Tuesday, 17 February 2015

VARIOUS ARTISTS: Now That's What I Call Music 10




(#359: 5 December 1987, 6 weeks)

Track Listing:  Barcelona (Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballe)/Rent (Pet Shop Boys)/Never Can Say Goodbye (Communards)/Pump Up The Volume (M/A/R/R/S)/Labour Of Love (Hue And Cry)/The Real Thing (Jellybean Featuring Steven Dante)/I Don't Want To Be A Hero (Johnny Hates Jazz)/Wanted (The Style Council)/China In Your Hand (T'Pau)/Alone (Heart)/Crazy Crazy Nights (Kiss)/Mony Mony (Billy Idol)/Here I Go Again (USA Remix) (Whitesnake)/Rain In The Summertime (The Alarm)/Sugar Mice (Marillion)/Sweet Little Mystery (Wet Wet Wet)/Misfit (Curiosity Killed The Cat)/La Bamba (Los Lobos)/Wipeout (Fat Boys and Beach Boys)/Love In The First Degree (Bananarama)/My Pretty One (Cliff Richard)/Hey Matthew (Karel Fialka)/Crockett's Theme (Jan Hammer)/My Baby Just Cares For Me (Nina Simone)/The Circus (Erasure)/Build (The Housemartins)/It's Over (Level 42)/When Smokey Sings (ABC)/Hourglass (Squeeze)/A Fairy Tale Of New York (The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl)


"I want to juxtapose peoples, moments, events, and even forms with historical periods where their influence/presence is often not considered and at times [un]acknowledged." "Black dada is a way to talk about the future while talking about the past.  It is our present." - Adam Pendleton, 2011


"Every act is political and, whether one is conscious or not, the presentation of one's work is no exception.  Any production, any work of art is social, has a political significance." Daniel Buren, 1969-70


TEXT INSTALLATION/
EASILY REMOVABLE



For the past nine months or so, I have enjoyed viewing a public art installation in London - specifically, one by Stefan Bruggemann, a conceptual art piece that pokes fun at the world of art, of the artist, but then ends with this one-two punch.

The task of this piece, as such, is to get to that punch.

(THIS IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE)

The fall of '87 was a perplexing and anxious time; a time when no one seemed exactly sure of what was happening; things were continuing on just as usual, superficially, but underneath I sensed, at least, that change was inevitable and like it or not, there was nothing that could be done about it.  I remember reading a piece in Melody Maker that had the headline "1957 1967 1977 1987?" - I forget who wrote it, but clearly the chronology was right there, and apparently 1987 was not living up to its precedents, or something like that.  The Shock of the New, to name one of my father's favorite tv series, wasn't in much evidence.  I even remember The Journalist complaining around this time of how tedious and unexciting music was, and I remember writing to him and telling him that that meant something was happening, but had yet to become well-known.  (I should have taken this as a warning sign about his attitude towards music altogether, but I was sure I could change his mind.)  Was he even aware of the new series of Indie Top 20 albums?  I don't know if he was - and in retrospect I'm not sure I knew either.

T'Pau I've written about already; TPL will get to Wet Wet Wet in good time, and of course the eminently forgettable Curiosity Killed The Cat has been dealt with before.  The only song I care about from Wet Wet Wet is something they have yet to record (at this point) that appears on a compilation album the NME will put together in the spring of '88.  I don't think The Journalist cared about any of these bands, but then it was hard to figure out if he liked anything, some weeks.  With my father's decline my mom was less likely to want to hear me go on about music, and at this point, as NOW 10 is at the top, my father is about to go in for surgery, and hence be transferred back to Oakville, where he will remain in a coma, the operation a failure.  Understandably I don't really remember much of this period, other than one indelible moment.  So I remained in a slow dialogue with The Journalist, and a one-sided one as usual with music papers and the radio.  And as you'd expect, so much of it seemed beside the point.   


MONEY CREATES
BAD TASTE
BUT
CREATES CULTURE


I am never exactly sure who decides what is in bad taste, or whether it isn't a person/organization but a general idea that has taken hold and so on and so forth.  The closest I can come to is a critical consensus, i.e. what the critics/voters in various fields think is good, worth remembering and honoring.  There's an awful lot of patting-selves-on-backs in this, though, and (in my opinion) not quite enough listening to gut feelings.  Genuine, awkward and unpopular choices get swept into corners, to be looked at in a "there's no accounting for taste" shake of a head.  I remain convinced that a lot of this is to do with the fear of the female; the girls who will love, just love X or Y (or even future TPL posting X&Y) drive the boys to the opposite, whatever they deem to be the opposite.  It's never as cut-and-dried as this, but it can seem that way, and boys who like what the girls like either have crushes on Bananarama or Heart or even Nina Simone, or they are different - different in a way that makes them just as marginalized as the girls to begin with, really.

I don't know how much money was spent by Ridley Scott to make that Chanel No 5 commercial, but I do remember seeing it and (thanks to years of exposure to jazz radio) at least knowing the song.  I didn't grow up in a Nina Simone household, though, and the radio in North America didn't play her all that much; so imagine my surprise when I saw the vast section devoted to her in UK music shops' jazz sections.*  I am still not too sure what to make of this, as she is a UK shorthand for the civil rights movement, for women in jazz, for feminism (she's mentioned in Hadley Freeman's Be Awesome)...and yet and yet.  I wonder how many who heard this and bought it knew about any of that, or just thought it was a cool song (written by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn, recorded by Simone in 1958).  Is that bad taste? Or is it just one facet of a multi-faceted woman (as Freeman puts it, Simone was "so temperamental to the point that she was later diagnosed as bipolar")? Chanel markets the eternal feminine, and uses this rather smug/overly-satisfied song in doing so.  Who in 1987 would know Lana Turner's smile?  At best this is a gateway to the Simone songs that don't get played (for those who are intrigued) but UK radio stands by "I Got No...I Got Life" and "Feeling Good" and this and not much else.

Bananarama here is a case of one person's taste differing from the others - Siobhan Fahey was not as happy as Keren Woodward or Sarah Dallin in the SAW direction of their album WOW! - which is to say, she preferred the group to stick to their punk/post-punk roots, and resisted the shiny-chrome-shopping mallization the most; this is Fahey's song, though, and is the last big hit of theirs she would perform publicly (at The Brits) before going off and starting up Shakespeare's Sister with Marcella Detroit**.  (Hands up anyone who prefers their first album Sacred Heart to WOW!)  If that sounds a bit like someone demanding to win all the games at their birthday party, well, the lyrics of "Strike It Rich" - ones that are straight out of the Gordon Gekko playbook - would be enough to make anyone with Red Wedge sympathies wince.  I'm sure Fahey had problems with other lyrics too, including the by-'87 rather creaky ones of "Bad For Me" - (hey, at least when Joan Jett did the same song in '88, she called it "I Hate Myself For Loving You.") - where they don't mind how much he doesn't do, because of his (cough) "love energy."  I'm sure Fahey, who married Dave Stewart in '87, felt as if Bananarama were somehow going backwards, not forwards, with SAW.

