Monday, July 05, 2010

Keep on turning in your mind

The second in a series of curious one-off summer hits at their chart height, and an early testing of the water for something that came from nowhere, meant nothing and would blight the charts, hitting its height for now on 9th May 1981:

40 Linx - Intuition
Britfunk was the next big thing, and essentially duo Linx were at the forefront of the big glasses and ostentatious bass scene. One of them went on to join 23 Skidoo, the other went on to join the Fame Academy panel.

39 Level 42 - Love Games
Speaking of ostentatious bass, admittedly in another sense, the white sock Essex funkateers get that thumb working.

38 The Clash - The Magnificent Seven
Arguably the first white rap record, preceding Blondie's Rapture, only held down by its inclusion on the bloated bit of Sandinista!

37 Shalamar - Make That Move
Jeffrey Daniel not quite ready to do his mime artist with big intentions thing on TOTP. While we wait there's plenty to talk about bubbling under, as they say, not least an entry at 45 for Ossie's Dream (Spurs Are On Their Way To Wembley), number five within two weeks in all its in-de-cup-for-Totting-Ham amusement. The medley thing was already on the boil, Bill Haley And His Comets' Haley's Golden Medley at 50 - exactly how many Bill Haley songs did they think the average punter would know? Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes entered at 51, on its way to becoming a big hit; Way Of The West's Don't Say That's Just For White Boys entered at 54, on its way not to be. And if we'd been a month earlier we'd have caught Tony Capstick And The Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band's Capstick Comes Home at number three, it now at 57. Simpler times.

36 The Undertones - It's Going To Happen
Like the Jam, they expanded the musical palette with soul horns and fitted in oblique political statements. Like the Jam, it meant they were approaching the end, this their last top 40 single.

35 Public Image Limited - Flowers Of Romance
Magnificently uncommercial title track from post-Jah Wobble percussion-heavy Alan Freeman baiter and squat friends.

34 The Human League - The Sound Of The Crowd
First single with Joanne and Susan joining in, having, lest we forget, been left after the Heaven 17 split with Phil Oakey and the bloke that did the backdrop slides. It should be noted that men with strange hair approaching young girls in nightclubs doesn't always end up this way.

33 Hazel O'Connor - D-Days
We're pretty sure it was O'Connor's Wiki page that used to claim she was once married to Danny 'WE FEAR CHANGE' Kelly, and ultimately in that respect who are you to say any different?

32 Kim Wilde - Chequered Love
Second single for pouting lovely whose dad and brother were still doing her dirty work.

31 The Beat - Drowning/All Out To Get You
Second album and their prime was already over, with only another cover (Can't Get Used To Losing You) and an enforced US name change to come. Current dual touring band scenario makes them the ska revival Bay City Rollers.

30 The Teardrop Explodes - Treason
The Arch-Drude dons the artful headband and flying jacket of surprisingly chart-friendly psych-outre.

29 Department S - Is Vic There
High grade UK new wave oddness from Stiff Records outfit fronted by the late, and perhaps pseudonymous, Vaughan Toulouse, who reformed a couple of years ago just to cover My Coo-Ca-Choo.

28 Thin Lizzy - Killers Live EP
On its way back from the last top 20 appearance of a band whose current touring line-up actually does feature an original member.

27 Sheena Easton - When He Shines
The only person to equally owe their career structure to Esther Rantzen and Prince.

26 The Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut
Brian Setzer, later key to the swing jazz revival, depletes the ozone layer and drags the rockabilly revival back away from Matchbox.

25 Stevie Wonder - Lately
Stevland's commercial peak and probably the moment when his critical reception started reversing. Ebony And Ivory was but a year away.

24 Quincy Jones - Ai No Corrida
Turning disco back to himself, co-written by then paused Blockhead Chas Jankel

23 Gillan - New Orleans
"The band caught the rise of the NWOBHM at just the right time and the group gained popularity in Europe. An important aspect of this rise in popularity was Gillan's recognition of what his audience (mainly teenage males) wanted to hear. Thus did Ian Gillan cynically dumb-down his lyrics: witness "Bright casino lights flicker as you dance. Warm Arabian nights, atmospheres of chance" from Ian Gillan Band days become "Keep Your hand on my lever. Watch it whilst I stab your beaver." on the Mr Universe album."

