Friday, 31 December 2010

I Love 1980 - 30

Abba - Happy New Year

Although there are doubtless many other singles and albums from 1980 that deserved a mention in the I Love 1980 series, I can't think of a more appropriate way to wrap up the 30 year anniversary (the 30th in the series too, get it?) than benny & Bjorn's hogmanay croon-choon off the Super Trouper album. So after all the new wave sounds, the Gary Numans, the New Musiks and the like, ABBA were the ones who came out on top at the end of the year (save for John Lennon's posthumous chart success) with the Super Trouper album and single.

That said, it was the beginning of the end for Sweden's top export commodity: Trouper was their last UK number one single and except for 1981's disppointing The Visitors they only reached the number 1 album position with the various Greatest Hits, Singles and Golds compilation albums afterwards.
But no matter, their legacy has been strong enough to overcome various fashions, trends, electro-pop, SAW-pop, Brit-pop, and all the rest, right up to the mega-musical Mamma Mia in the noughties.

Happy New Year to all our readers. See you in 1981.............

Thursday, 30 December 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 7

The ones that got away...

Just before the final instalment in the I Love 1980 series here's a few tracks (and albums) from 1980 which for one reason or another didn't quite make it to the prestigious top 30.

I'd also like to thank all our readers and those who've commented on the series over the past year, and also the numerous internet sites which have been invaluable in my research, particularly Like Punk Never Happened - the Smash Hits archive which came along to inspire me just as I was flagging a little; whoever is behind the wonderful Chart Stats site, the many Wikipedia pages and the various official or fan-based (usually the better ones) band and artist sites.

Here we go, 2-3-4...

  • Jon And Vangelis - I Hear You Now
  • Martha And The Muffins - Echo Beach
  • Genesis - Turn It On Again
  • The Undertones - My Perfect Cousin
  • Sky - Toccata
  • Mike Oldfield - QE2 (album)
  • Lipps Inc - Funky Town
  • Electric Light Orchestra - I'm Alive / Xanadu (with Olivia Newton John)
  • Splodgenessabounds - Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps Please
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra - Firecracker
  • Adam & The Ants - Ant Music
  • Madness - Embarrassment
  • Robert Palmer - Looking For Clues
  • Visage - Fade to Grey*
(* more of them in 1981....)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

I Love 1980 - 29

Jona Lewie - Stop the Cavalry
As good a track as any to celebrate the festive season, which quite by chance first came out in 1980.
We've already come across Mr Lewie earlier in the year with his marvellous Kitchen at Parties, and after the less successful Big Shot - Momentarily this excellent number, combining a seasonal brass band, faux-reggae synth-chug and anti-(nuclear) war sentiment, went to number 3 as early as 13th December and marched on the spot for an incredible five weeks, kept off the number one spot by mega-stars Abba, John Lennon (deceased) and St. Winifred's School Choir. About as great an injustice as Midge-Vox being kept of the top spot know who.
Anyway, don your paper hats, put aside the wrapping, grab yer Granny and slip this one into your Christmas stocking-playlist.

Jona Lewie official
Jona Wikie

Saturday, 18 December 2010

I Love 1980 - 28

UB40 - King/Food For Thought

As the year draws to a close, just time to mention one that nearly got away. UB40 came onto the charts scene (ergo public awareness) back in March 1980 with this cracking double A side which actually reached number 4 a month later. Not bad for a record which one one side tackles the subject of famine in Ethiopia and on the other the late Martin Luther King, "questioning the lost direction of the deceased leader's followers and the state of mourning of a nation after his death". Not to mention the name of the band itself which came from the 'unemployment benefit' form used when signing up for the dole, an increasingly common thing in those early Thatcher years. Neat.

Actually I'm not quite sure whether understood the message behind Food For Thought which was a rather jolly danceable-reggae thing, whereas King is a lot more obvious, and thus was played much less (banned?) on Radio 1 and I personally prefer it with all that skanky dub thang going on.