Lyrically it's all about waking up in jail, guilty of, yeah, "love in the first degree."  I'm not sure how someone could write a song about being in the court because they're in love with someone, but maybe Fahey felt a bit guilty herself about falling for Stewart (can I just mention the Eurythmics released my favorite album of theirs, Savage, in late 1987?) and breaking the bond the three had shared for over a decade.  I'm not sure how a pregnant Fahey felt, making the video for this with male dancers wearing only black briefs; Malcolm McLaren had once wanted to manage them and make their image racier, before they were well-known; and now they were doing this with SAW, of their own accord. I can't say I like the song, it's somehow too busy for me, just as the SAW-produced "Venus" is sure to give me a headache, unfortunately.

Heart's inclusion here in TPL is a long time coming; the taste problem here is the old and inevitable one of US vs. UK.  Heart were having hits in the 70s in the US, but as they were caught up in legal problems with their label, and they were making some pretty tough-sounding songs along with more windswept pastoral ones ("Barracuda" being one example, "Dreamboat Annie" being another).  Nevertheless by the early 80s they were a different band - the two Fisher brothers, Mike and Roger, were involved with the two sisters romantically as well as being bandmates to Ann and Nancy - had left, and the band were beginning - esp. with the success of the big love ballad from Footloose, "Almost Paradise" (written by Eric Carmen/Dean Pitchford) - to see the point of working with outside folks to get hit songs, and "Alone" is by Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly is a fine example.  It is a monster of a song, with Ann's huge voice longing - you can just see her with her quilted bedspread, ruffled-edged pillowcases and crystal collection by her bedside - howling with grief as the one has no idea how much she wants him, just as much as she needs air or water.  Or perhaps she's in some non-descript hotel room, just having seen him at a wedding party, being floored (I believe that is the technical term) by his presence, and being too overwhelmed to try to talk with him.  She has had such a strong reaction to him, he is literally all she can think about.  This isn't just a power ballad, it's positively operatic, complete with her (I sense it) near swoon at the end.

Perhaps Heart were known before in the UK - I'm not sure - but in their goth-friendly ("These Dreams") phase, they stood for a certain kind of sincere emotional blast that Bananarama and Nina Simone weren't able to provide, a song so big there was and is room for anyone in painful longing to find room.  To some, such music is in bad taste, because they are scared of letting something so direct and unironical in their (ahem) heart; unrequited love has been a subject of songs since songs began, more or less, but the double meaning of "Alone" - she is alone, she wants to get him alone, to herself, but how can she? - leaves the listener with nowhere to hide. They finally toured the big arenas in the UK in '88, mainly due to the success of their album Bad Animals.  (Slight digression; one of the songs on Bad Animals is by Lisa Dalbello, who as Dalbello released some pretty intense pop with whomanfoursays in '84 and she in '87 - her song "Black On Black" was covered by Heart on Desire Walks On, a Heart album title if there ever was one.)              

TO BE POLITICAL
IT HAS TO LOOK 
NICE

Or, what about those New Pop/Soulcialists?  I mean, after Red Wedge is there any place for this kind of thing any more?  The Smiths are gone, sure, but here's The Style Council singing a song about wanting to be "Wanted," like a Bar Italia version of "Alone."  It's nice, it's polite, but it's not political - it's hard to imagine Weller as being unable to speak, isn't it?  And yet the narrator here is too shy, eye-to-eye, etc.  It is a song they released between the albums The Cost Of Loving and Confessions Of A Pop Group - neither of which are exactly fiery broadcasts, but are still good (the former is Jam/Lewis-influenced with Curtis Mayfield helping out, the latter looking forward to Britpop).   

ABC's "When Smokey Sings" is just as suave and "eloquent" as you would expect, with that (deliberate?) mixing up of "violence" and "violins."  Other men make music, sure  - Luther Vandross, Sly Stone, James Brown and Marvin Gaye are mentioned -  but none of them compare, in the timeline of New Pop, to Smokey Robinson.  The song is all Motown pastiche done right, lovingly, and as always it's a song about how his debonair voice can soothe or comfort, no matter if you are romantically happy or sad because - fourth wall breaking down here - "he knows just how you feel."  Robinson is God!  Or rather, Robinson's songs can show how you can be uptempo and yet "sad sad sad" or strangely happy even though you're in deep/probably-pointless longing.  This was a big hit in the US, where Alphabet City, the album it's from, did very well. (I don't often say this, but if you don't have it, and you like this, you'll love the album, too.)

It could be that Weller and Fry could ease off a bit politically because The Housemartins existed - soulcialists of the rowdy sort, aerial swift like the bird they are named after, the mid-sized band taking on the Big Men - but what is "Build" about?  The People Who Grinned Themselves To Death is an album of cheery pop about pointless deference, brainless fashionable types (one of whom is clearly a rare groove dude), clueless twerps, that tie-less pop star who has no foresight beyond fancy cars, fancy women and fancy restaurants...it's hard to imagine anyone who is at all conservative liking The Housemartins, unless it's a very small 'c' conservative, the sort who were later in the 80s (if not right now) called the young fogeys - the kind who decried progress of any sort, didn't approve of those records with people talking over music instead of properly singing, etc.  This is a tough area to sort out, as the Venn diagram of The Housemartins is socialist Christian, which can overlap with small 'c' conservative Christian very easily.  "The World's On Fire" is about a couple who stay in bed instead of going to church, for instance.  (Would this have upset Jimmy Porter of Look Back In Anger? I don't think so.)  But then there's the hard-stance "We Are Not Going Back" and the explosive "Me And The Farmer,", a song George Monbiot could've written.  "Five Get Over Excited" is all about those twerps, and ends with a "conservative pastime" that is dubious, people getting all worked up (and dying, apparently) over nothing.  "Bow Down" is the heart of the album, a Matthew grown up and aware that a whole world he doesn't want to belong to is very interested in him, and the school expects obedience.  "A flying start for the briefcase crew" is what they want; but the boy doesn't want to go.  This is the sequel to The Smiths' "The Headmaster Ritual" with Heaton's "you did....you did...." receding like someone's ghost in the quad.

