Monthly Archives: July 2017

Write Here, Write Now : 7.30 – All Night Long

Spectrum – All night long. Gentle, sad meanderings

A completely different song to Lionel Richie’s, and yet the same title. Sonic Boom’s soft voice spilling out entreaties so fey they would get the sand of public opinion kicked in its face by the popular, confident party-oriented lyrics of the Lionel Richie song.

In fact, if there were a disco held with the varied song titles named “All Night Long”, the Süden would be the one sitting on a wall outside lamenting the no show of his girlfriend, while ‘Lionel’ was inside, entertaining all with he and his gang’s ensemble dancing, Louis Prima would have copped off with a girl and be getting busy somewhere quiet, Rainbow would be loudly and Angels wondering why nobody wants anything to do with him, and Thee Hypnotics would be headbanging in the bass bins.

As regards Spectrum, there were times in his career when he appeared to have disappeared up the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s backside with its long keyboard jams instead of pithy pop songs. Here he seemed to have remembered to limit the experimentation and focused on getting a straightforward and easily understood idea (bring stood up) expressed in a 6 minute track.

I like the vulnerability, which reminds me of a Shirelles song for its naive sweetness. I’m always happy to have this drug-soaked musician floating his voice over a bed of musical ethereality in my ear.

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Write Here, Write Now: 7.29 – All Night Long (All Night)

Lionel Ritchie – All Night Long (All Night). Be good, feel good, yeah!

As it gets to the end of the month and the end of this doubling up/82-83 theme, I find there are several song titles that I could go for – Sign of the Times, Let The Music Play, What Is Love – though not all were released before the cut off point of September ’83. Some great songs, that I might squeeze in before the end of the year.

All Night Long is a worthy entry for me as it reminds me, as have several other 82-83 songs that this was a year when the school disco made a significant impact on my life, although more from my non-involvement, than from any pleasure derived from taking part. The angst, the anticipation, the self-loathing, jealousy and inevitable anticlimax and disappointment were a familiar cycle by the end of the year.

Not that Lionel disappointed. Even though he wasn’t on the ‘set text’ list of approved cool artists, his run of singles from this to Dancing On The Ceiling were favourites when they were played, as they were frequently, on the radio. I blogged about Hello earlier in the year. All Night Long was my introduction to his music, discounting Three Times A Lady from The Commodores.

It’s a really joyful song, from the infectious happiness in his voice to the vibrant horns parping away after the minute long introduction, really kicking in at the 1.50 mark, never really stopping their fanfare after that. And the other instruments and backing vocals just help to support  the fun, from the percussion to the strings to the funky little bass spots.

It’s music of the moment, with no greater significance or depth than the ow-wow-wow of recognition when the first gentle beats of the song start, leading to throw away moves in the dance floor (dad dancing the days, of course).

Though, I fear the only thing I’m doing all night long these days is blog writing. Enough of that. Time for bed now…

 

Write Here, Write Now: 7.28 – Too Shy

Maureen Tucker – Too Shy

Listening to this song a day after the Kajagoogoo one of the same name, it’s clear they are complete opposites. One is a breathy, softly-sung enters to a shy listener, soundtracked by complex interweaving instrumentation with light percussion. The other is a roughly-hewn expression of awkwardness, backed up by a simple, rock’n’roll tune, all chugging guitars and basic, almost lumpen drumming.

Moe Tucker and Limahl – two very different characters, and yet linked by songs with the same name. Hard to imagine them doing a duet. Though maybe, with the inspiration of Jimmy Somerville and Sarah Jane Morris singing Lovermen, maybe it could work wonderfully.

I think both songs are great fun, though Moe’s would probably be more fun to throw yourself around the dancefloor to.

Write Here, Write Now: 7.27 – Too Shy

Kajagoogoo – Too Shy

This is definitely a song that featured heavily in my 14th year. A number one song in 1983, I remember Kajagoogoo as being a band it was very easy to laugh at for being floppy-haired and insubstantial, with the lyrics to this song being meaningless. Pop, rather than rock, basically

Looking at the Wiki page, I see the band used a Chapman Stick, as well as the evident keyboards, guitar, slap bass and percussion – all very eighties.

It’s a song I remember playing well in discos, which is quite ironic as I thought I was too shy to hang out long enough on the dance floor to have heard it there. Maybe it’s an association that comes from seeing it being played to shuffling dancers on Top of the Pops. I’m sure that, played at the right moment on a Saturday night, it had the appropriate effect of getting nervous teenagers to “move a little closer”, just not this one, of course.

