Sunday, March 22, 2009

All those years ago

The last time we did a retrospective chart it was as a warm-up for a post we'd invested a lot of faith in that was going up the following day. And what happened? The chart got linked on Largehearted Boy and the marque post was virtually ignored. We got the message.

So, here goes for both overstretching and flippancy of a colossal scale - on 22nd March 1984 Lancashire's coal union declared they too were joining in the national miner's strike, taking the dispute right across the north of England. So... why are we doing this? Because it's there - here's the type of things they'd have been listening to on the way to the picket lines, the top 40 from this day twenty five years ago.

40 Tina Turner - Help
That Help, yes, but a soulful power ballad version. You can imagine how well that works.

39 John Lennon - Borrowed Time
As there is nothing left to say, and also nothing more worth saying, about Lennon, let's take this opportunity to mention some of the absolutely amazing stuff just outside the top 40. Like Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time at 69, which wouldn't peak until June. Like Dead Or Alive, on the way to their first top 40 single at 54 with a cover of That's The Way (I Like It) that sounds like a gay bar Heaven 17. And, most spectacularly, at 44 having already peaked at 33, the theme from Fraggle Rock. Those weeks of preview shows and acres of Look-In publicity really paid off. Here's the intro to the UK version, which is the same as everyone else's except with a different Fulton Mackay-cameoing film leading up to the discovery of the hole.

38 The Special AKA - Nelson Mandela
We're going to give the Specials a proper Illustrated Guide when the tour comes around, so for now only to note that, like Terry Hall before him, singer Stan Campbell walked out backstage at Top Of The Pops. Wisely, Jerry Dammers never went near Television Centre with a singer again. More by planned accident than design, but still the same. And the rump of the original line-up is on Jools in a couple of weeks.

37 Queen - Radio Ga Ga
Freddie puts the European central clock forward an hour for summer time.

36 Simple Minds - Up On The Catwalk
Jim and co give awkward synthpop one last wave, aware they've just had a hit with Waterfront and ostentatiousness is the way forward.

35 The Style Council - My Ever Changing Moods
Nobody's ever quite sure, we think, whether this period in Paul's career should be resuscitated or left well alone. Our serving suggestion is to carefully pick a choose - Long Hot Summer no, Walls Come Tumbling Down yes, this only when it gets off the cafe piano and gets going properly. Oh, wait.

34 Matthew Wilder - Break My Stride
Ex-Greenwich Village folkie, future producer of No Doubt's breakthrough album Tragic Kingdom and John Oates-agram gets dumped by someone actually telling him they're doing their laundry.

33 Siouxsie And The Banshees - Swimming Horses
Dear Prudence had been the previous single and their biggest hit, so being Siouxsie And The Banshees they released a hazy song full of start-stop keyboards and Ms Sioux down the bottom of a well. The record buyers took some convincing after that.

32 Afrika Bambaataa And The Soul Sonic Force - The Renegades Of Funk
Arthur Baker productions - ageing less well then you'd like to think.

31 Matt Bianco - Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed
Hit that double bass, boy.

30 Madonna - Lucky Star
Not actually her first UK hit - her first single first time around, true, but only a hit when reissued after Holiday was charted. It'd be Take A Bow in December 1994 until she failed to make the top ten again. No more Hacienda PAs for telly from this point on.

29 Depeche Mode - People Are People
Vince Clarke had long departed to start the masterplan that would see him become the most influential artist on 2009, so his old band took industrial clanging and Fairlight attacks into the top end of the charts. Bigger in Europe, you may be aware.

28 UB40 - Cherry Oh Baby
The brothers Campbell had only just turned their back on the dub political stance of their first few albums - seriously, search out Signing Off if you don't believe they ever did anything of worth - in favour of wine bar covers. It was successful, so they ran with it to this day, when there's virtually no original members left.

27 Shannon - Let The Music Play

26 The Thompson Twins - Doctor! Doctor!
It's no We Are Detective. So let's post that instead.

Alannah would never have spotted an Acme falling piano in time.

25 Kajagoogoo - The Lion's Mouth

24 Hot Chocolate - I Gave You My Heart (Didn't I)

23 Tracey Ullman - My Guy
Madness rewrite from Ullman's Stiff Records glory days, famous for its Neil Kinnock starring video, somewhat illogically absent from YouTube so we can't make all sorts of hay from it.

22 Shakin' Stevens - A Love Worth Waiting For
Scourge of Madeley and singer of several quadrillion hits throughout the decade with more amiable anachronistic rock'n'roll balladry. When it came down to it, he was merely a poor man's Adam Faith.

21 Wang Chung - Dance Hall Days
Nobody Wang Chung tonight. The singer was called Jack Hues, which might be pop's weakest pseudonym. He's also Jack Ryder's father.

20 Slade - Run Runaway
Got to number 7 but, Merry Xmas Everybody re-entries aside, this undignified hard rock was about it.

19 Julia And Company - Breakin' Down (Sugar Samba)
More wine bar soul, this one with the unfortunate side effect of having a name of supreme unresponsiveness, almost sounding like one of those eight year olds who would release a novelty records supported by That's Life at around this time. Claire And Friends, that sort of thing.

18 Howard Jones - Hide And Seek

17 Rockwell - Somebody's Watching Me
Michael Jackson's name was absent, his backing vocals weren't, and mid-Thriller campaign you suspect that was why this sold for Berry Gordy's son.

