A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

Slowly but surely, we edge through a review of my record collection in chronological order…

…and here we are in April 1986, where, as far as I can glean, this was the only single I purchased.

One of only two records I own by Big Country – the other being their debut album “The Crossing” – this turned out to be their biggest hit in the UK, reaching the giddy heights of #7.

Whoever was the band’s stylist at the time was clearly at loggerheads with the person responsible for the photo-shoot for the single sleeve:

Photographer: Let’s put them in a bleak, wind-swept, wintry scene. It captures their innate Scottishness, plus it’ll look like Big Country are part of the big countryside!

Stylist: But I’ve told the lads to turn up dressed as if they’re appearing on Miami Vice….

Photographer: Ah, it’ll be fine, people love a good juxtaposition.

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Big Country – Look Away

It was also around this time that I picked up an album originally released in 1981 and which, by July 2016, had gone platinum twenty times, sold 6,120,000 copies in the UK alone, and had become the biggest selling album in the UK. Ever. So before any of you decide to take the piss, chances are you’ve owned a copy of it at some time or other too.

But, in my book, it shouldn’t count as the Biggest Selling Album Ever, because it’s a Greatest Hits album. Compilation albums were excluded from the normal UK Album Charts in January 1989, and what is a Greatest Hits album if not a compilation of the biggest selling singles released by one artist?

Anyway, whichever way you look at it, it’s definitely an album, and one that I bought in April 1986, and I know that I bought it then because I was swotting up ready to go to my first ever gig later that year, a gig which featured both acts on the line-up. But more about that another time.

Until then, here’s a song which, in the wee small hours of Friday night/Saturday morning, when we’d both had a few too many, Hel and I would belt out together in our old flat:

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Queen – Somebody to Love

Now, if you don’t want to read something a bit soppy, I suggest that you…er…”look away” now: Hel and her long-term partner Neil recently announced they’re getting married next year. So it seems to me that if you sing a song often enough, it can come true. Congratulations, both.

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

On to a record which actually came out in 1985, but I didn’t buy until the following year.

I remembered hearing “Once in a Lifetime” by Talking Heads on the radio when it was a hit back in 1981, and thinking it sounded like nothing else I’d ever heard. My interest wasn’t piqued enough to buy the thing of course – I was just entering my early years of obsession with the Quo at that point – and I don’t think I heard anything else by them again until “Road to Nowhere” came out in 1985. And I didn’t buy that (immediately) either.

Then two things happened. Firstly, “And She Was” came out. And secondly, I saw “Stop Making Sense”, unquestionably one of the greatest live film recordings of a band at the very peak of their powers.

Coincidentally, around about this time I was becoming more interested in buying albums rather than singles, but realising I would not be able to afford to buy every album that had a single on it I liked, I had developed a purchasing protocol: if I liked at least two singles from it, then it was probably worth investing in. Which meant that 1985’s “Little Creatures” had earned its’ place on my list of records I wanted to own.

At the time, though, money was a little short; I had yet to enter the job market on any meaningful level, although I did have a job delivering the local free newspaper once a week to the residents of the village I lived in, a job I had somehow inherited from my brother.

I say delivering, but it would be remiss of me not to admit that I got very bored of this job very quickly, and ended up stashing most of the copies anywhere I could (under my bed, in the garage), rather than spend three hours on a Wednesday night trudging round the locale. Who’s going to complain about not receiving their free newspaper, I reasoned.

Friends of my parents, that’s who.

Anyway, I digress. What I mean to say is that it took a little while to save up enough pennies to be able to afford the “Little Creatures” album, meaning I didn’t actually get hold of a copy until early 1986.

It’s possibly the most polished and commercial of their albums, probably not even my favourite album by them, but nevertheless here’s a couple of tracks from it:

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Talking Heads – Stay Up Late

Talking Heads – And She Was

More soon.

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

So much for me keeping on top of these; it seems to be three months since I posted one of these.

