#536 ‘Election Day’ by Arcadia (7 March)

Album: So Red the Rose, 1985

Justification: First up, hi. Yeah, it’s been a while. Sorry for the delay and so on, but if you go to my other site at andrewpstreet.com you’ll see that I’ve been pretty stupidly busy for the last little while. But let’s get this thing back into shape for the time being.

Oh yeah, they all dyed their hair black. Gotta say, it's working for Simon.

Oh yeah, they all dyed their hair black. Gotta say, it’s working for Simon.

Alrighty: I was a pretty one-eyed Duran Duran fan in the 80s. They were the one of the first bands I really fell in love with and I followed them diligently when they took a break (back in the days before such things were called “hiatuses”) and did other projects: bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor formed the awful Power Station with Bernard Edwards from Chic and Robert Palmer, and the rest of the band – frontman Simon Le Bon, keyboardist Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor – formed the world’s most pretentious band and did one largely average album (“the most pretentious album ever made,” according to Le Bon).

However, this single was amazing. Sure, it shows that ‘A View to a Kill’ hadn’t got Rhodes’ love for big keyboard stabs out of his system, but for once Le Bon’s largely ridiculous lyrics were kind of awesome (“he’s moody and grey, she’s mean and she’s restless” pops into my head more often than I’d like, as does “are you aware you’re being illegal? It’s making your saviour behaviour look evil”). The way that he drifts in an out of the song was also structurally interesting – you think he’s finished a verse and then no, here’s an extra bit that’s effectively the punchline.

It’s also worth pointing out that Le Bon’s never had great intonation but he’s hitting blue notes almost exclusively here: he’s never quite in tune, but never actually horribly out of it either. It makes a weirdly compelling effect in the chorus when he’s doing three and four part harmonies with himself and not nailing a single one of the lines – and yet it works amazingly well. This is something we’ve lost from autotune, that Beatles-y sound of people not quite locked in but sounding gloriously and appealingly human.

Sure, the Grace Jones spoken word bit smacks of “oh yeah, we really need do something for the bridge,” but the rest of the song kills.

It’s also significant in that this video is the moment where Rhodes broke his career-long streak of looking awesome and largely dignified, which is impressive for a man who often sported pink hair and mimed saxophone in the ‘Rio’ clip. Here he pouts and preens, somwhere between a Skeksis from The Dark Crystal and a goth Taylor Dayne. And yes, that’s William Burroughs. Ludicrous.

I found this 7″ not long ago while on another trawl through the treasure trove that is the Myponga Markets, and proceeded to play it far more times than anyone could justify. I’m pretty sure my dame was delighted by this decision.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: It was the Suede reunion we all wanted, briefly, with the Tears and ‘Refugees’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: Ian Dury’s boy Baxter and the nightmarish video of ‘Francesca’s Party’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

531. The Shangri-Las: Give Him A Great Big Kiss (23 Aug)

532. Guided by Voices: Teenage FBI (27 Aug)

533. The Cowboy Junkies: Sweet Jane (1 Nov)

534. Belle & Sebastian: Sleep the Clock Around (8 Nov)

535. Electronic: Getting Away With it (20 Dec)

 

#525 ‘A Night Like This’ by the Cure (1 Mar)

Album: The Head on the Door, 1985

Justification: Before you say the obvious, shut up.

Yes, I wasn’t a very happy teenager – and, periodically, I’m a not terribly happy adult. This is not where I spin off into the obligatory wah-wah-wah-depression-wah-grief confessional that is oh so popular in these R U OK times, but where I accept that when my father was sick and especially after he died, the Cure and the Smiths were sometimes the only thing standing between me and a noose (which I’ve written about before, unsurprisingly). This song in particular punched me right in the feelings, mainly because of those slashing bottom string guitar slides.

Still their best album cover, if you ask me. Which you did, admit it.

Still their best album cover, if you ask me. Which you did, admit it.

However, there is something about this song that is significant to anyone who knows me well, and it is this: it has a saxophone solo, and I have been very, very vocal about how saxophone solos are the red wine spills on the carpet of music: sometimes they’re a disaster, sometimes they don’t really matter that much, but they’re only beneficial under a vanishingly small number of situations.

