Formel Eins – Happy Birthday (EMI, 1988)

Formel Eins Happy Birthday

Formel Eins Happy Birthday r

“Basically, Tom had a ‘feeling’ for violence. It had not been something thrust upon him through environment, poverty, the necessity of fighting to stay alive. He had been given more opportunities than most to further his education, forge a career. Yet he had rejected all decency in his lonely search for power through brutality. His venture into skinheadism had been choice, not following a trend. His association with ‘The Crackers’ came from the inborn desire to command, to know that he was capable of ordering total destruction on the heads of those daring to stand up and be counted against his way of life. He was hard, had never backed away from bother, enjoyed proving how tough he was. Yet, deep down inside, there was a spark of fear when it came to any showdown with his father”. (Richard Allen – Boot Boys)

Seven months after the split we got “the best number one ’88 never gave us”. Morrissey’s debut single was called Suedehead, Stephen Street wrote the music and Vini Reilly played guitar. The title was inspired by Richard Allen’s early ’70s novel of the same name and it plays like a dream – all sweeping orchestration and a knee-trembling vocal. It’s the opening track on Formel Eins – Happy Birthday and also featured on Now That’s What I Call Music 11. Three other tracks from that Now volume also appear here: Levis vs Eddie Cochran and the foul-mouthed C’mon Everybody, T’Pau’s supreme schlock Valentine and Bomb The Bass’ explosive sample-fest Beat Dis.

Keeping The Mystery Alive was Climie Fisher’s third single, released after This Is Me and the first version of Love Changes (Everything). It’s somewhat underdeveloped with a few hints of future promise. It’s followed by Cretu + Thiers’ melancholy synth period piece When Love Is The Missing Word before Wolf Maahn’s driving rocker Language Of Love. There was 80s hair, then there was the Richard Marx ‘froullet’. Endless Summer Nights stalled at #50 in the UK before enjoying greater success in West Germany. It sounds exactly like you’d expect – moody and atmospheric with a great sense of looking back. Meanwhile Belinda Carlisle’s follow-up to Heaven Is A Place On Earth was the underrated love song I Get Weak. Often overlooked on 1988 retrospectives and a welcome inclusion here. Next up are O.K. and the crazy mutant robotic disco of Okay.

“Memories of girlish purity where love surrenders”.
Johnny Hates Jazz fourth smash was Heart Of Gold. Their debut album remains one of the year’s best-crafted LPs and is still held up as a hallmark in slick production today. Mandy Winter’s Two Lovers and B-Point 2’s After Midnight are both uneventful hokum and both totally overshadowed by OMD’s bittersweet new-single-for-their-best-of Dreaming. Another curio is Thomas Dolby’s smart sideswipe Airhead before we’re ushered out of the stalls by a joint effort from the Afrika Bambaataa Family and UB40. Reckless and the great crossover potential. Stick around for joy.

Favourite tracks
Morrissey – Suedehead

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Dreaming

Lest we forget
Belinda Carlisle – I Get Weak

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