So, here’s the next record I (remember) buying back in 1986, and it’s one that stretches my very idea that there’s no such thing as a guilty pleasure to its’ very limits.

I have no funny story or recollection to tell about this, I simply offer this up for your enjoyment or otherwise.

For this is not a record that I’m proud to announce to the world that I bought, but I did, so there you are.

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Diana Ross – Chain Reaction

All I can say by way of a defence is that I was still a few months away from my musical epiphany and, at the time, I knew it was written by the Bee Gees (not that I’m particularly a fan of the brothers Gibb, but credit where credit’s due, they knew how to write a hit single), and they’d been responsible for a song which I still consider to be one of the finest singles ever released, and a “had a few drinks on a Friday night, sing-a-long” favourite of mine and Hel’s:

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Dionne Warwick – Heartbreaker

So there.

More soon.

Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye

I’ve just heard the sad news that Chuck Berry has died.

As a teenager, when I was learning to play guitar, I figured I should look to some of the greats to pick up some tips from, so I bought a Berry best of, and this has always been one of my favourite tunes of his:

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Chuck Berry – No Particular Place To Go

Pub-quizzers will know that an often-asked question is what his only UK Number One was. Answer: “My Ding-A-Ling”. It would be a shame if that’s how he’s remembered. Up until 1994, that was looking likely. Luckily, in that year, one of his songs was featured in an iconic scene from an iconic movie:

For me though, there was a cover version of one of his songs which I’ve loved ever since I bought the album it features on, and pretty much every time I saw them play live, they ended with this:

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Status Quo – Bye Bye Johnny

I could go on picking great rock’n’roll records that Chuck wrote or performed – the list is almost endless – but I’ll leave it at those three, in the hope that others out there will post more.

Suffice to say, we lost another legend today.

More soon.

 

A History of Dubious Taste – 1986

Recently I have posted the following two assertions:

  1. That it annoyed me that the reruns of Top of the Pops currently airing of BBC4 weren’t being shown in the concurrent week as they had been originally broadcast, and
  2. That I had made a New Year’s Resolution to get on top of the thread which this blog was originally created for: to go through every record I had bought, in sequence.

You can imagine, therefore, how irritated I am with myself that here we are, over halfway through February 2017, and I still haven’t written a single post about records I bought in 1986 and so I’m already out of sync with my younger self, 31 years ago.

I don’t really like just posting a song and saying: “And then I bought this….”, I like there to be a story to tell, a bon mots to drop about why I bought it, what was going on in my life – but sometimes that’s all there is to it. I just bought it because it’s ace.

For example, in January 1986, I bought this, a record I still adore today, and strictly speaking should have featured in my sporadic “How To Do A Cover Version” thread by now:

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The Damned – Eloise

I mean, I could tell you (again, I’m sure I must have mentioned it before, it’s one of the first things I mention to practically anyone I meet for the first time…) about the time I sang karaoke with Captain Sensible (CLANG!!!!), but since I can’t actually remember what song we sang, the anecdote pretty much ends there.

Anyway, hopefully this should start me back on track.

By which I mean, of course: more soon.

A History of Dubious Taste

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I pledged that I’d crack on with the autobiographical aspect of this place, irrespective of the fact that I don’t necessarily have any entertaining acid drops to relate to the records in question.

So, with nothing to say except that you should trust me here: suspend your pre-existing prejudices about this lot and give this a listen. This is just great. I love this record, especially the bit where Knopfler goes all Springsteen mid-way through it.

Here’s the just-shy of fifteen minutes epic that is:

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Dire Straits – Telegraph Road

See? Told you.

More soon.

An Open Invitation (2)

A re-post follow-up to my earlier post, with a bit of extra info.

Shortly after I posted this first time around, Bob Stanley – he of Saint Etienne fame – wrote a piece for, I think, The Guardian, about how Bucks Fizz were a much under-rated pop band. I agreed, and sent him a copy of the post that follows, which he duly retweeted to all of his many, many followers. Happiest moment of my blogging life, right there.

