my milk round job with my father, scraped together every coin I could get, begged for record tokens for birthdays and so on, until I had enough to buy TWO copies of the album. One was for playing, the other was for posterity and I vowed it would never, ever, have a stylus near it and was to remain unplayed forever.

Even the one for playing was hurriedly copied onto reel-to-reel tape to save the vinyl. I recall recording it with an open mike (very primitive) and hoping nobody would come upstairs and flush the loo, as this would have come out on the tape.

At that time The Who's album was something of a Holy Grail for offshore freaks like me. I thought that the few bits I had would be all that would ever remain of the offshore stations, and that as time passed, they would all be forgotten. Who would have thought that in 2008, there's more offshore material available than there was back in the Sixties? I certainly didn't foresee this at all.

Today, my collection has rare things like a video (taken from the original cine film) of the Radio Uilenspiegel aeroplane dropping programme canisters near to the ship, the video about the building of the Mansell forts (Radio City, Essex, BBMS etc.) and hours of programmes from Radio Mercur etc.

The interest in the offshore stations is perhaps greater now, than back then, and I could never have envisaged something like your Big L site, on something called an Internet, dedicated to Radio London. I'm so grateful that your site and all the others are around.

 'The Who Sell Out', gave me my first listen of the Pussycat jingle, my fave one on the album. If Big L's Spanish jingle had me confused, then Pussycat made me brainless! I played it on the reel-to-reel tape a thousand times, but could not get the words. (Today, I can hear Kenny Everett's pro splicing much in evidence). Finally, after many weeks of deliberation, I thought I'd got it.

The jingle read: 'Hey pussycat, you're where it's at, keep on using your litter-tray, the innnn sound, Big L.'

I thought that it might be something to do with the ship's cat!

Anyway, Radio London's Pussycat jingle is in my Radio Library filed as: 'WRL Hey Pussycat Litter Tray'.

In my defense, I was aged ten or so and I must have been born with cloth ears!

Best wishes, John

PS – No disrespect to Big L intended!


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