Brum's UB40 were certainly one of the UK's first 'mix race' bands and came up with some damn good music with their first two albums (My Way of Thinking, The Earth Dies Screaming, One in Ten..) combining social issues with a very pleasant bit of reggae, which could even get yer Granny's toes tapping. Pity they went too soft and commercial after that with the Red Red Wine kind of dross. (Why did that seem to happen with so many interesting bands back then?) Get their 1982 Singles Album for the better stuff (even though I am rather partial to 1986's Rat in Me Kitchen..)

Totally pointless "video" for King here but just sit back a bit and enjoy da sound...

King/Food For Thought - chart stats:
UB40 official site

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Coldplay - Christmas Lights

I Love 1980 - 27

(Just Like) Starting Over - John Lennon

In October 1980 John Lennon's comeback was about as warmly received as Yoko Ono's presence in a Beatles recording studio in the late 60s. Amongst the emerging new wave sounds in the shiny new decade, Lennon's anachronistic (Just Like) Starting Over with it's rock n roll ballad style, faux-Elvis/Orbison vocals and "doo-wap" backing just spelt out "boring old fart". Lennon & Ono had left the UK in 1971 to settle in New York effectively 'betraying' Blighty and British fans. And while contemporaries such as Bowie, Brian Ferry and Elton John had all moved on and progressed, for many Lennon's recluse since 1975 had meant out of sight out of mind.
That said, the comeback single made a decent enough entry into the UK charts in November, gradually creeping up to the top 10 before dropping heavily after just 4 weeks. It was radio-friendly and Lennon's enthusiam for his return and the new album trickled through in the odd press interview. David Hepworth's 3 out of 10 review in Smash Hits was both scathing and brutally honest, ominously commenting that "Lennon needn't bother about a follow-up til 1999".

After Mark Chapman brutally shot and killed John Lennon on 8th December 1980, sales of the single and parent album rocketed and the opening "our life together is so precious..together" took on a whole new meaning.

Whatever you thought of of Lennon, Yoko or their Double Fantasy, (Just Like) Starting Over was, in hindsight, a cracking comeback single and a fine example of the Lennon genius. The tinkling bell at the start echoes and lighten up the opening chimes of "Mother" (bringing it all "full circle" in Lennon's own words), the 'let's start again' message is universal and multi-purpose, the rock n roll pastiche is note perfect and the treated voice of Yoko reciting poetry in the coda makes it just that little more interesting and modern.

The single became the UK Christmas Number One.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 6

John Lennon
shot dead 8th December, 1980

(yes, there are also some reasons why I don't love 1980...)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

I Love 1980 - appendix 5

Streisand album, 1980

Streisand single, 2010


French electro-musos-cum-robots-cum-men-in-helmets Daft Punk (left) have done the soundtrack for the new Tron Legacy movie, out soon.

Although their robotic image would be well fitted to such a soundtrack, musically, it's perhaps not quite what you expect from les Dafts, and is more of an epic Vangelis meets Emerson Lake and Palmer sort of affair, with odd bits of Vivaldi and, er, Daft Punk thrown in. Unlike, say, the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire by aforementioned Greek maestro, the Tron Legacy music doesn't really mean much without an film attached to it, especially as most of the album's 22 tracks are scene-sized short pièces, which barely hold out on their own.

Anyways here's one the most Daft Punk-y sounding tracks, the brief "Derezzed", complete with movie visuals.

Partial as I am to a bit of gorgonzola now and then, the original Tron was a little too cheesy for moi, and perhaps came a little too late, or too early depending on how you look at it. The tale of "former employee of the software corporation ENCOM, now running a arcade" who gets swallowed up by a computer didn't really fit in with the more analogue 70's /80's sci-fi of my childhood/youth. Anyway now the time may be right to catch up on the deliciously retro original, and the soundtrack which I see was done back then by one Wendy Carlos...