1985 and All That (January – April)

Deep breaths. Come on, we can do this.

It is 1985. Oh yes it is. The year that I think it’s fairly safe to say that my record buying took off with a vengeance. And it’s fair to say, it’s quite a mixed bag. Some of which, in direct contradiction to my “There’s No Such Things as a Guilty Pleasure” tag line, I cannot believe I am about to confess in such a public arena that I spent money on.

There, that’s piqued your interest, hasn’t it?

But before we get cracking, some admin. Firstly, as there’s quite a few records for me to reminisce over, I’ll split 1985 into three different posts. Secondly, I can’t really go any further without talking¬†a little more about the behemoth that was Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, partly because it topped the charts for what seemed forever at the start of the year, but when researching this post I was surprised to find that actually it was toppled from pole position on 13th January.

I think there are two reasons it dropped from the top so quickly:

  • there wasn’t anyone left to buy the bloody thing, and
  • the¬†cynic in me thinks that this is wholly indicative of that British spirit of charity, and how quickly it can be forgotten¬†when it no longer suits. “It’s not Christmas anymore, so we can stop spending our money¬†telling them it is.” The inverse of the current volte-face in opinion regarding the refugee situation, if you will (although pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to has been sympathetic to their cause, it just took the media – and the press specifically – a while to realise they were out of step with what most people were thinking.)

So to kick things off in 1985, a song from 1984, which, in light of the above, and even more so when you look at the shabby scaremongering this week about Jeremy Corbyn, sums up the political bias of the press in typical style.

I guarantee that when you watch this you will think two things:

1: Blimey (or insert your own swear word/exclamation of preference here), doesn’t he look young?, and

2: Blimey (or insert your own swear word/exclamation of preference here),  nothing much has changed since 1984, has it?

It Says Here

But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes – Band Aid and admin. Thirdly, I am obliged to mention The Quo somewhere, so lets get it out of the way now, shall we?

Quo’s¬†Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt¬†were actually supposed to have lead lines on “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, but performed them so badly in the studio that they got ditched for Paul Weller, Sting and Glenn Gregory. Their¬†performance is probably explained by the fact that the duo openly admit to turning up at the studio with “shitloads of drugs…coke, dope and all sorts.¬†People were saying, ‘Let’s go and see Doctor Rossi and Doctor Parfitt, shall we?’….” (Rossi has since revealed that he blew ¬£1.7 million on coke in the 1980s, which explains not only why most of their records were, with the benefit of hindsight (mine – everyone else knew it at the time) shite, but also why a¬†chunk of his septum fell out).

They¬†also managed to lock Spandau Ballet in the toilets at the Band Aid recording sessions, so…y’know…s’not all bad.

That’s the admin out of the way: on to the hits!

First up, a song I have already written about, and so I’m going to skip past it now. That song is Kirsty MacColl’s version of “A New England” and you can read all about it and listen to it here: self-referential tosser.

Next up, an artist I have a great deal of affection for, without actually owning very many of his records: Terry Hall. By 1985, he had left The Specials, formed Fun Boy Three, co-written “Our Lips Are Sealed” with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s, given a helping hand to Bananarama’s career by way of a guest appearance on “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s the Way That You Do It)” (or did Banarama appears as guests on the Fun Boy Three’s version? I never did quite manage to work that out), split from Fun Boy Three, and formed The Colourfield.

Truth be told, The Colourfield marked the start of a¬†decline if not in the quality of Hall’s work, then certainly in the commercial success he achieved. This, though, was their first single, and their biggest hit, and rather lovely it is too:

the-colour-field-thinking-of-you-chrysalis The Colourfield РThinking of You

Don’t go thinking I’d gone all soft though. Nope, at the start of 1985 rawwwwk¬†was very much where my heart still lay, although I would have to admit my tastes were starting to shift towards more poppy territory.