I’m not sure if this was actually a single in some parts of the world, if they just shot a video. I think it’s the latter.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Peter, Bjorn & John were making whistling ubiquitous with the infernally catchy ‘Young Folks’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2012: You lasted far too short a time, Luscious Jackson, but at least we got ‘Naked Eye’ out of you.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

520. The Birthday Party: Nick the Stripper (22 Nov)

521. The Stone Roses: Elephant Stone (7 Dec)

522. Gene: Be My Light, Be My Guide (25 Jan)

523. Space and Cerys Matthews: The Ballad of Tom Jones (30 Jan)

524. Flight of the Conchords: Carol Brown (8 Feb)

#511 ‘Cloudbusting’ by Kate Bush (4 Sep)

Album: Hounds of Love, 1985

Justification: As you’re quite possibly aware, the “I just know that something good is gonna happen” refrain from Utah Saints’ ‘Something Good’ is sampled from this song, which is inspired by one of the more interesting stories in modern science.

Wilhelm Reich was a psychiatrist who studied under Freud, had radical ideas about psychoanalysis and medicine, and was convinced that there was an energy that fuelled life and pretty much everything else, which he called “orgone”. He was massively big on sexual energy, fled Austria to escape the Nazis, was persecuted for his theories in Scandinavia (although that might have been more to do with the free and easy way he conducted his sex life) before heading to the US where he got another dose of it, eventually being jailed for breaching a FDA order to destroy his equipment and dying of a heart attack after a year in the slammer.

Purple: it’s a motif.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that his theories were, y’know, wrong: his orgone accumulation chambers (which he claimed built up sexual energy and cured cancer, among other things) were examined and experimented upon by scientists of the day, including Einstein himself, who established that there was indeed an interesting energy exchange going on, but that it was entirely to do with the internal temperature gradient. Reich angrily rejected their results, which was pretty much his stock response to most criticisms. And that’s problematic enough when working in a university setting, but a really good way to make things escalate badly when dealing with the police and the government: while there’s no argument that the FDA were heavy-handed in their treatment of him, there’s also no doubt that Reich’s imperious attitude did him no favours. Arguing that a judge has no authority to determine his guilt or innocence without reading all of one’s works is a pretty good way to give them the shits.

Reich’s son Peter wrote a book about his father’s work, arrest and trial, entitled A Book of Dreams. This is where Kate Bush got the idea from the song, and she’s playing Peter in the (Julian Doyle-direct, Terry Gilliam-conceived) video, with Donald Sutherland as Wilhelm – because if there’s one thing that the busty, round-hipped Bush looks exactly like when you stick a wig on her, it’s an eight year old boy.

The idea of the lone genius being persecuted by a thuggish government is a powerful one, although it would be even better if Reich had science on his side and if his “cloubusters” actually worked. As best I can ascertain, one was tested once and it supposedly rained, which isn’t exactly an experimental slam-dunk.

Great song, though.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010 and 2011: Nothing for either, so let’s have ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ by the Human League from 3/9/2010 and Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘Nutbush City Limits’ from 2/9/11. Deal?

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

506: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell on You (10 Aug)

507. Iggy & the Stooges: Search & Destroy (13 Aug)

508. The Jazz Butcher: She’s on Drugs (15 Aug)

509. Boards of Canada: ROYGBIV (22 Aug)

510. Juliana Hatfield: Everybody Loves Me But You (27 Aug)

#487 ‘Let’s Go All The Way’ by Sly Fox (28 Jun)

Album: Let’s Go All The Way, 1985

Justification: I have no idea. This was in my head when I woke up yesterday morning, having not thought about it, as best I can remember, since a year or so after buying this 7″ at the age of what, 13 or 14?

I mean, look at this monstrosity of an album cover. JUST FUCKING LOOK AT IT.

My only possible defence is that I loved the tempo of it – in fact, I reckon I played the “bonus beats’ b-side as often as the a-side, which was nothing but that rhythm track, presumably for DJs to mix with – especially that “whump whump” kick drum sound. But why the hell did I like it enough to actually buy the single? It’s barely a song. For that matter, the band were barely a band: Gary “Mudbone” Cooper and Michael Camacho were slammed together by producer Ted Currier as a teen-pop combo, despite both looking like they’re in their 30s and having dance moves that could kindly be described as “dad-like”, they existed for just over two years, made one eight track album (of which this was both the title track and 12.5%) and – in the greatest possible insult – this song was covered by the Insane fucking Clown Posse. None of these things are things to celebrate.

