1982: A YEAR OF SINGLES CHARTED
This piece began life as part of a thread on the I Love Music message board to which I contributed in December of last year. It was written pretty much on the turn of a dime, and completely from memory (i.e. in my lunch break!), and I don't really need to make anything in the way of amendments to it, except perhaps to note that "Bring Me Closer" by Altered Images is one of the ten greatest singles of the '80s, which may retrospectively excuse my slight sniffiness towards them below.
By way of explanation, the following is a list of capsule reviews of, and impressions on, every single to make the UK Top 40 during the year of 1982. The date of entry is followed by the artist and title; the number in brackets is the highest chart position that single reached. And yes, I owned, and still own, all the singles mentioned. Why 1982? Because the first half of it was the apex of New Pop; because in particular the chart for the week ending 29 May may well be the greatest Top 40 singles chart ever; most importantly, because I was 18, in my first year at university, and everything felt deeper and more colourful than it has done before or since. In a sense, it's the year in which my life actually started. Sadly from about June onwards there is a palpable qualitative decline, and the picture at year end was pretty poor, though not nearly as poor as the ghastly chart year which was 1983.
It starts with a film theme and ends with Jimmy Tarbuck and Allen Ginsberg in retro-Spector dub conference.
9 Jan: Christopher Cross Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) (7) - had been hanging around since October, but following the release of the dud Dudley pic over Xmas it took off. Sneered at by many, but not by Danny Baker or myself - a late Bacharach pearl with Cross' strangely mismatched asexual voice/visual persona (an early forerunner of Tiny Woods out of Ultrasound?) finely attuned. Moment of punctum: the endless echo after he sings the first half of the first line "Once in your LIFE..." and lets the unresolved major tone be superseded by the minor piano chord which follows it. Sax solo by David Sanborn.
9 Jan: Alton Edwards I Just Wanna (Spend Some Time With You) (20) - one of many sadly forgotten gems of the glory that was Britfunk. The extraordinary escalating interface between backing vocals and brass before being plunged back down to earth by the thundering rhythms. Clearly done on a Brit budget but lovely.
9 Jan: Electric Light Orchestra Ticket To The Moon/Here Is The News (24) - late-period nihilism from a by-then severely pissed-off Jeff Lynne. Not as naff as you'd think, but Neil Innes would have added the necessary acidity to make these songs really work.
9 Jan: Human League Being Boiled (6) - on the back of their Xmas number one, EMI, ahem, fast-produced this reissue. The Gang of Four's "Love Like Anthrax" sadly did not follow suit, but the bleakness of the song suited the white greyness of 1982's winter.
9 Jan: Mobiles Drowning In Berlin (9) - Eastbourne's finest Toyah wannabes come up with a preposterous Peter Powell-championed slice of faux-Isherwood angst.
9 Jan: Stranglers Golden Brown (2) - About heroin, as every schoolboy knows. Again, the ethereality of the vocal fadeout and Jet Black's so subtle it's hardly noticeable drumming make this song into a pop record.
16 Jan: Elkie Brooks Fool If You Think It's Over (17) - Efficient reading which got Chris Rea noticed. I dig Chris Rea, so be quiet at the back.
16 Jan: Lindsey Buckingham Trouble (31) - To date his only UK solo hit, sounding very much like a dry run for his subtly avant-garde production on Tango In The Night. Agreeably unnerving, but man does he need the Nicks.
16 Jan: Olivia Newton-John Landslide (18) - Almost on a par with "Physical," the proto-Trevor Horn drumming cascades take Olivia's vocals, and the whole production, to unexpected heights.
16 Jan: Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton Theme From Hill Street Blues (25) - It's, um, the theme tune. Still awaiting sample-isation by Nas or Scarface.
16 Jan: Shakin' Stevens Oh Julie (1) - Quite possibly the only cajun UK #1 single. If this had been Nick Lowe you'd be calling it a classic.
23 Jan: George Benson Never Give Up On A Good Thing (14) - Not as good as, but a bigger hit than, its predecessor "Turn Your Love Around." Reminds me of being stuck on a freezing, water-deprived train in a snowdrift in Gleneagles.
23 Jan: Gillan Restless (25) - Notable chiefly for Ian Gillan's attempts at a Glaswegian accent in the chorus, viz. "Hey Jimmeh! Ah'm gettin' rest-leeeesss."
23 Jan Daryl Hall & John Oates I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) (8) - The second hit single this month with a David Sanborn sax solo. Timmy Thomas upgraded to a Manhattan high-rise. Empty but effective.
23 Jan Japan European Son (31) - Weirdly Sylvian & Co. enjoyed two parallel runs of hits during their peak; the new ones on Virgin and the ambulance chasing ones on Ariola. This was an example of the latter. Definitely a glorified album track which had no business being a single.
23 Jan Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark Maid Of Orleans (The Waltz Joan Of Arc) (4) - One of the most avant-garde intros to a top ten hit ever? Radio 1 DJs used to chortle to listeners "It's OK, they're just tuning up hee hee."
23 Jan Rhoda Dakar & the Special AKA The Boiler (35) - The most bitterly sane record ever to make the Top 40. Too painful for repeated listens (which, coupled with the inevitable radio ban, probably explains why it didn't chart higher) but MUST be listened to once.
23 Jan Stiff Little Fingers Listen EP (33) - "To your heart" is what Jake Burns wanted you to listen to. Probably a number one now if the Stereophonics were to cover it.
23 Jan Theatre Of Hate Do You Believe In The Westworld (40) - As with most other Kirk Brandon enterprises, this, ToH's only top 40 entry (and as you can see, only just), is so patently absurd yet oddly believable. Notable for the backward rhythm/Max Steiner sample at the end; at the time Barney Hoskyns described it as sounding like "Norman Whitfield trapped in a refrigerator."
23 Jan Tight Fit The Lion Sleeps Tonight (1) - Not as good as the Nylons version.
23 Jan Stevie Wonder That Girl (39) - One of my absolute favourite Stevie songs; the hymnal descending chords of the long fadeout chorus aren't that far away from "Escalator Over The Hill." Absent from the new greatest hits collection, needless to say.
23 Jan XTC Senses Working Overtime (10) - Their biggest hit, taken from that model example of the strange genre of English pop which is essentially sane but tries repeatedly to break out of itself, "English Settlement" - after "Skylarking" probably their best '80s album.
30 Jan Bow Wow Wow Go Wild In The Country (7) - Oh McLaren, oh Lwin, the punters should have given you a hit with Prince Of Darkness 12 months ago! Now the point has dissipated and it's great to see you on TOTP but - you know - sometimes timing is everything in pop.
30 Jan Adrian Gurvitz Classic (8) - Written, apparently, in an attic. Because he's an addict. Brian Protheroe said it so much better with "Pinball" back in '74. DLT's favourite single of '82.
30 Jan Haircut 100 Love Plus One (3) - No need to add to what I said on CoM about this seductive masterpiece. Deservedly their biggest hit.
30 Jan Modern Romance Queen Of The Rapping Scene (Nothing Ever Goes The Way You Plan) (37) - This used the same Cheryl Lynn riff as Brother-D's "How We Gonna Make The Black Nation Rise" but eschewed the Robert Elms-friendly soapbox preaching of the latter in favour of a determinedly fake French female "rapper" who, as Danny Baker noted in his glowing NME review, probably came from Cheshunt. But that just adds to the inexplicable magic of this, Modern Romance's finest moment, and therefore their smallest hit.
30 Jan Diana Ross Mirror Mirror (36) - One of La Ross' ill-advised "rock-outs." Need I tell you that the word "wall" appears in the next line of the chorus?
6 Feb AC/DC Let's Get It Up (13) - The title track of "For Those About To Rock" was of course the standout on the album, but this agreeable rumpus did well enough for them, though not up to the admittedly hard to surpass standards of its predecessor "Back In Black."
6 Feb D Train You're The One For Me (30) - Yes, ONLY #30! One of the ten most important dance tracks of the decade. OK it did get a Paul Hardcastle makeover (i.e. the keyboards off "19" and much gurning on TOTP) three years later and did, uh, twice as well (#15) - but this is an URGENT AND KEY record. Years ahead of its time in its use of space and echo (see Inner City at the opposite end of the decade for proof of this). Classic classic classic.
6 Feb Earth Wind & Fire I've Had Enough (29) - A below par second single from the treading water "Raise!" album, this was EWF's last UK top 40 hit.
6 Feb Jets Love Makes The World Go Round (21) - Imagine, if you will, a Popstars version of the Stray Cats, covering a Perry Como "rocker" which was creaky at birth. Yes it was that bad.
6 Feb Soft Cell Say Hello Wave Goodbye (3) - Do you really need me to tell you how great this is? And how utterly ashamed David Gray should be even to imagine that stretching it out to eight minutes by means of his trademark "ohhh-arrrghs" could actually add to the imperfect perfection of this performance? Away with you, child.
8 Feb Toni Basil Mickey (2) - Actually released originally in the summer of '81 and played to death by DLT, and now inexplicably a big hit. I can't hate this remodelled Racey album track but I cannot penetrate it either.
13 Feb Fun Boy Three/Bananarama It Ain't What You Do It's The Way That You Do It (4) - Foreseeing trip hop a long way off, the joyful romp of the '40s original is buried beneath impenetrable and disturbing layers of percussion and just-beyond-tonal harmonies. Minimal and startling.
13 Feb Black Sabbath Turn Up The Night (37) - Ozzy long gone, Ronnie James Dio now on vocals. Supernaut it ain't.
13 Feb Depeche Mode See You (6) - Their first single without Vince Clarke, and at the time their biggest, this opens the mine of existentialist Merseybeat at which Martin Gore once excelled.