But wait – who’s this coming over the horizon? A Canadian chap in a checked shirt who seems to marry rock and pop together in perfect harmony? Just what The Doctors ordered! And so it was that I bought this:

Bryan-Adams-Run-To-You-vinyl Bryan Adams РRun to You

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking this is one of the records I’m embarrassed to admit to owning, right? Well no, actually. See, in 1985 The Bryster (as nobody has ever¬†called him) was not yet the purveyor of power ballads and Number One hogger that we have since come to know and hate, for whilst it was actually released in 1984, it was in 1985 that his¬†“Reckless” album¬†was, frankly massive. I bought that too, but not just yet, so we’ll come back to that later, but suffice it to say it was packed with, yes, power ballads (“Heaven“), enduring power pop (“Summer of ’69“) – c’mon, everyone loves that record, don’t they? – and a rather shonkingly awful duet with Tina Turner (“It’s Only Love“).

Ah, Tina. Tina Turner. It is to you I turn to present the “What on Earth Was I Thinking When I Bought This???” award for the first part of 1985. I have neither clue nor excuse. Maybe I was blinded by the fright-wig. Maybe it was that “riding an invisible horse” dance she seemed to do. I dunno. But somehow, lurking in my record collection, is this:

tina-turner-priavte-dancer-album-artwork Tina Turner РPrivate Dancer

But I didn’t just go out and buy the single. Oh no. In fact, I didn’t buy, nor have I ever bought, any of her singles. Not for me on this occasion the usual “Buy first single. Buy second single. Like third single? Buy the album” routine I had safely established. No.¬†To compound my shame, I went straight out and bought the¬†fucking album.

I’ll get my coat.

But no. I won’t. Instead, I’m going to turn things round by posting what to my mind is one of the great lost singles from the 1980s, an absolute belter, and if I had to list my favourite singles of all time, this would be right in there:

the-big-sound-authority-this-house-is-where-your-love-stands-source Big Sound Authority РThis House (Is Where Your Love Stands)

Criminally short-lived, Big Sound Authority only released three more singles, none of which managed anything approaching the success of “This House” (which itself only managed to get to Number 21 in the charts) and one album, which also tanked.

And so to Liverpool, and to China Crisis, and a song the title of which I don’t think you’d get away with these days:

China-Crisis-Black-Man-Ray-116071 China Crisis РBlack Man Ray

Erm, where do you start? Well apparently, it’s about Ray Charles, but quite why they felt the need to point out he was black I have no idea. Let’s skip swiftly on.

I’ve already written about the other single by the next artiste, the godawful incomprehensible babble that was “The Riddle”. Unperturbed by just how terrible that was, I went and bought the follow up and until I came to write this, I’d forgotten that actually it’s rather good. Of it’s time, sure, but rather good all the same.

Nik_Kershaw_Wide_Boy_Single_Cover Nik Kershaw РWide Boy

Needless to say, shortly after this, his own pop career nose-dived dramatically, before being ever so slightly resurrected when he wrote this. Yeh, cheers for that, Nik.

And so, to round off this first look back at 1985, another record that would not just join “This House” in my¬†list of my favourite singles of all time, but would unquestionably nestle¬†squarely in the top ten. The Cult were not a band I remember my brother ever owning any records by, but I think his recent radical change in musical taste had probably rubbed off on me enough to make my ears prick up when I first heard this:

the-cult-she-sells-sanctuary-beggars-banquet The Cult РShe Sells Sanctuary

If ever a record deserves to be played as loudly as possible, it’s that one. And it still sounds as magnificent to these ears today as it did way back then. And I’m not the only one who thinks so: super-cool DJ Erol Alkan used to regularly drop it in his sets (I’ll try and source an example to post for you sometime)¬†and even I witnessed the power of this record first hand. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was¬†in a band which did an “Indie-okie” night in North London once a month. (The premise: karaoke, but with a live band playing behind the volunteer singer, who would choose from a list of classic Indie tracks. It was as much fun as it sounds i.e. an enormous amount). They asked Hel and I to DJ on the bits in between and we were more than happy to oblige – in fact it was the first time we DJ’d together. Anyway, as everyone was basically there to either sing or to have good laugh at those who did, nobody was expected to actually dance. But that’s exactly what did happen when I dropped this: the dancefloor didn’t exactly go mental, but it suddenly filled up and there was¬†definite movement, enough for one of the band to tap me on the shoulder and say “Steady on – they’re supposed to enjoy our bits more than the records!”.