But what about "Build"? Is it about the contrast between things that need to be built (houses, roads) and things that don't need to be built (Meccano and Legoland, wielded by those who have heads "full of sand").  The childlike melody - there's a children's choir on "Bow Down" and this song could easily have one too - means those architects and builders are somehow naive, just building away, and could perhaps be persuaded to build what is needed, since their need to build seems to be greater than anything else.  But the song ends with that hope, a hope that is there as at the beginning, the place where the narrator lived was destroyed, just like it was plasticine (the same as the boy's figure in "Bow Down").  The whole album is about the destruction/resistance against the new, trying to preserve what is worth preserving, and that is always a gray area, though their last single, "There Is Always Something There To Remind Me" is against yuppies and show-off types who are undoubtedly wrong.    

The unexpected directness of Johnny Hates Jazz' "I Don't Want To Be A Hero" is downright refreshing and almost impossible to imagine in these days of Military Wives and heroic hyperbole and (sadly) campaigns by papers to look after veterans and organizations that help them with PTSD.  I don't want to say much more here, but it's a brave move to write this, record it, and have it be a hit in the time of Reagan and Thatcher, and again, pretty impossible to think of, now. 

"Labour Of Love" is the most pure soulcialist song here, a sharp jab of pop straight out of Scotland, a bomb of a song sent south to the English, a pro-indy anthem when talking about an independent Scotland was not the done thing.  Is it also a song sung by a Conservative who has turned against Thatcher and her "pseudosatisfaction" though?  It can stand for both, for more, but it is a song of revolt against authority, whose "superbad crew" are enough - down tools, out the door, "ain't gonna work for you no more!"  That Pat Kane schooled (some might even say hardsonned) Simon Reynolds in Melody Maker is fairly well known, but if you were called "entryist pop" then I think you'd have a bone to pick, too.  This is protest pop, soulcialism, and if taken as a bomb from Scotland, seven years is just the start for grievances. 

Staying in Scotland, Marillion - yep, Marillion - fully qualify for soulcialists here with "Sugar Mice." It too is about a man who is out of work, though here he's American, married with children, unable to face up to his family, to anyone, hiding in the bar listening to Sinatra on the jukebox, melting like a sugar mouse in the rain.  (Please note, no American alive would know what a sugar mouse was - an adorable Peep chick, sure, but not a sugar mouse.)  He doesn't blame on anyone but himself, his inability to face up to his wife and kids, the fear he has of humiliation, when he's already suffered enough, is reminiscent of the Japanese workers who, unable to stay at home, would dress up and go out anyway, riding the subway, eating lunch, anything to be out during working hours.  But this guy just goes to the bar, which is worse, but the lure of alcohol and music is too much for him.  This is Reagan and Thatcher's world, a man with obligations but no pride left, no ability to show pain, and no one there to thence support him (as Kate Bush does in "Don't Give Up").

Vince Clarke's sequel to Yaz(oo) is Erasure, and they too qualify as soulcialists here with "The Circus" - a world of workers who are being replaced by technology, with the "teacher" and "preacher" unable to help out, refusing to maybe, and the poor worker lost in his/her toil and scared to protest, to speak up.  Society has been destroyed, and only individuals - personal tragdies - are left in the mess that the circus (I think that's shorthand for Thatcher's policies) has left behind.  The music is clownish/eerie like "Hey Matthew" and Andy Bell's voice is as passionate and sharp as Moyet's would be, though she'd growl a lot more.

LOOKS CONCEPTUAL

However, if we are talking New Pop, there's only one duo that are hitting their imperial phase at this time:



The scene is the street, the sidewalk, a man being chased, wanting to be chased, and it's cold and rainy.  One more chance for what - love, lust, life itself?  "Push me in a corner and I'll scream."  Scream with fear or something else?  The tires screech, the night encroaches, the narrator looks and evades, searching and being searched.  No help here for the hunter or hunted...

..."I've been wondering why I've been feeling down."  Another puzzled and hapless narrator, the object unable to see a way forward.  T.S. Eliot at the disco.  Love and money mixed up, a man falling for a female boss, the boss loses him and figures it should "make me feel better."  But it doesn't.  "Now I can do what I want to - forever."  Forever is a mighty long time, and in the workaday world it's impossible to imagine.  She stares at her filofax, empty at night and the weekend, and he looks for another job.  But love crushes these things, and he and she make a deal, the flowers are in bloom again, the drinks drunk, the soaring horns and melodies see them through.

Whip cracks, credit card statements, sales, shopping as sex, shopping as buying, acquiring, the deal on cashmere last week is nothing compared to the City, the Big Bang.  A sting in the air.  "Our gain is your loss."  A nation is forced to consume itself.  "Tell Sid."  Capitalism as religion, the woman at the head convinced this is the way forward, and how cold and mean and robotic it all sounds.  We don't have the time for psychological romance.  Not here we don't.

And here is one man, buying things for another, and "you buy whatever I need."  But there is currency and currency, and love ultimately cannot be bought outright.  "You took me to a restaurant off Broadway to tell me who you are."  Only in public can they meet?  Well, yes.  The rent is paid, but then what of those hopes and dreams?  A dream is not caviar, a dream isn't just spending the night together once a week, if that.  They're not together, and their ecstasy is occasional.  The woman looks down at the peachy tablecloth in the restaurant and thinks that it's easy, so easy, but is life supposed to be easy all the time?  She pencils in another engagement and it's just steps away from work.  "I'm your puppet."  It's also a step away from being a pet.  Is this it?  She fits into his life, but can make no more demands, as he belongs ultimately to someone else.  Tennant singing with temporary joy but permanent resignation.  She gets out of the taxi at the end, alone, cozy but alone. If that's even possible.

Going out to dance, to dance, because there is nothing left to do at night.  Pick someone up?  Do you really want to do that at this time?  Dancing is the only thing left, after work, everything else is too dangerous.  "Live or die, it's all that we know."  Throwing yourself into music to avoid thinking about the alternatives.  "It's about forgetting."  Desperation pounding through the speakers, the dancing and volume and maybe a friend made, if not a lover.  The song eases to a post midnight calm, the desperation gone, as the friend has been found?  Let's hope so.

Could it happen here?  But yes, it could.  Imagine a world where you are ill and you're told it's your fault.  Not just you personally, but your whole scene, your whole world, turning on itself, saying yes ("I may be wrong") maybe it is your fault, our fault.  Did we do something wrong?  A man mourned and a whole community puzzled, amazed that so many could dislike/hate them, for something that is not their fault.  Paranoia.  Scars, real scars, after so many verbal ones.  And yes it's happening...