13 Feb J. Geils Band Centerfold (3) - The whistling chorus is not a million miles from Grandmaster Flash's "Birthday Party." The milk-filled drums in the video offers no ambiguity as to the content of this out-of-place locker room anthem.
13 Feb Jam Town Called Malice / Precious (1) - Sorry I can't talk about the Jam right now, or what happened in my life in relation to this single in particular. Pain pain pain.
13 Feb Robert Palmer Some Guys Have All The Luck (16) - One of the extraordinarily mentalist singles that Palmer had out in the early '80s. Compare this with Rod Stewart's drearily straight-faced reading of the same song two years hence - here the "lyrics" are all over the place, blurred, slurred, with Russell Mael-esque yelps added. The passion needs more sense than the words can make of them. Cubist pop.
13 Feb UB40 I Won't Close My Eyes (32) - The standard retort in reviews was, of course, "as difficult as this record makes it."
20 Feb Abba Head Over Heels (25) - Their worst chart performance since 1975's I Do I Do etc., this marked the point where Abba perhaps "grew out" of pop, became TOO real. "The Visitors" was the B-side.
20 Feb ABC Poison Arrow (6) - Again, do you really need me to tell you that this OUGHT to have been number one for 20 weeks? That Horn was completely right in saying that this used the Linn drum as Dylan used the acoustic guitar? Multi-dimensional, poly-referential - a fantastic, FANTASTIC record.
20 Feb Associates Party Fears Two (9) - OK, maybe less than 20 weeks to give the doomed MacKenzie and Rankine a spell at the top. A surrealist scenario which lyrically would not have been out of place in the work of Throbbing Gristle, set to an IMAGINED idyll of Abba/Bowie/Sylvester. The most subtly sexual performance on TOTP ever. A glory. THIS GOT INTO THE TOP TEN.
20 Feb Iron Maiden Run To The Hills (7) - Oh leave Bruce alone, what harm's he doing you? Actually The Number Of The Beast is a fine record, and this was the biggest single off it.
20 Feb Kraftwerk Showroom Dummies (25) - Rushed out after The Model had topped the charts a month previously. No need; their albums work as a whole and they exceeeded "singles."
20 Feb Madness Cardiac Arrest (14) - The lyrics here happened in reality to my dad in July 1981. I will say no more.
20 Feb Nolans Don't Love Me Too Hard (14) - Their best single, and yes the title meant exactly what it was supposed to mean.
27 Feb "The Original" Adam & The Ants Deutscher Girls (13) - Ambulance chasing from Decca. Off the "Jubilee" soundtrack.
27 Feb Foster & Allen A Bunch Of Thyme (18) - The only hit single of the '80s to include the lyric "lusty maiden," I think it's safe to say. You know the video for "My Lovely Horse?" Mick and Tony to a T.
27 Feb Goombay Dance Band Seven Tears (1) - The gimmick was that the lead singer doubled as a fire-eater. In the Boney M lineage. Its rapid ascent to the top was viewed with the same resigned dread that one views a safe plummeting out of a 28th floor window, about to land upon your head. You know what's going to happen but are equally aware that you can do nothing to stop it happening.
27 Feb Starsound Stars On Stevie (14) - The Dutch proto-bootleggers' last chart entry, with the apparent participation of the Wonder man himself.
6 Mar David Bowie Baal's Hymn (EP) (29) - Soundtrack of the BBC TV production of the Brecht play, music by Dominic Muldowney. Worthy. Brecht last in the Top 40 two years previously when DB essayed his version of "Alabams Song."
6 Mar Derek & The Dominoes Layla (reissue) (4) - The full seven and a half minute version on 12". DLT creamed himself over the possibility of this getting to number one.
6 Mar Julio Iglesias Quiereme Mucho (Yours) (3) - I liked "Begin the Beguine" - Ramon Arcusa's gloriously just-out-of-date orchestration (complete with syn-drums) made it a great soundtrack for driving down the Westway - but this, frankly, was yeuccchh.
6 Mar Imagination Just An Illusion (2) - Their first two albums are CLASSIQUE and this was their biggest hit; Swain and Jolley's finest moment (including subsequent Spandau and Bananarama work).
6 Mar Kool & Gang Take My Heart (You Can Have It If You Want It) (29) - Midtempo snorer from the otherwise pretty good "Something Special" LP. Covered bizarrely by Robert Palmer one year hence.
6 Mar Gary Numan Music For Chameleons (19) - Everyone thought it were Mick Karn on bass, but no it was Pino Palladino. I will hear nothing against the glider-flying nihilist Numan for he was/is GREBT!
6 Mar Pluto Your Honour (19) - The same plot as Shaggy's "It Wasn't Me" but scripted by Talbot Rothwell rather than Ben Stiller.
13 Mar Chas & Dave Ain't No Pleasing You (2) - Far and away their biggest hit, a luvly old singalong which was Chingford Tor Ascender's favourite single of '82.
13 Mar Classix Nouveaux Is It A Dream (11) - Sal Solo! "satisfactiiiiiiiiOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOn!" Oh my god the horror, the horror - you 18-year-olds are lucky to have missed out on this.
13 Mar Elvis Presley Are You Lonesome Tonight (25) - The corpsing version which we all know ("Shit! 14 years down the drain!" etc.).
13 Mar Leo Sayer Have You Ever Been In Love (10) - The David Gray of 1974 enjoys his last top ten entry. He rarely passes up the opportunity to remind us of his lack of chart success in the UK since.
13 Mar Visage The Damned Don't Cry (11) - Oh come on, if this were Ladytron you'd be calling it a classic! Highly uncool at the time, but I have a sneaking admiration for the man Strange and his works.
20 Mar Boomtown Rats House On Fire (24) - Geldof goes reggae, not very successfully. The last time that the top 40 would see him until Band Aid.
20 Mar Japan Ghosts (5) - Divine, existentialist, subjectivist, brilliant, proposing a new future for pop which no one took up. Aesthetic bookmarks: Cassidy's How Can I Be Sure (1972), Tricky's Aftermath (1994). The synth which sounds like a mourning trombone section. The heart lies in what is not played or heard, but still felt.
20 Mar Barbra Streisand Memory (34) - My mum prefers this to the Elaine Paige original.
20 Mar Bill Wyman A New Fashion (37) - Strangely mournful recognition of his imminent aesthetic redundancy; not a patch on "Je Suis Un Rock Star."
27 Mar Altered Images See Those Eyes (11) - "You don't care about" I don't care about WHAT, Grogan? That voice just put me off, as hard as Martin Rushent's production tried to convince me otherwise.
27 Mar Bucks Fizz My Camera Never Lies (1) - Wasn't this one of the weirdest number ones ever? Andy Hill, producer, obviously trying to do a Trevor Horn - this song is askew, its subject matter ungraspable, its Heatwave-borrowed middle-eight harmonies completely at odds with the rhythm. Like ACR and Dexy's, Bucks Fizz fell so short of emulating Dollar that they inadvertently created something different.
27 Mar Dollar Give Me Back My Heart (4) - Now look me in the eye. Brian Wilson would have been proud to make this record. Loss, loss of hope, maybe loss of life. "I'm Not In Love" (sneakily referred to in the intro) taken a step further. Van Day's "I...love...you" at 3/4 angles to the backing track. Again, Horn's unparalleled use of silence, suddenly erupting in a massed Thereze Bazar chorus of death with a crib from Yes buried underneath. Then a dwindling down to just one, distant, frightened voice:
"Now you're gone."
Jesus fucking Christ this song shakes me to my core.
27 Mar Elton John Blue Eyes (8) - Billy Joel-esque balladry which I rather like because of those petrol station synths, and again an astute, sun-filled use of echo.
27 Mar Shalamar I Can Make You Feel Good (7) - First of four ace singles from "Friends." Jeffrey had not had his haircut at this stage.
27 Mar Status Quo Dear John (10) - Sounds more like Chas & Dave than the then current Chas & Dave single.
3 Apr Monsoon Ever So Lonely (12) - Arguably the only musical talent ever to emerge from Grange Hill, Sheila Chandra's obviously pioneering proto-World Music, proto-trance anthem did not ensure future hits, but she became one of the finest improvising vocalists in this country. One of two sometime members of John Stevens' SME to have a hit single this year.
3 Apr Motorhead Iron Fist (29) - "YOU KNOW ME! EVIL EYE!" Lemmy and the boys arguably past their year-old peak (i.e. "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith") and before their next peak ("Deaf Forever").
3 Apr PhD I Won't Let You Down (3) - Fantastic, beautiful single by Jim Diamond and sometime Improv keyboardist Tony Hymas. Takes Hot Chocolate's "Put Your Love In Me" to a different but equally intense spiritual galaxy. When the cavernous organ enters at the song's climax it becomes a hymn. What Cope didn't QUITE achieve with "Tiny Children."
3 Apr Pigbag Papa's Got A Brand New Pigbag (3) - Whoopee, free jazz back in the top three for the first time since "Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick" even though the single had been out for a year already (its main radio champion, bizarrely, was DLT). Good marketing tactics ensured eventual success, i.e. delete the single for six weeks, watch the back orders pile up, then put it out again with a 12" mix.
3 Apr Rainbow Stone Cold (34) - A stentorian if somewhat laboured Russ Ballard ballad; Blackmore's last top 40 appearance.
3 Apr Roxy Music More Than This (6) - Where Ferry took an ambient detour into splendid isolation. His TOTP performance of this, dragging on a fag while fingering the keyboards, is an exercise in coolness.
3 Apr Shakatak Night Birds (9) - This peaked three places higher than their late '81 masterpiece "Easier Said Than Done." Slightly underdone Brit jazz-funk, but I don't mind it really.
