Fun Boy Three and Bananarama – It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It . Simple but energizing pop music.
This starts as it means to go on with lovely percussion, like a chattering chaffinch pattering away, gradually dropping off to the background as four bars of drums and piano chords feed in, building up an infectious, busy rhythm that doesn’t let up till the close.
The oft-repeated chorus then acts as an extra layer of rhythm – part of the metronomic effect on top of which the different singers, high and low, verse and backing vocal, are drawn in, criss-crossing across this short song – call and response.
The heart of the song is the mid section, with three layers of wordless (doo-doo) singing, repeating over and over again, hypnotically mirroring and echoing the percussive flow.
That all goes straight into an impassioned four line soliloquy from Terry Hall, giving way once more to the chorus and then Neville Staples’ (?) deep bass voice, balanced by the Bananarama contrasting high notes. Then time for two more rounds of chorus and fade.
So, not a deeply sophisticated song, but one that’s very light on its toes, hopping agilely across the register, capturing with measured, precise vocals an open, airy musical space.
The surprise of this track? At 1.19, something drops on the floor. A fleeting disturbance in the smooth surface of this delightful song.
I don’t have particularly strong memories of this song when it was released, except it was one of any number of great pop songs that seemed our entitlement in the early to mid-eighties. One of many things which I think I complacently took for granted at the time.
“I thought I was smart but I soon found out – I didn’t know what life was all about”