Saturday, July 4, 2020

Dexy's Midnight Runners follow "Geno" with Dear R-R-R-R-Robin


Dexy's Midnight Runners : There, There, My Dear

On July 4, 1980 the joyous new Dexy's Midnight Runners follow up to their #2 hit "Geno" is called , "There,There, My Dear" and it too, is climbing up the UK charts where it would peak at #7. That's despite the fact that this epistolary single ("Dear R-r-r-r-r-r-Robin)  is made up of indecipherable lyrics even fellow Brummies would have trouble making out. I do have it on good authority, thanks to the lyrics printed on the back of the 45, that the song provided the upcoming Dexy's debut album with its title Searching For the Young Soul Rebels.

Smash Hits' critic David Hepworth writes:

Dexy's go out on a limb with their crucial follow up, Kevin Rowland delivering the vocal from the very lip of chaos while the horns dig in and hold the rhythm down. The song, in the form of an argumentative latter, pays no mind to any kind of form and just weaves all over the shop; the only real hook is the way he rrrrrolls his rrrrrs every now and again.

Recently Kevin Rowland , upon hearing the song for the first time in a while, tweeted during a Tim's Twitter Listening Party:

 "It's criminal how under acknowledged Kevin Archer is/ The media picked me out and I needed no encouragement. Without Kevin Archer's music, we wouldn't have made a 10th of the impact."

The B-side is a clever cover of Cliff Nobles and Company's 1968 US #2 hit "The Horse"

Friday, July 3, 2020

Kate Bush scores a worldwide hit with "Babooshka"

Kate Bush : Babooshka

In July of 1980 Kate Bush's single "Babooshka" raced up the UK charts to peak at #5. Though "babooshka" is Russian for grandmother, the song is about a wife who tests her husband's loyalty by sending him perfume-scented letters. The letters remind the husband of his wife "before the tears/And how she was before the years flew by/And how she was when she was beautiful".  

Kate would tell Countdown in Australia, where the song hit #2:

It was really a theme that has fascinated me for some time. It's based on a theme that is often used in folk songs, which is where the wife of the husband begins to feel that perhaps he's not faithful. And there's no real strength in her feelings, it's just more or less paranoia suspicions, and so she starts thinking that she's going to test him, just to see if he's faithful. So what she does is she gets herself a pseudonym, which happens to be Babooshka, and she sends him a letter. And he responds very well to the letter, because as he reads it, he recognizes the wife that he had a couple of years ago, who was happy, in the letter. And so he likes it, and she decides to take it even further and get a meeting together to see how he reacts to this Babooshka lady instead of her. When he meets her, again because she is so similar to his wife, the one that he loves, he's very attracted to her. Of course she is very annoyed and the break in the song is just throwing the restaurant at him... (...) The whole idea of the song is really the futility and the stupidness of humans and how by our own thinking, spinning around in our own ideas we come up with completely paranoid facts. So in her situation she was in fact suspicious of a man who was doing nothing wrong, he loved her very much indeed. Through her own suspicions and evil thoughts she's really ruining the relationship 

  The song peaked at #5 in Italy where Kate performed on stage with actor Gary Hurst.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Holly Beth Vincent : My Top 10

Holly and the Italians : Tell That Girl To Shut Up

Having toured with The Clash and opened for Blondie at the Hammersmith Odeon, Holly and the Italians were on a roll when Holy Beth Vincent provided her Top 10 list to Smash Hits.  Featuring three  Cheap Trick songs, Holly's list also  calls outs The Soft Boys' "Insanely Jealous" as a work of genius. The road was about to get bumpy for the band when fans of The Selecter disrupted their performances, forcing them off the tour,  and recording of their debut album got pushed back to the end of the year.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Who Is Klark Kent?

Klark Kent : Away From Home

In the Summer of 1980 the mysterious Klark Kent released an eight-track self-titled mini album on green vinyl. After the band's appearance on Top Of The Pops performing "Don't Care" in 1978, everybody knew Kent was Police drummer Stewart Copeland's alter-ego. Copeland plays all the instruments. But the charade continued.

In the liner notes,  supposedly written by Sir Robinson Jeffries-Elder, Q.C., M.P., ex-diplomat, lecturer, bon vivant, and principal stockholder in the Klerk Kant Foundation, Limited, we read:

“Klerk Kant”, as appears to be his name, first came into my life as he was sitting next to me on the Concorde flight from Washington, D.C., to London. Speaking in what he claimed to be his native Sanskrit, he explained that he had been in Washington testifying before a congressional committee on church politics. His expertise in this subject had been attained while studying in a Moslem seminary in India. He underlined his religiosity (he claimed to be a “Sufi”, a kind of Islamic mystic that is rarely seen on the Indian sun-continent) by saying his noonday prayers in the aisle of the jet air-plane, jostling the stewardesses as they were trying to serve lunch, and annoying the passengers with his shouts of “Which way is Mecca? Which way is Mecca? Which way is Mecca?” while shifting his body to accommodate to the turns in the direction of the aircraft.