10 Apr Bananarama/Fun Boy Three Really Saying Something (5) - Again, the "passion" of the Velvelettes' original is surgically excised and replaced by an almost a-passionate, blank re-reading. Sublime pop, of course.
10 Apr Bardo One Step Further (2) - The GREBTEST Brit Eurovision entry - no arguing! Andy Hill produces this epileptic eruption of unfulfilled sexual tension. But of course it didn't win - didn't Britain know there was a war on? That we ought to be reverent? Wishing for peace (See May for the winner).
10 Apr David Bowie Cat People (Putting Out Fire) (26) - Usually missed off Bowie best ofs for contractual reasons (cf. Donna Summer's "Down Deep Inside") this is surprisingly effective (Moroder produced) and much better than the pallid retread on "Let's Dance." Deserved to go much higher than it did.
10 Apr England World Cup Squad This Time (We'll Get It Right)/England We'll Fly The Flag (2) - Recently resurrected as a call for renewed life at the close of Saint Etienne's "Finisterre." There was a war on at the time.
10 Apr J. Geils Band Freeze-Frame (27) - This underperforming follow-up to "Centerfold" occupies an exact midway point between the Look's "I Am The Beat" and Billy Joel's "Tell Her About It."
10 Apr Haircut 100 Fantastic Day (9) - Again, see CoM for my celebration of this. "I'm SO in LOVE with YOU!" As Nick Heyward, at that time, deserved to be.
10 Apr Daryl Hall & John Oates Private Eyes (32) - Plodding AOR; a partial retread of the infinitely superior "Kiss On My List."
10 Apr Paul McCartney with Stevie Wonder Ebony & Ivory (1) - Amazingly, and shamefully, Stevie's first UK chart topper was achieved by this crass nursery rhyme about black and white people living atop a piano.
10 Apr Simple Minds Promised You A Miracle (13) - My God it is SUMMER and Simple Minds WERE shiny yellow New Pop. Wonderful, eternal; they sat down to write, not just a hit, but a transcendent pop record. And this should have been number one, oh yes it should. When this charted, Peter Powell delivered an ecstatic five-minute eulogy about how brilliant 1982 pop music was that the likes of Simple Minds and the Associates could have proper hits. And, at the time he needed to be, he was right.
10 Apr Spandau Ballet Instinction (10) - Paul Morley grumbled for decades afterwards, "Horn saved them!" He certainly did; this might be the most fundamentally undanceable record ever to make the top ten, but Horn turned base matter into absolute drum-cascading magic. An orgasm of a record.
17 Apr Sharon Brown I Specialize In Love (38) - One of many delicious, synth-crunching proto-electro R&B tunes as played by David Stubbs in St Clements back in the day (Vicki D's "This Beat Is Mine" a near miss at #42 was another stone classic).
17 Apr Hot Chocolate Girl Crazy (7) - This breezy good-natured canter by Errol and the boys was accompanied by a video depicting housewives doing mass Jane Fonda-style workouts in their back gardens.
17 Apr Barry Manilow Stay (Live) (23) - Not the Maurice Williams/Hollies/Jackson Browne one, but his own plod of a ballad to promote his chart-topping "Live In London" album.
17 Apr Rocky Sharpe & the Replays Shout Shout (Knock Yourself Out) (19) - Bland R&R retread, as only British blandness can be. Still, an improvement on Russ Abbot's "A Day In The Life Of Vince Prince" which had crawled to #61 back in February.
17 Apr Kim Wilde View From A Bridge (16). The second of Kim's trilogy of death/alienation singles, this one actually culminates in a suicide. The next, her masterpiece "Child Come Away" managed only #43. See CoM for fuller discussion.
17 Apr Yazoo Only You (2) - Sorry, but I never got with Alison Moyet's "real" vocals, nor with Vince Clarke's overly plinky pop. On eternal rotation on my next door neighbour's stereo in college in the summer of 1982.
24 Apr Joan Jett & Blackhearts I Love Rock 'N' Roll (4) - Britney go away. Much brighter and harder-hitting than the Arrows' original, the punctum here is in the sustained guitar C which hangs over the final chorus.
24 Apr Junior Mama Used To Say (7) - Must admit I preferred the rawer original single mix of this which came out in the summer of '81 (where the horn lines continue all the way behind Junior in the fadeout) but this cleaned-up US remix certainly did the business, transatlantic-wise.
24 Apr Patrice Rushen Forget Me Nots (8) - More wonderfully seductive R&B, quoted by George Michael in "Fastlove" 14 years later as recognition of what he, and perhaps all of us, lost.
24 Apr Candi Staton Suspicious Minds (31) - On Sugarhill records (??), this uninspired discofied retread simply begs the question WHY?
24 Apr Shakin' Stevens Shirley (6) - Possibly the worst single ever to make the top 40, I have suddenly decided, certainly the most cliched lyrics, formulaic to formica level. Appalling waste of vinyl.
24 Apr Stutz Bearcats/Denis King Orchestra The Song That I Sing (Theme From We'll Meet Again) (36) - Oh hang on, how could I have forgotten this? The theme from a popular ITV series about neurotic WWII pilots starring Richard Kiley and Susannah York. The Stutz Bearcats used to pollute Saturday night TV with their endless smug appearances on The Two Ronnies, Seaside Special, etc. - an intellect and awareness-free Brit Manhattan Transfer.
1 May Queen Body Language (25) - Very noticeably omitted from any of the three Greatest Hits volumes, when Queen were trying to go all Eurodisco and spacious. An interesting failure in maximalist minimalism. Some awareness of Ze Records is vaguely evident.
1 May Scotland World Cup Squad We Have A Dream (5) - The GREBTEST footie song ever, forget your "World In Motion" - John Gordon Sinclair, BA Robertson and the boys say it all (would that they had). "IT'S NO' THE BALL YER KICKIN' YA EEJIT - IT'S ME!"
1 May Tight Fit Fantasy Island (5) - Cod-Abba, essentially, with an early appearance of cod-Horn drumrolls. Morley said in the NME that this was better than "Led Zeppelin III." Can anyone ever prove him wrong?
1 May Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup Final Squad Tottenham Tottenham (19) - With Chas & Dave of course. "Tottenham Tottenham/No one can stoppenham/We're gonna do it like we did last year." Indeed they did, right down to necessitating a replay. To their credit, they ensured that, on their TOTP appearance, the two Argentinians were prominently placed at the front.
8 May Associates Club Country (13) - The most sexual performance on TOTP EVER - Billy Mac and Martha Muffin ravishing each other like defrocked cardinals. A joy, a rapture and a wonder.
8 May Blondie Island Of Lost Souls (11) - Save my soul from cod-reggae, more like.
8 May Depeche Mode The Meaning Of Love (12) - As breezily yet ominously sunny as a postman bringing a letter postmarked Aldershot and containing a white feather to your door, this was another Gore masterpiece of misericordia.
8 May Fun Boy Three The Telephone Always Rings (17) - Almost demented in its unspoken paranoia, the sneering brass of the Swinging Laurels added to the single mix. As "un-pop" a pop record as Bowie's "Sound And Vision" was five years previously.
8 May Nicole A Little Peace (1) - The German nun who won Eurovision because we should all love each other and not drop nasty bombs and certainly not make post-modernist New Pop while our boys are getting killed. Puke.
15 May ABC The Look Of Love (4) - Smokey Robinson sings Barthes, produced by Meek, Spector and Messiaen. One of the greatest pop singles AND singles ABOUT pop ever made. No more needs to be said.
15 May Charlene I've Never Been To Me (1) - Dysfunctional! Where's the TV movie with Cheryl Ladd and Brian Dennehy? What the fuck was this doing on Motown?
15 May Kid Creole & the Coconuts I'm a Wonderful Thing Baby (4) - Or "Wherever I Lay My Hat" without the guilt and 20 times the easy swagger. Again they SHOULD have had the big hit 12 months previously with "Maladie D'Amour" but it was good to have them around.
15 May Duran Duran Hungry Like The Wolf (5) - Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do doooooooooooooooo. Who needs say more?
15 May Iron Maiden The Number Of The Beast (18) - The title track of an album which may have been far more important and influential than you realised. "The Prisoner" was my favourite track.
15 May UB40 Love Is All Is Alright (29) - What? Still alive?
22 May Altered Images Pinky Blue (35) - Oh go and speak to Mike Chapman if you want another proper hit!
22 May Adam Ant Goody Two Shoes (1) - A tribute to Kevin Rowland! He needed three stages to accommodate his TOTP performance of this! What a showbiz something or other! His first Antless single.
22 May Genesis 3 x 3 EP (10) - Lead track "Paperlate" I liked. An underrated singles band, generally.
22 May Japan Cantonese Boy (24) - The haiku-like signoff from "Tin Drum" works better in that context ("Sons Of Pioneers" as a single - sigh) but excellent all the same.
22 May Madness House Of Fun (1) - 'Tis pity that the genuine goodwill felt by every sane person when Madness finally made it to # 1 was offset by the fact that this wasn't one of their better singles, though it works well as a standard Norf Lahndon coming of age odyssey. "Our House" was more poignant, "Shut Up" more powerful.
22 May Prelude After The Goldrush (28) - Originally this acappella Neil Young cover was a hit in '74, but for some unknown reason it was rerecorded and resurfaced in the charts (I think Noel Edmonds might have been to blame). Desperation expressed even more quietly, but why?
22 May New Order Temptation (29) - Yet again, further comment is fruitless. Everyone knows how important, and how joyful, this record is. The butterfly emerges from a reborn chrysalis.
