Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'll hum this tune forever

Glancing at what was around them at the time Dexys Midnight Runners (see posts passim) were going their own unique way proved to be more fulfilling than expected. In the chart announced on 1st August 1982, for instance, the theme to Postman Pat was at number 60. And that's barely the half of it.

40 Sylvian Sakamoto - Bamboo Houses/Bamboo Music
Everyone knows of how David Sylvian turned on a dime from cheekboned New Romantic pin-up to experimental kingpin, but this was his first single after stepping off the Smash Hits gravy train and it still sounds like a far more accurate description of Hurts than those Go West/Climie Fisher reaching references. Perhaps this says something.

39 Boystown Gang - Can't Take My Eyes Off You
Hi-NRG is starting to arrive, and we fear we may never have recovered as a pop universe.

38 Sheena Easton - Machinery
We'd never heard this song before writing this, and it'd be difficult to find something more like the female-fronted pop of the very early 80s that strived for synth pervasiveness, and indeed perviness, in a slightly ludicrous way. Watch the arm waving and imagine Hot Gossip's routine forming.

37 Imagination - Music And Lights
Simon No Rock'n'Roll Fun, when we ran out of inspiration and asked on Twitter: "it's like they fed Prince songs into a computer and got a histogram out in lieu of lyrics 'music/light/sequins/pearls/girls'".

36 Cheri - Murphy's Law
"The track is also best known for featuring squeaky sped-up vocals and laughs throughout the song and in its chorus." It's the Pinky and Perky of dancepop.

35 Talk Talk - Today
The great MacGuffin of 80s revivalism, in that someone somewhere will bring them up and be scolded for not knowing that they were minimalist experimentalists later on, h'actually. At this point they still sound like Spandau Ballet concurrently did.

34 The Associates - 18 Carat Love Affair/Love Hangover
This is the song from the fabled anecdote about Alan Rankine commissioning a £600 chocolate guitar from Thorntons (or £420 from Harrods, depending which source you believe. Expensive from somewhere chic, basically) for the TOTP performance. And then you can barely even see it. Watch how quick the zoom at 2:05 is when the director realises Rankine's given it out too quickly and has to grab the spare. Still, what's a sweet tasting fretboard when the director's fixated on the on loan keyboard player from Martha & The Muffins.

33 Elkie Brooks - Nights In White Satin
Does she have to pay the organist as well?

32 Natasha - Iko Iko
The Belle Stars version is the one that turns up on 80s retrospectives - quite long ones, obviously - but this came out at the same time and comfortably outsold it. Natasha later fronted Why. (That doesn't work without the quotation mark)

31 The Fun Boy Three - Summertime
Terry, Lynval and Neville do Gershwin to not enormous effect.

30 The Clash - Rock The Casbah
We're with Sharif.

29 Survivor - Eye Of The Tiger
Erm... Adrian?

28 Leo Sayer - Heart (Stop Beating In Time)
Dignitas would manage that just as well.

27 Wavelength - Hurry Home
Sounds like Boston doing a Bee Gees ballad. As good as that sounds.

26 Haysi Fantayzee - John Wayne Is Big Leggy
This! This is the sort of thing we mean when we laud songs that could never be hits now, by bands who could never exist in the mainstream now. It's two people in ragamuffin robes and stovepipe hats whooping over galloping percussion and all sorts of junkyard instrumentation about John Wayne's racist views. Those names: Jeremy Healy, later a prime hellraiser in the Superstar DJ era, Kate Garner, a much in demand fashion photographer, and elusive third wheel Paul Caplin, now a big shot in financial software.

25 Junior - Too Late
Because we couldn't wait around for mAlexander O'Neal to become popular.

24 Bucks Fizz - Now Those Days Are Gone
Everything you know about some of the bands in this chart is wrong. This, in the middle of their sultry period, was a mostly acapella lament with a WWII themed video. They were clearly good for some things.

23 Odyssey - Inside Out

22 Donna Summer - Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger)

21 Bad Manners - My Girl Lollipop (My Boy Lollipop)
You could have chat about mannered New York disco, or you could have an obese man with a long waggling tongue prancing around Millie's one hit. We will always outrank them.