Later, he confessed, in sub-standard broken English, that he was “a mere computer programmer”, currently out of work but living on the sum of one million four hundred thousand dollars which he had won from I.B.M. in a successful suit against the company for stealing his “invention”. He was most secretive about the invention (“Do you want me to sue you? he asked coyly when I questioned him about it), but he adumbrated the notion that it had to do with capturing radio signals from distant galaxies, systematizing them through computer analysis, and reducing them to simple melodies which he played on the various instruments on which he is proficient.

I saw a great deal of Kent over the following weeks, sometimes in his elegant suite at the Dorchester and sometimes at my more modest digs, a bed-sit on Grosvenor Square. Sometimes he was morose to the point hostility, barely replying to my concerned questions with monosyllabic grunts. At other times, he was almost euphoric, waxing eloquent on his wide-ranging political philosophies. He would often descend to the vernacular, but his normal mode of speech was iambic pentameter in a-a-b-a rhyming pattern in which he produced perfectly worded, poetically beautiful expressions of deep moral intensity. (“I am a child ancient Syria / Suffering the pains of all this area” is an example.)

It is this peculiar combination of the profane and sacred which gives his music its unique appeal to young and old, simple and sophisticated, bovine and leontine, illiterate and intelligent, A/C, D/C, and A/C/D/C I, for one, like the underlying jazz sub-motif. My sons, being of primitive mold, see nothing in him but what they call “white collar punk”. In any case, to one and all, Klerk Kant’s music is the work of “true genius come home from a visit to the cosmos”, as the New York Times critic says. The eight songs of the disc run the gamut of KK’s extraordinary talents.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Introducing The Plasmatics : Tits Over Talent

Plasmatics : Butcher Baby

In June of 1980 Stiff Records released "Butcher Baby", a four song EP by The Plasmatics. Pressed in red and white striped vinyl, it confirmed suspicions that the band's talent was not in in the music but in the live show. Even so, critics were not fans. Paul Rambali of NME said The Plasmatics were:

"...a bunch of low-rent sleazo degenerate New Yorkers scumsurfing their way into the public consciousness on the strength of a highly visible pair of female mammary organs belonging to the 'colorful' Wendy O. Williams. Wendy seems proud of her endowments, such as they are. Two old  but stil firmly rounded orbs about the size of ripe Spanish oranges that jut our proudly from her fulsome torso and ...It's no good. I can't go on...What I mean is, if you want to see porn, why waste your money on this stuff? The real hard stuff is just as cheap, and just as squalid, and just as boring.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Joy Division releases "Love Will Tear Us Apart", the song of the year

Joy Division : Love Will Tear Us Apart

On June 27, 1980 Joy Division released "Love Will Tear Us Apart". It entered the UK charts at #45 on the 29th. Released a month after Ian Curtis's suicide, this is the most memorable and celebrated single of 1980. It is also the saddest. A breakup song with lyrics full of misery (Why is the bedroom so cold?/ Turned away on your side) and a beat that welcomes everyone to the dance floor. 

"Love Will Tear Us Apart" was named NME Single of the Year in 1980, and was listed as the best single of all time by NME in 2002. Rolling Stone critics named it the best single of the year ands The Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critic's Poll ranked the single #2 behind Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks".

Recording the song was a marathon, in the words of bassist Peter Hook. Drummer Stephen Morris recalls getting awakened at 4 AM by producer Martin Hannett to come back into the studio to play snare drum. 

Hook says Hannett 

kept remixing it and must have done it ten to fifteen times; then (Factory Records owner )Tony Wilson pulled the plug on him because it was costing so much money. Martin was never happy with it and kept searching , constantly , for the great mix He tried different engineers but could never get the definitive mix. Funnily enough, I now don't like the mix he eventually chose for the single, I like the one that's got a dead-loud guitar over-dub on it, a radio mix.

Its title etched on Curtis' gravestone, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" can't be separated from its circumstances. Curtis is witnessing the end of his marriage, suffering an increasing number of epileptic fits, and is losing his interest in life.  In the Spin Alternative Record Guide, Evelyn McDonnell writes "this pop song seemed to hurl its burden of prophetic tragic doom heavenward." 

Friday, June 26, 2020

With Underwater Moonlight The Soft Boys launch the jangle pop era of the 80's

The Soft Boys : Kingdom of Love


On June 28, 1980 The Soft Boys released Underwater Moonlight, the band's second album. Led by art school dropout Robyn Hitchcock and featuring guitarist Kimberly Rew, The Soft Boys provided the rock world with a bridge from the John Lennon/Syd Barrett/Byrds sounds of the 60's  to the jangle pop of R.E.M./Replacements/The Smiths and so many other bands. 

What no band could imitate is Hitchcock's bizarre sense of humor. On "Kingdom of Love", he compares infatuation to insects crawling under his skin:

You've been laying eggs under my skin 
Now they're hatching out under my chin 
Now there's tiny insects showing through 
And all them tiny insects look like you 

When the band broke up Hitchcock began releasing solo material that appealed to college radio DJ's like myself while Rew went off to form Katrina and the Waves. A 2001 release of Underwater Moonlight contains 36 songs on two discs, including a cover of Roxy Music's "Over You".