Right, that’s yer lot for now. More soon.

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Rue Britannia

Ok. So. Here we go. 1984. The year I have to try and wax lyrical about. And as you will have guessed from my intro to the last post, a year I’ve been struggling with.

Let me add some context.

1984.¬†The year that Thatcher won her second General Election, I think it’s fair¬†to say (though it sticks in my throat) trouncing Labour’s Michael Foot. Foot¬†did not look like your common-or-garden politician, and was¬†a true left-winger (and I don’t mean in the Ryan Giggs kind of way. And when. I¬†make a reference to Ryan Giggs, I don’t mean in that kind of way, either. Well not on this occasion, anyway). Foot is¬†as relevant today as he ever was, for he is the¬†current yard-stick for those who want to keep the Labour Party in the centre ground – which they so shamefully currently occupy – rather than on the left, where they should be, by making comparisons between his annihalation in this General Election and that which, they say,¬†awaits the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn wins (they’re wrong). And whilst I’m at it: Tony Blair, keep your fecking nose out. You led us¬†into an illegal war and now milk the after-dinner speech circuit for all its worth. You are a Tory in everything but name. Your opinion means nothing.

Ahem. Off my chest now. Where were we? Oh yes..:

1984. The year the Miners Strike started. I’m going to assume you know at least something about this. If you don’t, well a) you’re annoyingly young, and b) may I suggest a bloody tidy jumping on point¬†is to watch the excellent “Pride”¬†(It has Paddy Considine, Bill Nighy and Dominic West¬†in it, the latter with a fabulous 80s haircut. What more can you want from a film??) Just watching those two clips makes me want to watch it again. Hope it does you too.

1984. The year of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. I wish I could put my hand on my heart and say I bought any of their records at the time – particularly “Relax” and “Two Tribes“, but I didn’t. However, I did stand back, watch and admire the way they capitalised on the whole Mike Read situation (he was playing “Relax” one morning, and took it off, mid-record, branding it “obscene”). And if there’s one thing we now know, it’s that Mike Read is the very epitome of rational thought. (I give you two words: UKIP Calypso) (For Gawd’s sake, sense my tone…)

1984. The year of Band Aid, when a group of “current” (has Jody Watley ever been current???)¬†pop stars (has Jody Watley ever been a pop star?????) were pulled together by ex-Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof and current-if-knackered (see, this is where I start to doubt my own sanity. In the video for “Love’s Great Adventure”, there was definitely a bit where Midge asks the film crew to stop while he has¬†a breather. Right? Right????) Ultravox frontman Midge Ure to record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in an effort to help starving millions in Ethiopia, after seeing Michael Buerk‘s report on the news, a record which everybody in the UK seemed to buy, and which you know, so I won’t bother posting a link to it here.

Which seems a convenient jumping off point for not the first record I bought in 1984, but the record which somehow got attached to the whole Band Aid campaign, seemingly solely because of the lines “You can’t go on, thinking nothing’s wrong”.

The_Cars_-_Drive¬†The Cars – “Drive”

I’m sure they were delighted, or at least pretended to be, when “Drive” got re-released with “all proceeds” going to the Band Aid charity. And was a bigger hit than it was the first time around (I think…)

Me? I cannot hear this song without thinking of one thing, and sadly that one¬†thing I can find no reference to anywhere on t’internet, other than one other person insisting it happened: Kevin Webster, drunk, singing an a capella version of it on Coronation Street. Seriously, you have no idea how much I wish I could post a link to it right here. Feel free to tell me you remember it too.