20 The Brat - Chalk Dust (The Umpire Strikes Back)
The early 80s, as we always say, was a vintage period for odd novelty hits. This was Roger Kitter, an actor and impressionist (he 'did' Tommy Cooper in the famous Lego advert), as John McEnroe extemporising at length after an obvious argumental fashion. Look, just watch it and see the awkward Top Of The Pops audience choreography.

19 The Belle Stars - The Clapping Song
Rubber dolly, yes. Neat idea, but Shirley Ellis' runaway soul rhythm instructional song didn't need sensualising by the erstwhile Bodysnatchers. Song later referenced by Tom Waits (Clap Hands, evidently) and Radiohead (on Pyramid Song). Not known which version each took inspiration from.

18 Dollar - Videotheque
Videotheque! No single word surely ever precisely aged a song faster. Therese and David muck about with Trevor Horn's vocal effects knobs.

17 The Firm - Arthur Daley (E's Alright)
Look, you're going to have to watch this one. John, you could have done a lot better with your intro. And outro, although anyone who knows what that refers to, do let us know. His line after that's good, though.

Chas & Dave not pictured (though they are in this chart, Margate at 63). One of the people behind The Firm went on to write music for King Of The Hill. The other was called Grahame Lister. If the Star Trekkin' (yes, same people) follow-up had been about knowing doctors, dentists and architects they'd still be successful.

16 Visage - Night Train
You have to seek this out, it's the most blatant Human League rip you've ever heard. Given Steve Strange's general position in society shameless was never going to be low on the menu, but really.

15 Paul McCartney - Take It Away

14 Shalamar - A Night To Remember
This was what Jeffrey Daniel was promoting when he turned up in the TOTP studio to do his mime routine featuring the celebrated moonwalk. See, Jarvis, Michael Jackson didn't invent it after all, so when you said it was the only thing you liked him for you were VERY WRONG. Daniel went on Jools last year to recreate the magic, and he's put it up on his own site. We can't work out whether it seems more out of place to have Jools conducting the interview in front of Nick Hornby or Daniel doing his thing in front of Wild Beasts.

13 David Essex - Me And My Girl (Night-Clubbing)
No, we just can't quote HMHB two charts in succession.

12 The Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra
"I wanna reach out and grab yer!"

11 The Stranglers - Strange Little Girl
They made a strange (in context) bid for respectability around this time, Golden Brown only a couple of singles gone and the next one featuring synths and a soft Jean-Jacques Burnel vocal.

10 Cliff Richard - The Only Way Out
Sounds like a 1980s Cliff Richard mid-paced song.

9 Japan - I Second That Emotion
Sylvian, despite his wanderings, was still hanging around with the band, adding balloon-held-tightly horns to a Smokey Robinson cover devolved of real emotional content.

8 Kid Creole And The Coconuts - Stool Pigeon
Ha cha cha cha. Easy to overlook, given how lauded the label is now for Cristina and James Chance, that this was on Ze Records. Not so easy to overlook that it led to Modern Romance.

7 Bananarama - Shy Boy
Their first single after the Fun Boy Three collaborations, as with most of their first movement sounding like they were trying to get away with it as they went along.

6 Trio - Da Da Da

And if you thought that was a weird use, cue Xtina...

5 Hot Chocolate - It Started With A Kiss
No sign of the KP It Started With A Crisp commercial, so let's just remark that, like a lot of first dance songs, it's not really a love song at all.

4 Madness - Driving In My Car
"I drove along the A45, I had her up to 58!" While we're on an embedding adverts run, someone's put together their five Japanese commercials for the Honda City, a couple of which reworded this, plus a couple of more recent UK things at the end. The Japanese non-verbal explanation of what their name also means seconds in is worth the effort.

We'll stop with the embeds now, it's just a fertile chart.

3 Yazoo - Don't Go
The most influential record of 2009.

2 Irene Cara - Fame
To blame for many, many things.

1 Dexy's Midnight Runners With The Emerald Express - Come On Eileen
No, Kevin didn't sack the drummer for not looking dirty enough. No idea where that came from.

1 comment:

Steve Williams said...

I'm thinking John's reference was to the forthcoming Charity Shield, which was indeed at Wembley on the 21st. Was Arthur Daley a noted Spurs fan?

I do love that Firm performance, the bloke sat down throughout looks far too good a comic actor - I love how he picks up the phone for "your shout" - to be part of the chancers that made this, has he been on anything else?