22 May Toyah Brave New World (21) - Oh leave us alone you Tory luvvie whinger! ("Cheer up love!" - K Chegwin on "Cheggers Plays Pop")
29 May Echo & the Bunnymen The Back Of Love (19) - Mac finally has a proper hit, while "Porcupine" is undergoing a prolonged and painful birth in the studio.
29 May Diana Ross Work That Body (7) - Its sub-Jane Fonda every day in every way ladies I'm getting better and better message is fatally undermined by the drum intro, which pays tender tribute to Max Wall.
29 May Siouxsie & the Banshees Fireworks (22) - Phenomenal autumnal pop in summer; a taster for the glory that was/is "A Kiss In The Dreamhouse."
29 May Soft Cell Torch (2) - Has to be heard in its full-length 12" format with Almond beseeching Cindy Ecstasy to understand his passion in the long discursive middle section.
5 June Beatles The Beatles Movie Medley (10) - A singularly incompetent sub-Starsound cut and paste job on sundry Beatles songs wot appeared in their films, to promote a barrel-scraping compilation entitled, er, "Reel Music." Who the Lennon could possibly spend ¸1.25 on this and play it repeatedly?
5 June Belle Stars Iko Iko (35) - The erstwhile Bodysnatchers reappear in the top 40. Here they lose out to Natasha but in the US it is a considerably bigger hit some years later.
5 June Bow Wow Wow I Want Candy (9) - A one-sided 7", but really not many people were still listening by now.
5 June Cars Since You're Gone (37) - Inexplicable appearance for this mediocre "I've been OK no I haven't really" also-ran from Ocasek & Co, particularly when you realise that "You Might Think" never even had a sniff at the top 40 here.
5 June Natasha Iko Iko (10) - She was Natasha England, and came from Hamilton (the one down the road from where I grew up, not the one in Canada). Completely unremarkable. The follow-up was, amazingly, a reading of Patti Palladin's "Boom Boom Room."
5 June Stevie Wonder Do I Do (10) - Complete joy and reaffirmation of life, this record is, down to its cameo by Dizzy Gillespie. Hear how the brass and horns swell up behind Stevie in the final climax, taking him out of your Selves. Fucking genius, even in 1982.
12 June A Flock Of Seagulls Space Age Love Song (34) - Their US biggie "I Ran" stopped at #43 here, but this sub-Buggles weedy techno-ballad thing did slightly better.
12 June Odyssey Inside Out (3) - Newly revitalised by its inclusion in the just-released Wild Bunch mix CD, this is, like all other Odyssey singles, sublime urbane R&B. "Like the words here in this song, you'll go on and on and on...without her." Nathalie you have to keep telling me that this is true.
12 June Queen Las Palabras De Amor (17) - The one trad moment on their "Hot Space" album, a rather routine Mercury ballad. The only track from this album to appear on any of their Greatest Hits collections is "Under Pressure."
12 June Rolling Stones Going To A Go-Go (Live) (26) - From the "Still Life" album. Think to yourself - how desperately do I really REALLY need to hear this?
12 June Shalamar A Night To Remember (5) - Jeffrey's had his haircut, read his Paul Morley and what do you know, he's on TOTP, trapped in a telephone booth. Pity poor old resolutely mulleted Howard Hewett who did all the actual, er, singing and writing and things.
12 June Status Quo She Don't Fool Me (36) - Titles like these are better straight men than Ernie Wise. You know what this sounds like already. You could probably sing it.
12 June Midge Ure No Regrets (9) - Done, apparently, because Ure thought that the Walker Brothers' version "lacked balls." This from someone who ruthlessly, erm, was influenced by "The Electrician" when he made "Vienna."
19 June Bucks Fizz Now Those Days Are Gone (8) - Tommy Vance remarked on the top 40 rundown after playing this record, and after a respectful pause: "That is an immaculate pop record." As indeed it is. What the hell happened to "us"? We were happy. "I can't face the thought of life without you." Harmonies worthy of "Pet Sounds." "And we couldn't see where we were going wrong...now those days are gone." Mike Nolan never sung better or truer words in his life.
19 June Cheri Murphy's Law (13) - Bonkers but brilliant groove of a record starring a speeded-up proto-scrub to whom nothing but bad things happen, for all of which he is responsible.
19 June Dollar Videotheque (17) - The greatest and bleakest pop single ever made. They met, loved, parted and now exist only as ghosts on either side of a perceived screen. I repeat, Bazar's concluding descent of "only ghosts are lovers on the screen" in tandem with J J Jeczalik's Fairlight is the most chilling vocal in the history of pop.
19 June Lynyrd Skynyrd Free Bird (EP) (re-entry) (21). It was there in '76, came back in '78, and now was back again for no reason other than that it was out on 12" for the first time. In those days this was still a selling point.
19 June Steve Miller Band Abracadabra (2) - Sounds like a psyched-out Squeeze, particularly in the album version's extended fadeout, where the song just vanishes, "Fly Like An Eagle"-style. Not helped by TOTP Legs & Co interpretation which guest-starred a magician who may or may not have been the Great Soprendo.
19 June Gary Numan We Take Mystery (To Bed) (9) - Fuck knows what that means (unless that's what it means). Basically "Music For Chameleons Part 2" and Numan's last top tenner.
19 June Roxy Music Avalon (13) - A regretful retreat into a Prospero's cell of nothingness. That's what "Avalon" the album is about. How come Ferry and Eno ("Ambient 4: On Land") ended up in the same place anyway?
19 June Leo Sayer Heart (Stop Beating In Time) (22) - Sayer does the Gibb Brothers, and a lovely song it is too with that same vaguely sinister chord progression, slightly reminiscent of the Stranglers' "La Folie."
19 June Shakatak Streetwalkin' (38) - A ripoff of "Street Life." But not as good.
26 June Captain Sensible Happy Talk (1) - He claims that he sings "Golly baby I'm a lucky cunt" and no one got it. He was lucky to get away with this irretrievably tacky taxpayer of a record - at the time, this recorded the biggest leap ever to number one, from the previous week's #33, but only stayed on top for two weeks before making an equally rapid descent.
26 June Clash Rock The Casbah (30) - Weird, huh? Top five in America, only #30 here. That's what you get for not doing TOTP "on principle" chaps. Subsequent reissue in 1991 got to #15.
26 June David Essex Me & My Girl (Night-Clubbing) (13) - A late entry in Essex's archive of weird pop singles; a stealthy creep of a record, and his last single to sound even remotely avant-garde.
26 June Imagination Music & Lights (5) - Again, you see, it's the implied minor key which undermines the celebration apparently being sung about in this song. Poignant all the way through.
26 June Visage Night Train (12) - the 12" of this is ESSENTIAL readers, especially where Rusty Egan goes mentalist on his drumkit at the climax. Their last top 40 hit.
3 July AC/DC For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) (15) - The title track and crowning glory of their gold-covered album. But wouldn't everyone have it on the album by now anyway?
3 July Bananarama Shy Boy (4) - Exit the FB3, enter Swain and Jolley, enter a certain compromise. But what the hell, it's the Shangri-Las without the pain. As yet.
3 July Irene Cara Fame (1) - Two years old, but revitalised by the TV show. Loved more than you might care to acknowledge.
3 July Dexy's Midnight Runners & the Emerald Express - Come On Eileen (1) - Altogether now, CELTIC SOUL BROTHERS! It should have been the CELTIC SOUL BROTHERS! Undeniably good to have Kevin R back at number one, and undeniably effective as a cathartic release after the tension and agony of "Too-Rye-Ay," but do you really want to hear this again in this disco? I was asking myself that question even then.
3 July Jam Just Who Is The Five O'Clock Hero (8) - German import which sold on the back of the B-side, the otherwise unavailable "The Great Depression."
3 July Japan I Second That Emotion (9) - No you don't, David. You knew better than this even then and probably squirmed when this got into the top ten as much as we did.
3 July Paul McCartney Take It Away (15) - You see, at his best (i.e. 1978-82) Danny Baker as a critic was OTM. The punctum in this Macca song is the ecstatic brass which enters right at the song's death; his best use of horns since "Got To Get You Into My Life."
3 July Trio Da Da Da (2) - If this was Blur you wouldn't necessarily say it was a classic. Still they got there, whereas DAF didn't.
10 July Brat Chalk Dust - The Umpire Strikes Back (19) - "Who Do You Do?" also-ran Roger Kitter, who probably doesn't even warrant inclusion in "The Entertainers," made a quick buck by this gruesomely unfunny and distinctly un-McEnroe sounding McEnroe pisstake.
10 July Hot Chocolate It Started With A Kiss (5) - One of the most heartbreaking acknowledgements of the impermanence of youth, of relationships, in pop. You know even from the whispered "you don't remember me, do you?" beneath the first chorus that there will be an unhappy ending. In many ways the failure of the Other to recognise the singer is worse than if she had died. Now she exists, but only as an empty vessel for his forlorn fantasies. "I thought life was always good! I thought you always would be mine!" exclaims Brown, almost petulantly, as if he's been refused a second helping. Which of course he has. "Walking down the street came...the star of my love story." Her failure to recognise him is as if he had never actually existed. It's a denial of his own life.
"I never thought it would come to this." There are little more shattering declarations in pop than that.
10 July Junior Too Late (20) - A dull and worthy song about wife-beating, which subject should be neither dull nor worthy. The album was a big disappointment.
10 July Pigbag The Big Bean (40) - A World Cup tribute, apparently. Their point had already been made.
10 July Patrice Rushen I Was Tired Of Being Alone (39) - There's a rapid-fire additional two-liner to the latter choruses on this record which are sexier than anything that side of Janet Jackson.
10 July Donna Summer Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger) (18) - Summer meets Quincy Jones, does an "Off The Wall" and it's terrific. Still an undervalued album.