Ok, here’s a confessional Guilty Pleasure (No, there is no such thing as a Guilty Pleasure!!) record. Please bear in mind that in 1984 I was just 15 and didn’t know any better, and if I did, I thought it involved Status Quo, so you can choose which is worse:

philip-bailey-easy-lover-duet-with-phil-collins-1985¬†Philip Bailey & Phil Collins – “Easy Lover”

In my defence, in 1984 we knew very little about Phil Collins. All we had to go on was that he used to be/still was¬†in Genesis, popped up with alarming regularity on Swap Shop or Saturday Superstore or whatever incarnation of Saturday morning TV¬†on the BBC was on (regularly enough to make you think he was the new BA Robertson)¬†and had a fairly succesful solo career doing Diana Ross covers. We did not know that “Sussudio” – the song with the most 80s bassline in the world. Ever…! – would earn extra brownie points for being mentioned (ironically, I think/hope) in American Psycho. We had no idea he was such a douchebag he would fax his wife to thrash out details of their divorce. But props for the use of a very 80s mode of communication. Nor did we know that¬†that gorilla would¬†boff the heck out of some drums on that Cadbury’s advert. It was just Phil Collins. He seemed harmless enough.

I cannot hear this song without thinking of the (slightly amended) “He’s a greasy lover…” introduction Mark Lamarr used to get on Shooting Stars, and which again, I can find no evidence of. So to make up for that, here’s him – at the end of the clip, and sadly cut short – doing “Mr Boombastic” on said kind-of-game show.

The other thing I remember most about owning this single is that shortly after purchase, a blob of what appeared to be raspberry¬†jam appeared on the front cover, which I have never been able to explain (I’m more of a blackcurrant man, myself), and which frankly made storing my 7″ singles a bit of a nightmare from hereon in. Unable to remove the saccahrine splodge, I had to proceed to select which single I liked least and¬†place that next to this in my ever growing singles box.

This is what you come here for, right? Anecdotes¬†about singles I’ve absent-mindedly spilled preservatives on….? No….?

OK, well how about I give you the top two candidates to be the bread around the Phil Collins jam sandwich? Yeh, see? Now you’re interested, right? (Although the idea of a “Phil Collins sandwich” is kind of ewwwwwwwwwwww-y….)

Well, it must have been in 1984 that I abandoned any pretence of just buying records that I liked, and, in a fairly obvious attempt to ingratiate myself to members of the opposite sex, I started buying records that they liked, and which I hoped they would like me for also buying. What a dasterdly master-plan. That is the only explanation I have for the inclusion of the next two records:

Nik_Kershaw_The_Riddle_12__Cover Nik Kershaw РThe Riddle

I Know, I know. There’s no excuse is there? It’s not as if this is a single from his famous, but still not actually very good, “Human Racing” album. I have always found this to be an utterly ludicrous record, with clunky 6th form, Tolkien-esque nerdo lyrics like this (trust me, I’m doing this so you don’t have to click that last link) :

“Near a tree by a river
There’s a hole in the ground
Where an old man of Aran
Goes around and around
And his mind is a beacon
In the veil of the night
For a strange kind of fashion
There’s a wrong and a right
But he’ll never, never fight over you”

What a load of old horseshit.

And speaking of old horseshit, there was this:

123_the_wild_boys_song_spain_006_20_0381_7_duranduran_com_duran_duran_discography_discogs_wikipedia Duran Duran РThe Wild Boys

Yes. I bought this. Actually, I think I stole it from a reputable vendor of 7″ singles no longer with us. but either way, I possessed a copy, and the only justification I can think of, other than trying to impress girls (it didn’t work, by the way; they all just assumed I was gay, I was later told) was that I hoped that with enough plays on Top of the Pops, Simon Le Bon might actually fucking drown whilst tied to a windmill¬†in that video.

Which leads me on to the other two significant episodes in my pop history which just so happened to occur in 1984.

Firstly, Britannia Music.

Anyone of a certain age will remember Britannia Music: firstly, because The Brits are named after them (like that’s a recommendation….) and secondly because in the 1980s you could not open a magazine without a “3 for ¬£10” introductory offer falling out into your lap. And I fell for it.