So go on, write something, send it to me at dubioustaste26@gmail.com and let’s see where it takes us.

Here’s my original post:

Early 80s Pop Perfection (kinda)

Ok, so perhaps I should have warned you that things would get worse before they got better. Perhaps I should rename this blog “The Austerity Measures”.

Anyway, it is now 1981. In the three years since the purchase of Darts, whilst I haven’t bought any more records, I’ve immersed myself in my Father’s record collection (predominantly Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson albums), as well as borrowing albums from my relatives (The Beatles). I’d also developed a taste for recording songs from the radio, and used to prepare a new tape each week, which I’d force the family to listen to in the car as we drove to visit my grandparents on a Saturday afternoon.

But in 1981 I found my first two obsessions with pop music. The first: Shakin’ Stevens. With the benefit of hindsight, I can probably look back at my love for the snake-hipped Welshman as a continuation of my interest in those doo-woppy records a la Darts from the first post. But this was an obsession alright. I perfected the dance. I sat perched in front of the TV every Thursday waiting to hear his latest song on Top of the Pops (and, like it or not, he was always on there). I even had a Shaky patch sewn into my Parka coat (but under the hood, so nobody could see it, until I stupidly hung it up by the hood and had the piss mercilessly ripped out of me by my mates at school).

The second: Bucks Fizz. I adored “Making Your Mind Up”, their Eurovision winner, so much that I sat hunched over my tape recorder, ready to pounce, until I’d filled up one entire side of a C90 cassette with it just on repeat, over and over again, for 45 minutes. I must have driven my parents to distraction playing that. I think this was probably my first real awakening of “those” kind of thoughts, teenage boy hormones which had been bubbling below the surface since I first clapped eyes on Debbie Harry a couple of years earlier. And here were two blow-dried guys whipping the skirts off two blonde girls, to reveal much shorter skirts and a whole lot more leg. Frankly, you could keep Cheryl Baker, it was all about Jay Aston for me. That’s her in the rather fetching white blouse on the record cover down there. Phewwww-ee, yes please mama.

These two songs feature in the same post as I bought them at the same time, from the same store, and were the first records I ever bought. Again, as with Darts, not a record store, but rather the record section of a supermarket my mother dragged me round a couple of times a month, called Rainbow, just outside Peterborough. Me wandering off to browse through the racks either here or in the newsagent nearby in the shopping arcade, John Menzies, if memory serves my correctly, became a regular occurrence from now on.

On this particular Saturday morning, I was desperate to buy something rather than just window shop as there was to be a disco, as they were still called back then, to be held that evening in the local village hall. Thrillingly, the disco was called “Jungle Boogie”; even more thrillingly it had been made known that the DJ would play any records that solitary groovers such as I cared to bring with them, and I was desperate for a piece of that action (see what I did there?). The two singles in today’s post were my weapons of choice.

Bear in mind 1981 was a time when great things were happening in the world of pop. Adam and the Ants were at the height of their powers. Human League’s “Dare” was about to hit the shops. The Specials had just had “Ghost Town” at Number One. There were so many records I could have bought that would have made me appear impossibly cool. Instead what do I buy? Bucks Fizz and Shakin’ Fuckin’ Stevens, that’s what.

The night was memorable for two reasons: Natalie, an older girl from the secondary school I had just begun to attend, told me I was a pretty good dancer, and my heart swelled with pride, only to be punctured again moments later when I had to leave the village hall, unplayed 7″ singles tucked under my arm, after the DJ had refused to play them since they were “fucking shit, mate”.

See if you agree:

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Shakin’ Stevens – Green Door

and

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Bucks Fizz -Piece of the Action

Buy them here: Shaky and here: Bucks Fizz

PS  (1) – I’ll admit it: I still think Piece of the Action is a cracking piece of early 80s pop, and it always brings a smile to my face when I hear it. Partly because of Natalie; mostly because of Jay. Oh Jay. Sigh.

PS (2) – Shaky, not so much.

More soon.

Er…more soon. Hopefully from you.