I am officially out of phone box photos to share with you, so it’s a different kind of Phone Box Thursday this week!
Last year, when I was still doing Music Video Monday posts, I did a piece on Heaven 17’s ‘Let Me Go’, which is a very nice example of classic red phone box use in music videos (while you can’t actually tell that the phone box is red in this black and white video, it was made in 1982 and therefore prior to the days when councils and other organisations started repainting phone boxes in funky non-red colours, so I am pretty much 100% certain that it was red).
This week, I thought I’d track down the location of the video shoot to see if the phone box was still there! This will be a regular feature when my own phone box collection is running short, so expect a few more posts on phone boxes from music videos and TV shows in the near future.
It took me a while to track down this London street, but due to the fact that later in the video Glenn Gregory runs past the National Westminster Bank at number 41, I managed to work out that the street in question was Lothbury, with the help of this beautifully ’80s architecture pamphlet about the bank building. It is, of course, no longer a NatWest, because bank branches never stay in the same place for very long!
…and woe – you can see that the phone box in question is no longer there! Looking back through the Street View historical slider, it was also not there in the earliest Street View image taken in 2008, so it’s been gone for some time, sadly.
…there are a couple of classic phone boxes quite close to each other, one repainted black. So maybe one of them is the original ‘Let Me Go’ phone box and was moved by the council at some point between 1982 and 2008? You never know!
I may have some regularly-scheduled phone boxes for you next week, as Mum and Dad have identified a few more to collect in Dumfries and Galloway. Otherwise, I’ll be back in the world of ’80s music videos again!
It’s been a hectic few weeks and so it’s taken me until now to review the Squeeze gig that Geth and I went to three weeks ago! Still, my motto at the moment is ‘better late than never’, so here it is…
The support band were Heaven 17. I really loved seeing them at Electric Dreams last year and they were even better this time round! One of the highlights was a cover of ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’, duetted by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware. Martyn had the best glittery jacket on, and the two of them were on really good form. The backing singers were fab, too, especially on ‘Temptation’.
The main event was of course Squeeze, taking us on a journey through their extensive back catalogue. Pretty much every hit single and notable song was played – my highlights were ‘Hourglass’, ‘Cool For Cats’ and ‘Up The Junction’, all of which were favourites when I was a kid, but it’s been ‘Tempted’ that’s been in my head for the last few weeks because it was such a good rendition!
Nice to see a ukulele on stage too. I’ll be looking out for them more often from now on!
I’ve never been very keen on what is commonly considered ‘running music’. Compilations such as Now! That’s What I Call Running and Spotify running playlists usually have some good classic tracks on them, but they also tend to contain the kind of music you hear in the gym – endless high-energy electro dance music, with the idea being that it makes you run faster. I am a slow runner – for the record, the song that most frequently gets stuck in my head during long runs is Duran Duran’s Come Undone, which gives you an idea of the kind of pace I go at. As such, my running playlist is a little more sedate, focuses on iconic running themes rather than speed – and, like most of my playlists, has a high quotient of ’80s hits. Let’s go!
10. Bryan Adams – Run To You
If it was a hit in the ’80s and it’s got ‘run’ in the title, you can bet that it will end up on my running playlist at some point.
The video for this one features a lot of footprints in the snow, meaning that the invisible runner who left them is a lot more hardcore than me! I don’t go out running in ice and snow (it’s dangerous and slippy), preferring to stick to my nice indoor treadmill during winter weather.
9. Bill Conti – Gonna Fly Now
The Rocky theme is one of those iconic pieces that always shows up whenever someone on TV does a parody training montage. Get running up those steps!
Here’s a clip from the film with the music – lots of running around disused railway tracks and so on. In most things I believe the ’80s to be absolutely supreme, but I am glad that we’ve since invented proper technical materials so that we don’t have to wear full cotton tracksuits to go running in the winter anymore!
8. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
This chirpy, upbeat theme was played at the end of the BBC’s London Marathon coverage a couple of years ago, thus reminding me to add it to my running playlist. Whoever’s in charge of the coverage always picks a really good song for the ending.
There’s no official video for the song, but this Top of the Pops clip is absolutely classic ’80s TOTP – shiny sets, balloons being bounced everywhere, audience members making every effort with their fabulous outfits!
7. Heaven 17 – Let Me Go
I discussed this lovely eerie, classic-phone-laden video in a dedicated post earlier this year – it’s actually the video that merited the song’s inclusion on the running playlist, because of Glenn Gregory’s slo-mo running away from nothing in particular past the National Westminster Bank!
6. Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home
Another track that was used for the BBC’s London Marathon coverage, and another track where the TOTP clip will have to substitute for the video. This one is a slightly more serious performance, with proper musical instruments and a set that strangely reminds me of an Italian restaurant.
5. A Flock Of Seagulls – I Ran
Like Let Me Go above, this track was never actually a Top 40 hit in the UK, though it’s stayed in the popular consciousness over the intervening thirty-odd years. That title ensures its inclusion on the playlist!
The video, which on paper is just the band performing in a room, is a classic due to its highly ’80s effects, which involve a lot of mirrors and tinfoil. I love the fact that tinfoil was once considered respectable set dressing! (See also: almost every episode of ’80s Doctor Who.)
4. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’
I hear this at every race – of particular note is the band that plays at approximately mile eight of the Great North Run. I have heard them play Don’t Stop Believin’ every single year I’ve run the race! I assume they just stand there playing it over and over for the four hours it takes every runner to go past.
There was never an official video made for this one, so the video that music channels always show is this live performance from Houston. It really captures the atmosphere of big arena shows at the time.
3. Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
Hills I regularly do where this song comes into my head include the hill you have to do twice during Pendle parkrun, the ‘Slog on the Tyne’ at the Great North 10k, and Arthur’s Seat during the EMF 10k. However, they all pale in comparison to the hill I was running up during my first summer of training in 2015, when I was on holiday in France. You’d need those godlike powers that Kate sings about to manage that one with any speed!
The video is more about artistic dancing than running, but it’s very pretty.
2. Mark Knopfler – Local Hero
This is a really emotional one because it’s a Newcastle anthem that is always played on the start line of the Great North Run (to celebrate the 60,000 people who run it as well as Knopfler himself, who grew up in Newcastle and is thus a ‘local hero’ round these parts).
There’s no official video, but here’s a live video from a Sydney concert during the classic Dire Straits period in 1986…
…and a bonus video that was filmed by an audience member a few weeks ago when Mark Knopfler played the Newcastle Arena, so you can hear the Geordie audience’s reaction. I didn’t go to this show because I’ve already spent out on gigs this year (and also I’m not a fan of his ’90s solo stuff due to my parents constantly playing it on long car journeys when I was a kid).
1. Vangelis – Chariots Of Fire
The ultimate iconic slo-mo running music! Originally composed for the Chariots Of Fire film in 1982, it’s since been used in a thousand homages and parodies, and is often played at races (it was played when I ran into Gateshead Stadium as the very last runner in the 2016 Great North 10k, which remains possibly my favourite ever running moment).
The video is mostly clips from the film, but there’s also a lot of shots of Vangelis playing piano and fiddling with his synthesisers while chain-smoking (continuing that super healthy athletic theme!).
Bonus ’90s track: Duran Duran – Come Undone
I mentioned this one at the start of the post, and I highly recommend it for fellow slow runners! A lovely sedate tune for ambling along to during a long run.
The pretty aquarium-set video is always worth a watch too!
Today on ‘Dee’s Favourite ’80s Music Videos All Have Classic Red Phone Boxes In Them’, we’re looking at Heaven 17’s 1982 video for Let Me Go. Fun fact: this was never a Top 40 hit. However, it is my favourite Heaven 17 song, and was my absolute highlight when I saw them at Electric Dreams in December.
The video opens in a black ‘n’ white deserted London, where the members of Heaven 17 are approaching a red phone box with its door hanging open, rather like the ones you see nowadays in areas where councils are not performing proper phone box upkeep. The phone is off the hook and repeating the automated voice from the speaking clock on a loop.
It’s not clear at this point what has happened to everyone else in London – there was a discarded Evening Standard fluttering about at the start of the video with the headline ‘British Electric Foundation crashes – Share prices halved – city rumours confirmed’, but that doesn’t really tell us anything (British Electric Foundation was the predecessor project to Heaven 17, so it’s probably just an in-joke!). However, Heaven 17 are still here and still walking purposefully towards…something.
In addition to the classic red phone box, we have a bonus classic red postbox that has spit out all its post (this doesn’t really make any sense, but the alternative explanation is that when people found it was full, they just dumped their envelopes in front of it instead of going off to find a different one that wasn’t full, and frankly that’s just silly). I’m not as obsessed with postboxes as I am with phone boxes, largely because the former are still in common use and therefore not an endangered species on British streets.
Anyway, this is the point when Glenn Gregory realises that Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh have disappeared into thin air (I suppose that must be what also happened to everyone else, although I’m not sure what it has to do with the British Electric Foundation crashing).
