And All Because The Lady Loves… (Dover, 1989)

And All Because The Lady Loves

And All Because The Lady Loves r

Review
And All Because The Lady Loves… arrived in record shops at the end of January 1989, just in time for Valentine’s Day. The concept: she wears (stone-washed) denim wherever she goes – courtesy of the Cokells, Phil and John. Ashley Abram sequenced the 14 great love songs and we’re reminded that “the design and the All Because The Lady Loves… slogan are the property of Cadbury Ltd, and are reproduced with their permission.” Labels assisting were EMI, Polygram, Arista, Island, Chrysalis, Motown and EG Records.

Milk Tray adverts showed a mystery man dressed in black breaking into a lady’s house and leaving her a box of the chocolates along with his famous calling card – a dark silhouette on a white background. The Milk Tray Man’s career lasted from 1968 to 2003. He was a tough James Bond–style figure who undertook daunting raids to deliver the goods. Gary Myers was most recognisable as the action figure, starred in 11 adverts lasting until 1984. Directors included Adrian Lyne while the music, The Night Rider, was written by Cliff Adams, who was also responsible for the Fry’s Turkish Delight tune. The music was also recorded commercially by Alan Hawkshaw and appeared on his album 27 Top TV Themes, released on the seminal Studio 2 Stereo label in 1972. Top of the chocs: hazelnut swirl.

This romantic selection begins with an ageless track from 1969 – Stevie Wonder’s My Cherie Amour which was released on 28 January that year. The strings and horns elevate it to heavenly status – “How does someone blind, write with such vision?” Slipping in seamlessly is Tina Turner and Let’s Stay Together, the 7″ mix of the single that announced her comeback. It was her second collaboration with Heaven 17 and the British Electric Foundation production team after Ball Of Confusion in 1982. We zip back to 1972 for another Motown slushfest, Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye getting it on with You Are Everything, a top 5 UK single but wasn’t released on that format in the US. From 1975 comes Cliff Richard’s intensely personal ballad Miss You Nights. Sung perfectly.

An Officer And A Gentlemen provided Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes with a big hit in Up Where We Belong. File under gospel-inspired pop standards. We stay in in the 1983 era with Spandau Ballet’s timeless True (also in 7″ form) – a tribute to Marvin Gaye who is mentioned in the lyrics. And then the album version of Bryan Ferry’s Slave To Love where the vocal kicks in at 0:40 as opposed to 0:26 on the single mix. Next: Dionne Warwick’s gorgeous All The Love In The World. This was written by the Gibb brothers and Barry co-produced Dionne’s Heartbreaker LP in 1982. Meanwhile Still was the Commodores’ last #1 before Lionel Richie went solo. Supremely soulful with deep feeling – as an old white boy once said “You know..it’s not the music you get in to….it’s the music that gets into you.”

The first four songs on CD2 of Now That’s What I Call Music 1983: The Millennium Series are all here (Let’s Stay Together, Up Where We Belong, True, Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You). Marching on, Leo Sayer’s totally massive 1977 hit When I Need You. Same melody as Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat. Elsewhere ex-Mechanic Paul Carrack brings us up to date on the pleading Give Me A Chance – or to some, “the point of pop pedestrianism.” To end, a fine pair: Minnie Riperton’s Loving You (to be immortalised by The Orb on A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre of the Ultraworld) and Eric Clapton’s deeply poignant ode to Pattie Boyd, Wonderful Tonight.

Favourite tracks
Cliff Richard – Miss You Nights

Commodores – Still

Lest we forget
Paul Carrack – Give Me A Chance

Advertisements
Posted in Pop UK | Leave a comment

Indie Top 20 CD88 (Beechwood Music, 1988)

Indie CD88

Indie CD88 r

Review
What it says on the tin:
“CD88 is a testament to the vital role played by the independent music chart. Many of these hit singles have never been and might never be available on CD elsewhere.
CD88 is a collection of outstanding singles that have since become Indie classics, and for many, subsequently served as the springboard from their Independent roots to major label and Gallup chart status.
Each track is chosen from the successful Indie Top 20 compilations, plus four classic tracks previously not included in the series. Indie Top 20 is released every three months to highlight the best of the new singles which have made a high impact on the national independent chart.”