10 July Wavelength Hurry Home (17) - A deathly plodding MoR ballad which DLT and Simon Bates adopted as an anthem for soldiers coming home from the Falklands. Vomit.
17 July Belle Stars The Clapping Song (11) - They did better with this second lame cover version.
17 July Elkie Brooks Nights In White Satin (33) - Overwrought screeching and orchestration ruin this song which is actually about an inarticulable passion. It needs to be sung QUIETLY.
17 July Firm Arthur Daley (E's Alright) (14) - A sub-Chas & Dave "tribute" to the "Minder" character by disaffected ex-Rubettes. Five years later they would get to number one with "Star Trekkin'". Shortly after that one of them ended up as one of the KLF's backroom boys.
17 July Cliff Richard The Only Way Out (10) - Cliff's unassailably great run of singles from 1976-1981 had ended with "Wired For Sound" and this is somnolent AOR which goes nowhere and emotes less.
17 July Yazoo Don't Go (3) - "I ain't never gonna let you go!" threatens Moyet. Oh go on, I'll give you a tenner, you're crushing my ribs!
24 July Blondie War Child (39) - The 12" of this is a minor masterpiece. It never appears on any of their best of compilations, but it's one last gasp of life from them before they disintegrated.
24 July Kid Creole & the Coconuts Stool Pigeon (7) - "Tropical Gangsters" was rubbished in the press at the time. Doesn't get played as much as "Off The Coast Of Me" round my way but considerably more so than "Fresh Fruit In Foreign Places." Smart and hip.
24 July Cure The Hanging Garden (34) - Smiffy and the lads had only hitherto had one top 40 appearance, with "A Forest" in 1980. After this unexpected entry from their defiantly uncommercial "Pornography" album, they had to reinvent themselves. Oddly, "Let's Go To Bed" missed the 40, but "The Walk" put them in the top 20 for the first time about a year after this.
24 July Hayzi Fantayzee John Wayne Is Big Leggy (11) - Jeremy Healy and Kate Garner infamously doing it doggystyle on TOTP to this sub-Bow Wow Wow romper room of a record. Incredibly, Culture Club were already being dissed in favour of this lot in the NME and the Face, even before they'd had a hit.
24 July Madness Driving In My Car (4) - Acknowledged by the band themselves as a stopgap single, this is a pretty unremarkable canter which doesn't prepare us at all for their autumnal masterpiece of an album "The Rise And Fall."
24 July Stranglers Strange Little Girl (7) - They always managed to be more menacing, the quieter they got, just like the third Velvets album. This was the first song they ever wrote in 1974, and would have sounded as out of kilter in the charts then as it did here.
24 July Talk Talk Today (14) - A surprisingly long chart run for this, Mark Hollis & Co's second single. They weren't quite out of the "Duran support band" woods, and although the ambition was already evident, it wasn't until 1986's "The Colour Of Spring" that art started to break through.
31 July Bad Manners My Girl Lollipop (My Boy Lollipop) (9) - Please, just walk away. You don't need to know. Really you do not need to know.
31 July Boystown Gang Can't Take My Eyes Off You (4) - The hi-NRG cover on which the Pet Shop Boys based their later Bono deconstruction. I'm a stern, unbending Valli/Williams adherent as far as this song's concerned. Anyway, "Cruisin'" is the B Gang's undisputed masterpiece.
31 July Sheena Easton Machinery (38) - The Bellshill lass goes electropop, not very well (certainly not as well as 1981's berserk "Just Another Broken Heart" with its freeform slide-whistle solo). One year later we had "Sugar Walls" so the quality of your collaborators does matter.
31 July Fun Boy Three Summertime (18) - Unremarkable stopgap Gershwin cover. Not poignant.
31 July Survivor Eye Of The Tiger (1) - Worked surprisingly well in the context of Rocky III and as an addendum to it. Perfectly fine pop record - knows its own limitations and does exactly what it says on the tin.
7 Aug Associates Love Hangover/18 Carat Love Affair (21) - Oh my God, if you're going to do Diana Ross, don't be all worthy and reverential; find the punctum in the songs! The reading of "Love Hangover" here isn't as determinedly mentalist as the Peel session version recorded earlier in the year, but it betrays a mischief which even in the late summer of 1982 seemed to be slipping from pop's mainstream grasp.
7 Aug Kool & Gang Big Fun (14) - Doesn't measure up to "Get Down On It" but a reasonable dancefloor filler of its month.
7 Aug Pink Floyd When The Tigers Broke Free (39) - From "The Wall" soundtrack; Waters' dad gets blown up at Anzio and we all have to suffer for it again.
7 Aug David Sylvian/Ryuichi Sakamoto Bamboo Houses / Bamboo Music (30) - Oddly directionless ambient musings which don't measure up to "Taking Islands In Africa" from 1980 or indeed the imperishable "Forbidden Colours" from '83.
7 Aug Tom Tom Club Under The Boardwalk (22) - Weymouth and Franz now had twice as many top 40 hits as Talking Heads. Was it worth it? This lacklustre Drifters-go-Ze cover certainly wasn't.
7 Aug Toto Coelo I Eat Cannibals Part 1 (8) - Involving, famously, Bob Holness' daughter, and necessitating precisely none of your time. An "Opportunity Knocks" idea of "raunchiness."
14 Aug Captain Sensible Wot (26) - "He said CapTAIN! I said WOT?" The heartfelt follow-up "Croydon" failed to trouble the scorers.
14 Aug David Christie Saddle Up (9) - He was French! I think. Would have sounded naff even in 1973. Gary Davies liked it.
14 Aug Thomas Dolby Windpower (31) - Too damned askew ever to be a pop star, this was the first of Dolby's very intermittent top 40 entries. The quasi-nuclear greyness hanging over the pylons of this song suggests that there is no future. Astonishingly, the Magnus Pyke-guesting Wacko Jacko fave "She Blinded Me With Science" only managed #49 in the UK later the same year.
14 Aug Kids From Fame featuring Valerie Landsburg Hi-Fidelity (5) - Again, an extremely adequate pop record which would not unduly trouble me if I never heard it again. The "Kids From Fame" TV soundtrack album took turns with "Lexicon Of Love" in the number one spot over the summer.
14 Aug Modern Romance featuring John DuPrez Cherry Pink & Apple Blossom White (15) - Not even remotely ironic sexless retread of the Perez Prado perennial. Exit Geoff Deane to a career of crap sitcoms thereafter, excepting one true moment of genius - Divine's "You Think You're A Man."
14 Aug Rockers Revenge featuring Donnie Calvin Walking On Sunshine (4) - The first Arthur Baker production to make it into the UK Top 40 (Bambaataa's "Planet Rock," arguably a more important and influential record than almost anything discussed here, stiffed at #52). Important, influential, brought Eddy Grant back to our attention; still sounds sublime. 12" required for maximum effect, preferably in rotation with Larry Levan's mix of the Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait" (#49, Nov '82).
14 Aug Sting Spread A Little Happiness (16) - It's ironic you see! He's demonic! He brings the girl back to life. All very dodgy, like most of Dennis Potter's musings, and too dark perhaps for "Happy Talk"-style success. The B-side of the 12", however, includes the Police's finest five minutes, the incendiary "I Burn For You."
21 Aug Chicago Hard To Say I'm Sorry (4) - I love what DJ Hype did to this with his 1996 "Hold Me Now" (it never seems to have gained official release) but this is glutinous slop.
21 Aug Duran Duran Save A Prayer (2) - Where LeBon and friends, frankly, try to do Japan. I liked it. Pity they didn't risk putting out "The Chauffeur" as a single - might have been their biggest hit.
21 Aug Haircut 100 Nobody's Fool (9) - The final gasp from an audibly deflated band. Worth it, though, for the terrific workout on the B-side "October Is Orange" which presages Working Week's "Venceremos" by a couple of years.
21 Aug Queen Backchat (40) - The fourth single from "Hot Space." Backchat is, apparently, "takin' up my energy." It sounded like it.
21 Aug Carly Simon Why (10) - Brilliant autumn-period Chic masterpiece. The punctum here is how the synth wavers (Boards of Canada!) seemingly offpitch behind Simon's vocals, thus admitting the existence of vulnerability).
21 Aug Soft Cell What (3) - Efficient but pointless retread of Judy Street Northern Soul classic. Should have re-released "Memorabilia," Phonogram.
21 Aug Shakin' Stevens Give Me Your Heart Tonight (11) - Stuck for 98 weeks at number 11 as well, as I remember. Ballad set to "Three Steps To Heaven" rhythm. The Phoenix of the New fails to fly from the ashes of the past.
21 Aug Wonder Dogs Ruff Mix (31) - A disco record with barking dogs fed through the then new Fairlight contraption. Much loved by Simon Bates and DLT.
28 Aug Depeche Mode Leave In Silence (18) - Gore starts to go Goth and a wee bit industrial. 1983 is really when they hit their stride with "Construction Time Again."
28 Aug Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five The Message (8) - It's easy to forget how powerful this record actually still sounds, especially when set against the bland R&B of the rest of their debut album. The sort of cold shower which Miss E and the Roots now presumably still want hip hop to receive, it is brutal and completely unsentimental, setting the tone for a generation's worth of gangsta rap. Sonic architecture, however, was still some way off.
28 Aug Evelyn King Love Come Down (7) - "Shame," the finest pop record of 1978, only got to #39 (though it was on the top 75 for 23 weeks), but this was pretty good in itself, if now a bit old-sounding.