I’m sure this slo-mo sequence of Glenn running past the National Westminster Bank (the old name for NatWest, fact fans) is meant to be very artistic and beautiful, but as a recreational runner, every time I see it I just think, ‘He’s not wearing the appropriate gear!’
Inside the…train station? (it’s sheltered but open to the elements from the sides, and there’s a bench), there’s lots of cash fluttering about, adding to the forboding feeling of ‘London city types in the ’80s all disappeared into thin air’.
The video then briefly turns to colour for a ghostly crowd sequence. This type of ‘single person swimming against the tide of a crowd’ scene is something I associate more with Kate Bush’s 1985 video for Running Up That Hill, but apparently Heaven 17 did it first.
But soon Glenn returns to the empty black ‘n’ white world, and what’s this? Why, it’s a GPO 332, the standard GPO phone issued between 1937 and 1959! Glenn doesn’t bother using it – it’s clearly just here in the video for aesthetic decoration, and it performs that job beautifully.
The video ends with a shot of the swinging receiver in the phone box again, with the speaking clock still repeating itself over and over to a nonexistent listener. A nice, suitably haunting image to finish on!
By Sunday, I was really starting to feel the effects of trying to do a music festival with a bad cold, and so I sort of staggered through the day powered by a lot of Lemsip Max Strength! I’d given up drinking by this point as well, which meant the drunks in the venue were even more annoying.
The Butlins cooked breakfast hadn’t done it for me the day before, so I went for a giant stack of pancakes on the Sunday morning, which was marginally tastier. Geth and I then went back to the hotel room and groggily took ages getting showers and things, so we were a little late into the Centre Stage for the Sunday afternoon session and the first band had already started.
Bands I didn’t see on day 3: nobody, because it was just stand-up comedy in the Reds bar on the Sunday, so I didn’t have to miss any bands!
Bands I did see on day 3:
Black Box were mainly doing their late ’80s/early ’90s dance classics, but there was a good highlight where they did a mash-up of Sweet Dreams and Seven Nation Army with the vocals from the former over the bassline of the latter. They also (obviously) finished with Ride On Time, which was much appreciated by the crowd!
Big Country get super major plus points for being the only band of the weekend with the balls to make a ‘Hi-De-Hi’ gag. Great stuff. I was also excited to tick off the first of the ‘message’ artists on my Band Aid baby bucket list!
Otherwise it was a very enjoyable hit-laden set – with Look Away, Wonderland, and Fields Of Fire (complete with an interesting interpolation of Whiskey In The Jar) all present and correct! In another example of the Butlins stage managers not being able to deal with bands trying to do encores, the band went offstage and the DJ launched into Heaven 17’s Temptation (at which point I expressed my surprise to Geth that the band hadn’t done In A Big Country and Geth shrugged and went off to the bar to get us another drink)…and then Temptation abruptly cut out and the band came back on. ‘We are Heaven 17!’ announced Bruce Watson wryly, before we finally got our rendition of In A Big Country. I have no idea what’s going on with Butlins and their aversion to encores.
We then had a good long break before the evening session, which gave us some recovery time to have a bit of a doze.
Peter Hook & The Light
We’d already seen Peter Hook & The Light at Infest this year, but as I’ve alluded to, the crowd at Electric Dreams is a vastly different type of audience. As such, it was a subtly different show, with more of an end-of-term party atmosphere – Hooky, resplendent in a Christmas T-shirt, explained that it was their last gig of the year, and we got the first (but strangely not the last) of the evening’s Jimmy Savile jokes. Geth went down to the front of the stage while I kept the seats, and from where I was sitting, it just felt really, really weird when the crowd didn’t react at all to the band launching into Joy Division classics like Transmission (especially as I last saw the band at a goth festival with lots of other goths, a subculture in which the Joy Division stuff is absolutely sacrosanct). Geth reported after the set that from his viewpoint near the front of the stage, the band pretty much phoned in the first couple of Joy Division songs until they realised that there was a small group of people down the front who were actually fans, after which they did things properly.
The audience all went nuts for Blue Monday though, so that’s something! Hooky also did the gag about turning the lights up on the crowd and then immediately going ‘argh, no!’, which would probably have been funnier if Big Country hadn’t done the exact same joke earlier that day.
The set was pretty much the same as when I saw them at Infest, except for there being a couple of extra New Order songs – they did Regret, which is one of my absolute favourites (I had it on my Greatest Hits of 1993 album when I was eight). It was also great to hear Temptation again, because the music geek in me was thrilled that it was the first of two famous Temptations we’d hear that night…
…because Heaven 17 were headlining, and they were hardly going to avoid playing their Temptation, were they?