I opened this one on Christmas morning 1988 but didn’t get to play it until later on that evening. As I unwrapped my gift, Ian Dempsey, Zig and Zag mulled over what they had for Christmas dinner which had been cooked by the two aliens. While they had some strange food combinations, they seem to have enjoyed their meal nonetheless. RTE didn’t show adverts on Christmas day but throughout the holiday period I was exposed to Mr Berger, Bold 3, Clinic shampoo, Bird’s Eye Chicken Grills (part of their Steakhouse range), Sensodyne toothpaste, Quinnsworth and how to collect Philips VHS tapes at Esso stations.

CD88 contains 19 tracks, 15 of which have already been discussed in the following reviews:
Indie Top 20 Volume 1: The Soup Dragons – Hang Ten!, Rose Of Avalanche – Velveteen, Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes, A Certain Ratio – Mickey Way (The Candy Bar), Ciccone Youth – Into The Groovy.
Indie Top 20 Volume 2: All About Eve – Our Summer, The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee, The Beloved – Forever Dancing.
Indie Top 20 Volume 3 – War Of Independents: Fields Of The Nephilim – Preacher Man.
Indie Top 20 Volume 4 Part 1 – State Of Independents: Cardiacs – Is This The Life, The Wedding Present – Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm, Wire – Kidney Bingos, Pop Will Eat Itself – There Is No Love Between Us Anymore.
Indie Top 20 Volume 5 – Spirit Of Independents: Danielle Dax – Cat-House, The Shamen – Jesus Loves Amerika.

In a nice twist, we get brief notes on each song:
The Soup Dragons – Hang Ten!: “…became an absolute classic indie hit single, staying at number one in the Indie Charts for weeks. Taken from the album This Is Our Art.”
Rose Of Avalanche – Velveteen: “The pulsating twilight world of teardrops, mist and mystery, bad company and the illicit thrill of good lovin’ gone bad mixed with guitars turned up full blast, all transport you to the furthest edges of the psychedelic firmament in a song that’ll take you to heaven and back with the most beautiful girl in the world beside you.”
Half Man Half Biscuit – Dickie Davies Eyes: “Two years on and the jokes and the punchlines are entirely familiar but somehow, like Monty Python, it’s the sort of inspired, satirical humour that bears repeating time and time again without losing it’s edge and appeal. Poking fun at TV ‘celebrities’, bringing inner city problems to Watch With Mother, extracting the urine from all and sundry (themselves included) with all the dry wit for which Merseyside is so justly famous.” (Q Magazine)
A Certain Ratio – Mickey Way (The Candy Bar): “Taken from their album Force, Mickey Way was ACR’s last release before leaving Factory Records. Now signed to A&M worldwide, the next album is planned for release early in ’89.”
Ciccone Youth – Into The Groovy: “Ciccone Youth, also known as Sonic Youth, in their most rabid Madonna worship frenzy. Into The Groovy was a surprise club and chart hit, it featured Firehose’s Mike Watts on frantic bass. Into The Groovy is included on a Ciccone Youth album called The White(y) Album, due for release Jan ’89.”

All About Eve – Our Summer: “Our Summer – the living testament to our sparking the fire of peace and love in the ’80s, which we now know as acid-folk… can you feel it?”
The Chesterfields – Ask Johnny Dee: “…is still the most appealing slither of sublimeness, it remains a mystery why someone didn’t write it aeons ago.” (Record Mirror)
The Beloved – Forever Dancing: “Seriously minimal, minimally serious. Free at last.”

Fields Of The Nephilim – Preacher Man: “…shudders with self-important, bristling energy: an epic, an unashamedly slavering colossus of a disc.” (Sounds)
“…is fascinating, disturbing, and utterly magnificent.” (Record Mirror)

Cardiacs – Is This The Life: “This single was taken from the Cardiacs successful album A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window. It stayed in the indie charts for 4 months and crossed-over to daytime Radio 1, subsequently entering the Gallup Top 100.”
The Wedding Present – Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm: “Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm surprised everyone by shooting into the Gallup chart at no. 46 and showed that the George Best LP was no fluke.”
Wire – Kidney Bingos: “Wire specialise in wistful, immaculately crafted avant-songs… it’s good to know that Wire have lost none of their taste for the lyrically absurd or their talent for a jolly little tune. The single Kidney Bingos consisted of a string of nonsense-words (although it was probably meant to be rather meaningful) and the album continues in this merry vein.”
Pop Will Eat Itself – There Is No Love Between Us Anymore: “The Poppies present another song about love and hate. Remixed from their debut album Box Frenzy. Still available in all good and not so good record shops.”