28 Aug Gary Numan White Boys & Heroes (20) - One suspects that by this stage the gliders were taking precedence.
28 Aug Showaddywaddy Who Put The Bomp (In The Bomp-A-Bomp-A-Bomp) (37) - Strange to find Showaddywaddy still nibbling at the top 40 as late as 1982? Interesting that their star declined almost exactly in coincidence with Shakin' Stevens' rise. This was, literally, the last gasp of an exhausted enterprise. Though it would not prepare us for their astonishing double-header gig with Einsturzende Neubauten at the Kilburn National the following year.
28 Aug Simple Minds Glittering Prize (16) - A eulogy to found love. Abba as they could now not be. A beautiful and eternal record.
28 Aug UB40 So Here I Am (25) - A sort of low calorie "Ghost Town" which sort of hints at what was to come with Roots Manuva, etc. - "sitting at a bus stop, wishing I was somewhere else." The band sounded marooned.
4 Sept ABC All Of My Heart (5) - Somewhere on ILM is the definitive commentary on this, written by Dr C. The one time on the album when Fry's voice is alone, when we finally get to hear HIM. The resultant collapse. The unfulfillable dream of an orchestration. The saxophone which will play forever anyway, fadeout or no fadeout.
4 Sept Dire Straits Private Investigations (2) - DLT's greatest single of all time. A typically dull plod which doesn't even lick the boots of Viv Stanshall's "Big Shot," it probably only gains its kudos from its length, regardless of content. An unnecessary hit.
4 Sept Jennifer Holliday And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going (32) - Forget yer Careys, yer Houstons, yer Dions - you want wailing and screaming, well listen to THIS. From the musical "Dreamgirls," J-Ho pleads with every atom in her body to hang on to life, to cling to the Other, even if the Other is only a mirror. More ham than the Waitrose deli counter, but I dig it.
4 Sept Shakatak Invitations (24) - There is no discernible tune to this record, but Bill Sharpe's piano tootles along regardless.
4 Sept Shalamar There It Is (5) - The best of the "Friends" tetralogy of singles; the same aspiration to, and recognition of, the "higher love" which you find throughout "New Gold Dream."
11 Sept Sylvester/Patrick Cowley Do You Wanna Funk (32) - The last gasp of the "Mighty Real" man; surprisingly effective proto-electro.
11 Sept Mari Wilson Just What I Always Wanted (8) - Punters, they always get it wrong. Two classic singles earlier on in 1982 - "Beat The Beat" and "Baby It's True" both worthy of Saint Etienne, both worthy number ones - and then a dud, and whaddya know, it's a hit. Pah.
18 Sept Animals House Of The Rising Sun (re-entry of reissue, as Guinness has it) (11) - WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY?
18 Sept Adam Ant Friend Or Foe (9) - The point at where the Ant audibly destructs. A cringeworthy TOTP where various Radio 1 DJs were freeze-framed dancing to this record - including Jonathan King.
18 Sept Culture Club Do You Really Want To Hurt Me (1) - In his Smash Hits review, David Hepworth compares Boy George's voice to Dennis Brown. So undemonstrative a record this is, so regretful, so quiet in its bemused grief - so misunderstood a number one.
18 Sept Dollar Give Me Some Kinda Magic (34) - Dollar figure they don't need Trevor to make good records. Wrong.
18 Sept Fat Larry's Band Zoom (2) - Old school R&B ballad, would have been a hit for the Stylistics ten years previously, or Boyz II Men ten years hence. Very nice.
18 Sept Jam The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had To Swallow) (2) - The Style Council were already halfway in.
18 Sept Pinkees Danger Games (8) - An utterly pointless Beatles pastiche which apparently got to #8 by dubious means.
25 Sept Clash Should I Stay Or Should I Go/Straight To Hell (17) - The former was destined to get to #1 nine years hence, but here is a mere advert for "Combat Rock." Note the subtle Hendrix paraphrasing in the string line of "Straight To Hell."
25 Sept Hot Chocolate Chances (32) - A very workaday follow-up to a masterpiece.
25 Sept Imagination In The Heat Of The Night (22) - "All I Want To Know" should have been the next single. The bitterest yet most fragile British R&B ballad I can think of.
25 Sept Musical Youth Pass The Dutchie (1) - Everyone from Peter Powell to John Peel agreed that this was a breath of fresh air. And no I didn't clock the involvement of Pete Waterman. And yet it's impossible to listen to this now without foreknowledge of the fate which lay in store for at least some of these musicians. Can't always divorce the art from the life, even retrospectively.
25 Sept Roxy Music Take A Chance With Me (26) - Unnecessary third single from "Avalon." Flawless, yes, but it's an album track.
25 Sept Ultravox Reap The Wild Wind (12) - Ure and the lads meet George Martin. You'd never discern it from the unchanging evidence of this lumbering cargo of a song.
2 Oct Dexy's Midnight Runners Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile) (5) - Yes we know, Jocky Wilson, TOTP etc. But this song affirms life, more so perhaps than the Van the Man original.
2 Oct Kids From Fame Starmaker (3) - Glutinous celebration of sucking up to authority. Not here you don't.
2 Oct Pretenders Back On The Chain Gang (17) - Yet again, Legs & Co demonstrate their over-literal understanding of song lyrics on TOTP as they perform dressed as a, erm, chain gang. Haven't you heard of metaphors? A distinguished resignation from life of a song, in any case.
2 Oct Sharon Redd Never Give You Up (20) - More bought, perhaps, for its B-side, the stone electro classic "Beat The Street," which still sounds good.
2 Oct Spandau Ballet Lifeline (7) - The lads decline Horn's offer to produce their next album; Gary Kemp says "he's too headmasterly; Swain and Jolley are more like your mates from the pub." This is offensively bland.
2 Oct Tears For Fears Mad World (3) - And don't we all think differently of this song now, post-"Donnie Darko"?
2 Oct Who Athena (40) - Their inglorious final top 40 entry. Daltrey intermittently roars "She's just a girrrrRRRLLLLL-AH!" You can't sing along with it.
9 Oct Bauhaus Ziggy Stardust (15) - Desperate for a hit? Never!
9 Oct Kid Creole & the Coconuts Annie I'm Not Your Daddy (2) - "'cos if I was in your blood/Then you wouldn't be so ugly." Words and sentiments worthy of Eminem. And all the mums and dads sang along.
9 Oct Julio Iglesias Amor (32) - Bit livelier than "Quiereme Mucho" but no "Begin The Beguine."
9 Oct Japan Life In Tokyo (28) - Ariola cashing in their chips again. Strangely, their proto-glam reading of "Don't Rain On My Parade" - very nearly a hit back in '78 - doesn't warrant a reissue.
9 Oct Melba Moore Love's Comin' At Ya (15) - Serviceable R&B. Brandi Wells' "Watch Out" was more deserving of a top 40 place.
9 Oct Toyah Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard) (30) - But be remembered? Probably not.
16 Oct Beatles Love Me Do (re-entry) (4) - 20th anniversarty reissue rewrites history and ensures that every official Beatles single has made the top five, simply to annoy the Guinness compilers.
16 Oct Blue Zoo Cry Boy Cry (13) - Unbelievably, Paul Morley's Single of the Week in the NME of old; now comes across as a somewhat sub-Teardrop Explodes attempt at psychopop angst. Perhaps it was the "so blank I can inscribe my own soul on it" theory which attracted.
16 Oct Eddy Grant I Don't Wanna Dance (1) - 14 years after "Baby Come Back," Mr Grant does indeed come back to the top with an effortless groove, almost arrogant in its pop confidence.
16 Oct Kool & Gang Ooh La La La (Let's Go Dancin') (6) - Oh dear dear dear - "Are you a Mrs or are you a Miss-Ain't?"
16 Oct Barry Manilow I Wanna Do It With You (8) - Amazingly, Bazza's only UK top ten hit single.
16 Oct Piranhas featuring Boring Bob Grover Zambesi (17) - Strange update of Lou Busch '50s big band chart-topper, lodging itself somewhere between the Bonzos (Stanshall-style duff trumpet playing) and the Streets (listen especially to "All Got Our Runnin's" - not that far away from this, lyrically - "as for the landlord's rent, I've spent it on a tent, so if he's asking questions you'll know what to say").
16 Oct Raw Silk Do It To The Music (18) - Lovely R&B electro-stomper. Also big in St Clements.
16 Oct Shakin' Stevens I'll Be Satisfied (10) - Actually, this attempt at the old Jackie Wilson showstopper ain't all that bad. The Dixieland horns blaring behind him - as well as the false ending - make for a pretty neat and supremely confident pop record.
16 Oct Wham! Young Guns (Go For It) (3) - Don't get married - "wise guys realise there's dangers in emotional ties." Look where it gets you, eh, George?
23 Oct Abba The Day Before You Came (32) - A five-minute suicide note. The day before the Other came is now the day before Death will come. Because there's a grief arising from the unspoken knowledge that the Other is no longer there. Too dark, too rich for pop consumers. Listing the details of your life as if you are trying to make some sense of it. This is what you leave the world i love you i love you i LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU TIME HEALS EVERYTHING EXCEPT WOUNDS
23 Oct John Cougar Jack & Diane (25) - What happens if they don't die? Life goes "on and on, long after the thrill is gone." An unexpected response to the above record.
23 Oct Diana Ross Muscles (15) - Written by Jacko, it's a love song to a snake.
23 Oct Dionne Warwick Heartbreaker (2) - Dionne's biggest UK hit done without the aid of Bacharach and/or David, but with the aid of the Bee Gees. Really it's a Bee Gees record which just happens to have Dionne up front (contractual reasons, apparently). Of course it's great pop. They were capable of it, you know.
30 Oct Blancmange Living On The Ceiling (7) - For the second member of John Stevens' SME to chart this year, I bring you Stephen Luscombe, who with Blackburn's finest Neil Arthur had this unrepeatable hit. Corny as hell in its sub-Byrne way, and yes you can see all the joins, but this got played a LOT in its day.