...and  here's "everything I long to do" being slapped down as a sin, but it's not just the future but the past.  Euro insouciance and Brompton Oratory and Latin confessing; a funny record originally that comes off as ferocious, the man in church confronting his past.  The Catholic church saying one thing and doing another.  Incense and stained glass, prayers...but how to enjoy all this, if that's even the right word, when it's all against you.  He's to blame at the beginning, begging for "One More Chance" and here he's shameful, knowing he's responsible.  But he is unable to understand, to care - "father you fought me" - and the end is the whoosh of a wind as the church door closes, the sins are his and he is able to carry them - the church cannot help him, is actively against him.  The vivid sounds and noises; the hugeness; the sense that there really are angels and saints, nearly...

Unrequited love is the perpetual companion; it comes out of the radio, of the kitchen, the air around the person..."to be in love with someone else" - that is the real leap.  It is noble, dreamlike, unreal and "uncool."  Dreams of impressing the Other with "fire" and "guns."  The insanity of wanting and wanting and not receiving, not getting back, of it all being one-way.  The lovely daylight of reciprocal feelings - "I want to wake up with you."  But for now, it's the terrible and endless nocturnal world of fantasy and vulnerability.  The pure pain of love, which no money can assuage.

And now, love, real actual love.  Love like a swirling dizzying and skipping feeling of joy.  "I'm in love and you don't know to means to be with you."  This is that feeling of melting, the "strange reaction" that grips the whole body, from the heart, radiating outwards.  The single version is even more insistent, dizzying.  THE PAUSE.  This is beyond greatness, and it's the resolution of the love - simple, sure, I know - problem here.  This is that love which makes that of "Rent" sound damp, routine, quotidian.  Straightforward?  The gasping and thudding and near seizure here are far from "straightforward."  Love is not just an idea.

And yet it ends at "King's Cross."  Endless waiting for papers, for proofs of this or that, waiting for life itself.  The government is against those at the back of the line, the weak, the meek, those who are addicts or are ill, and just as in "It Couldn't Happen Here" the narrator comes from the North East down to London and finds himself in King's Cross, the station and neighborhood, then a bit of a dump of a place (it is being snazzed up now).  The endless waiting is what the government wants; what Tennant wants is for these new arrivals and outsiders to rebel, to claim hope, to rebel against the government, essentially.  Do it for the "dead and wounded" bodies and souls all around in Thatcher's Britain, which can be boiled down to King's Cross, an eerie place that was the fire that happened there in November, and while the Pet Shop Boys resisted releasing this song as a charity fundraiser to help the families of those lost, it was used to raise money via phone calls anyway.  Love and money united in a way that (sadly) kind of proves the point of the whole album; love and money co-exist, but the first should always triumph, ultimately, over the latter, or else agony, frustration and death are the only results.


NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE
NOTHING IS POSSIBLE
(EVEN NOTHING CHANGES)

To try to explain the meaning of Kiss to anyone of a certain age must be, now, more of an exercise in brand establishing and consolidating rather than anything, anything to do with this thing called rock 'n' roll.   I can only imagine how this all started - someone wanting all the fame and notoriety of The Rolling Stones with the infinite brand marketability of The Beatles, only gone to glam/Halloween levels of visuals, and music that is about girls, rock, girls, partying, rock, etc.  I'm not denying Kiss were good at this, back in the 70s; watching Kiss on Paul Lynde's Halloween television special  (where else) inspired two guys in one of my favorite bands to become musicians, after all.  But "Crazy Crazy Nights" is just more rock justifying itself, and with all the leather and hair but no make-up.  (Leave it to the UK to wait until they have lost all their rock sass, more than audible - practically tangible - on their near-legendary album, Kiss Alive! - one of Lester Bangs' favorites of all time - for the band's effusiveness between songs, not just the music.)

Whitesnake - oh dear, if I feel embarrassed just typing their name out, you can imagine how little I think of this song, a song that makes NO SENSE and yet is beloved by guys who think they are rugged the world over.  There's a whole generation of men (boys) who wanted the woman in the video, the car in the video, and that's fine, I suppose.  But imagine being a girl and watching the same video...this song is so gruff and manly, David Coverdale changed the original lyric of "like a hobo I was born to walk alone" to "drifter" as he didn't want "hobo" to be misheard.  Which was nice of him, I guess...

"Rain In The Summertime" by The Alarm is a big dumb song and exactly what the future members of Manic Street Preachers were listening to between bouts of Public Enemy and the MC5 and Sonic Youth and whatever else they were telling music journalists.  It throbs and pushes along, not at all political, just a song of relief, dumb wordless relief, save for Mike Peters' yelling, which I don't mind, here, mostly.  It's still bad Big Country, though.

I wasn't a Billy Idol chick (I think I can use that term here) myself in the 80s, but I appreciated him as someone who did all the rock stuff right, and it's fine to hear him and his band live doing "Mony Mony" here as it has that vital thing that these other lumbering lummox songs don't have - the song was nonsense to begin with, but good bubblegum is immortal and Idol growls and barks and gives it his all, and no it's not punk but then Warehouse:  Songs and Stories was always there if I did want it, and CFNY was playing The Alarm yet again, which was often the case. 

I CAN'T EXPLAIN
AND 
I WON'T EVEN TRY

"Hourglass" by Squeeze leaves me a bit numbed; I remember feeling the same way listening to East Side Story - so many critics loved them, was there something...wrong with me?  I wasn't sure, and hearing this "jolly frolics" song just leaves me exhausted, trying to keep up with Glenn Tilbrook's singing.  Maybe that's the point?  Deptford non-goths, and I'd rather listen to Chas & Dave.

As for "Wipeout" - well, I'm not exactly sure if this was a good idea, even on paper - I can't tell if it happened due to crossover mania (hey, it worked for Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith, after all) or what, but it just sounds a mess - and since it's The Beach Boys and it's a mess, I'm blaming Mike Love, who no doubt didn't care as it was a hit in the US as well as the UK.  (The Beach Boys fan in me of course doesn't like it as it's not their song, it's the Surfaris, but oh well, rap hasn't been the same since the Fat Boys ended in 1991, has it?)

  
FROM ANYTHING TO ANYTHING IN NO TIME

"Hey Matthew" is a scary song, in that there's the father, pondering his son's future and how all the television he's watching will warp him for life - and then there's Matthew himself, at this point an impressionable boy - 9 or 10 - and of course he's watching all kinds of stuff...or is he?  I figure he must be watching The A-Team, but Dynasty? Dallas, He-Man, Dukes of Hazzard, Rambo, Road Runner...his father ponders what he's watching (at no time telling him not to watch anything, by the way) - instead he says "Will you learn to live?
Will you take? Will you give?/As the bridges burn, will you live and learn?/Will you be numbered with the brave and true?/Well, good luck kid, here's lookin' at you."  Who do you think you are, Fialka, Kojak?