Before the inevitable closing song, though, we got all the classics – (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang, Come Live With Me, Let Me Go – and a lot of very funny stage banter between Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory, who’ve been doing this stuff for nearly forty years and have moved firmly into ‘old married couple’ territory. This included another Jimmy Savile gag (apparently he introduced their first Top of the Pops appearance) and some slightly risqué Morecambe and Wise references.
There was a cover of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, which is another song that’s a bit of a theme for covers at the moment. They also played Being Boiled, which was the Human League’s biggest hit while Martyn Ware was still with the band – which meant that in the space of five days, Geth and I managed to see Being Boiled performed by both the Human League and Heaven 17! Geth preferred the Human League performance, while I gave the edge to Heaven 17. Both brilliant and very different though!
I enjoyed the performance so much that I was really surprised when they launched into Temptation to finish the set – it honestly felt to me like they’d only been playing for about five minutes. I’m so thrilled I got to see them, and not just because it means more artists ticked off my Band Aid baby bucket list! I’ll make sure to get tickets again when they’re next on tour.
Afterwards, Geth and I finished our drinks and sloped off to get some rest. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend of music and the bands were great…it was just a shame we had to go to Butlins to see them.
If you’re lucky, there’s something special about the song that was number one when you were born. Maybe it symbolises something about your life, or your interests, or the person that you ended up growing up to be. Maybe it’s just a really awesome song.
If you’re unlucky, you end up like Geth and get Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless) (UK number one from 25th May 1980 to 14th June 1980, fact fans!) as your birthday number one. It’s not bad as TV theme tunes go, but it’s not special to Geth – he didn’t grow up to be a soldier, or an expert on the Korean War, or even much of a M*A*S*H fan, really.
I was lucky, and my birthday number one is special to me. I love it as a Christmas baby, as an ’80s throwback, as a chart geek, and as a lover of music in general. It’s an extremely well-known Christmas song – one of those tracks you hear constantly from the middle of November until early January. It held the record for the best-selling single in UK chart history for more than twelve years, only ever being overtaken by Elton John’s Candle In The Wind ’97 after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales in September 1997.
My birthday number one is Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, one of the most famous recordings in music history.
I was born on 3rd January 1985, the twenty-sixth day of the thirty-five day period (9th December 1984 to 12th January 1985) that Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? spent at number one in the UK. From the 1984-1985 UK birthrates available online, I estimate that I share my birthday number one with approximately 71,000 other Band Aid babies, including Georgia Moffett, Lewis Hamilton, and Newton Faulkner. (I would love to be able to work out the exact number, but the internet is not forthcoming at the moment!)
Due to the ubiquity of the song, I grew up with it, and it became my favourite Christmas song long before I realised that it was my birthday number one. I pored over the upside-down answers to Smash Hits quizzes that challenged readers to name all the artists involved in the song, and memorised names that were unfamiliar to me in the context of the early ’90s pop music landscape. I dutifully learnt to sing the song with my primary school class in preparation for our Christmas performance at the local old folks’ community centre. I waited excitedly for it to come on as soon as my brother and I were allowed to play the family’s Christmas compilation CD (That’s Christmas) on the 1st of December every year. It’s one of those songs that you hear hundreds of times every year, and so it never really goes out of your mind. That’s not something you can say about Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless).
The finer points of Bob Geldof’s project to put together a charity supergroup and the song’s recording on 25th November 1984 are well known, detailed in a hundred different BBC4 documentaries and summarised fairly well on Wikipedia (though I highly recommend the Smash Hits coverage of the recording day included in the collection book The Best Of Smash Hits: The ’80s for a bit of period flavour – it has a great group photo of all the artists involved except for Boy George, who infamously didn’t show up till six o’clock in the evening due to oversleeping in New York and having to get on a Concorde back to London).
I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my life, including a lot of concerts by artists who were big in the ’80s due to it being my favourite music era and favourite era in general. But the other day, it occurred to me that I had never gone to see a single one of the thirty-seven artists who performed on my birthday number one. I had never even seen any of the additional seven artists who couldn’t make it to the recording and so sent recorded Christmas messages to be used on the B-side of the single.
This is the part of the post where I get to the point.
I will never get to see every single one of the artists involved in my birthday number one. Sadly, two of the musicians who contributed to the song (George Michael and Rick Parfitt) and two who recorded B-side messages (Stuart Adamson and David Bowie) have since passed away. But I have decided that I will make a concerted effort to see as many of the rest of them as possible. After all, I have more opportunity than some. My brother’s birthday number one is Ben E King’s Stand By Me (a re-entry at UK number one between 15th February 1987 and 7th March 1987), which means that since King’s death in 2015 he has no longer had the possibility of seeing his birthday number one artist. People who were born between 14th December 1980 and 20th December 1980, when (Just Like) Starting Over was number one following John Lennon’s assassination, have never had the chance to see their birthday number one artist.
