1989 was the Chinese year of the snake. In West Germany a rat named Larry was more prominent. 32 Sonnenhits Für Himmelsstürmer Und Abgestürzte was his fifth compilation and the first to bear the “Larry Präsentiert” tagline. The CD version is particularly desirable as it includes six bonus tracks – Natalie Cole’s Miss You Like Crazy, Marc Almond and Gene Pitney’s Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart, Vision Fields’ Sad Song, Bill Withers’ Harlem ’89, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s Little Jackie Wants To Be A Star and Breathe’s Don’t Tell Me Lies.
There’s an extraordinary start with the Bee Gees’ soaring Ordinary Lives. Eternal Flame and I Beg Your Pardon follow. Mellow gold clashing with New Order copyists before ringing the pop bell for Dieter Bohlen and Blue System’s Love Suite – updated for ’89. A strange 2:57 edit of Straight Up is followed by The Form’s World Of Ever – a wistful and earnest slice of moodiness. Then there’s Soulsister’s 80s Motown sound and Hillsborough benefit 45 Ferry Cross The Mersey. The Melbourne Cup racing carnival has turned into one of the biggest party festivals anywhere in the world with crowd attendances nearing 400,000 for the four days. Along with the horses, women have become the absolute highlight. They’re dressed to the nines wearing incredibly beautiful, colourful and sexy outfits while strutting their stuff. They’ve got The Look.
Introspective: The Rainbirds’ hypnotic Sea Of Time [caned by Dave Fanning during July 1989] and The Jeremy Days’ moody Brand New Toy. And Tanita Tikaram’s deep fourth single World Outside Your Window. Plus the Big O and She’s A Mystery To Me. As Sandy Williams said “It’s a strange world”. Inker and Hamilton bring plenty of melodrama to the party with Heaven Knows while Daryl Braithwaite’s One Summer crams in regrets to beat the band. The inclusion of Miss You Like Crazy and Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart in this sequence accentuates the downbeat vibe. The first disc then appropriately concludes with Vision Fields’ Sad Song.
I’ve already said that the Hoff’s Looking For Freedom sucks. Thankfully Sandra’s Around My Heart is a nicely-sung of mid-tempo euro disco and Hubert Kah’s Welcome, Machine Gun is one of their grooviest moments and punctuated by sharp synth stabs. The Innocent’s The Only Answer tries hard but goes nowhere while Alphaville’s Romeo is an admirable effort at recapturing past glories A-ha style. Straight From Your Heart is Bonnie Bianco’s finest moment; a sweet mix of Boney M-stylings and tortured cabaret. It’s followed by the optimism of Sally Stewart’s Betting It All On Love and Die Artze’s naive Teenage Liebe.
House: So it’s time to Move Your Feet To The Rhythm Of The Beat with Hithouse. Amazing whistling acid. Coldcut and Lisa Stansfield smash it up with People Hold On; Inner City keep the fire burning on Ain’t Nobody Better. Soul II Soul’s gradual epic Keep On Movin’ slows the pitch down before Ten City’s That’s The Way Love Is builds up the crescendo again. Make way for Merlin and those crazy Beatmasters. Who’s In The House: a hip house anthem. Just before you’re utterly wiped out it’s time to meld eurodisco and eurodance into Das Omen I. The ender is Kym Mazelle’s beaty Got To Get You Back. For all the soulboys and soulgirls.
Encore time: Bill Withers’ ’89 update of the seminal Harlem. Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam’s anodyne Little Jackie [what were they thinking]. And one more 45 that peaked at #45 in March 1989 – Breathe’s reissue of the percussive Don’t Tell Me Lies. All hail Spike.
Tanita Tikaram – World Outside Your Window
Roy Orbison – She’s A Mystery To Me
Bee Gees – Ordinary Lives
Kym Mazelle – Got To Get You Back
Lest we forget
Bill Withers – Harlem ’89