Complete with slightly creepy clown-style music, this song - which ends with Matthew saying he wants to be various heroic figures when he grows up - including a fireman, a magic man (Heart fan in waiting!), a captain of a boat, etc, he then says he wants to be his dad's friend.  AW!  It's a rare song in pop that has the generational gap being bridged this way, but then there's the odd ending with Matthew saying "It's all a game - I hope." And that "I hope" is repeated over and over, as the plainly awful news and entertainment blur into one violent and corrupt whole, and the plain heroic idealism of the kid maybe lasts after all.  AW!

"My Pretty One" is Cliff Richard as produced by Alan Tarney; the music and his voice are both light, his declarations of love punctuated by pauses, with Richard's voice casually (there never seems to be much effort with him) riding the ups and downs - then the climactic ALL MY LIIIIIIIIFFFE - I remember The Journalist didn't like him that much, but that just shows how he was stubborn in his tastes and couldn't just enjoy something as deceptively easy as this song is to sing.  Maybe he thought Richard lived in some sort of never-never land that lacked passion; but passion can be expressed in many ways...

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE

Or, what now?







There are little moments here and there where the future TPL entries to come are intimated; I always have an itchy sense, in listening to Level 42, that future bands owe a lot to them, and maybe (paradoxically) don't pay nearly enough attention to them.  Maybe it's because the music is so smooth, so harmonic, so seemingly easy-going...just as a walk on the beach on the Isle of Wight must be, in the right weather, idyllic, beautiful, etc.  But the disco disturbances and final rebellion of the Pet Shop Boys are far away here - there is a spaciousness here that feels good, but then I get that itchy sense again...

"Lessons In Love" is about dreams, but I don't think it's about the individual - it's all you and us here, after all - but about something that was once grasped by everyone, and then lost.  Doubts are like high waves; love goes overboard, and "if we lose the time before us, the future will ignore us."  Which is to say, we (the collective) are the ones we have been waiting for.  Is this song about New Pop meeting the School of Hard Knocks?  Wasn't pop supposed to change in the 80s?  Then what is all that crud doing in the charts, ending up on NOW 10?  "When will you ever learn?" sings a disappointed Mike Lindup.  "We should use it" - Love, New Pop? - "or we will lose it."  The world could still, at this point, disappear (this album was released in March of '87) and well, will anything be worth remembering?

"Children Say" is featherweight, but wonders at the dreams and knowledge that children have and how easily it is forgotten in a world hostile to children and idealism.  The narrator literally cannot speak at the beginning (but goes on anyway) - "all my friends have sold out."  As an earlier generation might have put it, they've given into The Man's way of thinking, or perhaps now Thatcher's.  (No doubt they approve of all the "Shopping" the Pet Shop Boys are singing about.)  And then, once parents are regarded with some pity, as people who are also more concerned with the "man in their pocket" than by love - material things more important than anything else.  "Why don't the dreams of the young ever come to be?" pleads Lindup.  And then the crux of the album - the Relationship.  Was it just a "waking dream" or was it real?  It too seems to be slipping away.  There is an unnerving sense of impermanence in Running In The Family, which is met by....

...nothing less than the relentless repetition of nature itself.  The title track is a mediation on how, basically, the apple never falls far from the tree; he and his brother Joe run away from a home detention straight out of Whiskey Galore, only to be picked up by cops and their father - accompanied by their sister Emily - all are driven home, their father the "voice of doom" who has no mercy on them - "you're gonna have to face the music."  And yet "like a dream within a dream" (cue Propaganda) they return again and again, and now as they are grown up they have a "sense of history" and purpose, though there are scars too - scars from trying to escape and then returning, or being forced to return.  This is like the End of History idea, or maybe The Prisoner - why try to escape when ultimately you are your own warden?  Is it possible to ever really break free?

Ironically (or not) "It's Over" is next.  Pacific, horribly calm, the narrator has gone already, looks back as he imagines her anxiety, her anger, possibly even her forgiveness and understanding.  No souvenirs, no chance of return - he knows her heart will break, he's left her a letter...and he thinks she can "stand the pain."  "I should have loved you more" he says, and the song stretches out, languorous as a cat, as a whole world comes crashing down.  It is a fierce song, as the narrator says he is sad and bad, but is at least being true to himself.  He could not pretend to love, to be in love, to be sincere.  He is on that ferry to the mainland, and the shore gets smaller and smaller, the island disappears....

....or does it?  A much faster, sprightly song comes in, the narrator crying and missing her, he on tour in America (she says it's the tour or her) and his loneliness in being away from her is crushing his life, his happiness - "love is not for sale" - oh we have reached that line at long last!  Trapped in the (world) machine of the band, the narrator wants her back, would go anywhere to be with her- "something snapped inside of me" - the prison of the band, not the home, is the subject here.  He leaves her, but finds it far worse to be without her, in chains, with fading visions...and she is the only one who could "break these chains."  It is a song of pleas....but now that they are back together...

....they have been apart for too long, and now live together, and yet separately.  "Two Solitudes" shows the two trying and failing to get their own lives back on some kind of equitable track.  They are "too scared to climb the walls of their despair" which is about as terrifying a line in a song as I've ever heard, especially since this song is otherwise as laid back and hang loose as any Level 42 song can be.  There are regrets, but no trust, and without trust there can be no relationship.  (Man, I really hope there aren't more albums like this in TPL's future even tangentially, because this is, if I can put it this way, tough listening, not easy listening in the least.)  

And yet again, it's all upbeat and perky like a tv commercial with "Fashion Fever" - with a woman who is terribly fashionable and thus no one knows who she is, as she is all show, with very little if any tell.  "Don't scratch me with your tiger mind and your freaky fantasies" - perhaps this is the kind of woman who (again) can't be trusted?  (Maybe this album should be called In Search Of A Good Woman.)  He disses her anyway as being scared of the future, so the heck with her.

The album ends with a slow funk of a relationship that is asleep and awake; "we only see the things we want to see."  They are together only because it's better than being apart, and "my love is in a jar."  (You see how scary this album is?)  He's there but not there - the two function as a couple as long as they remain in those solitudes, and the narrator calls them their "alien years."  He wears sunglasses on a cloudy day, driving along, "I'm trying to see it her way."  Again, we had to wait for the ENTIRE ALBUM to get to a point where the narrator actually tries to understand what someone else is feeling.  There is a resolution in sight, a way to get from just pretending to love to actual love; to cry and speak openly, to share feelings.  This is a remarkably bottled up album, and again reminds me of future albums where one spouse is singing to their partner through the album and you wonder, why couldn't you have done this in real life, guy?  

The album simmers and simmers but doesn't boil over, but can make for a nerve-wracking time, like walking a tightrope. 
 