Enter the Band Aid bucket list!
For most of my bucket lists, I reckon that if I’m lucky enough, I’ve got another fifty or sixty years left to get them completed. Time is not so much on my side for this particular list, given that all the artists on it are now in their fifties and sixties and won’t be performing or alive forever. As such, rather similarly to the huge hoard of ’80s vintage clothing I’m collecting while it’s still cheap and plentiful, I aim to get the bulk of this project achieved while I’m still in my thirties, and so I’m targeting >50% list completion by my fortieth birthday on 3rd January 2025. That gives me six years, one month and fourteen days as of this post to see as many of the following artists as possible. I’d better get a wiggle on.
For what it’s worth though, it’s a super interesting remix with a great atmosphere.
Track 25: East 17 – House Of Love
Great danceable pop classic. Really like this one!
Also, I never noticed until the Now! compilers’ inspired tracklisting here that both the ’80s and the ’90s had really famous pop bands with names that ended in ’17’.
Track 26: The Farm – Don’t You Want Me
Immediate side-eye at the notion of somebody covering the Human League classic, which in my view can’t be bettered.
Um…it’s fairly awful. Messy track, bad cover. Not a fan of this at all.
Track 27: Undercover – Never Let Her Slip Away
Nice tune, nice spiky synth line, nice sax solo. Cheesy vocals, but you can’t have everything!
Track 28: Doctor Spin – Tetris
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
Novelty Eurodance reworking of the classic Tetris music (I guess it would have been ‘new’ rather than ‘classic’ at this point) with bonus sampling of 2 Unlimited’s Get Ready For This. Amusing, but a bit messy – though you can’t help but have an epic atmosphere with this tune.
Track 29: Ambassadors Of Funk and MC Mario – Supermarioland
More comedy stylings from the Now! compilers, with two Game Boy themed tracks one after the other. Now I feel nostalgic for my Game Boy. Of course, being a hoarder, I obviously still have it, though I’m more likely to play those classic games on my 3DS nowadays.
Anyway, the song. It’s a rap about playing Super Mario Land, with the Super Mario Land music interspersed throughout. Kind of all over the place, but I love that the Game Boy apparently inspired so much chart music at the time.
Track 30: Roxette – How Do You Do!
More solid pop-rock from Roxette – this one’s a bit retro-inspired. Interesting vocals too.
Track 31: Abba – Dancing Queen
Classic ’70s anthem, back in the charts for 1992. Can’t complain!
Track 32: Björn Again – A Little Respect
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
I’m not sure who’s trolling us harder here – Björn Again, who are covering Erasure as a response to Erasure covering Abba (my head hurts), or the Now! compilers, who have placed a track by an Abba tribute band directly after a track by actual Abba. Also, I can’t remember what phrase people used instead of ‘trolling’ before the internet became ubiquitous. ‘Taking the piss’, maybe.
As for the track, well, you can’t beat the Erasure original, but the quality of the music is not the point of this one, I don’t think.
Track 33: Vanessa Paradis – Be My Baby
Nice tune, very ’60s-retro-tinged.
Track 34: Betty Boo – Let Me Take You There
Lovely synth instrumentals, though as ever I’m not keen on Betty Boo’s rap style.
Track 35: Sophie B Hawkins – Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover
I’ve always liked this one, largely ’cause we had it on a Top Gear compilation when I was a kid. Nice tune, great lyrics.
Track 36: Peter Gabriel – Digging In The Dirt
‘Not on Spotify’ Type 2: YouTube Pause (TM).
I tell a lie. This one is on Spotify, but it’s a live version, and I hate live versions, so I’m going to be un-lazy and pause the playlist.
Verse is a bit dull, but it livens up for the bridge. The tune is horribly repetitive though.
Track 37: Enya – Book Of Days
Wonderful heartlifting tune from Enya – absolutely beautiful atmosphere.
Track 38: Roy Orbison and KD Lang – Crying
I find the original Roy Orbison solo version pretty slow and saccharine as it is, and I’m not a fan of KD Lang anyway (I don’t like singer-songwriter slow acoustic-y type stuff), so I’m not keen on this.
Track 39: Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé – Barcelona
I’m extremely cross with the Now! compilers. We already had this track on Now! #10, where it opened my favourite childhood album perfectly. The fact that it was back in the charts to coincide with the Olympics is not an excuse to repeat tracks!
