By 1978 The Walker Brothers were washed up. The kitchen sink drama of the mid-1960s – best exemplified on Mrs Murphy – led to solo careers and a 1970s relauch as a country pop outfit (Lines, No Regrets). The reformed group had one more shot; GTO were about to go under. Scott Walker made the most of this opportunity and returned to songwriting with his four brilliant tracks: Shutout, Fat Mama Kick, Nite Flights and The Electrician. The latter was key influence on Ultravox’s glacial Vienna, their defining moment of sparse piano and naked isolation. So what of Nite Flights? It’s amazing. Scott builds a tension through the whole track which is enveloped with atmosphere and a driving rhythm. David Bowie covered it for Black Tie, White Noise in 1993 while Fatima Mansions also recorded a version on their best LP Lost In The Former West which came out the following year.
Nite Flite was released with the catalogue number MOODCD4. Earlier albums under that sign were Move Closer, The Holiday Album and Classic Rock Countdown (credited to The London Symphony Orchestra). I remember the television advert in the evenings; I’d arrive home exhausted from my supermarket job and its smooth, soul sounds seemed almost hypnotic. We start with a jam, George Benson’s clinical Shiver, a total velvet groove. This leads into another G-man, Gregory Abbott and his ultra sleek R&B masterpiece Shake You Down. Closer and slower still, the first of two Atlantic Starr numbers (from two different LPs) – Always. One for a wedding. Meanwhile Anita Baker’s Sweet Love is amazing, an elegant and timeless ode to passion that charmed the NME writers in their year-end polls.
It’s a CBS party so naturally Alexander O’Neal features. If You Were Hear Tonight is a deeply romantic tune, sung with conviction that reaches into your soul. Produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as is his other entry here, the whirlwind that is Criticize, all terrific basslines and sweet backing vocals. As Alan Rizkallah observes: “I would love to have a ‘like new’ cassette copy of this and a high end home stereo unit with big column speakers from the time. That kind of setup would rumble the whole neighbourhood.” Two more ethereal goodies follow – Randy Crawford’s emotional Almaz, the story of the people who lived next door and what might become of them. +Minnie Riperton’s ever-growing and pulsating Loving You, dating back to 1974, a staple of dinner parties and ’70s comps.
Luther Vandross also gets two bites of the cherry. The effortlessly excellent Give Me The Reason is perfect. Comfort, safety blanket music from the back seat of the car. Late night drives. As well as being the title track to his fifth LP, you can also find it on the Ruthless People soundtrack. Luther #2 is So Amazing, a tune which is exactly as the title suggests. Happiness reigns – “Love has truly been good to me. Not even one sad day or minute have I’ve had since you’ve come my way.” Staying with Jam and Lewis, turn up the CD player for the SOS Band’s divine Weekend Girl. Or your LP if you think listening to 64 minutes of music crammed onto one single piece of vinyl is some sort of stand against “soulless and cold-sounding CDs.” The comments abound about this song being from an era when men were respectful to women. Hard to know if that’s a rose-tinted view but lines like “My offer stands, I think you’re worth the wait.” would support the argument.
Champaign’s How ‘Bout Us first appeared in the cold January of 1981, a slow ‘n’ smooth beautiful ballad. It was originally written and recorded in 1975 by an earlier incarnation of the band. Next sees us treated to a gem from Off The Wall, Michael Jackson’s killer Rock With You, written by Rod Temperton. Its music video, directed by Bruce Gowers, features Michael dancing in a sequined jumpsuit and matching boots against a set of shimmering lasers. Bang up to date (’87 and cry) is Regina Belle’s sweet Show Me The Way which works well with Atlantic Starr’s covert Secret Lovers. Then Play On described the lyrics of the latter as “deeply troubled.” Your mileage may vary. This leads us to the end, the final song of this romantic evening: The Jackson(s) (5) should take a bow for One More Chance, definitely the best thing about Victory. On vocals, Randy. The story is old but it goes on; the male has done wrong and is now seeking redemption. See you when you wake up.
Alexander O’Neal – If You Were Here Tonight
Anita Baker – Sweet Love
Lest we forget
The Jacksons – One More Chance