diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 16, 2006

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


The three best records from the Top 10 (10th November 1981)
Police - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic: There are some song titles you can't read without humming, albeit subconsciously, and this is one of them. Gordon Sumner wrote more than his fair share. A jolly bright melody with a Caribbean feel, and a fourth chart topper for the blond tousled ones. The rest of the Ghost In The Machine album was rather darker, but this bittersweet tale of not-yet-requited love (actually written five years earlier) still bubbles beautifully. [video]
"Though I've tried before to tell her of the feelings I have for her in my heart. Every time that I come near her I just lose my nerve as I've done from the start"
Altered Images - Happy Birthday: You go 20 years without a single single named Happy Birthday, and then in 1981 two come along at once. And how much better than Stevie Wonder's version was this? A breathless nursery rhyme, quirky and fresh, which introduced the nation to Clare Grogan's impish grin. John Peel, of course, had known about Glasgow's finest musical talent for several months (ahh, the quirky delights of Dead Pop Stars). But only now did Clare find herself pinned across many an adolescent bedroom wall, and all this shortly before celluloid immortality in Gregory's Girl. As for Happy Birthday, it's taken me 25 years to finally decipher the lyrics and, erm, maybe it's just as well I never made them out at the time. [video]
"Happy, happy birthday, in a hot bath to those nice nice nights. I remember always, always, I got such a fright. Seeing them in my dark cupboard with my great big cake."
Haircut 100 - Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl): The most successful chart hit ever written about shirts, from a bunch of clean cut guys in chunky Arran sweaters. Girls longed to go out with one of the Hundred, while mums hoped their daughters might bring one home. Few boys, however, modelled themselves on lead singer Nick Heyward's cheese-grin couture. At least Haircut 100 wrote their own stuff, putting them head and shoulders above most modern pre-packaged boybands, and this track wasn't half bad. Like many of their early 80s contemporaries they've recently been tempted back for a one-off reunion concert, but photos suggest that their favourite shirts have aged somewhat. [video]
"Time can't afford no time, can't afford the rhyme, nevermind, someday maybe. Boy meets girl and love, love is on it's way."

My favourite record from November 1981 (at the time)
Animal Magnet - Welcome To The Monkey House: Here's a rarity - a criminally overlooked record which later became a cult underground favourite. It's a sort of tribal synthpop anthem, with a driving guitar pulse and wildly energetic vocals, and perfect for going ape on the dancefloor. If webcams and YouTube had been around in the early 80s, teenagers would no doubt have stripped to the waist and filmed themselves leaping around their living room to this song like a blurry crazed beast. Oh look, somebody's actually done that, rather more recently [YouTube monkeyboy]. As for band member Paul Caplin, he soon left the music business (after a brief spell with Haysi Fantayzee) in favour of the swiftly developing 80s computer industry. 25 years on Paul now runs his own hugely successful City company providing the financial software keeping Reuters and the New York Stock Exchange afloat. Who are the monkeys now, I wonder?
"Here we are in the monkey house, we've taken all our clothes off. Here we are in a soundproof room, making all the noise we want to here."

Who was on Top of the Pops 25 years ago this week? (hosted by DLT)
Kool and the Gang - Steppin Out: The show kicked off with falsetto voices, false horns, and hateful false soul of the blandest kind. Here's the actual TotP performance for you to relive, if you dare.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark - Joan of Arc: Not to be confused with Maid of Orleans, which would be released in the new year.
Olivia Newton John - Physical: Olivia didn't fly over from America to make an appearance in the TotP studio, they only showed her sweaty gym video with leotards. Quite racy for the time, though.
The Fureys featuring Davey Arthur - When She Was Sweet 16: Frighteningly laid-back Irish folk tune from Westlife's grandparents.
Haircut 100 - Favourite Shirts: An off-the-cuff performance from Nick & Co.
Jonathan King then counted down the American Top 20, because he assumed we were interested. We weren't. How are the mighty fallen.
Ultravox - The Voice: Great semi-choral track... but, oh Midge, was that dead caterpillar 'tache ever fashionable?
Earth Wind and Fire - Let's Groove: Maybe not the summit of 80s disco, but a mighty high peak all the same. Dance group Zoo, in only their second week on TotP, interpreted this song rather more suggestively than Legs & Co would ever have done.
Rod Stewart - Tonight I'm Yours: No thanks Rod, if you don't mind.
Police - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic: And now here's this week's new number one! (cue rabid applause from an audience of startled teens in stripy sweaters and party dresses)
Altered Images - Happy Birthday: (but just a verse and a chorus to play out to and run the credits over)

10 other hits from 25 years ago: Labelled With Love (Squeeze), My Girl (Four Tops), Tears Are Not Enough (ABC), Hold Me (BA Robertson and Maggie Bell), Keep It Dark (Genesis), Why Do Fools Fall In Love (Diana Ross), Visions of China (Japan), The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum (Funboy Three), Paint Me Down (Spandau Ballet), Me and Mr Sanchez (Blue Rondo A La Turk) ...which hit's your favourite? ...which one would you pick?


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