You already know what I think of this one – just follow the link above.
Day 4, and today’s Now! compilation was released on 26th November 1984 (just one day after the recording of the original Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid, fact fans).
I wonder what the Now! compilers have in store for me today?
Track 1: Paul McCartney – No More Lonely Nights [Special Dance Mix]
I couldn’t find the dance mix, so I’m reviewing the original. Nice tune, but a bit slow for my liking.
Track 2: Giorgio Moroder and Philip Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams
Another one of Geth’s DJing favourites. Great synthpop, love this one. That chorus!
Track 3: Bronski Beat – Why?
Great dance track, really like this one, especially the trumpet instrumentals.
Track 4: Limahl – Neverending Story
Hey, it’s Limahl’s one good solo song that I was talking about the other day! (Well, I say solo – it’s actually a duet with Beth Anderson, but she never gets credited.) Love the ethereal vocals, great tune.
Track 5: Nick Heyward – Warning Sign
I like the guitar instrumentals. Most of the song is a bit pedestrian, but it does step up towards the end. Also, is that a rap at about two-thirds of the way in? You almost never hear that in pop of this era. Interesting.
Track 6: John Waite – Missing You
A favourite. Nice intensity on the chorus, great guitar line.
Track 7: Michael Jackson – Farewell My Summer Love
Bit saccharine for my liking. I prefer Michael Jackson’s stuff when it has a bit of edge.
Track 8: Lionel Richie – Hello
I think most people know this one for the so-bad-it’s-hilarious video, which features Geth’s least favourite trope, that of the icky student-professor relationship. The song is extremely cheesy, but is also in the realm of so-bad-it’s-good for me, and I actually quite like it in a serious way when I’m in the right mood.
True fact: one time in Southampton, a couple of random guys serenaded me on the street with this song. I could not stop laughing, which I’m not sure was the desired effect.
Track 9: Culture Club – The War Song
Argh, it’s another example from the ‘annoying’ end of Culture Club’s back catalogue! I do like some of their stuff…I just can’t think of any examples at the moment.
I forgot to mention during the Karma Chameleon review the other day that that song gets bonus points for inspiring the Lothian Buses ‘Karma Chameleon’ no. 26 bus, which was one of my favourite stories of 2017. It goes to Edinburgh Zoo, is painted in red, gold and green, and says ‘we come and go’ on the back! I am in love. I never go to zoos ’cause I always think the animals look sad, but I gotta get myself on that bus sometime when I’m in Edinburgh.
Um, back to The War Song. ‘War is stupid, and people are stupid‘, and in all honesty I find these lyrics irritatingly stupid too. Sorry.
Track 10: Elton John – Passengers
I quite like this bouncy song when I’m in the right mood, especially the chanting on the chorus.
Track 11: Julian Lennon – Too Late For Goodbyes
Nice upbeat track, though it’s more of a ‘background’ one for me.
Track 12: The Style Council – Shout To The Top!
I’m not usually that keen on the Style Council, but this one’s actually all right – I like the strings on the intro and the slightly urgent atmosphere.
Track 13: Thompson Twins – Doctor! Doctor!
I just remembered I really like this one (great synth line!), so maybe I was a bit hasty in writing off the Thompson Twins during yesterday’s review. Another one that was used well in The Doctor Who Years, which was kind of an obvious choice if you think about it.
Track 14: Heaven 17 – Sunset Now
Typically nice pop from Heaven 17, though I prefer their more synth-y stuff.
Track 15: Kane Gang – Respect Yourself
I’m a big fan of this one, largely because the video was filmed in central Newcastle, and as I only moved to Newcastle in 2015 (and had never been here in my life until Geth and I came to househunt a month before we were due to move), I find it fascinating to see what the Quayside looked like in the mid-’80s before it was de-industrialised and gentrified. Quite like the song too.
Track 16: Tina Turner – Private Dancer
I can’t put my finger on why, but I’ve never really liked this one, even though it does have a couple of nice sax solos.
Track 17: Queen – It’s A Hard Life
Not my favourite Queen song, but I can’t say they ever did a bad song – it’s still a good chair-swayer.
Track 18: Status Quo – The Wanderer
I quite like the jauntiness of this one. It might even make my list of ‘songs I’d dance to at a wedding reception’ – if I’d had a lot of cider.
Track 19: Big Country – East Of Eden
Probably one of the best Big Country songs in my opinion. Great tune and atmosphere.
Track 20: U2 – Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Most of the song is a bit dull, but I do quite like the chorus.