Danielle Dax – Cat-House: “Unanimously voted Single of the Week by the nation’s music press, this number one indie-seller turns rock, pop and glam into a unique blend of sex, metal and mayhem for the 80s, proving beyond doubt that when it comes to Guitar Wars, Dax leaves those leather boys gasping at the starting line.”
The Shamen – Jesus Loves Amerika: “Jesus Loves Amerika is a blistering attack on that country’s fascist, fanatical, fundamentalist “Christians” – ie – those who wish to transform us into a race of right-wing, brain-dead, bible quoting robots. Musically, the beatbox groove is harder than ever before, overlaid with frenzied, psychedelic mandolin-like guitar and some of the most righteous samples yet to be heard on disc.”

As stated above, there were four new tracks included. They also came with notes:
Crazyhead – Baby Turpentine: “Flat 2, 37 Springfield Road, Leicester, 1986 – chopping down next door’s fence to keep warm in front of the epileptic television.”
Michelle Shocked – Fog Town: “Taken from the now legendary Texas Campfire Tapes LP which shot to number one on the indie charts in January ’87, despite being recorded on a Walkman at Kerrville festival by Cooking Vinyl boss Pete Lawrence for the cost of a tape and a set of batteries.”
Bradford – Skin Storm: “This track was the single; receiving a great deal of media interest as Morrissey was quoted as saying of their Lust Roulette track: ‘Lust Roulette practically almost made me cry.'”
Sweet Honey In The Rock – Chile Your Waters Run Red Through Soweto: “This five piece all female accapella outfit from Washington DC deliver the goods on this powerful live recording taken from the album Breaths Best Of which rode high in various independent charts in Autumn ’87. Billy Bragg has also recently covered this track on his LP.”

Crazyhead played on the Sunday of the 1989 Reading Festival as a late replacement for The Mighty Lemon Drops. It was expected to be a scorching experience with a decidedly indie twist. As it happened, it rained down on the Friday night as The House Of Love, The Sugarcubes and New Order rocked out. Baby Turpentine is a good approximation of their live sound, a raucous garage rock vibe crossed with grebo goodness. Michelle Shocked’s Fog Town remains as resolutely austere as it did in 1987, almost like a time capsule from a much earlier era. Equally out of step is the gospel number from Sweet Honey In The Rock. When I read the song title – and despite having heard and liked Billy Bragg’s Help Save The Youth Of America (Live And Dubious), I immediately thought of Grange Hill and that nasty scene when Booga Benson and his mate attacked Precious Matthews.
“This chile am sure some mover”
“Yey man”

Manchester North
That just leaves Bradford, a skinhead band active between 1987 and 1991. They appeared on the legendary Manchester North Of England cassette. On 22 December 1988, 24 hours after the Lockerbie disaster, Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall was thronged with hundreds of Smiths fans eager to catch Morrissey’s first solo performance. Bradford opened the show. Morrissey and his one-off band walked on stage after intermission music that ended with Cilla Black’s Love Of The Loved and Klaus Nomi’s Der Nussbaum. Skin Storm is regarded as the first indie CD single and is an astonishing mix of beautifully mournful vocals and superb guitar lines. Like The LA’s, they only made one album, produced by Stephen Street – which also didn’t appear until 1990. In July 1991, Morrissey paid homage by covering Skin Storm as one of the B-Sides to Pregnant For The Last Time. A worthy epitaph.