30 Oct Marvin Gaye (Sexual) Healing (4) - TOTP referred to it as "Healing." Harrumph. Another record which is so securely embedded in the canon that there's no need to say much about it, except of course that it's Gaye's own suicide note, his passport out of Belgium, back to America, back to showbiz, back to the wrong end of his transvestite dad's gun.
30 Oct Daryl Hall & John Oates Maneater (6) - "You Can't Hurry Love" goes electro, sort of. This was their highest UK chart placing. Actually "Out Of Touch" was their great masterpiece of a single - produced by Baker - but here stalled at #48 in the autumn of '84.
30 Oct Renee & Renato Save Your Love (1) - FACT: Renato (without Renee) sang at my cousin's wedding in March 1984, and a very nice man he was too. The Xmas #1 for 1982 and assassinated at the time, mostly for its lower-than-low budget video and tasteful V-neck pullovers, but you know there are greater things in this world to hate. That's my excuse anyway.
30 Oct Status Quo Caroline (Live At The NEC) (13) - This rose from 38 to 13 in one week, and then slipped to 14 the next week, thus denying them a place on TOTP (why weren't they on the previous week then?). Despite the fact that the original had already gone top five in 1973, Quo attempted to sue the British Market Research Bureau and the BBC for deliberately falsifying the chart so that they couldn't do TOTP. And you think you're paranoid?
30 Oct Supertramp featuring Roger Hodgson It's Raining Again (26) - Their last hit. How can you hate it? It's just always been there. Doubt that Scooter could do much with it, though.
6 Nov Clannad Theme From Harry's Game (5) - Enya makes her maiden appearance in the top 40 in this proto-Ambient song about terrorists in Ireland. The most subversive top 40 hit ever?
6 Nov A Flock Of Seagulls Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (10) - OK so ridicule me, but this song has an undeniable power which shines even through its hairdo naffness, especially in the terrific build-up and layers of synths which bestride its climax. No doubt this was why it was their biggest hit.
6 Nov Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney The Girl Is Mine (8) - Inauspicious maiden single from "Thriller" where Jacko and Macca argue unengagingly about the affections of the Other. On the sleeve of "Thriller" the song is illustrated by a Jacko drawing depicting him and Macca playing tug-of-war with the benighted lady, dangling in mid-air with a look of strange ecstasy. What the hell does that tell us about Jacko's predilections?
6 Nov Donna Summer State Of Independence (14) - Jacko also turns up in the backing choir for this rather good Jon & Vangelis reading (still prefer the orig, though, with its freeform Dick Morrissey/Tony Oxley intro).
6 Nov Whitesnake Here I Go Again / Bloody Luxury (34) - "Here I Go Again" was a chest-beating ballad by the hirsute Mr Coverdale. "Bloody Luxury" I regret to say I have never heard.
13 Nov Duran Duran Rio (9) - They're on a boat. John Taylor wishes he was Mick Karn. John Taylor ends up selling millions more records than Mick Karn. Go figure.
13 Nov Modern Romance Best Years Of Our Lives (4) - Had the Tremeloes still had a serious chance of getting hits in 1982, this is exactly the sort of record they would have made; all Benny Hill-style yippees and lots of meaty hands being waved in the air.
13 Nov Simple Minds Someone Somewhere (In Summertime) (36) - Released in the dead of winter. A holy track, however.
13 Nov Talk Talk Talk Talk (Remix) (23) - But not drastically so. Comments made above apply equally here.
20 Nov Human League Mirror Man (2) - Borrowing its opening from the Contours' "Just A Little Misunderstanding," this was the League on autopilot. The B-side, however, "You Remind Me Of Gold" is an underheard jewel of a song.
20 Nov Japan Nightporter (29) - The standout track from "Gentlemen Take Polaroids," but its appearance as a single on Virgin indicated that the game was truly up and that the band had in fact split.
20 Nov Evelyn King Back To Love (40) - Almost exactly the chord sequence to "Love Come Down" played backwards.
20 Nov Musical Youth Youth Of Today (13) - Perfectly adequate follow-up, but was the party already over?
20 Nov Lionel Richie Truly (6) - The man's first solo hit, and as undoubtedly heartfelt as the rest of his repertoire.
20 Nov Yazoo The Other Side Of Love (13) - This single was a big mistake. The B-side "Ode To Boy" should have been the A-side, and this was belatedly recognised by the failure of "The Other Side Of Love" to appear on their recent best of compilation.
27 Nov Adam Ant Desperate But Not Serious (33) - Worst chart performance since Cartrouble in Jan '81? Pretty serious I would have thought.
27 Nov David Bowie/Bing Crosby Peace On Earth - Little Drummer Boy (3) - Necrophilia? One dying man and one dead-eyed man sing insincerely about Xmas. What was going through people's heads? Klaus Nomi's shattering "Death" would have made a more fitting Xmas #1.
27 Nov Bucks Fizz If You Can't Stand The Heat (10) - But the formula was already beginning to melt.
27 Nov Culture Club Time (Clock Of The Heart) (3) - One of the finest soul records ever to come out of a British recording studio. Don't underestimate just how good early Culture Club were at their best.
27 Nov Madness Our House (5) - Surely a number one at any other time of the year, this is a goodbye to youth equally as regretful, if not as tortured, as "It Started With A Kiss." It remembers the good times of youth but recognises their impermanence and is never sentimental about it. David Bedford's strings speak what Suggs can't.
27 Nov Shalamar Friends (12) - "And not the fairweather kind." And not really a single, either.
27 Nov Ultravox Hymn (11) - Lots of "give us this day"s and "forever amen"s run through this would-be pomp anthem. Oddly non-illuminating, and rather stodgy.
27 Nov Young Steve & the Afternoon Boys I'm Alright (40) - Oh my fucking Lord. "Wacky" Radio 1 jock Steve fucking Wright. "I'm alright, you're alright, everybody's feeling alright tonight/We're havin' a laugh and singin' a song/If you're alright you can't go wrong." Sub-Chas & Dave, obviously, which I'm beginning to think is equivalent to being sub-Stalin. Without doubt the worst record EVER made EVER EVER EVVVVEEEERRRR with the possible exception of the follow-up, 1983's "Get Some Therapy."
4 Dec Phil Collins You Can't Hurry Love (1) - Oh my God! The Blues Brothers "pastiche" video! The respect to those of a prior era! The "how can I smuggle my wife pissing off with the electrician into a cover version" subtext! Actually, I have a correction to make - I once saw Phil C drumming in tandem with John Stevens in a big-band line-up of the SME (Camden Jazz Festival '79) so that's three of them this year. Are he and Bob Fripp the only two Tory improvisers?
4 Dec Dexy's Midnight Runners Let's Get This Straight (From The Start)/Old (17) - The A-side is pretty unremarkable - it sounds like a "Too-Rye-Ay" reject - but you NEED to have the 12" for their astonishing live demolition of "Respect." I saw the Projected Passion Revue line-up perform this at Edinburgh in '81 and it was hypnotic and dervish-like. Fantastic.
4 Dec Incantation Cacharpaya (12) - Theme from a BBC doc about "The Wings Of The Condor" - Attenborough in the Andes, etc.
4 Dec Jam Beat Surrender (1) - Their farewell single, and a Style Council record in all bar the rhythm section.
4 Dec Kool & the Gang Hi De Hi Hi De Ho (29) - Do you think they were running out of ideas?
4 Dec Malcolm McLaren/World's Famous Supreme Team - Buffalo Gals (9) - By default, the most revolutionary and farsighted record to make the top 40 in 1982. "Wheels Of Steel" missed out on a chart placing in '81, so this was - to the mainstream, if not to cynical NME readers like myself - something seriously radical. And how fitting that it should be Trevor Horn who carved an escape route out of the cul-de-sac which New Pop had become. The Art of Noise were to follow soon thereafter. Fuller discussion of "Duck Rock" in general on CoM.
4 Dec Barry Manilow I'm Gonna Sit Right Down & Write Myself A Letter (36). Bazza does Fats Waller. Uh, that's it.
4 Dec Cliff Richard Little Town (11) - Boy did Cliff have a tizzy fit when this "heartfelt" Xmas single failed to enter the top ten! "I DESERVE to be number one!" he lamented. "Twinkle twinkle little star/Now I know just what you are" goes the fadeout, as if he had suddenly been made aware of a gold nugget of knowledge which had hitherto been withheld from mankind for aeons.
4 Dec Soft Cell Where The Heart Is (21) - First single from their second and finest album "The Art Of Falling Apart," and, like Abba, proving too rich and too layered for general consumption. The underbelly was now visible, and scaring off the public.
4 Dec Donna Summer I Feel Love (Remix) (21) - Proto-electroclash 15-minute 12" reconstruction by the late Patrick Cowley. Moroder said more in six minutes.
11 Dec Abba Under Attack (26) - Abba's last "official" single, and a rather muted goodbye at that.
11 Dec Kid Creole & the Coconuts Dear Addy (29) - Darnell rescued the closing track from "Fresh Fruit" to get a late Xmas hit. But the chart peaks had already been climbed. "Doppelganger" would seriously underperform in 1983.
11 Dec David Essex A Winter's Tale (2) - The lad gets Mike Batt to conjure him up another "Bright Eyes." Unfortunately he gets Tim Rice to do the lyrics. Not a wise move. Still, one of the biggest hits he ever had, so who's looking?
11 Dec Imagination Changes (31) - Pushing it a bit with a fifth single from "In The Heat Of The Night." Not as good as the second or third ones.