THIS MOMENT IS YOURS

"La Bamba" is a song that predates everything else here, and in fact goes right back to 19th century Mexico, right back to Veracruz tradition of son jarocho, songs that come out of that area's mixture of indigenous, Spanish and African peoples.  It's a song played at a wedding (bamba comes from the verb bambolear***, meaning to shake or stomp) and it's danced by the bride and groom who are tied together with a red ribbon and through complicated steps are, through the dance, making a bow out of the ribbon.  (And you thought wedding rehearsals were hard.)  The "arriba, arriba" part means they have to go faster, faster, and get that bow made.

Now, being from Los Angeles as I am, I always feel a bit bad that I am not more familiar with this kind of thing - the huge Mexican influence - on my hometown.  After all, it once was Mexican, but I only lived there fitfully and never got much further than visiting Olvera Street and choosing, when we moved to Berkeley, Spanish as my language to study, and not French.  So why does the ending of this song - when Los Lobos, following Richie Valens to fame with their own version of his version (this being a folk song there's lots of different versions with different lyrics) go back to how the song sounded in the original form - acoustic guitars only - so moving?  Maybe it reminds me of being serenaded as a little girl on my birthday by some big guys with big acoustic guitars in a restaurant?  It's a beautiful song, as I would hope all wedding songs are, but there is a toughness to it as well, and a commitment.  It's as complex as I still, though I haven't lived there since 1980, consider myself to be an Angeleno, despite everything.  How could I forget that I had the Mexican flag hanging on my wall when I was a little girl?  

(NO END)

Joint energy disposal in parts of singular feedings." - Cecil Taylor, Unit Structures liner notes, 1966


"That's right this has got to be the greatest record of the year."

How presumptuous would it have been for this to be said about any other song.  But in this case, it's just stating a plain fact.

I look at the numbered squares, judge where to start...

I stand at the edge, holding a rock, ready to throw it into a numbered square and then JUMP---

1960 - WATCH ME WATCH ME DO IT DO IT JUMP---

1971 - "Mean Machine Chant" by the Last Poets - before Kraftwerk, their man-machine, came the Last Poets and their wary/prophetic chant:  "Automatic push-button remote control/Synthetic, genetic/Commands your soul." Oh but what did Steve Mack chant in the middle of "Big Decision"?  "What you've gotta do in this day and age/You gotta agitate, educate, organize/Take the time to live, take the time to give/You've gotta agitate, educate organize --" which is from Brother D with Collective Effort's 1980 record "How We Gonna Make The Black Nation Rise?" which was co-written by Daryl Aamaa Nubyahn, David Foster and Cheryl Lynn (as it is based on her hit "Got To Be Real.") The idea that a song could suddenly, without notice, begin to incorporate another song was (to some, I'm sure) not playing fair, but 1987 was all about songs that defied easy description.  If Steve "Silk" Hurley's "Jack Your Body" is purely physical (or if you like more a song about your body, leave your mind behind) then M|AR|R|S are here to remind you that your mind and your body are profoundly connected, and that physical energy and mental energy can be united into what used to be called "soul power."  I cannot begin to imagine the galvanizing effect this record had...

Within the song, the chant sounds uncannily like a hopscotch jump, neat and precise from word to word, square to square.  This is our world, the Last Poets are saying, and from "Trans-Europe Express" to "Planet Rock", here they are at #1, standing in for so much else that never did get in the charts, because it was sold in the wrong shops, or was only known to a few here and there.  Neither too slow nor too fast, everyone can jump on in, confident of their footing. JUMP--

1987 - M|A|R|R|S' single wasn't just an a-side/b-side affair however; "Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance)" is the other side - the flip side, literally, to "Pump Up The Volume."  It didn't get much radio play outside of late night shows, and it's not hard to tell why - the precision and variety and feeling of surprise that's inherent there runs straight into a near-transcendent experience on the other side.  The thudding near-miss beats of Colourbox (along with a bass that is so forward it could be from next door) make it a dance song, but it's A.R.Kane's world here, full of tough/delicate guitars (lest we forget this is a 4AD single, their first and only #1) and lyrics that have a man wanting to lure a girl into touching him where it's "forbidden" - this "little dolly" is "sick"  but then again so is the narrator.  You can pretty much see, as rocking as the beats are, how this wouldn't get played on daytime radio at all, not with a narrator who is beckoning the girl to follow him with the line "I'll feed you sugarkane."  And yet the song is a triumph, shifting as it goes from a predatory figure at first to one who is being himself engulfed in the sheer noise of the song, as Colourbox distort and exaggerate that "sick."  Who is hollering at who in the end?  Why is it a triumph? Because the girl in the title - who is dancing - somehow feels active as the song ends, and not passive, and the narrator, caught up in her and hopelessly mixing up "follow" and "holler" is in a state where he just sees her, but is powerless to do anything else.  He is object now, and is one that - because he meets resistance from her - falls into an intense state of pleasure.

If you have ever done something - read a book, eaten a specific food, seen a movie, listened to a song - because you strongly, overwhelmingly associate it with your object of desire, your senses are heightened, even altered; you are very much shut off from others, swept away (temporarily) by your experience.  The quiet part just before the end is that part; wordless, just a heart beating, senses transformed, the rest of the world offside, temporarily beside the point.  Then the rush of ecstasy; he perhaps isn't just seeing her but dancing with her, not trying to lure her anymore but taking life on her terms, ridiculous to others but happy within himself.  By the end he is without sickness, without ego even, and doesn't need her anymore.  JUMP---

1987 - "Roadblock" - OH THE IRONY - "Roadblock," a song by Stock, Aitken and Waterman, was their best song, and it was released as a plain white-label 12" in the summer, as a ploy to deliberately titillate/annoy the Rare Groove vinyl fanatics who weren't so much interested in today's music for today but yesterday's music and how much they had to pay for the privilege of owning something, well, rare. So often in music it's what is hard to find that is valued, merely on the premise that obscurity=greatness, which may or may not be true (the same holds for books, paintings - all art). By all rights it should have been on NOW 10 - it's from the same time as many of these songs - but isn't here, for whatever reason.  The rare groove scene was a London thing, and I'm guessing SAW, being all up on house music (like the rest of the UK, including Scotland) were determined to fake something original, something that sounded old and yet wasn't.  There's even a vocal version of it somewhere with Jimmy Ruffin, just to give it that found-in-a-flooded-warehouse-in-the-US credibility.  That Pete Waterman then sued M|A|R|R|S to get the sample (not even a very long one, if I may say so) sample of "Roadblock" off of "Pump Up The Volume" - itself a song that went against rare groove, in its own way - was and is ridiculous - it's not as if M|A|R|R|S was trying to fool anyone into thinking they'd come across a lost gem, or anything.  And these days, it's the original white label of "Roadblock" that is - again, oh the irony - a rare groove, hard to find. JUMP--

1987 - King Boy D and Mark Moore and Tim Simenon and so many others looking at their radio and saying in unison "YEAH YEAH" JUMP --

1986 - or yes but what about those guitars?