Favourite tracks
The Wedding Present – Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm

Cardiacs – Is This The Life

Lest we forget
Bradford – Skin Storm

Posted in Indie Top 20 | Leave a comment

Soft Metal: It Ain’t Heavy (Stylus Music, 1988)

Soft Metal

Soft Metal r

Review
Stylus Music was quite a diverse label. 1988 saw them unleash several hip hop and dance compilations before dropping this one – Soft Metal: It Ain’t Heavy – late in the year. It was advertised extensively on television while its romantic theme was signalled by a single red rose on the sleeve with a similarly coloured tagline “18 hits from the giants of rock”

Coming at you in crystal-clear hi fidelity digital sound: we kick off with three massive numbers that have featured on these pages several times. Heart – Alone, Marillion – Kayleigh, Whitesnake – Here I Go Again. One particularly memory of Alone is from my supermarket job. When the shop closed, we could turn up the in-house PA system and blast the music tapes while we swept the floors and wrapped up for the night. Saxon’s Ride Like The Wind is a surprisingly effective cover of the Christopher Cross ballad and nestles nicely with Ozzy Osbourne’s Shot In The Dark. Justin Gardner remembers: “This song reminds me of warm summer nights, roaming the neighbourhood, sneaking beers, trying to get laid but never actually succeeding. I miss being a teen.” It featured on our ghettoblaster during days at the reservoir. Often followed by selections from Anthrax.

Journey released Don’t Stop Believin’ as a single in late December 1981. It wasn’t a hit. Almost 20 years before it featured in The Sopranos, Glee etc, Stylus Music decided to include it here. Its true chorus doesn’t appear until the song has entered the final minute. The structure being:
Introduction (instrumental) (0:00–0:17)
Verse 1 (0:17–0:49)
Instrumental (0:49–1:05)
Verse 2 (half-length) (1:05–1:20)
Pre-chorus 1 (1:20–1:54)
Instrumental (1:54–2:01)
Verse 3 (2:01–2:33)
Pre-chorus 2 (2:33–3:05)
Instrumental (chorus) (3:05–3:21)
Chorus until fade (3:21–4:11)
Since 2007 and in particular for the remainder of the decade, Don’t Stop Believin’ was frequently played as the last song at rural discos. In Ireland, it remaind one of the most downloaded tracks ever and was used as motivational music for the Waterford hurlers in 2008. The lost the All Ireland Final to Kilkenny, 3-30 to 1-13. An unmerciful hammering.

Another late 1981 tune was Meat Loaf’s Dead Ringer For Love. He’s got Cher in tow. An effective rocker and a popular one in school – it featured on several homemade mix tapes of the era. The parent album was the follow up to Bat Out Of Hell, which had stayed on the UK charts for 485 weeks. Next comes the medieval One Lonely Light, a haunting ballad by REO Speedwagon. The video features a knight arguing with his spouse walking around the city and meeting a wizard. Familiarity breeds contentment; the longer album version of Europe’s The Final Countdown followed by Starship’s We Built This City. I love the sound of the latter on an early summer morning. Perfect with coffee and absorbing the quietness of the emerging day. The city that rocks, the city that never sleeps. MTV executive and former DJ Les Garland provided the voice-over during the song’s bridge. And then time for another early riser anthem: It Bites’ cheery Calling All The Heroes. “Fabulous happy times song, Ford Capris, Tennants Extra and ra ra skirts. Good times.” (Elliot Evans)

The appearance of Golden Brown, The Stranglers at their most beguiling and ostensibly gentle is welcome at any time. We get right back to the modern era with Poison’s no-nonsense rocker Nothin’ But A Good Time. Mysterious times: Wasch! and Body Running Fast is only compiled here, a German rock band with an almost funk slant. The sequencing is perfect as Krokus’ menacing and somewhat brooding Screaming In The Night slides into view. The original version of Faith No More’s We Car A Lot mentions Madonna and Mr T. The superior late ’87 reboot makes amendments for “social relevance” – the video received quite a bit of MTV airplay and also aired in Club 19, downtown New Ross. Home of West Coast Cooler for discerning teens. Finally, we end with a pair of massive movie tunes – Survivor’s intense Burning Heart (Rocky IV) and the stirring drama of John Parr’s St Elmo’s Fire. Dedicated to the ultimate Man In Motion, the legendary Rick Hansen.

Favourite tracks
Faith No More – We Care A Lot

Ozzy Osbourne – Shot In The Dark

Lest we forget
Wasch! – Body Running Fast

Posted in Soft Metal | Leave a comment