11 Dec Maisonettes Heartache Avenue (7) - Frightening-looking bearded Lol Mason, ex- of City Boy, returned with this DLT-sponsored Merseybeat pastiche. He looked like one of my Moral Philosophy tutors. Not encouraging.
11 Dec Santa Claus & the Christmas Trees Singalong-A-Santa (Medley) (19) - Polydor's MD and his mates get pissed around a piano and expect you to pay ¸1.25 for the results. Astonishingly, quite a few people did.
11 Dec Shakin' Stevens The Shakin' Stevens EP (2) - Lead track was his reading of Elvis' "Blue Christmas." Also featured, "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" and other music by old men.
11 Dec Dionne Warwick All The Love In The World (10) - "won't take me away from you." Warped logic, Brothers Gibb. Why should it? Not as pervy as "Love You Inside Out" however, which came mysteriously unadorned by an illustrative picture sleeve.
18 Dec Laura Branigan Gloria (6) - Belated Eurodisco summer fave finally gets into the charts.
18 Dec Fleetwood Mac Oh Diane (9) - Bizarre dislocated Lindsey Buckingham-directed doo-wop homage; like Cabaret Voltaire trying to do Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. So strange that it hasn't even surfaced on their recent best of compilation ("Gypsy" from the same album, only got to #46 in October).
18 Dec Keith Harris & Orville Orville's Song (4) - A song of refuge for disenfranchised misfits the world over? Or just an over-glutinised piece of the kind of slush which chain-smoking 60-year-old hacks believe children fall for? You decide. I suspect that Mr Harris long since has.
18 Dec John Williams Theme From E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial) (17) - It's the theme! It's Xmas! You know!
25 Dec Wah! The Story Of The Blues (3) - And, for 1982's final entry, the third part of Liverpool's Crucial Three gets a toehold on the charts, and promptly scores a bigger hit than either Cope or McCulloch have ever managed. Pete Wylie has always struck me as a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Tarbuck, but the 12" version of this (with his "Talkin' Blues" epilogue) is indispensable.
posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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KRAFTWERK: KEEP BREATHING
Tenthly, there is the most important and lasting achievement of Kraftwerk, insofar as the adjective “lasting” is already superfluous, insofar as they stretched time to become concomitant with the expansion of the universe, inasmuch as “time” has become irreverent, intothehot that Kraftwerk make time however long and whatever time you want it.
How have they achieved this? I was reminded by my first hearing of “Aéro Dynamik,” one of 12 tracks on their new album, Tour de France Soundtracks. It sounded, as does all genuinely great music, as though it had been around forever, that it was already so familiar even though I had never heard it before. Kraftwerk are powered by ceaseless movement but they also intend a vast, monumental permanence. As if they had made all music ever made and were simply waiting for you to discover it.
All of a sudden it doesn’t matter that it’s 17 years since their last album of original material. It’s rendered irrelevant, even if Tour de France Soundtracks would have caused a sensation had it been released in 1983 or 1988 – because, having now heard it, I cannot say for sure that it wasn’t. Or it just needed 20 years to warrant completion. It’s allowed. And in any case, the gap between Electric Café and Tour de France Soundtracks is only one year longer than the gap between Tango In The Night and Say You Will - and we don’t make nearly as much of a fuss about the latter.
Electric Café - their previous album which was released in 1986, which would have caused a sensation had it been released in 1976 or 1996, even though it was their finest record. There is a sense in which all Kraftwerk’s different routes converge in particular upon the song “The Telephone Call” where emotion finally becomes explicit, where all roads have proved to lead to a blank switchboard trying to contact the centre, which of course has vanished, if it hasn’t collapsed, if it weren’t a chimerical black hole to begin, and end, with.
But Kraftwerk need to go on living. And to live, we have to move. And to make music, movement is necessary, even the opening and closing of John Cage’s Kelvin piano lid. They have previously shown how time can be stretched in a car, on a train; and now they show us how to stretch time infinitely on a bicycle. A bicycle in perfect working order must run silently. It is the quietest form of transport yet the form which requires the greatest amount of physical exertion. And of course, if one cycles for long enough, far enough and high enough, one can forget, or transcend. Should one really listen to this “soundtrack” while watching footage from the Tour de France? Or is the imagined cycle ride so much more interesting, virtually?
Kraftwerk, the most human of musicians. Why? What drives their music? The human breath. Somewhere at every stage of this album someone is breathing, even if it’s via a sampler. Remember of course that it’s a record which mimics and provokes constant, steady and harmonic movement, so to berate it for not being “danceable” is missing the point of points. They do not have to prove themselves on any dancefloor. Their aims – and remember, this is music made by people in their mid-fifties – are different. And as with Fleetwood Mac, all they have done is come back to us after a long time away, just to demonstrate that they still know what it’s all about, that they can still do “it” better than anyone else.
There’s something truly idolatry about the absolute confidence of Kraftwerk’s return. No need for manifestos, explanations; you site yourself within their musical field and prepare to worship. Thus the “Tour de France” suite itself, which encompasses the first five tracks. How wonderfully they demonstrate their continued and ceaseless brilliance. Musically it would be easy to dismiss their rhythms as hopelessly dated Ambient House cast-offs from 1993. Not at all the case; as stated above, this music is not for dancing, but is a soundtrack which enables or facilitates your exploration of the world. It’s the gently persuasive pulse familiar to devotees of, say, Carl Craig’s More Songs About Food And Revolution. So the rhythm is benign yet godlike in its remorselessly compassionate progression. Synthesised strings tug at your sleeve. Ralf Hutter’s eternally knowing and deep vocals; the near-presidential permanence of his basso profundo “Tour de France” as if it resounds securely within you, letting you know that you are still of this world. There is something immensely reassuring about Kraftwerk’s infallible radicalism. The echoed sudden ascent of synthesised woodwind; no one else could reproduce this instantaneous poignancy. And hear, in “Tour De France Étape 2,” how the seemingly unadventurous rhythm actually changes, minutely and methodically, over each four-bar succession; microscopic but key changes in filters, in sequencers – it’s actually hyperactive on the quiet. As monumental as the cliffs which suddenly veer into view to let you know that, yes, this actually is Brighton; how serenely eternal. And how distended things become in “Tour De France Étape 3,” when the melody and tonality suddenly start to waver – they’ve been listening to Aphex and Paradinas, Biosphere and KLF (especially “It’s Grim Up North,” to which this is a less stressed-out cousin); they just choose, admirably, not to Broadcast it so much. And how it all resolves itself, and everything else on the side, in its “Chrono” finale, its sudden eruption of church organ fusing Moroder and Messiaen.
In a way, the centrepiece to this album is “Vitamin” which reminds us that it could still be 1986 if we wished, with its intro reminiscent of (or did it inspire?) 1986-period Depeche Mode (specifically “Never Let Me Down Again”), and its immaculate, stately statement of the best melody Gary Numan never wrote, as if to point out to Numan, gently and undemonstrably, you could have chosen this career. Contralto synthesised oboe melodies circle around the structure like giant but embraceable satellites. The chorus of “Carbohydrate protein/Ahh-B-C-D-Vitamin” proves that Kraftwerk are as much pop as they ever were; knowingly ridiculous, yet meaning everything (as the lyrics contain means to continue living). Then the aforementioned “Aéro Dynamik” – the individual stands out from the group, but can finally only truly exist within the group – which segues into “Titanium,” as again the tonality wavers and we move closer to the song’s structure, realising that it is anything except what we lazily assumed that it was.
Then “Elektro Kardiogramm,” wherein Kraftwerk remind us that electroclash need not clash. The rhythm here is a sample of Hutter’s heartbeats as measured on the cardiogram in question. “Minimum, maximum/Beats per minute.” Rather that than no beats at all – and the understated sexual subtext, of course; where the hell would Kraftwerk be without that?
Finally “La Forme” allows the Kraftwerk gods to descend gracefully from the mountains, back to the world; the longest track here at 8:41, but the best statues always require time and patience to build. “Régéneration, relaxation.” The minor key lament sits with immeasurable patience under the graceful arches of the song, until, in the epilogue, “Régéneration” itself, the melody is allowed to cry a little – but with happiness.
Finally, of course, it’s “Tour De France” itself, the record which, together with the Art of Noise’s Into Battle EP, proposed a different and better 1983 when 1983 was still present. In Harlem, Detroit and Chicago they accepted the proposal; here our self-constructed detours were too large to swerve around, and we had to wait until 1986, by which time Electric Café had appeared to ask us, well, where have you been? You wanted to know the point of “Tour De France”? 20 years later, here it is; digitally reworked and rearranged, and its melody has never sounded more heartbreaking in its innocence. Welcome to the future; it was ready for you 20 years ago, but better late than never. The subtle nods to Sakamoto in the main melody, the breathing, the breathing; the song never stops breathing, and it tells you not to stop breathing either. Now this brightly-lit palace of a pop record has its doors open for us to walk through, and its emotional power as this album’s climax is overwhelming.
The last words sung on this record are: “Camarades et amitié.” Have any musicians ever been more identifiably human? Has time ever mattered less? Perhaps I just wish that it were 1983 or 1986 or even 1999 again. Kraftwerk tell me, in the profoundest of ways, that this might still be possible.
“For we go to history not simply to find out what has happened in human affairs, but also what is possible. And not only is it difficult for an historian to mask his beliefs about what is possible and desirable, but that history which is lit by some clear and circumspect idea of what human life can be is generally preferred to the history that is impassive, that never commits itself, and that lacks a guiding ideal or the irony and tears that go with applying such an ideal to the record of human affairs.”
(Charles Frankel, “Explanation and Interpretation in History.” Philosophy of Science. Williams and Wilkins Co., Baltimore: 1957)
posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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