16 Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Relax
On a very slow fall from its Read-embarrassing huge hit status, reaching number 31 in May before, on the advent of Two Tribes, turning back round and being back at number two in July. Contrary to popular story it's not actually the Blockheads playing on it either, but a reconstruction of their recording by two of Trevor Horn's sessioning mates.

15 Alexei Sayle - 'Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?
Or, as Peel very deliberately read it on TOTP, Hello John, I Understand You Have Purchased A New Car.

Which Ian Dury helped turn into this:

Although in terms of adverts for Toshiba televisions it fell some way short of the later rewrite of Vivian Stanshall's Terry Keeps His Clips On:

14 Culture Club - It's A Miracle
Check out - in your own time - the very odd video, which appears to be based on some sort of industry edition of Monopoly. You can't tell if it's a boy or a girl these days.

13 Richard Hartley And The Michael Reed Orchestra - The Music Of Torvill And Dean EP
Bolero, Capriccio Espagnole, Opus 34 (Nos 4 and 5), Barnum On Ice, Discoskate. Discoskate?!

12 Mel Brooks - To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)
From the film of the same name rather than the more logical The Producers. Can we say "of its time"?

11 Billy Joel - An Innocent Man
Joel's Ben E King song, apparently. No in-line mechanics, no chance.

10 Van Halen - Jump
Forever condemned to be played by American shock jocks whenever news breaks of a bloke threatening to throw himself off a bridge and holding up traffic.

9 Sade - Your Love Is King
"It was a great moment when the cover of The Face featured Robert Elms saying 'have you heard of this new music called jazz?'"

8 Bananarama - Robert De Niro's Waiting
About a rape victim, apparently. Overdue a critical renaissance, we reckon, the 'Nanas - obviously not the SAW stuff or the try too hard recent records, but this sort of perfectly fine synthpop, and lest we forget Fun Boy Three's position as their benefactors.

7 Phil Fearon And Galaxy - What Do I Do
Three top ten hits in the mid-80s and yet until compiling this we're not sure we'd ever heard him before. It wasn't a great learning experience.

6 Nik Kershaw - Wouldn't It Be Good
Snood on TOTP, white suit approximation in video.

5 Weather Girls - It's Raining Men
Oh god.

4 Kool And The Gang - Joanna/Tonight
They'd already been going for twenty years in various forms, and they still couldn't bring themselves to put the singer's name where it should go. Very few examples of this in pop, for fairly obvious reasons. Pete & The Pirates' singer is called Tom, but apart from that we're drawing a mental blank.

3 Break Machine - Street Dance
Lino wholesalers have never since known such business.

2 Nena - 99 Red Balloons
German in the mid-80s, which was a red rag to tabloid bulls in itself. Explaining the whole Cold War allegory and its orders to identify, to clarify and classify to them would probably have been a waste of time, not when there were armpit hairs to be pored over. Two years ago she co-founded a progressive school in Hamburg. And you thought Kim Wilde had made a brave career move.

1 Lionel Richie - Hello
She was blind! It was a clay model of him! He didn't sing into the phone! He looked a bit like Chris Kamara! Entire irony industries have been kept afloat by this one song.


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Blimey a chart that seems to get better as it goes down to the bottom of the 40. What strange times.

And why no commentary of Hojo's 'Hide and Seek' ? As the man who last year DJ'd at Bestival for an hour playing nothing but Howard Jones songs I can give you a full commentary of that particular song if you like !!!!

Simon said...

See, I was going to comment on Peter Powell introducing him on the Christmas TOTP in 1983 "One of the big names to emerge in '84 is going to be Howard Jones" when it turned out he'd already had his two biggest hits, but I've already done that. Plus, and I know in this Youtube/Spotify era this is inexcusable, I've never actually heard it.

Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Inexcusable indeed ! But I think I am in a minority of 1 that would think this. It was the song he played at Live Aid (acoustic)

Like the way he mimes the pipes even though it was a keyboard !

LB said...

Hootie and the Blowfish, maybe....

23 Daves said...

Re - Phil Fearon. Somewhere in my flat I've got an old Virgin Rock Yearbook which has a huge feature on the man, informing their readers that he is one of the music industry's more successful young businessmen. It was one of the dullest pieces I've ever had the misfortune to read (focussing as much on his small business endeavours in the employment agency field as the music, if I remember rightly). Haven't been able to bring myself to listen to his music since, although it's easy enough to avoid these days.

The eighties, eh? Tsk.

Simon said...

LB: inevitably I didn't make myself clear enough, as I meant members other than the singer with their name before the 'and the' and obviously there isn't a Hootie in that band, or else I could have counted Echo and the Bunnymen, Noah and the Whale, Doctor and the Medics...

There used to be a Finnish electro-postpunk band called Larry And The Lefthanded who were named after their guitarist, and after he left they rather splendidly continued as And The Lefthanded (and their singer now produces Annie, useless additional fact fans)

Steve Williams said...

We had What Do I Do on vinyl - with Phil doing the splits on the sleeve - and so I know this song intimately. My parents bought in, I don't why they liked it so much.

This is my favourite Galaxy performance (Facts Amazing - they were originally Galaxy and Phil Fearon, and then Phil Fearon and Galaxy) because I like how the girls at the end attempt to keep "singing" into the mikes while simultaneously clapping.

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