Track 21: Feargal Sharkey – Listen To Your Father
Not only is this song not on Spotify, but there’s no tribute version either, so I couldn’t be lazy this time – I had to pause the playlist and hit up YouTube. So inconvenient.
As for the song, I quite like this one – nice uptempo track and instrumentals, even if the lyrics are a little irritating.
Track 22: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Tesla Girls
Awesome uptempo synthpop. OMD delivering the goods as usual.
Track 23: Kim Wilde – The Second Time
Great piece of pop! It’s everything I love about the ’80s – great bassline and instrumentals, epic atmosphere, strong lyrics. It’s begging to be played on vinyl on my dad’s old sound system, rather than digitally through my tinny laptop earphones.
Incidentally, I’m going to see Kim Wilde at the Sage Gateshead tomorrow! I’M SO EXCITED. Watch out for my review of the gig on Tuesday.
Track 24: Nik Kershaw – Human Racing
A bit slow and dull for me, and there’s something I’m not keen on in the tune. Nice lyrics though.
Track 25: Ray Parker Jr – Ghostbusters
How can you not love this one? The ultimate party song.
I also have many happy memories of playing it on Lego Rock Band. Now that I live in a detached house, I have got to break out those Rock Band drums again. It’s just a case of finding the time!
Track 26: UB40 – If It Happens Again
Another good chair-swayer, but again this one’s a bit more ‘background’ for me.
Track 27: Pointer Sisters – Jump (For My Love)
It’s an okay party song, but I’ve always been a bit ‘meh’ about this one.
Track 28: Level 42 – Hot Water
Good danceable song, great instrumentals.
Track 29: Eurythmics – Sex Crime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
I really like Eurythmics, and this one’s a great dance song with chantable lyrics. It vastly improves what has been a relatively poor second disc so far.
Track 30: Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me
I LOVE this song. Great sing-along track, great for Hallowe’en playlists, great for parties. Awesome video too.
Track 31: Malcolm McLaren – Madam Butterfly
Quite a nice chillout track until the spoken word kicks in. Is there an instrumental version of this?
Track 32: Eugene Wilde – Gotta Get You Home Tonight
Fairly typical ’80s soul. Nice tune, if a bit slow.
You might be aware that the Now! That’s What I Call Music compilation album series will be releasing its 100th edition on 20th July this year. I’ve got a huge soft spot for the series, largely because my parents bought the vinyl release of Now! That’s What I Call Music #10 in 1987 and it basically shaped my music taste, but also because it was such a big thing when I was growing up in the ’90s – at school and at parties, someone always had a Now! album kicking about. I’m surprised in some ways that the series is still going strong in the age of streaming, but it is, which is nice and nostalgic for me.
To celebrate the upcoming 100th edition, I’m going to review every single Now! compilation – one per day between today and 20th July – starting, obviously, with #1, which came out on 28th November 1983.
(When I say ‘review’, I of course mean ‘burble about anything that comes to mind about these particular tracks’. Just clarifying that in case you thought this was going to be in any way musically technical!)
Let’s get started, shall we?
Track 1: Phil Collins – You Can’t Hurry Love
’80s-era solo Phil Collins, especially poppy, bouncy nonsense like this, is very much what I consider a ‘guilty pleasure’. A few ciders and I will always be up dancing to this one at weddings.
Track 2: Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know?
I love Duran Duran, and this one’s a cracker, especially the constant backing vocals. The lyrics are great too:
And fiery demons all dance when you walk through that door Don’t say you’re easy on me, you’re about as easy as a nuclear war
People just don’t write songs like this nowadays (waves stick in air).
Track 3: UB40 – Red Red Wine
Another ‘I’d dance to this one at a wedding’ track. There may be a theme emerging. Cheesy, but in a pleasant, head-nodding way.
Track 4: Limahl – Only For Love
I wasn’t familiar with this one, which is unusual for me with ’80s pop songs. I do like the epic nature of the bridge, and the song gets better as it goes on, but I probably wouldn’t add it to my Spotify playlist.
Track 5: Heaven 17 – Temptation
A favourite! I defy anyone not to chant along with the ‘temp-tation‘ bits. Incidentally, if you ask Geth to DJ your wedding, you’ll inevitably hear this one.
Track 6: KC & The Sunshine Band – Give It Up
Bit cheesy even for me, this one, but I do like the instrumental bits.
Track 7: Malcolm McLaren – Double Dutch
Another one I didn’t know. I’m not keen on the sampling mishmash at the start, but I quite like the idea of an ode to skipping ropes. It’s the kind of whimsy that’s mostly missing from music today.
