That’s What Gets Results

Who wouldn’t want a Face magazine t-shirt as modelled by Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama? I’m half tempted to print out the cut out slip and send it off to the address and see what happens (I’d have to put a postal order in I think).

Bananarama have reformed recently. They kept appearing on the Top Of The Pops reruns (not the 1985 ones showing at the moment but last year’s 1983 repeats). Cruel Summer sounded very good all these years later, a slightly off kilter pop song about love in oppressive summer heat in the city. The home-made dancing is refreshing too, a time when female pop stars weren’t drilled to within an inch of their lives. And maybe some of us were suddenly reminded why Bananarama being on Top Of The Pops week in, week out when we were 13 years old was something of a visual treat…

They first hit the chart due to their backing vocals on the Fun Boy Three’s 1982 hit single, It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It), which came about because Terry Hall saw an article on them in The Face and liked their look. They switched around for Bananarama’s next single Really Saying Something with Terry, Lynval and Neville singing backing for Siobhan, Sara and Keren.

It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)

The song was originally written in 1939 by jazz musicians Melvin ‘Sy’ Oliver and James ‘Trummy’ Young. It says something about the Fun Boy Three’s talents that they took an old jazz tune and turned it into a pop ska song, and then to number 4 in the charts (probably selling hundreds of thousands of copies).

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So Much Confusion

‘…When October comes around’ said the Pet Shop Boys in My October Symphony. Later on Neil Tennant asks about whether we should ‘remember December instead or worry about February?’ I guess February just rhymed. I haven’t got any songs on the computer named after February and can’t think of many with lyrics referring to the second month other than this one.

My October Symphony is from Behaviour, 1990’s PSB tour de force. Produced by Harold Faltermeyer using analogue synths it mixes full on pop, rave influenced pop, ballads and what got called adult pop- musical, reflective, lyrically grown up, classy instead of teenage (which could sound a bit dull but Behaviour is an album that could never be called dull. Inventive, subtle, wry, expansive but not dull). My October Symphony chucks many things into the pot besides Neil’s lyrics- a blast of a male voice choir, house inspired backing vox, sweeping strings and a funky guitar part played by Johnny Marr. I always felt it’s a song about autumn really (and wanting to move on and change) but according to a PSB fan site- ‘Neil adopts the role of a Russian composer who has dedicated his life and work to the ideals of the revolution but now feels confused and betrayed in the wake of the collapse of Communism’. So there you go. On the same site Janet Street Porter claims it is about a lingerie model. Which one Janet?

My October Symphony

In 1991 they released a stand alone single, DJ Culture, partly to promote their singles compilation Discography, partly as a comment on the Gulf War and how George Bush borrowed from Churchill’s wartime speeches just as artists sample each other (with a reference to Oscar Wilde’s trial thrown in too), and partly because they’d recorded what was a very good pop song. As a single it kind of went missing, despite reaching number 13 in the chart.

And So The Conversation Turned

I’ve said it before- sometimes you find a picture and that drives the post rather than the other way around. That is the case today. Having found this picture of Joanne and Susan from The Human League, snapped for The Face in June 1986, I couldn’t not post it. The only Human League song on my hard drive is this one…

(Keep Feeling) Fascination

That’s a properly joyous blast of 1980s pop and no mistake. I do have at least one, maybe two of their albums on vinyl, and also their 1978 single Being Boiled, a pioneering piece of synth-art opening with some white noise and the words ‘Ok, ready, let’s do it’. Being Boiled was from the days before Joanne and Susan were plucked from the dancefloor by Phil Oakey and turned into pop stars while still at school. I think it’s safe to say that this would cause their school a few safeguarding issues today. Not to mention the tracking of their progress towards their predicted GCSE grades. The 1980s- a time when pop groups didn’t have to worry about Ofsted.

Why Why Why

Back to it this morning- early start, work clothes, motorway etc etc. It’s all a bit of a shock after two weeks off.

This Leo Mas and Fabrice version of The Woodentops’ Why Why Why is one way to ease the pain and lessen the blow. Eight minutes of sun dappled groove.

Why Why Why (Balearic Militant Dub)

British Summertime

At least from today onwards until October the clock in my car will be telling the right time. British summertime starts today- you did remember to put your clocks forward didn’t you? Yesterday’s sunshine made it feel like the seasons had changed at a stroke. Everything feels a little better with some sun on your face.

It gives me a good excuse to post this Ultramarine song from 1991.

British Summertime

Go Brothers Go

The new Chemical Brothers album (Born In The Echoes) is out today and being praised as a return to form. This single, Go, came out at the start of May and has already been viewed close to five million times on Youtube which would suggest they’re got a pretty healthy surviving fanbase. Go is funky, synthy and fun with Q Tip providing the hip-house vocals- the album also has Beck, St Vincent and Cate Le Bon on microphone duties.

I was in the car the other day and Block Rockin’ Beats came on. It’s the most blindingly obvious Chemical Brothers song (Hey Boy Hey Girl excepted maybe). Massive breakbeat. Big borrowed bassline. Hip hop vocal sample from Schoolly D. SIRENS! Totally in your face. No subtlety. No nuance. It’s completely stupid. And brilliant.

Block Rockin’ Beats

Due to ongoing issues with Boxnet this is via Mediafire but I seem to recall people having some problems with it before. Is Mediafire any use?

Echoes And Bunnymen

I was skipping through Bill Drummond’s excellent book 45 the other night, due to turning 45. He was Echo And The Bunnymen’s manager all the way through their best years and writes very eloquently and passioantely about them. Then I went and found this- the Bunnymen live at Rockpalast in 1981 with an hour and half set spanning the first three albums, showing what a formidable back catalogue they were building up. But the most striking thing is how different their set up looks with them playing in a line across the front of the stage, not with the drum riser behind the singer- changes the whole look of a band playing live. Almost revolutionary. Actually, on second thoughts, the most striking thing is Ian doing sexy in his ripped t-shirt.