If you were feeling romantic in early 1990, then chances are that Dover’s All By Myself was an obvious gift option. Once again the Cokell brothers (John & Phil) were behind the concept while Ashley Abram’s Box Music sequenced the tracks. The inlay thanks BMG, WEA, Carrere, Arista, Jive, Polygram and Chrysalis for their help in compiling the album.
We begin with the title tune which is by ex-Raspberry, Eric Carmen and is based on Adagio Sostenuto from Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Opus 18. You may also know it from David Lean’s Brief Encounter. A profound observation on All By Myself by Drake Santiago – “This song can be the anthem for the internet generation. Though we are so interconnected by technology, we have never been more isolated and alone. I know this song was about personal loneliness, but I like to view it as an anthem for our collective loneliness in the generation of Facebook, Twitter & Instagram – a generation that increasingly finds face to face human interaction to be an alien concept, where genuine warm personal exchanges between people are traded in for superficial interactions we have online.” A song that some people can only really relate to once they get a bit older; certainly for me in 1990, it didn’t resonate. Joey & Chandler: the break-up.
Foreigner are song #2: Waiting For A Girl Like You, a power ballad with Thomas Dolby on keyboards. Also heard in the original Footloose (1984) as Ren and Ariel slow dance to this song in a bar. From the era of “beautiful women, great cars, no worries” come Simply Red and Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye. A Crosbie Motor Hotel classic – don’t talk, put your head on my shoulder and banish those school blues. Next comes George Benson with his 1977 slushfest The Greatest Love Of All, originally released on the soundtrack album for The Greatest – a biopic of Muhammad Ali. Not a patch on Whitney. After the urbane erotica of Phyllis Nelson’s Move Closer comes the lesser-spotter Suddenly by Billy Ocean. Its tone and depth are breathtaking. It rekindles memories of Heysel and studying for first year exams; an interminably boring History class last on Friday afternoon with the late Spike.
“I watch the ships come in and I watch them roll away again.” Otis Redding was renting a boathouse and that’s where he got the idea of writing about the ships coming in the bay. The sounds of waves and seagulls were added at his request. The tone is melancholic, no doubt influenced by the fact that it was a posthumous release, the first #1 of its kind in the US. Jim Morrison made reference to “Dock of the Bay” in the Doors’ song Runnin’ Blue, written by Robby Krieger, from their 1969 album The Soft Parade. In the same vein – 20 years on – come Wet Wet Wet and the soulful Temptation, the original album version which contains a longer middle eight than the single mix. It’s followed by Living In A Box’s Room In Your Heart which became a beloved slowburner in my new nightclub The Bridge Hotel, after starting college in September 1989. Elsewhere “Teenage dream, such a tragic scene” murmurs Chris Rea with pain on the accomplished Fool (If You Think It’s Over).
We stay in the 1970s for She’s Gone, Hall & Oates smooth and mellow masterpiece from the Arif Mardin-produced Abandoned Luncheonette. The diner on the album cover was formerly the Rosedale Diner, located in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Burned down in 1983. To the Wall of Sound then, as the Righteous Brothers brew up a storm on You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’. #87 in 1988, another reissue in 1990 would see them ride the Ghost wave. Next come Nilsson and Spandau Ballet with the evergreen Without You and Gold. +Lifted from Jump Up!, Elton John’s melancholy Blue Eyes. Its video was filmed on Sydney’s famous Bondi to Bronte walk and dedicated to Elizabeth Taylor. Finally we flake out to the sound of Graham Stokes’ Only The Love. “The design of the wrapper and the trademark Cadbury’s Flake are the property of Cadbury Limited.” An underrated sophisti-pop classic performed with aplomb by the canny music executive who guided Kim Wilde, Bananarama and Communards to stardom. A symbol of indulgence and secret pleasure: “Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate, tastes like chocolate never tasted before.”
Otis Redding – (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay
Hall & Oates – She’s Gone
Lest we forget
Graham Stokes – Only The Love (The Flake Theme)