Track 8: Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart
One for singing along to at the top of your voice when you’re absolutely certain nobody else can hear you (this is a pleasure that was denied to me for quite a few years until I moved into a detached house last month).
Track 9: Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
Not my favourite Culture Club song, but I have fond memories of my friend Laura and I writing notes to each other in our homework diaries in high school, arguing about the correct lyrics to this song (she thought it was ‘if you were the colour of my dreams‘, rather than ‘if your colours were like my dreams‘). These things were extremely important.
Track 10: Men Without Hats – The Safety Dance
I make no apologies for adoring this one. I also point you to this wonderful meme, which Geth likes to use for complaining purposes whenever we hear it in a goth club.
Track 11: Kajagoogoo – Too Shy
Daft song, but it’s still better than all of Limahl’s solo stuff except for Neverending Story.
Track 12: Mike Oldfield – Moonlight Shadow
I love this one – it’s epic and beautiful. It was also used to really good effect in the ’80s edition of The Doctor Who Years, which is sadly no longer available to watch.
Track 13: Men At Work – Down Under
Wonderfully silly party song that always reminds me of an Australian guy called Ben that I used to work with circa 2002. In the pub post-shift, this was his song.
Track 14: Rock Steady Crew – (Hey You) The Rock Steady Crew
I can’t listen to this one without being reminded of its use in Peter Kay’s brilliant Britain’s Got The Pop Factor parody in 2008 (and I can’t believe that show is nearly a decade old already). The song itself is pretty nonsensical, but I quite like the synth line.
Track 15: Rod Stewart – Baby Jane
Actually my favourite Rod Stewart song, just edging out Maggie May. I love the instrumentals (especially that sax solo!), the lyrics, the epic nature, everything.
Track 16: Paul Young – Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)
To be honest, though I usually like Paul Young, I find this one a bit dull, so I think it was a poor choice for ending disc one of the album.
Track 17: New Edition – Candy Girl
Never been a fan of New Edition or this song, largely because I have an aversion to squeaky kid voices, especially squeaky kid voices singing love songs. Let’s move on.
Track 18: Kajagoogoo – Big Apple
Please take a moment to envisage my raised eyebrow here, as I was always taught when learning to DJ that repeating an artist in a setlist (or compilation album, in this case) is lazy, unimaginative and generally Not Done. Give another artist a chance to be heard!
As for the song itself…it’s nice bouncy ’80s pop with cute little bursts of saxophone, but nothing hugely special.
Track 19: Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together
Boring slow intro and verses, but good ‘chair-dancer’ once the chorus gets going.
Track 20: The Human League – (Keep Feeling) Fascination
Typical upbeat Human League stuff for this era. Not my all-time favourite of theirs, but perfectly catchy and pleasant.
Track 21: Howard Jones – New Song
I didn’t really get into Howard Jones until about a year ago, when Vintage TV started playing his stuff a lot. This one’s a nice bouncy, catchy number with a great synth instrumental bit. Big fan of this.
Track 22: UB40 – Please Don’t Make Me Cry
More repetition of artists (sigh). If they were determined to do that, they should have saved Red Red Wine for side two, as it’s a much better song than this one. Slow, downbeat, nice sax solo but generally a bit dull.
Track 23: Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack – Tonight, I Celebrate My Love
The kind of appallingly saccharine ballad that I would have hated if I’d been an adult listening to it in 1983, but from my lofty perch of hindsight in 2018 I can just put it into a box marked ‘charmingly of its time’.
Track 24: Tracey Ullman – They Don’t Know
I do like ’80s-era Tracey Ullman and her comedy-tinged music videos. There’s something a bit mid-century retro about this one, which I quite like. It was originally a Kirsty MacColl track, which explains the quality.
For some reason I always think of Genesis as more musically respectable than solo Phil Collins. I’m not sure why. This one’s another head-nodder, but not playlist-worthy for me.
Track 27: The Cure – The Love Cats
Being a shameless goth, the Cure are my favourite band. This is a great upbeat party song, but if you want something more epic, beautiful and melancholy, I thoroughly recommend all the other tracks on the Japanese Whispers EP. I remember spending all of 2004, which was a tough year for me, just listening to it over and over. Gorgeous stuff.
Track 28: Simple Minds – Waterfront
Lovely guitar intro on this one. Fairly paint-by-numbers Simple Minds, without much in the way of hooks.
Track 29: Madness – The Sun And The Rain
Madness can’t do much wrong as far as I’m concerned. Great bouncy track.
Track 30: Culture Club – Victims
Eyebrow goes up again at another repeated artist! I’ll forgive the Now! compilers this time, though, because I do love this one and its epic and sweeping chorus.