Listening to it now, I quite like the combination of squelchy, bouncy bass, rhythm guitar, waves of synth wash and busy keyboard playing, particularly the way the piano comes in on the back of the strummed guitar. The song itself still sounds too silly “hush hush eye to eye”, honestly, but I suppose lightens what would otherwise be quite a muso-led, prog new wave funk track, possibly designed for testing audio equipment.

And, as the video shows, a fine collection of mullets has probably never been seen:

 

Write Here, Write Now: 7.26 – Hat Full of Stars

Cyndi Lauper – Hat Full of Stars. “Tripping on the past“.

A song looking back, this is rather sentimental, damned with the association with the George Benson/Anita Baker connected ‘quiet storm’ genre. Drippy instrumentation, based around very tame piano notes, mellow percussion, strings and bass, the music is session musician not easy listening hell – so conventional, it could be the muzak for the lift at a middle management training conference.

What save it is Cyndi’s vocals. Whereas Paul Young’s ‘hat’ song (yeah, this connection, I know), had him soaring adrift from the melody, Cyndi has the music pretty much snapping at her heels as she makes her way through the song. In spite of that, there’s such wistful feeling in her singing, a genuine sadness, matched with a determined optimism. Actors all her music, hi have the sense she’s the real deal – follows her muse, expresses her emotions nakedly, does what feels right and bigger the consequences.

Just a shame that the music and lyrics are a bit bland.

Write Here, Write Now: 7.25 – Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)

Paul Young – Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)

I remember this song being really popular when it was released, and being faintly surprised as I couldn’t fathom the appeal. Paul Young just didn’t seem as cool as the other acts around at the time – Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, etc. I think I thought of it as being a girls’ song, the sort of thing that was slow danced to at school discos. He certainly didn’t seem to be the kind of rogue sowing his wild oats depicted in this song.

Listening to it now, there’s a vaguely nasal tone to his voice, though it’s a strong voice that follows a melody not led by any of the instruments in the song, and for almost the first minute, only accompanied by the baseline and pattering drum track. For the last minute and a half, he deviates from the lyrics and extemporizes, which may or may not be a good thing.

Coincidentally, I’m writing this blog at my parents’ home, over in the UK for a couple of weeks. I’ve my life, they’ve lived in different countries, as have I. In a way, this song typifies my peripatetic life – getting used to different cities, towns, villages as work or study called me to move on from a place of settlement. Right now, I’m living in a place where I’ve been for the longest time since my childhood. I left the house I’m in some 13 years ago and have been back once or twice each year since then, for short breaks. Each time, it feels like the same place, the same furnishings that make it close to the home I grew up in. But looking back to the early 2000s when I left, the subtle alterations each time I came back have amounted to substantial changes to who I am, who my parents are, and to the place itself.

Look away and time moves on, decay sets in and when time comes to look back, dust has settled, the layers of life building up incrementally. The time when Paul Young was in the ascendency is long gone and of short duration. Unearthing this artefact doesn’t bring back more than vague memories of pastel shades and ankle socks, idle boasts from others of disco night snogs with local girls on school high jump mattresses. I’m happy to leave such things in the past.

Write Here, Write Now: 7.24 – Every Little Counts

New Order – Every Little Counts.

I love this song, from its warm, enveloping, confidently laid back opening bass line, through the giggles and the synths to the record-skidding crash at the end. It sounds like a band completely at ease with itself, doing exactly what it wants with measured and even-tempered control.

Brotherhood was a Christmas present, that I think I got in 1986, when I was already strongly into New Order and eagerly awaiting every new release. Living in Brussels, I scoured the record shops for previously-released product, but having already got Lowlife, I fully expected the next album to be as full of great songs as Perfect Kiss and Subculture. This was a band growing and improving with every fabulous new record.

Bizarre Love Triangle lived up to that expectation, but there were many other tracks of the album that weren’t quite the full-on dance barnstormers that that song was. As It Is When It Was, All Day Long and this track are more subdued, reflective pieces.

But when I played the record to a friend, it was this track with the pig/zoo line which won her over to the band. A touch of self-aware silliness, and all the better for being left in, as is the speeding up instrument crash at the end – a tribute to a Day in A Life?

And in more than just the ending there are similarities. That the song breaks neatly into two, with the vocals and resonant bass dominating the first section switching to glorious synths at the 2.44 mark. By rights, a New Order song should progress to a triumphant climax, all instruments blaring out their unique melody. Here that is a wasted dream as the whole song folds in on itself., disappearing into a black hole and figuratively crashing your turntable.

But the song cycles round again to the resonant bass, the jolly vocals, the recorder notes, the gently tapping percussion, the cello bow strokes, the guitar/ bass duelling, the warping tones and for a while, the world is a happy, friendly place.

A song with far more soul in it than the sneering sound of Everything Counts.