22 Tenpole Tudor - Swords Of A Thousand Men

21 REO Speedwagon - Keep On Loving You
Post-ironic Journey-style revival can only be a matter of time.

20 Landscape - Einstein A-Go-Go
Richard James Burgess is our man here, Spandau Ballet producer, Buggles drummer, Fairlight expert, SD55 electronic drumkit inventor, coiner of the term New Romantic (according to Adam Ant) and director of marketing for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. And yet he still thought a workable album title would be From The Tea-rooms Of Mars .... to The Hell-holes Of Uranus. And recruited an electric flute player. Have you ever so much as seen an electric flute?

19 Shakin' Stevens - This Ole House
The 'Welsh Elvis' - Elvis Hammond, perhaps - was the most successful solo artist of the 80s chart-wise. No, really. And they think revivalism of something decades old is new.

18 Bad Manners - Just A Feeling
Lesser big-tongued, head-waggling ska effort from what Channel 4's Top Ten adjudged to be the biggest band of 1980. Winston Bazoomies present.

17 Whitesnake - Don't Break My Heart Again

16 Saxon - And The Band Played On

15 Barry Manilow - Bermuda Triangle
A balladeer with a big nose belts out a broadside. People seem to have forgotten who he is now, but across the late 80s and well into the 90s this was a running joke of a song for its clunky metaphors and clunkier rhymes. If this was Copacabana we'd be able to tell you a fabulous anecdote about a failed radio quiz we once heard. Another time, maybe.

14 The Whispers - It's A Love Thing
Lite-funk that's in Garry Mulholland's celebrated This Is Uncool list (did we ever mention....?) Mulholland is at Latitude the weekend after next in conversation with Julie Burchill, which if you ask us is just pulling punters in to the tent for the wrong reason.

13 Eddy Grant - Can't Get Enough Of You
Early solo stirrings of former Equal and future Comet plugger.

12 Keith Marshall - Only Crying

11 Graham Bonnet - Night Games
Never heard of either of them.

10 Spandau Ballet - Musclebound
Leaden shot at funk by Blitz Club devotees still wearing dishcloths over their shoulders rather than expensive Italian suits.

9 The Nolans - Attention To Me
Coleen is of course now the most famous woman in Britain, but at this point nobody was in the mood for dancing in the same way, this their last top 10 single.

8 The Jacksons - Can You Feel It
Spreading visual effects over a grateful populace.

7 Sugar Minott - Good Thing Going
Be-bowlered sound system head covers early solo Michael Jackson. Covered in 2000 by Sid Owen, a solo career that didn't last a great deal of time

6 Madness - Grey Day
Opposite of nutty (despite Nutty Walk cameo in video) mid-period single, the first single from an album at that. God knows what the Razzamatazz kids thought.

5 Shakin' Stevens - You Drive Me Crazy
See what we mean? A footnote even in 80s revivalism now, despite the sales and that Glastonbury appearance in 2008 where he spectacularly missed the point and did a load of new songs.

4 Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up
One month on and the visual effect was still causing ripples, only just knocked off the top spot. The following year France pulled out of Eurovision, calling it "a monument to drivel".

3 Ennio Morricone - Chi Mai (Theme From Life And Times Of David Lloyd George)
From when television would commission mini-series callled The Life and Times of David Lloyd George.

2 Starsound - Stars On 45
"We can work it out, remember Twist And Shout!" Now then. Stars On 45 was the brainchild of one Jaap Eggermont, a Dutchman, evidently, and former member of Golden Earring, whose Radar Love is a constant in TV-advertised rock compilations to this day. He hit upon the idea of medleys of re-recorded old hits after hearing a disco mix in a shop, and this single version was an edit of a nearly ten minute 12", almost entirely Beatles re-recordings (the bootleg Beatles! Just thought of that) with Venus and Sugar Sugar at the start. It went to number one in America, despite the popularity of the disco backlash, there were four follow-ups and in its wake came no end of medley chancers, not to mention the Royal Philharmonic's Hooked On Classics, and on to Jive Bunny, Mirage's Jack Mixes and of course Star Turn On 45 (Pints).

1 Adam & The Ants - Stand And Deliver
But of course nothing was going to upset this particular paint-striped apple cart, crashing in with a then rare new entry at number one. Miranda Sawyer once made the point that these Ant hits, with their historical allusions, Burundi beats and thematic dressing up, were aimed at the same age group that Westlife later were, which suggests all sorts of sociological changes.

1 comment:

A layer of chips said...

I bloody love these posts, Simon. They're brilliant.