A.R.Kane are one of those things in rock that just happen -- one minute a guy (Alex Ayuli) is a musician/ad exec in London getting permission to use a 4AD song in an ad, and the next thing you know, he's formed a duo with long-time friend/musical pal Rudy Tambala and has released a single on 4AD itself.  This might sound a bit cynical, but A.R.Kane were not at all gunning (as Kiss certainly did) to become indispensable rock gods to impressionable pre-teens across the land. Their contribution to "Pump Up The Volume" was to put in those huge, sea-going creature noises that are bending, falling, stretching sound instead of neatly and tidily fitting in.  And the voices say "Yeah yeah" as if this too was all part of it, that you could throw a stone, jump around, and find yourself, if only temporarily, in some other dimension all together.

Dream pop and hopscotch; Ivo Watts-Russell's idea to get bands on his label to work with each other created the project This Mortal Coil; I'm not sure if he expected this other project, M|A|R|R|S, to do as well.  Thanks to other DJs coming into the mix to help out (kudos to Dave Dorrell and Chris "C.J." Mackintosh), 4AD got a #1, and others got ideas and inspiration - if this could get to number one, almost anything could, right?  That there never was another M|A|R|R|S single - due to the two bands hating each other, and Colourbox more or less ending due to all the pressure - is too bad.  Watts-Russell, in near-predictable label head cluelessness (see Anthony H. Wilson and a for-clubs-only-for-sure prediction about "Blue Monday") thought "Pump Up The Volume" would only sell about 10,000 copies (it sold 3 million copies worldwide).  Thus does abstract art - which is just what all this is - happen through creativity, resentment, antagonism and so forth. JUMP---   

And it would be wrong not to mention just how fun this song is, decades later...

...if there really was a flipside to this, it would be the solitary grandeur of Jan Hammer's "Crockett's Theme."  How much moody electronica is there in the world (glances inside Phonica:  lots)?  I was never a Miami Vice fan at the time and only appreciated its nocturnal pastel art later, but this is evocative of that time as well as show - it's nearly classical in its tenderness, like Propaganda after midnight, in a lounge somewhere.  A guitar comes in to be the "male" part but the main instruments are all synths, walking and pacing and pausing in the humid night air.  Somewhere there is a vocal version of this done by Tiga,  This music is so elegant it reminds me of John Woo movies, for some reason.    

LOVE 
NEVER 
FAILS

The curtain rises to show two people, a man and a woman - and they are together, not to celebrate each other, but to praise a city - Barcelona.  Is it a dream, or a real city?  It is Mercury's ode to the city and to Montserrat Caballé, who he wanted to sing with - and what better reason than the possibility of getting the Olympics?  My critical faculties on this operatic song are a bit weak as it always makes me cry at the end, without fail; Caballé's last vocal line is quite something, to say the least.  I daresay this song all by itself won Barcelona the Olympics, and it is terribly moving to think of Mercury knowing this, even if he didn't live to see it himself.  (It was, as I recall, a particularly moving event from start to finish, and if you were a fan of the Canadian rower Silken Laumann, it was downright inspirational.)  Mercury wrote this song and as Caballé was busy, sent her a version with him singing both parts, so she could learn it and sing it right away in the studio.  Who knows what Mercury, based on this, could have done.  As it was, I am sure he was determined to do as much as he could...

"Never Can Say Goodbye" by the Communards is yet another disco revival, but the goodbye here is a deeper one - not just the ending of a relationship, but one where the love of the other ("a very strange vibration" - this points to the PSB's "Heart" again) is stronger than the narrator's willpower.  Somerville sings this song knowing very well that this really is life or death, that love is stronger than death, though it is just as upbeat and urgent as the original.  "I don't wanna let you GOOOOOOOOOOOOO" he sings at the end, and thus does the 70s disco standard get subtly reworked into something a little different in the next decade...

"The Real Thing" by Jellybean featuring Steven Dante is the kind of song that sounds a little out of place on NOW 10, as its magic must fully bloom on the dancefloor, late, with someone you love.  I remember going to a dance at Ryerson in late October - was it a Halloween dance? - but apart from having dyed my hair two different colors, I don't recall that much.  This is a song of doubt and hope, of "a brand new start" - love is just a dream?  Not any more it is!  This song is to the Other, staying close to gospel, but a bit more carnal than that.  I had no boyfriend at this time, there were no prospects at Ryerson - girlfriends yes, boyfriends, no.  This is a song to be danced to and felt at the time, so I can feel it now; but it would have passed me by, then...

The man and the woman take to the stage again, or perhaps the curtain rises on the two in the police station, bickering and singing, remembering how things were and living on the memory of those feelings, even if they more or less can't stand each other right this minute.  Yes, "Fairytale Of New York" is the last song on NOW 10 and was supposed to be the Christmas number one; I certainly remember The Journalist saying at the time how much he liked it and would dance around the Christmas tree to it with someone.  The continued popularity of this is right down to its being memorable (even if you don't like it, it sticks) and the almost-inevitable irritability Christmas causes in families, period.  It is also good to be reminded of Kirsty MacColl's voice and toughness, and The Pogues' general sharpness; it is also salutary to know that McGowan's and MacColl's vocals were done separately, with hers coming first, his then added on afterwards.  They are literally together and apart; the song may just be him remembering her, she may be long gone.  I'm not sure how much of this I understood or comprehended at the time, since by Christmas time itself I was functioning, but not much more. 

This song brings back no terrible memories or emotions, any more than anything from the fall of '87; but "Thousands Are Sailing" (also from If I Should Fall From Grace With God) pulls on me in a way that only someone part-Irish (on my mother's side) could understand; but who could not be moved by Phil Chevron's lines:

"And in Brendan Behan's footsteps/I danced up and down the street/Then we said goodnight to Broadway/Giving it our best regards/Tipped our hats to Mister Cohan/Dear old Times Square's favorite bard/Then we raised a glass to JFK/And a dozen more besides/When I got back to my empty room/I suppose I must have cried." 

(As a part-Irish American, even if I'm from Los Angeles, this is still my song, as much as it's Pierce Turner's, whose own It's Only A Long Way Across is also required listening (well, if you can find it) alongside The Pogues.)

