Anglo For Your Ear: Jimmy Nail’s “Ain’t No Doubt”

British actors-turned-singers have a much better track record of success than their American counterparts. (See Robson Green for the case-in-point.) In the early ’80s, actor Jimmy Nail became a star playing “drunken, ugly Geordie lout” Oz on the UK series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet. While his acting career bloomed, he was also branching out into music. In 1986, he covered the Rose Royce classic, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” which was a top 5 hit.

He focused on acting throughout the late ’80s, but he re-launched his music career in a big way in 1992 with the album, Growing Up in Public. It yielded his sole UK No. 1 single, the idiosyncratic pop tune, “Ain’t No Doubt.” Nail speaks the verses instead of singing, narrating the break-up of a relationship. Before each chorus, the song becomes all-out theater:

FEMALE VOICE: I don’t want nobody else, I love you.
JIMMY (to the listener): She’s lying.
FEMALE VOICE: There won’t be somebody else, and that’s true.
JIMMY: She’s lying.
FEMALE VOICE: Say you’ll always be my friend, sweet darling…
JIMMY (singing): Why does she preteeeeeeeend?!

Then the horns come out, and the chorus bursts forth. Not quite Pet Shop Boys-caliber, but a clever little ditty nonetheless.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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