diamond geezer

 Wednesday, May 24, 2006

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


The three best records from the Top 10 (19th May 1981)
Adam And The Ants - Stand And Deliver: There was once a time when the first radio play of a brand new single was an event. There was no accidental leakage on the internet in the 80s, nor heavy rotation play for weeks in advance of the release date. We had to rush home from school to hear Peter Powell debut the new Adam and the Ants single on his drivetime show, just to find out what crazed glamour the band planned to serve up next. With a whinney and the wail of a hunting horn, we discovered the enchanting answer. And then, extremely new for 1981, there was the first play of the video to look forward to. Oh my god, he really is dressed up as a dandy highwayman complete with dress coat and tricorn hat, and bloody wow he's jumping out of trees and crashing through castle windows. No surprise, then, that the single went straight in at number 1 (a rare feat back then) and stayed there for five weeks. For a brief spell Adam could do no wrong. Da diddly quoi quoi, anyone?
"I'm the dandy highwayman who you're too scared to mention. I spend my cash on looking flash and grabbing your attention"
Ten Pole Tudor - Swords Of A Thousand Men: Blimey, another top ten classic with a historic bent. More a battlefield chant than a sweet Elizabethan ballad, this was an endearingly quirky punk guitar stomper. Lead singer Edward Tudor Pole may have been RADA-trained, but I never forgave him for attempting to take over from Richard O'Brian in the Crystal Maze several years later, and failing. Ed still performs (don't they all, these 80s troupers), and earlier this month he was strutting his stuff at the legendary Ace Café on London's North Circular. Hoorah, Hoorah, Hoorah, Yea!
"We had to meet the enemy a mile away, thunder in the air and the sky turned grey. Assembling the knights and their swords were sharp, there was not a hope in your English hearts"
Kim Carnes - Bette Davis Eyes: Raspy as they come, Kim conquered the airwaves like a slinky lioness gargling gravel (did I really write that? sorry). The song was a old one, first recorded by its co-composer Jackie DeShannon in 1974, but it was this ear-stopping cover that won the tune its Grammy. Spent nine weeks on top of the Billboard charts, but only scraped the top ten over here. If only she'd recorded it as Glenda Jackson's Eyes instead, maybe we'd have loved it more.
"She's precocious, and she knows just what it takes to make a pro blush. She's got Greta Garbo's standoff sighs, she's got Bette Davis eyes"

My favourite three records from May 1981 (at the time)
Kim Wilde - Chequered Love: Ah, thank goodness for that - Kids In America wasn't a one-off. Not the most inspired one-finger keyboard backing perhaps, but a long-term career was suddenly assured.
"Well I know your love is rough, and the road you take is tough, but I just can't get enough chequered love"
Human League - The Sound of the Crowd: "Hmm," I wondered, "who are this lot then? Lead singer looks a bit weird with his half-dangly hair. Song's great though. They could be really big one day..."
"Shades from a pencil peer (pass around), a fold in an eyelid brushed with fear, the lines on a compact guide, a hat with alignment worn inside"
Kraftwerk - Pocket Calculator: It's not dated well, has it? Or maybe the backing bleeps were just rather too prescient of today's grating ringtones. Always ahead of their time, this bunch.
"I'm the operator of my pocket calculator. By pressing down a special key, plays a little melody"

20 other hits from 25 years ago: Stars on 45 (Starsound), You Drive Me Crazy (Shakin Stevens), Chi Mai (Ennio Morricone), I Want To Be Free (Toyah), Keep On Loving You (REO Speedwagon), Ossie's Dream (Tottenham Hotspur with Chas & Dave), Grey Day (Madness), Treason (Teardrop Explodes), It's Going To Happen (Undertones), Careless Memories (Duran Duran), Ain't No Stopping (Enigma), Don't Slow Down / Don't Let It Pass You By (UB40), Hi-De-Hi (Paul Shane & the Yellowcoats), Is That Love (Squeeze), Chariots of Fire (Vangelis), When He Shines (Sheena Easton), Just The Two Of Us (Grover Washington Jr), Let's Jump The Broomstick (Coast To Coast), Rockabilly Guy (Polecats) ...which hit's your favourite? ...which one would you pick?


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