AN ADVERTISEMENT FOR 
(               )

Now, you might be thinking, what about The Hits Album 7?  It was stuck behind NOW 10 in the charts and provides the necessary balance to it -  sure it starts with The Bee Gees' mechanical Sisyphus stomp of "You Win Again" but then it eventually gets to the stoopid "She's On It" by the Beastie Boys, "Criticize" by the immortal Alexander O'Neal,  the jammin' "U Got The Look" by Prince, "Dinner With Gershwin" by a resurgent Donna Summer, "Paid In Full" by Eric B. & Rakim (the single version, not the 12" alas), "The Living Daylights" by a-ha, "Darklands" by East Kilbride's own The Jesus And Mary Chain,  the rockin' harpsichordal "This Corrosion" by The Sisters Of Mercy, the self-explanatory "House Nation" by House Master Boyz & The Rude Boy Of House and "I Need Love" by L.L. Cool J, which is eventually covered by Luka Bloom, Christy Moore's younger brother.  Really, if The Journalist couldn't tell something was up by this partial list alone, maybe I should have been more wary.  But I had other things on my mind.  Things like this...

One of them I remember opening a card on my way back to or from Toronto - I'm sure I opened it first that Christmas in my mom's presence, as it was her gift to me.  It was, of all things, something I had not even contemplated; an experience more than a material object.  Years after I hadn't been able to go with my French class to Paris for March break, I was being given a trip to...London...to be taken after my school year ended.  There is simply no way to state how important this was to me, or how unexpected.  A pile of Melody Makers (oh I wish I'd kept them now!) were in my closet, I listened to The Journalist's show live from London every week - and here I was, with a Frommer's Guide and a promise to go, however it could be done.  London, the place to be.  London, the hub of the universe...it's dark outside as the train goes along the shore of Lake Ontario, cold and dark, but there is the promise...

...that is the end, happy as it could be in the circumstances.  But there are two more songs to mention, ones that I don't recall hearing at the time, not even on CFNY.   Songs that are from '87 but will tower over '88, as the cover of NOW 10 illustrates - the title hangs in neon like a sign over a diner, and clearly the sun is setting and the stars are appearing, one by one.  The 80s are ending, or have ended.

FROM PLACE TO PLACE IN NO TIME

The first is by Public Enemy, whose album Yo! Bum Rush The Show I of course had - but "Rebel Without A Pause" all by itself makes it look tame.  "Brothers and sisters" - where have we heard this before? oh yeah, M|A|R|R|S - and there's Miles Davis' trumpet squashed, compressed, there's the Bomb Squad and Terminator X...this is the calling card for their next album, and a sign that '88 was going to be one hell of year.  "No matter what the name, we're all the same, pieces in one big chess game" - PE was going all out here, including you in their world whether you wanted to be part of it or not.   And yes, this is rap and rock 'n' roll, all right.  "Bring the noise, MY TIME--" If only I had heard this, early '88 would have been a bit more bearable.  More, lots more, on Public Enemy later...

Just as vital - and now, finally, I can express my actual anger with The Journalist for being so short-sighted and yes, can I say jaded? - jaded then - is My Bloody Valentine, who present a whole different way of understanding Irish-American music.  (Kevin Shields was born in Queens and lived in the US until he was ten.)  I can say that I am angry because how, how could this not be proclaimed and praised by him, by anyone on CFNY?  I feel as if I have stumbled across something life-changing with "Strawberry Wine" - something that also could have sustained me at the time, with its slowness and quickness intermingled, its chord changes (G major to E minor, with F and A major puncta) proving to me that Shields' ears and sense of harmony are as remarkable as Brian Wilson's.  The spaciousness, the sense that this is The Byrds and The Smiths and yet not, that there is something a little more here, is almost immediately evident.  It is like walking along in a pool from the shallow to the deep end, reaching just that point where you being to float; you can touch the floor of the pool if you want to, but you are buoyant, somehow more alive****.  Out of the often life-or-death malaise of '87, these two songs point towards something somehow more vivid, beguiling, reviving - music that can sustain and amaze.  I am happy now that I have heard this, but feel a bit cheated that at the time, I didn't (of course if I'd listened to the University Of Toronto's CIUT or CKLN, Ryerson's own station, maybe I would have). "On the darkside let the light shine" is exactly what I needed to hear, and how many must have heard this at the time and not sensed the energy inside the pastoral?   

By the time NOW 10 ends its run at number one, my father is in his coma and there is no hope of him coming out.  He was someone who had introduced me to music, who went out and bought music once in a while himself, who played it loud to get out of his bad moods.  It was a near-constant companion to him, at times, and I can thank him in part for my intense interest in it, including, I guess, my ability and interest in writing about it, though he never encouraged me to do it specifically (he did approve of my writing in general).  I could call on every great song of late '87 to testify to my father's importance and our distant and awkward but nevertheless real love and regard for each other.  The last thing to go was his hearing, which attests (I guess) to how important sound was to him.  By the time I come back to TPL he will have died and been flown to California and buried, one last trip back home from wintry Canada to balmy California, and I will be getting ready to visit London, a place he and my mom had visited in early 1960 as part of his working European holiday.  So even here, where I seem to be so far away from him, I can conjure him up at Tate Britain, studying his favorite painter, or imagine him puzzling over toast racks or the underground.  I hope - not too sentimentally - that he gets to read me, wherever he is, and even if he doesn't like the music (trust me, he didn't like pop or rock at all) he likes my writing. 

This one is for you, dad.










*Said vastness increased after her death, as you'd expect.

** Fahey was thrown out after a dispute over a pizza that had gone bad in the Bananarama shared kitchen, apparently, though I'd guess it was because Fahey was a wife/mother and Sarah and Keren, who'd known each other since childhood, just didn't have much in common with her anymore.

***Thus I am pretty sure The Gipsy Kings' "Bamboleo" is also basically telling you to shake your booty, more or less.

****The closest song I have heard to this is The Go! Team's "Rolling Blackouts." 

2 comments:

Robin Carmody said...

Very, very fine writing.

re. the phrase "young fogeys", it had already been coined and become commonplace earlier in the decade than this, but referred only to actual Tories, never to conservative socialists. The latter had much less crossover with the former before the Berlin Wall fell, and (as you say) it's an ambiguous territory, though one thing's for sure about "Build"; it's written and sung by the people who actually suffered directly from what the likes of John Poulson did, whereas "Get 'Em Out by Friday" wasn't, and you can tell.

nlgbbbblth said...

Great review Lena. This is the first volume to treat CDs buyers as equal with the vinyl and cassette people. Hits 7 was equally enjoyable but suffers from 14 tracks that are faded too early. My take on Now 10 https://apopfansdream.wordpress.com/2014/09/14/now-thats-what-i-call-music-10-emi-virgin-polygram-1987/ and Hits Album 7 https://apopfansdream.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/the-hits-album-7-cbs-wea-bmg-1987/