Here was the deal: you could pick 3 albums and have them for ¬£10; then you stayed as a member for as long as you liked, but had to purchase at least one album a month. And to help you keep your end of the contractual bargain,¬†they would send you a little brochure each month, telling of their wares, and featuring an “Album of the Month”. If you didn’t want the “Album of the Month”, you had to tick a box on a form and send it back to them, pronto. Otherwise you got lumbered with whatever their Album of the Month was and had to pay for the privilege. I was¬†often a¬†little tardy, and consequently ended up with a lot of records I really didn’t want, more of which later. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, what this did do was allow me to indulge in my love of Greatest Hits albums, which led me to buy the next three:

Dusty-Springfield-Greatest-Hits-229304¬†Dusty Springfield – “I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten”

I can’t pretend this song is the reason why I bought this album – that distinction¬†has to go to either “I Only Want To Be With You”¬†or “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”¬†But if I absolutely had to name my favourite 10 songs ever,¬†“I Close My Eyes…” would be right in there,¬†an absolute gem, all slow building breathiness followed by more glorious camp strings than a cub scout jamboree.

Speaking of camp…..

little_richard-greatest_hits_recorded_live¬†Little Richard – “Tutti Frutti”

(Suddenly realises why the girls may have thought I was gay at school………)

buddy-lives¬†Buddy Holly – “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”

A song I was aware of through my father’s record collection, for he owned the Linda Rondstadt version. (That Don Kirschner chap is just the dictionary definition of charisma, isn’t he?)

Anyway, that’s the records I intentionally bought via Britannia, and here’s another, an actual record from your actual 1984:

Alison_Moyet_-_Alf¬†Alison Moyet – “Invisible”

See, “electronic” music had at least crossed my radar, not that I would describe this as falling in that genre. But, as I’m sure you know, chicken-rearing Alison (a remembered Smash Hits fact, that) had been one half of Yazoo with Vince Clarke, ex-of Depeche Mode, soon-to-be of Erasure, and in-between jointly responsible for this. So, y’know, it wasn’t all about the guitars with me, even back then. Just mostly.

Invisible was the third single from the album, and I could have just as¬†easily¬†posted “All Cried Out”, but Invisible deftly sums up my appeal to the opposite sex at this point in my life. And for much of it afterwards, if I’m being honest. Which I am, of course.

As I write this now, I’m suddenly struck with how I much I love songs about either failed or unrequited love. It’s an empathy thing, I think. It would also explain why, two years earlier, in an example of what can only be described as the most optimistic thinking ever, I had told my best friend that when the situation arose that I had to finish with a girlfriend, I would simply quote the lyrics to this song to her: Chas. Dave.

Anyway, the second significant episode was my brother going to stay with relatives in America, and coming back tooled up with loads of records popular in The States but which had no impact on this side of the pond. Records which I listened to with growing interest:

One-On-One521X¬†Cheap Trick – “If You Want My Love”

Rick-Springfield-Working-Class-Dog-446049¬†Rick Springfield – “Jessie’s Girl”

MI0003737936 The Call РThe Walls Came Down

51zBNqv3MRL The Fixx РOne Thing Needs to Another

He also bought me this, a band I assumed were American, but turned out to be from Sheffield. A band who had a drummer with one arm. (Actually, he still had two arms when this album was recorded; it was when their next album, “Hysteria”, post arm-loss, came out¬†in 1987 that they went truly stratospheric). But I was there first, UK rock fans. Although I’m not so sure this is something to be proud of..

d57644845a691f8807578e551b473654ae4281f9 Def Leppard РPhotograph

But of all the records my brother brought back from the U S of A with him, there was one band that I totally fell for: The Go-Go’s. Featuring Belinda Carlisle and Jan Wiedlin, they became my pop star crushes to supercede Debbie Harry, five girls who so Google tells me, were the recipents of the 2,444th star on the LA Walk of Fame. Should have got there earlier, ladies. If only you didn’t take so long getting ready, eh lads?

vacationcover2¬†The Go-Go’s – Vacation

And then there’s this, another contender for my Top Ten of Greatest Records Ever……!

go_gos¬†The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed

And if I’m going to post that link, then, since it was co-written by Terry Hall, ex-Special and (at the time) current one of the Fun Boy¬†Three,¬†I have to post this too:

the-fun-boy-three-our-lips-are-sealed-chrysalis Fun Boy Three РOur Lips Are Sealed

And finally on a Go-Go’s theme, allow me to nudge you in the direction of¬†“Freedom of Choice”, an album of punk and new wave covers including Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth and this, by Redd Kross, a band whose own¬†output I’m not a fan of, but by God they know how to knock out a cover version:

R-839350-1273804434_jpeg Redd Kross РHow Much More

Considering I could think of nothing to say, I don’t half go on, don’t I…..?

