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When I was a very small boy, very small boys talked to me – 80s pop logic

March 4, 2013




PART Two of that 80s compilation album in review.

BRONSKI BEAT – Small Town Boy: A legendary record in every way which illustrates rock snobbery’s inbuilt blind spots. It has everything rockists sneered at back then, me included. It starts with a brilliant throbbing synth pulse, Somerville’s falsetto cracks a couple of massive 80s yodels that would have had pretentious rock snobs creaming themselves over had it been Antony of yer man and the Johnsons fame circa 2004, then beautiful, insistant thudding 80s drums, that great wee piano break and then a really soulful vocal. Perfect pop single action.

DOLLAR – Mirror Mirror: A really, thoroughly decent pop single, never going to be on a greatest hits of because of 80s specific vocal of Thereza Bazar. However, I think I read once she had gone out with Charlie Nicholas, so she can do no wrong in my book.

LOS LOBOS – La Bamba: An OST single that does not reflect the band, but I bought a couple of their albums on the back of it and my life’s a much better thing for that. NOTE: Lou Diamond Phillips did not play on this single.

NICK KAMEN – Each Time You Break My Heart: Madonna takes pretty boy who can’t really sing and is more famed for taking kit off in laundrette for jeans commercial. Naturally, it’s a perfect slice of mid 80s fluff pop in the style of the former virgin. A beezer single.

SHAKESPEAR’S SISTER – You’re History: Shriek-espeare’s Sister.

SIMPLY RED – The Right Thing: Damn, ginger balls can sing and knows how to put a modern soul record together. He gives good growl.

BANANARAMA – Cruel Summer: Can’t say a bad thing about them, pop is what pop does.

CHRIS REA – Let’s Dance: Rockist, needs some jazz inflection.

DAVID LEE ROTH – California Girls: Would be unspeakable if he wasn’t so cartoon likeable.

HOWARD JONES – Hide and Seek: Snood and kecks that were too long for him.

LONDON BOYS – London Nights: A brilliant slice of overwrought dance made for suburban discos where men in paisley shirts and chinos sought to get off with women with massive flicks. Which is what pop is ultimately for, minus the 80s specific fashion statement.

STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE – Since Yesterday: High pitched pop-goth Scots indie girls sing a nursery rhyme to quintessentially 80s synth bedlam that the average smart phone can produce today. Tremendous fun.

THE BLUEBELLS – Young at Heart: Could have languished as a great slice of Scots pop had it not been given a life by advertising and film soundtracks. Even with its ubiquity, it’s still hard to dislike its essential niceness. And niceness is at a premium in pop these days. Added attraction of having Commotion Lawrence Donegan on bass.

NEW ORDER – True Faith: Now I love New Order, and the music stands up after all these years. But, the Wilsonian/ Factory propaganda has built in to pop criticism a blind spot to the ludicrous lyrics of Barney Sumner. “When I was a very small boy, very small boys talked to me” is one of the most risible lines ever written. Bar none.

COMMUNARDS – Never Can Say Goodbye: See Bronski Beat, only more joyous.

SISTER SLEDGE – Frankie: Lord, this has not aged well. Great voices, loads of sass, but…

RED BOX – Lean On Me (Ah-Li-Ayo) – Ah-Li-Oh No

MATT BIANCO – Half a Minute: Again, where are the bands making single influenced by jazz?

D MOB ft CATHY DENNIS – C’mon and Get My Love: Music has aged very well, as has La Dennis’s (hubba hubba) perfect disco/ rave vocal. Terrible mid song rap has not fared as well.

BLANCMANGE – Don’t Tell me: “And don’t tell me you’re the howling wind/ And don’t tell me you’re the moonlit star/ And don’t tell me you’re the devil’s friend/ And don’t tell me, no don’t tell me I’ve gone too far.” How can you possibly dislike nonsense like that?








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