diamond geezer

 Friday, April 14, 2006

Silver discs (April 1981)
A monthly look back at the top singles of 25 years ago


The three best records from the Top 10 (14th April 1981)
Landscape - Einstein A Go-Go: "Oh Sir I'm terribly sorry, I can't put you through to President Carter. You can't ever get put through to him when you call." The sound of a telephone dialling and a failed attempt to contact America provided the inspired introduction to a uniquely quirky song. Richard Burgess's squeaky vocals related the brief tale of a demented scientist intent on atomic armageddon, backed by a Pied Piper flute melody which was possibly the perfect one-fingered synth ditty. The single took three months to enter and ascend the Top 40, by which time Ronald Reagan had been inaugurated President and the premise of the song had become dangerously prescient. "You'd better watch out you'd better beware, Albert said E equals mc squared." And the song was accompanied by one of those new-fangled video things, set in a mad Edwardian laboratory (ooh look, you can still watch the video here, fab - although doesn't he look like a badger in a frock coat?). The band then released a splendid electro album with jazz-fusion overtones - From The Tea-rooms of Mars... to the Hell Holes of Uranus - but never again ascended these lofty chart heights. Useless fact - bassist Andy Pask went on to write the TV theme tune to The Bill.
"I'm upset, we must pay, I am the judge for the judgement day. There'll be no warning, no alarm, I'll be the one who's saved"
Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up: Most British bands manufactured for Eurovision fade without trace (apart from in the eyes of those very special hardcore Eurovision devotees who revere even Jemini, that is), but Jay, Cheryl, Bobby and Mike really were something special. Or at least their song was. An intensely hummable hook, a little sanitised sexual charisma and some unforgettable skirt-ripping action, all crammed into three minutes - spot on. Bucks Fizz's nail-biting Eurovision victory in Dublin was assured, and their candyfloss career continued for several years. Bobby G still performs as part of the 'original' Bucks Fizz (see them tomorrow night at Butlins in Bognor) while the lovely Cheryl Baker (born, ssssh, Rita Crudgington) has stormed on through a successful TV career encompassing Record Breakers, Eggs 'n' Baker and price-drop.tv. Like Bucks Fizz - sparkling but a bit orange.
"And try to look as if you don't care less, but if you want to see some more, bending the rules of the game will let you find the one you're looking for "
The Jacksons - Can You Feel It?: Some basslines have longevity. Even 25 years on this bassline can rock a dance floor, either as the pure original or remixed and mashed up modern style. And here's yet another classic video you can revisit, all glowing skies and shimmering figures like a scary 70s Athena poster. Barely troubled the charts in America, surprisingly, but we British took it to our hearts and there it's stayed.
"All the colors of the world should be, lovin' each other wholeheartedly. Yes, it's all right, take my message to your brother and tell him twice"

My favourite three records from April 1981 (at the time)
Department S - Is Vic There (reached number 22): Band - named after classic 60s TV espionage adventure series. Lead singer - the fantastically named Vaughn Toulouse. Follow-up - the anti-military Going Left Right. Back catalogue - under-rated. Song title - lives on in frequent media headlines.
"The night is young, the mood is mellow and there is music in my ears"
Lene Lovich - New Toy (reached number 53): Ahh, mad staring Lene, the bonkers songstress with fiery plaited hair and an unearthly screeching voice. Lucky Number was a classic, whereas this more mainstream production (penned by Thomas Dolby) barely dented the nation's consciousness. Video here! Lene was way ahead of her time, so it's good to see she's still performing (see her next month at Madame Jo Jo's in Soho). I wonder whether my best friend from school still has posters of her all over his bedroom wall?
"I've got to have a car, I've got to have a stereo, I've got to have a freezer, I've got to have it all, til I'm complete"
Youka - Who Will Believe A Young Man: I can find no evidence that this record ever existed, bar the fact that I recorded it off the radio twice. Google has never heard of the song title, for a start. And 'Youka' probably isn't even the correct spelling of the artist's name, because I never saw it written down. So I don't know why I'm even mentioning the song now. None of you will stick a message in the comments box saying "Oh yes, I remember it too". But crashing organ, oriental swirls and snappy girly vocal - ooh it was good.
12:30pm update: she was called 'Yuka', the song was called 'Who Would Believe A Young Man", and her record really existed! Thanks Rob.
"Looking out of the trees I believe I can see I can hear revelation"

20 other hits from 25 years ago: Good Thing Going (Sugar Minott), Just A Feeling (Bad Manners), D Days (Hazel O'Connor), Attention To Me (Nolans), New Orleans (Gillan), Night Games (Graham Bonnet), Chi Mai (Ennio Morricone), Ai No Corrida (Quincy Jones), Flowers Of Romance (Public Image Limited), Musclebound (Spandau Ballet), Just Make That Move (Shalamar), Skateaway (Dire Straits), Only Crying (Keith Marshall), Bermuda Triangle (Barry Manilow), Can't Get Enough Of You (Eddy Grant), Hit And Run (Girl School), Crocodiles (Echo and the Bunnymen), Time (Light Of The World), All Out To Get You (Beat), Humping (Gap Band) ...which hit's your favourite? ...which one would you pick?


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