Like anything I’ve posted today? Then go buy it here: the internet.

Girls, eh?

123_the_wild_boys_song_spain_006_20_0381_7_duranduran_com_duran_duran_discography_discogs_wikipediaNik_Kershaw_The_Riddle_12__Cover

As you may have noticed from some of the recent posts, girls were well on my horizon by now.¬†And there¬†was one thing my finely tuned adolescent brain had noticed about girls (well, actually there was a couple of things, but let’s not get all biological): they liked music.

No, that’s not strong enough a description. They REALLY liked music. But, inexplicably, very few of them (by which I mean none) were even vaguely enamoured by the chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-chug which characterised 99.9% of Quo’s output. No, these curious beasts¬†liked something called “pop music”.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve reconnected with pop music (although, paradoxically I now feel too old and out of the loop – although every now and again (rarely), I’ll hear something those pesky young kids are up to and think “What’s that? It’s got a good beat...”)¬†A few years ago, a very good friend of mine (who I often describe as my little brother) reminded me that there’s nothing wrong with liking pop music and his message hit home. Okay, he was a 25 year old man buying a N*Sync album and that was what prompted the conversation, but that’s not the point. The point was, he had a point.

It’s odd; I don’t think I’m the type of person who is easily swayed in his musical opinion, yet as I think back when writing this guff that a couple of you are kind enough to read, I’m continually reminded how just about every reassessment I ever made of my musical tendencies has been shortly after¬†someone I respected the opinion of, be that older brother or best buddy, ¬†“had a word with me“. Wherever there’s a turn in direction, a change in taste, it’s been because someone played me something, or said something, which stopped me in my tracks, made me take stock and reassess,

There are countless examples (well, 3 or 4) to follow, but for now, here are some records I bought in the hope that girls might maybe notice me, maybe like me, maybe even let me have a look at those “funny bumps on her chest”, as my Dad once phrased it¬†in a misguided attempt to diffuse an awkward¬†situation¬†when we accidentally ended up watching a movie together where a young lady went sans blouson (and we all know how awkward that can be when you’re 13, right chaps?).

I can’t say I’m particularly fond¬†of either of these¬†artistes or these records, but I bought them, so here they are:

Duran Duran – The Wild Boys

Nik Kershaw – The Riddle

Seriously, does anyone know what these songs are actually about? The whole point of the Duran record seemed to be to strap Le Bon to a windmill in the video and see if you could drown him. (Unperturbed by the failure of this venture, a higher being than I tried again when his yacht “Drum of England” (I never had him down as a rollie smoker…) capsized.¬†That’s two lives down Simon “or should I say La Chat” Le Bon. I’m counting even if nobody else is.

As for Kershaw….well, cute as he apparently was (but not as yummy, so I’m told,¬†as JohnTaylorfromDuranDuran – a friend of mine (hello, you!) still refers to herself as “The Future Mrs John Taylor” which I’m sure delights her current beau), this record signified the start of¬†his slide into the bargain bin of life (or Woolies, if you’d prefer me to be a little more specific). Soon he’d be singing about a Spanish bloke chasing windmills and people would be seeking alternatives, asking “Where’s that¬†other bloke, y’know, with the wonky eye and the keytar,¬†had that bald chap dancing in chains with him?”. Sadly he was to become just as irrelevant around the same time.

Anyway, suffice to say, wasting my cash on these records had no effect whatsoever on my popularity, or lack of, with girls, who continued to treat me with an air of indifference usually only afforded to a visiting Belgian. Thank God I stopped short of wearing a snood.

Damn you Le Bon, Rhodes, Taylor, Taylor and Taylor!! And you Snood-Boy!

If only I’d listened to Rowlf (and Kermit)