Still, I’m listening to this song again and thinking, y’know, that’s a pretty stomping rhythm right there.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Voice of the Beehive’s gloriously perky ‘I Say Nothing’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2011: Britpop third-stringers Gene should have been so much bigger – just listen to their glorious ‘Sleep Well Tonight’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

482. The Weakerthans: Civil Twilight (18 June)

483. Beck: Nicotine & Gravy (19 June)

 484. Teenage Fanclub: What You Do To Me (20 June)

485. Blur: Beetlebum (25 June)

486. The Passions: I’m in Love with a German Film Star (26 June)

#448 ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ by the Cult (26 Mar)

Album: Love, 1985

Justification: I was first exposed to the Cult pretty much every weekday morning in 1989 at around 8.15am when my Peter Strutton gave me a lift to school in his car, which he owned and therefore had control of the cassette player within. I did occasionally get to throw down some mad They Might Be Giants, but generally speaking it was the cassette that had Love on one side and Electric on the other. Which taught me a few things, mainly that I don’t much care for the Cult – except for this. And ‘The Big Neon Glitter’, which is also pretty cool, now that I think about it.

Because nothing says "native American iconography" like being from Yorkshire.

Electric, though, can fuck right off. If I never hear Love Removal Machine again it’ll be too… actually, that’s OK too. Hey, I wonder how Pete’s doing these days?

Fun fact: guitarist Billy Duffy was in the Nosebleeds, Morrissey‘s short-lived pre-Smiths band.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: dEUS were dropping some mad violin riffage with ‘Suds & Soda’.

AND HERE”S THE LAST FIVE…

443. Blondie: Hanging on the Telephone (14 Mar)

444. The Handsome Family: Your Great Journey (16 Mar)

445. Bacarra: Yes Sir, I Can Boogie (19 Mar)

446. Magic Dirt: Plastic Loveless Letter (20 Mar)

447. New York Dolls: Personality Crisis (22 Mar)

#403 ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’ by Echo & the Bunnymen (21 Dec)

Album: Songs to Learn and Sing, 1985

Justification: This was the stand-alone single that pretty much marked the beginning of the end for Echo & the Bunnymen. They’d made four albums by this stage and decided to take a year off after touring behind their acknowledged masterpiece, Ocean Rain, but there were some internal issues starting to rear their head – primarily to do with Ian McCulloch thinking that he should start a solo career. A McCulloch single was released and flopped, drummer Pete de Frietas started the Sex Gods, a side project more focussed on taking drugs than making music (and for which he would be sacked from the band before being grudgingly reinstated on a salary), and guitarist Wil Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson just sat around doing nothing for a year (I believe Les got a dayjob, actually). But then they decided to put out a singles collection and this was the new thing they tacked on – and it was, and is, magnificent.

It’d been kicking around in demo form for a while (under the name ‘Jimmy Brown’), but it was the lush production that Laurie Latham gave it when the band was asked to contribute something to the Pretty in Pink soundtrack that made it a drop-dead classic. It’s also what opened the US to the band, which lead to the self-titled, McCulloch-focussed “gray album” that was the band’s semi-swansong. Within four years McCulloch had quit, de Frietas was killed in a motorcycle accident and Pattinson and Sergeant were engaged in a futile effort to keep the name alive – but for now, this was the band at their glorious best.

Incidentally, I’m writing this while ripping several McCulloch solo albums that I’ve discovered in my collection but have no room for, and can confirm that yeah, he really does need Sergeant by his side. Even the most drab recent-period Bunnymen album is head and shoulders above Mysterio.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME LAST YEAR: Schnell Fenster were dropping their magnificent debut ‘Whisper’.

AND HERE’S THE LAST FIVE…

398. Yeasayer: O.N.E (8 Dec) 

399. Mint Royale: Don’t Falter (13 Dec)

400. Lloyd Cole: No Blue Skies (14 Dec)

401. Jean Michel Jarre: Oxygène (part IV) (15 Dec) 

402. The Damned: Smash It Up (19 Dec)

#363 ‘Oh Yeah’ by Yello (18 Oct)

Album: Stella, 1985

Justification: Despite the great tradition of non-English speaking bands being generally misunderstood among we monolinguists (hi Falco!), it’s worth noting that in Europe Swiss duo Yello were considered art pranksters first and a pop act a distant second. They were among the first groups to embrace sampling technology, making them the missing link between Throbbing Gristle’s tape manipulation experiments and the cut and paste collages of the Avalanches, and the members have also worked in film and conceptual art, and is that’s not noteworthy enough, they’re also one of the very few synth duos who have one member – in this case, lyricist/vocalist Dieter Meier – who is also a millionaire industrialist and former member of the national Swiss golfing team. Yeah: take that, Yazoo.

