Category Archives: 1982-3

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: 7.27 – 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: 7.25 – 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.

Write Here, Write Now: 7.23 – Everything Counts

Depeche Mode – Everything Counts. Just a little, not a lot.

Now, when I listen to this song. I have in the back of my mind the version done by DMK, the Colombian band of a dad and his two kids on toy instruments, which captures something of the naive joy of this song which to me retains the silly, adenoidal charm of New Life and See You.

There seemed to be a strain of political pop  in the early 80s – Culture Club – War, Frankie – Two Tribes, Heaven 17  – Crushed by the Wheels – songs that were light on their feet, but with a mild point to make. the observational lyrics in this song are not quite Pet Shop Boy sharp, but do make wry comment on the emergent yuppie culture.

I didn’t realize until looking at the Wiki page, that Dave Gahan sings the verse, Martin Gore sings the chorus, but then Depeche Mode for me were so ubiquitous in the 80s that I never stopped to really listen to them or indeed pay them that much attention. For me their path crossed with OMD – as that band got less arty and more mainstream, Depeche Mode got darker and more interesting. But, prisoner of the NME that I was, I never took them that seriously, even when they approached the gothic intensity of Black Celebration.

This song is a case in point. Like many of their songs. it slips through the ears very easily, leaving little traces behind.,Though some of the lyrics never fail to entertain – “a career in Korea, being insincere” will stay with me for life. I was happy to listen to it tonight, but won’t feel sad if I don’t hear it again for another year.

Write Here, Write Now: 7.21 – King of Pain

The Police – King of Pain. Inflicting royalty. “Watery circles running round my brain

A song I only really know from the opening chords and the repeated title line. Listening to the song now,I am not sure I missed anything the first time around. I remember being younger than 14 and enjoying Don’t Stand So Close To me and De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da – both fun throwaway pop. This, by comparison,  doesn’t seem to have any life to it – just a series of random images and comparisons. And where the gap for the catchy melody is, is just the repeated chords and Sting wearily listing.  He does seem to be the King of Pain, but not in the way he intended.

Yes I can sympathise with somebody mourning a lost relationship, but the mooning on this track seems to reach Billy “We didn’t start the fire” Joel  levels of abstracted pretension and disconnection.

Musically, it chugs along uneventfully.  There are instruments playing – guitar, drums and of course bass, but I don’t really notice anything standing out. The repetitive piano at the start seems to set the style for the whole song and indeed for music generally in 1983.

As my fourteeenth year continued, looking back it seems that the music scene slowly developed from innovative synth pop towards blanded-out mainstream corporate drivel. Albums from Madonna, Elton John, Wham, George Benson and the afore-mentioned Billy Joel were released that summer.

There’s a needle somewhere in that haystack, (as Sting didn’t write), and I’m going to have to hunt hard for those sharp-penned treats among the musical chaff to complete this month’s thematic blogs.

Here’s Sting channeling Danny Blue from Hustle:

 

Write Here, Write Now: 7.19 – Temptation

Heaven 17 – Temptation

I was tempted to continue the previous doubling up by choosing Gimme Shelter, but I’ve probably done enough Stones’ related material recently.

Temptation was a popular song in 1983 – I definitely remember it being one of the 12″ singles bought for the school disco – an arena of terrifying encounters for a nervous teenage boy, that I rarely attended for more than a few minutes. If I was back there now…

Listening to it now, what stands out is the orchestration/strings and the vocals of Carol Kenyon. But the less outstanding vocals from Heaven 17 seem there for a reason too – to steer and keep the song from over exuberance. Though it is irritating hearing them repeating the title over and over again.

There’s a point after about 1.50 into the song when it really lets fly and takes off. The lead vocals pause after a first mini climax, and the orchestration fills the space. Carol almost speaks these words “Step by step and day by day. Every second counts. I can’t break away“, and the song reloads for a second and more resonant happy end. In those few seconds, the knowledge of what is to come provides the tension that makes the moment so enjoyable.

There’s not more to it for me than that. The video is very silly.