Turn on to Jesus

Discussions about the British rock group City Boy and music in general.

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Turn on to Jesus

Post by vitrola » Thu Aug 30, 2018 12:05 pm

Hi everyone, just to know exactly what the original title "Turn on to Jesus" means, I understand that maybe means for me (not sure) be yourself Jesus, buy I'm not sure. I would like exactly what it means, and if the record company rejected in favour of 5705, was it for the title or the lyrics?, or for both of them.
I 'd to know what each of you understands about the lyrics?
Long time that I didn't post in this forum, just lurking from time to time, but seems very quiet in the last couple of years

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Re: Turn on to Jesus

Post by [email protected] » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:45 am

Look what you can find in a nearly 40 years old magazine (New Musical Express, Sep 2 1978)! :D

Quoting Steve:
It's about a time Lol and myself spent in the dry area of Kansas. There's no bars, the only place you can get a drink is in one of these "religious" clubs, with topless waitresses with dollar bills stuffed in their G-strings, and out of the jukebox is blaring this "Jesus is the Saviour" music. It was bizarre - I mean that kind of thing just doesn't happen in Birmingham!"
... and out!

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Re: Turn on to Jesus

Post by christian » Fri Aug 31, 2018 6:27 am

That explains the lyrics, but not the change to the (in my mind inferior) Probably connected to commercial hit potential of the song. Anyone knows?

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Re: Turn on to Jesus

Post by Laurelei » Fri Aug 31, 2018 8:05 am

I can’t find the thread now, but if I remember correctly the record company forced to change. They felt the other subject matter to be too controversial. Steve came up with the idea of a telephone love song. I think 5705 is part of their record company’s phone number, too.

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Re: Turn on to Jesus

Post by Geir » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:44 am

Hi all!

Good to see some activity on here again. Anyway, the most recent issue of Rock Candy Magazine (August-September 2018) has a little piece on the success of "", as part of a "Step back in time" series they do. There are some quotes from Steve Broughton interview back in the day, as well as some latter day insights from Mike Slamer, dating back to 2015. Nothing startlingly new to certified City Boy anoraks, but nice to read all the same! :D

Anyway, here's a brief quote on the transition from "Turn on to Jesus" to the song's later numerical incarnation:
"A single entitled 'Turn onto [sic] Jesus' was released to moderate success in Germany and Holland. Awarded a new lick of paint and a set of revised lyrics it became '', the band's first Top 10 hit in their homeland."

That's all it says on that particular matter, but from other interviews I've read over the years, the band was seemingly advised one way or the other that they had a potential hit on their hands if they would only change the subject matter of the song, to which they duly complied - ...so I seem to recall the same thing as the others on this thread.

Using the word Jesus in a song title was certainly a well-known knife edge to walk in the US at the time: Fellow Brit John Waite being persuaded by his US bandmates to change "Jesus Isn't There" into "Jesus, Are You There?" on the final Babys album ("On the Edge", 1980) to avoid controversy is one incident that comes to mind. Think of that what you will, but I'm fairly sure "Turn on to Jesus" was simply to quirky a lyric to have made headway in the fashion that "" ultimately did.

On a final note, I can warmly recommend Rock Candy Magazine. It's made by many of the same people that are behind the Rock Candy reissue specialist reissue label, and while it unashamedly focuses on the past, they dig out many cool tales from yesteryear, as well as providing excellent new in-depth features drawing on current and historical interviews with the artists and alumni that were around in the day.
...Anyone for tennis? (Or was it Dennis?)

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Re: Turn on to Jesus

Post by vitrola » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:57 pm

Hi all
Thanks for all of your answers, no doubt about that Turn on to Jesus wasn't the best name for a potential hit single, but what about the lyrics? My big question is: if in the lyrics there is a openly critic on religion or something to give you a kind of negative interpretation?
Maybe was just the title song, sometimes to understand a lyric in a different language could have some difficulties.
Nice to reactive the forum a bit

All the best

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Re: Turn on to Jesus

Post by Martin » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:28 am

The record label felt the title wouldn't really work in the USA, particularly "the bible belt".

Here is a snippet written by Max Thomas:

"Lol and Steve had written “Turn on to Jesus” and when Polygram heard the early mixes of the album in the spring of ’78, they loved the tune, said it was very commercial, but pointed out that having “Jesus” in the title would cause all sorts of problems with radio stations both in the UK and in the USA.
We were on tour in Germany at the time, and I remember one of our managers talking to Steve and Lol for ages on the phone as we were lying around in this hotel room in Munich. Lol said “Right, I’ve got an idea…we’ll give them a telephone love-song – 5…7…0…5” (or something like that anyway!"

The lyrics themselves are I would suggest, basically a bit of a Micky take, based on the bands experience outlined in an earlier post - a strange bar in dry Kansas, Jesus being ever prominent yet topless go-go girls..
Thank you - I love you all!

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