This song is far better known than the band themselves, thanks to a prominent placement in a billion films and TV shows. Fun fact: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is the only time it’s ever been used to accompany a visual that’s not a slow-motion shot of a woman in a bikini getting out of a pool.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: The Hold Steady’s agenda-setting tale of sex, drugs and teenage Catholicism: ‘Your Little Hoodrat Friend’.

#346 ‘Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)’ by Dramarama (19 Sep)

Album: Cinéma Vérité, 1985

Justification: Does it still count as a one hit wonder if it’s not really a hit? This was all over the more alternative-ish bits of radio in the mid-80s and was beloved by the guys in my year who surfed and listened to TSOL, but I don’t believe it troubled the charts very much. Kinda like ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ by the Only Ones, really.

Anyway: Dramarama were from New Jersey and, going by the covers on their debut album, had some pretentions to be more than a meat and potatoes rock band: they covered the Velvets’ ‘Femme Fatale’ and, bizarrely, Bowie‘s ‘Candidate’. In fact, there’s a decent chance that they’d have been ignored altogether had not LA coolsie radio station KROQ started playing them under the misapprehension that they were French, since their album was initially released through Paris-based indie label New Rose. And while this single, complete with cobbled-together clip (most of it is from the Edie Sedgewick semi-doco Ciao! Manhattan) put the band on the map, they were all over by 1994.

They’ve reactivated in recent years after being coaxed back together by Bands Reuinited in 2003, although “reactivated” appears to mean “singer/songwriter John Easdale and some guys are now touring under that name again”.

Fun facts: former members include drummer Clem Burke (who played on the Hi-Fi Sci-Fi album during a hiatus from Blondie) and founding bassist Chris Carter is the DJ behind ‘Breakfast with the Beatles’.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010: Weekend, so check out Tears for Fears, Big Audio Dynamite, Talking Heads, Kate Bush and more in the 1985 archives!

#270 ‘Head Over Heels’ by Tears for Fears (25 May)

Album: Songs From the Big Chair, 1985

Justification: For a moment there Tears for Fears had it all. They had all the cool-kid cred of their early singles like ‘Mad World’ and ‘Pale Shelter’, plus the big stadium-friendly sounds of their second album, Songs from the Big Chair including the anthemic ‘Shout’ and the breezy, deliberately-written-to-break-the-US-market ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’. And this was single #4 (‘Mother’s Talk’ was also a single, but you don’t remember that song either) and was another huge success – not least because of this unexpectedly funny video where Roland Orzabal cracks on to Rebecca de Mornay, keyboardist Ian Stanley gets to look supremely unconvincing as a leather-jacketed punk and drummer Manny Elias plays a rabbi, in a piece of rock video nominative determinism. And Curt Smith is demoted to janitor, which also seems to be sort of what was going on within the band at the time: after this album Elias and Stanley were to leave, Orzabal and Smith were to have a massive falling out and TfF was to become a Orzabal solo project until he and Smith reconciled in 2000.

The song was also used to extraordinarily good effect in Donnie Darko, where it basically choreographs an entire sequence.

Tears for Fears opened for Spandau Ballet on their big cash-in reunion tour in 2010, and were excellent. I don’t care what their motives were, dammit.

THIS TIME IN 2010: The Jesus & Mary Chain were perking up with ‘Happy When it Rains’.

#269 ‘Raspberry Beret’ by Prince (24 May)

Album: Around the World in a Day,1985

Justification: I don’t have the same philosophical problems with Prince as I do with Beck, despite his loopiness being rather more pronounced. Actually, that’s probably the issue right there: Beck seems like a smart, funny guy with his head screwed on, which makes the whole I-am-filled-with-alien-ghosts thing seem wilfully mad, whereas Prince is clearly barking, has always been clearly barking and is likely to continue focus on a path marked “barking, clearly”. Beck quietly pursues his faith? Baffling. Prince says crazy things about Jesus? Sun must be up.

There are other similarities between the two men: both seemed to have a compulsive need to make music with their early career showing a punishing rate of creation and development, both are auteur-like visionaries who can do pretty much everything but choose to surround themselves with talented collaborators, and both can bust some pretty sweet dance moves. This was Prince’s first move into more of a pop vein and saw him getting playful with weird instrumentation – how many top ten singles can you think of with this level of finger cymbal use?

Incidentally, Beck’s covered this live quite a bit. And the Lightning Seeds supposedly took their name from a misheard line (which is actually “thunder drowns out what the lightning sees”).

THIS TIME IN 2010: We were slacking out with Pavement’s gorgeous ‘Gold Soundz’.